Shorter Grand Prix to be Tested

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Do audiences want to see less of Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro as well as other combinations in the Grand Prix. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Do audiences want to see less of Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro as well as other combinations in the Grand Prix. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

WARENDORF, Germany, Feb. 18, 2015–Efforts to shorten the Grand Prix in hopes of enticing television coverage of dressage will be displayed Thursday amid debate and petitions opposed to changing the premium test.

Five versions of tests reducing the Grand Prix to about 3 1/2 minutes from the current 33 movements estimated to take about 5 minutes 45 seconds are scheduled to be tested at the German federation headquarters in Warendorf.

The proposed formats have not been made available in advance because, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) said, it does not consider the versions as final.

Videotaping the tests will not be allowed so the dressage community around the world will not to be able to view and comment on the proposals, but available only to the relative handful of spectators at Warendorf.

The FEI described the tests as “a preparation session” or “very much work in progress.”

Before the test rides were scheduled, meetings of stakeholders–including trainers, riders, officials and show organizers–made it clear there was little support for a major overhaul of the Grand Prix, arguing that efforts to reduce the length of time or number of movements by a significant amount would fundamentally alter the purpose–complete training of the horse.

Opponents of changes to the Grand Prix cited the implementation of a Grand Prix Special for the 2012 Olympic Games in London that they argue dumbed down the tests while failing to reduce the time of the ride. The pre-Olympic version has since been restored.

Even so, the Grand Prix tests to be ridden Thursday are regarded as an opportunity for possible tweaking of the Grand Prix.

Comparisons to the Grand Prix have been made to preliminary requirements common in many sports–such as gymnastics and ice skating–performed before the headline individual performances that draw bigger audiences, thus more likely to attract television coverage.