Emotional Caroline Roffman Will Not Challenge “Heart Breaking” Removal from USA World Games Team Selection

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Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O riding in the CDIO5* Nations Cup at Aachen. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Caroline Roffman and Her Highness O riding in the CDIO5* Nations Cup at Aachen. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Aug. 15, 2104


An emotional Caroline Roffman, at age 25 the youngest rider seeking to be on America’s World Equestrian Games team, admitted Friday the way U.S. officials handled the removal of herself and Her Highness O from selection was “heart breaking” but she will not challenge the decision.

“I dreamed of this my whole life,” she told dressage-news.com. “I made it there.

“I despair for the future because this could happen again, and to others. I represent a lot of people and their dreams. This is heart breaking.

“I’m sad for the horse because she deserved to be there.

“I admire Adrienne and wish her well, as I do the rest of the team. I will be cheering for the best for the team.”

U.S. Equestrian Federation selectors asked her to withdraw with Her Highness O from consideration for the dressage team competition at the WEG in Normandy starting on Aug. 25.

When she refused, she was taken out of consideration although ranked fourth on scores after the three competitions that were named in the official selection criteria–the national championships in Gladstone, New Jersey, the Fritzens, Austria CDI4* and the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen, Germany.

The team named Thursday by the USEF is Steffen Peters on Legolas, Laura Graves on Verdades–the first and second placed combinations from Gladstone–Tina Konyot on Calecto V ranked third after the three qualifiers and Adrienne Lyle on Wizard, who stood fifth after the qualifiers.

Caroline and the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare also were not considered for a reserve spot as the rules specify that once a combination is removed that is not possible.

The only reference in the USEF statement to Caroline and Her Highness was: “It was felt that with just six months of competing at the Grand Prix level it was too soon to ask the talented combination of Caroline Roffman and her 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, Her Highness O, to contend with the World Championship atmosphere of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.”

Robert Dover, the U.S. Technical Adviser/chef d’equipe who has led the team competition campaign, said: “I am sure this might come as a surprise; however, it was felt that after only six months in Grand Prix for the very talented combination of Caroline Roffman and Her Highness, pushing her to compete for the Team at a World Championships would be neither in their own best interest or that of the Team.”

Jenny Van Wieren-Page, managing director of the USEF dressage department, said in response to questions said that “based on the selection criteria that selectors take into consideration an evaluation of overall performance, soundness of athlete/horse combinations and demonstrated abilities” and reiterated the same wording as the news release.

Official records show that Caroline rode Her Highness in their first CDI Grand Prix on Jan. 23 this year while Laura and Verdades performed their first CDI Grand Prix a month later, on Feb. 21, both at Wellington, Florida.

The issue appears to center on performances at the CDI3* in Verden, Germany last weekend, which was not listed as a mandatory event but was used by Steffen–who missed Aachen because of severe pneumonia–to perform with Legolas and for some of the other team combinations to get a last-minute competition workout.

The riders were told, Caroline said, that the scores would not matter.

Caroline on Her Highness scored 67.960 per cent in the Grand Prix and Adrienne and Wizard 71.740 per cent.

Adrienne Lyle on Wizard on the Verden CDI3* Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Adrienne Lyle on Wizard on the Verden CDI3* Grand Prix. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

After returning to the U.S. training camp in Belgium, she said she was asked for a photo for her WEG credentials and to bring a groom for the championships as she and some others had been caring for their own horses. Her horse was determined to be fit.

However, after meetings earlier this week of the selection body and, apparently the USEF High Performance Committee, George Williams said he was speaking on behalf of the selectors and asked her to withdraw. If she didn’t, she would be removed.

The selectors, she said George told her, had taken into account the Verden results and decided against naming the pair to the team.

George cited a clause in the selection criteria for definite entries for WEG due by Aug. 14:

“After the Selection Trial and Mandatory Outing(s) but no later than the closing date for the FEI Definite Entry/Team for the Event, August 14, 2014, the Selectors, in consultation with the Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe, will evaluate the following positions on the Short List/FEI Nominated Entries based on their ranked scores achieved at the Mandatory Outing Ranking, the overall performance and soundness of the athlete horse/combination, the demonstrated ability of the athlete/horse combination to succeed at CDIs and the prospect of the athlete/horse combination to win an individual or contribute to a team medal at the Event.”

Caroline said she did not disagree with the right of Robert Dover, the Technical Advisor, to recommend what he believed were the best combinations for the team.

Some officials told dressage-news.com which covered the three qualifying events and Verden that the selection process for these championships was flawed in that it relied too much on scores from the three qualifying competitions and that more flexibility should be given to Robert and selectors to make judgements based on observations and trending performances.

Despite her disappointment, she said, “I want to stand by my team.”

Comparative scores:

……………………….. Caroline Roffman Adrienne Lyle
Grand Prix………………72.540%……….72.540%
Grand Prix Special….. 72.627%……….73.412%
Grand Prix Freestyle…73.775%……….76.900%
Grand Prix……………….68.940%………68.640%
Grand Prix Special……72.176%
Grand Prix Freestyle………………………77.375%
Grand Prix……………….70.400%………70.340%
Grand Prix Special……61.314%………..72.902%
Grand Prix Freestyle………………………76.900%

Grand Prix……………….67.960%……….71.740%
Grand Prix Special………………………….71.588%