Australia Announces Ton de Ridder Quits as Dressage Coach in Messy Divorce

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Ton de Ridder coaching Australian riders in Wellington, Florida. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

SYDNEY, July 27, 2017–Ton de Ridder, the European-based trainer, has confirmed his decision to quit as Australia’s high performance coach despite a last-ditch effort to keep him in the post.

Equestrian Australia, announcing the decision Thursday, said dressage in Australia “is moving in a new direction” and will implement a replacement program unlike any elsewhere in the world–an “independent Dressage High Performance Panel” and a volunteer dressage chef d’equipe/administrator.

The break by Ton after almost eight years as coach, trainer and technical advisor was messy.

He told the federation he was quitting but agreed not to make a final decision until meeting at Aachen, Germany with Chris Webb, the Australian High Performance director.

Before that meeting, an Australian dressage official published a report that he had decided to resign because of ill health.

Ton was at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen coaching his daughter and telling anyone who asked his health was fine.

“We accept and understand Ton’s decision and want to express our sincere thanks for his contribution,” Chris Webb said in the official EA statement.

“He is well respected by the riders and has made a significant impact on the development of Australian riders and their performances in the European dressage scene.

“Both EA and the riders that Ton has worked closely with over many years are saddened by his decision to stand down but at the same time we are very grateful for what he has done during his tenure.”

The Equestrian Australia dressage committee led by Prue Spurrett had previously announced plans to establish a new program to form a panel “that will work closely with EA’s national high performance director to ensure alignment of communication, planning campaigns and management of teams for WEG (World Equestrian Games) and major international events and provide support and back-up for national selectors.”

The panel, it said, will also engage support personnel to advise and support Australian dressage riders both domestically and internationally

A recruiting effort has already been launched for a volunteer dressage chef d’equipe/administrator.