Global Dressage Festival & What To Look For Next Winter – Part 2 of 2

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Palm Bach International Equestrian Center's Global Dressage Festival grounds and gass jumper derby field. © 2013 Ken Brsddick/dressage-news.com
Palm Bach International Equestrian Center’s Global Dressage Festival grounds and grass jumper derby field. © 2013 Ken Brsddick/dressage-news.com

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Thomas Baur plans to move to Wellington in December to immerse himself in the operations of the Global Dressage Festival that he will oversee and intends for the newly consolidated Florida winter circuit to be “absolutely professional.”

“I am really excited about the idea of coming over here and supporting these shows,” he said after visiting for a few days to familiarize himself with the schedule and the show grounds that are part of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. “I think it’s a bit different world to what we have in Europe. We have a lot of very good shows, but every show is just a weekend.

“Here, the CDIs go every second weekend. That is really different.”

No circuits in Europe can compare–neither the long established Sunshine Circuit in Spain nor the evolving winter series in Vidauban, France that can be a victim of chilly weather.

“I think they are aware in Europe and looking at what’s going on here,” he told dressage-news.com. “I think there are a lot more European riders coming over for two or three shows.”

Most of America’s leading riders welcome a prospective influx of Europeans for the winter schedule that includes three World Cup events, a Nations Cup, a CDI4* and a CDI5* plus the Palm Beach Dressage Derby in Loxahatchee that is also a World Cup event.

Under the leadership of U.S. Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe Robert Dover the United States sent about 20 combinations to Europe to train and compete against the best, a program he thinks is vital if America wants to be on medals podiums at Olympics as they were up until the 2008 Games and have not not been a factor in championship team competition since. Team USA finished third at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany and won silver at Hickstead, England this summer as part of the new program.

Europeans in the U.S. will bring top sport to the United States rather than always having to look to European competitions as the sole measuring stick.

“I think it looks quite promising,” Thomas said, “much better than two years ago.”

The 2013 Global Dressage Festival's CDI5* victory gallop with the winner, Lars Petersen on Mariett and Steffen Peters on Legolas who placed second. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
The 2013 Global Dressage Festival’s CDI5* victory gallop with the winner, Lars Petersen on Mariett and Steffen Peters on Legolas who placed second. © 2013 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

One change that could help jump start European participation would be a change in the rules for qualifying in the North American League of the World Cup, the only annual global dressage championship.

The United States and Canada insist on the average of the two best competitions to count toward qualifying for the final, as distinct from the Western European League that assigns points for order of finish.

Europeans such as Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmsson Silfvén may compete in three or four World Cup events in Florida but under current rules can keep full points from one event and half the points from a second event to count toward their qualification in the Western European League.

As the results for the Europeans do not impact the two places reserved for North American horses and riders, several riders and officials on both sides of the Atlantic ask why does the joint U.S.-Canada committee administering the North American League insist on a formula that could limit participation from Europe and other World Cup geographic leagues.

Canada, which has an equal vote with the United States on the committee, has not hosted a World Cup event in the past two seasons, but the two North American representatives at the Final in Sweden this year were Canadians.

No World Cup events are currently scheduled for Canada in 2014 though Desi Dillingham, the federation’s Special Advisor, is looking at changes to the schedule.

“I have been working on changing the rules for some time now,” Thomas said. “We have not been able to convince the committee for North American World Cup.

“I will continue to work for a change because I think it’s absolutely essential to have a system in North America that is the same as Western Europe. If we want to upgrade the North American League there is no other way.

“In the end these two leagues should be more or less on the same level. It is a chance to upgrade North America, to bring it closer to the Western European League. It is not only good for North America but also for the World Cup and the FEI.”

The World Cup scheduled for Las Vegas in 2015 “would be the right time to change.”

Many top European judges are being signed up for Florida.

However, up and coming American judges are also being added to the ground juries because, he said, “it is important to bring them into the system. They need to get their chance, to sit with and exchange opinions with the top judges in the world because they won’t be invited to Europe as that is usually only for five star judges.”

Among the up and coming Americans to be on the GDF judging panels are Sandra Hotz of Longmont, Colorado; Michael Osinski of Lacey, Washington and Bill Warren of Stoughton, Massachusetts.

The confirmed schedule for Palm Beach CDI3*-plus events, including the Palm Beach Dressage Derby in Loxahatchee:

Show   Dates   Events
Wellington – The Stadium at PBIEC  – Jan. 8-12  – [CDI-W], CDI1*, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY
Wellington – The Stadium at PBIEC  – Jan. 22-26  – [CDI-W], CDI1*, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY
Wellington – The Stadium at PBIEC  – Feb. 5-9  – CDI1*, CDI3*, CDI4*, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY
Wellington – The Stadium at PBIEC  – Feb. 18-23  – CDI1*, CDI3*, CDIJ, [CDIO3*], CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY
Loxahatchee – Equestrian Estates  – Feb. 26-Mar. 2  – [CDI-W], CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH
Wellington – The Stadium at PBIEC  – Mar. 12-16  – [CDI-W], CDI1*, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY
Wellington – The Stadium at PBIEC Mar. 26-30  – CDI1*, CDI3*, CDI5*, CDIJ, CDIP, CDIU25, CDIY, CDIYH