Moves to Align North America World Cup Format With Europe Begin in 2015

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Lars Petersen and Mariett that won the World Cup 2014 North American League. © Ken Braddick/
Lars Petersen and Mariett that won the World Cup 2014 North American League. © Ken Braddick/


June 19, 2014

A move that could begin aligning the World Cup North American League with Europe as a step toward making it easier for horses and riders to compete globally will begin for the 2015/2016 global championship series.

The change to adopt the European format of awarding points for placings to qualify for the Final instead of taking the average of the best two scores that has been applied in Canada and the United States was approved by the International  Equestrian Federation (FEI) Dressage Committee initially to come into effect for the 2014/2015 series. The Final for the series will be held in Las Vegas next April.

The FEI body made its decision after the committee at a meeting in Wellington, Florida earlier this year of Canadian and U.S. federation representatives that govern the North American League could not agree on changes. It was then turned over to the international committee to break the logjam.

At a meeting that also unanimously recommended assigning the World Cup Final to Omaha, Nebraska in 2017, the FEI committee voted to switch North America to the points system used in the Western and Central European Leagues. The only other league is the Pacific that usually attracts competitors only from Australia and ocassionally from New Zealand but travel distances and tough quarantine requirements make it unattractive to combinations from the rest of the world.

However, after the FEI dressage committee decision, Cara Whitham, the Canadian 5* judge and her country’s representative on the World Cup decision-making group for North America, was reported to have objected to implementing the changes for the season leading to the 2015 Final.

Cara did not respond to a question from asking the reason for her opposition to a change in the rule this year.

Canada has hosted only a single World Cup qualifier in the past three years, while the United States has hosted at least eight events each year in the same period.

The United States has also hosted four World Cup Finals with Las Vegas as the venue for 2015 and Omaha for 2017. No World Cup Finals have been staged in Canada.

The adoption of similar qualifying systems in North America and Europe was what proponents of change hope will lead to an overhaul of the patchwork of rules that has developed since the series for dressage was launched in 1985/86, initially as a championship growing from the winter indoor circuit.

A uniform qualifying format between North America and the two European leagues was seen by some proponents as a way to smooth the way to easing the limitation on points that can be earned by riders in the Western European League, the most competitive, if they opt to show in qualifiers in North America. Current rules limit to one competition at which European riders can earn the full number of points and a second show at which they are awarded only half the number of points.

Such a change could mean more European riders splitting their winter competition schedules between Europe in early winter and the Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida with its seven CDIs, including four World Cup qualifiers, in the first quarter of the year.