Results for Top American Combinations Similar in USA & Europe in 2014

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Verdades being ridden by Laura Graves in the Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Games. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Verdades being ridden by Laura Graves in the Grand Prix at the World Equestrian Games. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Dec. 23, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

A combination of more Americans than ever before competing in Europe and two dozen European officials–half of them top rated FEI 5*–judging at the top United States shows are producing results in the same range on both sides of the Atlantic, a marked change from just a few years ago..

The best results of several combinations at Grand Prix in American CDI competitions before the U.S. national championships at Gladstone, New Jersey in June and at European shows afterward indicated that the long held belief of higher scores at home not holding up in Europe may be a thing of the past.

The review of Grand Prix results for 2014 by dressage-news.com showed that in some cases–most outstanding being Laura Graves and Verdades–scores were significantly higher in Europe than in the United States.

The success of Steffen Peters on Ravel as winner of the World Cup and the prestigious Aachen, Germany CDIO titles in 2009 and individual medals at the 2010 World Games in addition to the enhanced profile of Americans in Europe is credited with helping produce objective scoring.

The lack of major disparities in 2014 was for the top American combinations competing at CDIs with predominantly foreign judges at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida and the California Dreaming series in California then showing in Europe. The Festival of Champions with panels made up almost exclusively of American judges and scores that are sometimes described privately as designed to “send a messagae” were not included for comparison.

Robert Dover, the U.S. technical advisor/chef d’equipe whe has led the recent American international drive that produced a better than expected fourth place finish at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy last August, has placed high priority on European show presence. In 2015, the effort will be extended beyond Grand Prix to Prix St. Georges and Under-25 levels.

Thomas Baur, the German show organizer who is in his second year as Director of Dressage at Wellington’s GDF, has enlisted 24 European judges–11 of them International Equestrian Federation (FEI) 5* officials, 12 at 4* and one at 3*–for the seven CDIs over the 12 weeks of competitions from January through the end of March in 2015.

He has made it clear the goal is to bring to the United States as many of the top judges as Americans can expect to perform before in Europe and at world championships and Olympic Games.

Along with those factors are more Europeans scheduled to compete in Wellington in the 2015 circuit–Great Britain’s Olympic team gold and individual bronze medalist Laura Tomlinson; German team World Games and European Championship rider Christoph Koschel, top Swediish Olympic, World Games and European rider Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén as well as the best Canadians and Americans.

The so-called “encouragement” scoring that in the not too distant past saw some American horses and riders receiving results at home that would rank them among the top in the world only to see them deflated in Europe has been replaced by more realistic and similar marks on both continents.

Among the 5* officials are Judge General Stephen Clarke of Great Britain; Germany’s Katrina Wüst, Evi Eisenhardt and Peter Holler; Wim Earnes and Eduard De Wolff of the Netherlands; Susanne Baarup Christensen and Hans-Christian Matthiesen of Denmark; Thomas Lang of Austria; Wotjek Markowski of Poland and Annette Fransen iacobaeus of Sweden. Some will officiate at more than one CDI in Florida.

All four U.S. 5* judges–Lilo Fore, Anne Gribbons, Gary Rockwell and Linda Zang–are also on the ground juries on the Global circuit at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

Top scores at Grand Prix of U.S. combinations at home before the national championships and afterward in Europe:
Steffen Peters/Legolas – 75.025% – 75.591%
Laura Graves/Verdades – 68.44% – 74.125%
Adrienne Lyle/Wizard – 73.070% – 71.370%
Caroline Roffman/Her Highness O – 70.750% – 69.670%
Shelly Francis/Doktor – 72.010% – 69.350%
Lisa Wilcox/Denzello – 68.680% – 68.420%
Kathleen Raine/Breanna – 69.850% – 71.430%
Katherine Bateson-Chandler/Wellnetta – 69.370% – 67.590%
Brian Hafner/Lombardo – 68.560% – 68.910%
Catherine Haddad-Staller/Mane Stream Hotmail – 70.270% – 69.320
Susan Dutta/Currency DC – 68.380% – 67.880%