Sweeping Changes for Sport Proposed by FEI Dressage Committee Chair at Sports Forum

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Frank Kemperman
Frank Kemperman

Sweeping changes for dressage including “made-for-television” specials and a new high performance medium tour to make the Olympic sport more popular were among proposals from Frank Kemperman, chairman of the International Equestrian Federation Dressage Committee at the FEI Sports Forum Tuesday.

Frank, who is also show director of the incomparable World Equestrian Festival CHIO in Aachen, Germany, focused on the future of what he labeled “the product dressage” and said the target groups are the sport, sponsors, media and the public.

The questions to be asked, he told a round table on the second of two days of the 2nd annual FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, were:

–How to develop dressage?
–There was a need to know more about fans;
–What will make the sport more popular?
–What are the needs?

Television coverage was important for the future.

“Accommodate the interest of broadcasters,” he said. “Make events ‘tailor-made’ for TV.”

Frank also proposed introduction of a Medium Tour, which would bridge the gap between Grand Prix, the sport’s highest level, and Small Tour of Prix St. Georges/Intermediate 1.

“Currently there are 660 Grand Prix horses on the FEI World Dressage Rankings,” he said. “Grand Prix is a difficult level which is accessible to relatively few combinations that compete only six to eight times a year.

“It would be a huge benefit to organizers to make it possible for the top riders to compete more often and to open the sport to new faces.”

A new dressage test between Intermediate I and II will be developed for use at international events to provide an easier transition for young horses and young riders, allow for a higher number of starters at shows.

Jim Wolf, the United States Equestrian Federation Executive Director of Sport Programs, said of the Medium Tour proposal: “This is a very good development and we embrace it.”

“A Medium Tour would be very important for us,” said Colombian dressage rider Constanza Jaramillo.

The introduction of the FEI Nations Cup Dressage was also considered an important element for the future of the sport. Starting next month, a test season will be conducted to evaluate the series’ potential. The calendar so far is:
–Vidauban, France CDIO3* May 17-20;
–Rotterdam, Netherlands, CDIO5* June 19-23, and
–Aachen, Germany CDIO5* June 25-30.

Hickstead in Great Britain wasalso listed as possibility for Aug. 1-4, but that has not been confirmed.

The Wellington, Florida CDIO3* being held this week was not included for this year because it is a mix of big and small tour combinations.

“Up till now we only had Nations Cups at championships,” International Dressage Officials Club representative Wojtek Markowski of Poland said. “Introducing a dedicated series is a good step forward. It will allow riders of various levels to compete alongside each other and will help young riders to learn from being on a team.”