Isobell Wessels Defends Decision Not to Eliminate Cesar Parra & Van the Man from Wellington World Cup Grand Prix

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Van the Man with Cesar Parra board showing resistance in the Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Van the Man with Cesar Parra board showing resistance in the Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WELLINGTON, Florida, Jan. 24, 2014–Isobell Wessels, the British FEI 5* judge, on Friday defended her decision not to eliminate United States team rider Cesar Parra and Van the Man from the Global Dressage Festival World Cup Grand Prix for prolonged disobedience.

“I think it’s important to uderstand that as a judge when something like that happen you don’t immediately look at a stop watch. You remain fixed on what’s in front of you,” she said referring to the common practice of eliminating a horse if disobedience continues for more than 20 seconds.

The pair were awarded 64.920 per cent in the Grand Prix. In the Freestyle Saturday night, there was no repeat of the disobedience and placed fourth with 71.975 per cent. A video of the Grand Prix can be found here.

“My initial reaction was, ‘Oh, no.’ But it didn’t look dangerous and the rider looked like he had the situation under control” she said of the Grand Prix that has drawm comment from some riders in Europe.

“By the time I looked at my watch, I don’t know how many seconds had elapsed. I didn’t get the feeling it was as long as it was.

“If the horse had reared or there had appeared to be a dangerous situation I would have eliminated them immediately.

“I gave the benefit of the doubt to the rider.”

Isobel Wessels informing Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O that the pair were eliminated from the World Cup Grad Prix when the horse had blood onher mouth. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Isobel Wessels informing Caroline Roffman on Her Highness O that the pair were eliminated from the World Cup Grad Prix when the horse had blood onher mouth. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Earlier in the class, Isobell eliminated the American combination of Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O from the competition for blood on the mouth. The pair were thus eliminated from the international division.

The pair were entered in a national open Grand Prix Friday and were eliminated a second time for blood on the mouth.

Isobell, who is also a competition rider at FEI level as well as a judge, said that in the case of Cesar Parra and Van the Man she advised her fellow judges to mark the pair down for an error.

Because the horse went off the line they were also scored low–in her case she awarded one point.

“I think it’s also important that everyone knows when you sit there judging you’re thinking of the rider first. If you see there is no danger,  you will think in terms of the rider whenever possible.

“As a judge you don’t want to eliminate anyone, you try hard not to, especially in a CDI because once eliminated they cannot go any further in the competition.”

Cesar Parra later explained that the ride was their first international show for the year, the previous event being the national championships in October.

“He’s hot, but he’s my special child,” he said. “He can be brilliant and very nutty and very tough to ride in the ring. The warm-up was great. I’m 50 years old and a little bit naive. I took it for granted he would be the same as in the warm-up. I did not ride him enough in the competition.

“I’d rather have it tough outside ring than in the ring. But I have high expectations for him and expect that very soon everything will come together.”