While it is premature for me to give interviews, since I have not yet contracted for the position as Chef D’Equipe/Technical Advisor to the USEF Dressage Discipline, because of an upset in the media with several unsubstantiated reports, I have agreed to talk to Mary Phelps/DressageDaily who I know will try to report with accuracy and in an ethical fashion:
The position was open to all applicants. It was a job application, not a campaign, and the choice was given to apply publicly or in confidence. Because of my position as an International judge, I opted for the latter. Under the guidance of Mr. Weber, the confidentiality was kept intact through out the process of interviews and voting. Except for Robert Dover and Axel Steiner, also an American 5* judge who applied openly, nobody knew who the other eight applicants were who did not go on to interviews.
Photo: Anne Gribbons and Alazan competing at the Wellington Classic Dressage Open Grand Prix in 2009
However, in the High Performance conference call (which I was not on) that took place to vote on the recommendation from the athletes, there was apparently a breech of confidentiality which was shared with a media source. Some incorrect and confusing information was given to media which did not care to check on the accuracy of the information before publishing the “news.” Hopefully the statement from the USEF which confirms that only one title will be used and one position filled will end the speculations and allow us to proceed in a positive way.
I believe the reason I was chosen is because of the versatility of my background as trainer, team rider, judge, committee member and even horse owner at the Olympics. Another reason, I assume, is the fact that I do not view this job as strictly a coaching position, a statement I made already last year when the Athletes and High Performance Committee had a very important meeting in Chicago. Instead, as I reiterated in my interview with the athletes, my proposal is to try to create a National Training Program from ranking from ponies to Elite Riders making proper use our National Talent.
My first concern, of course, has to be to make certain that the Elite Athletes have the help they need, both Domestic and European, to prepare for the 2010 World Equestrian Games (WEG).
Secondly, I would concentrate on creating a strong Developing Program which we desperately need for creating future teams. Since our country is so vast, we will need several persons for this incredibly important task.
I have asked three of the obvious choices to join in this effort: Debbie McDonald, Robert Dover and Lendon Gray. Debbie and Lendon have agreed to work with me, and I am hoping that Robert will as well. My main task would be to oversee those programs and lend my judge’s eye to the process.
As far as my judging career it will have to be put on hold to some degree. I would seek to stay current by judging FEI shows where no Americans compete, and of course I counld not judge at the next WEG. I tried throughout the process to find out whether or not I was listed on the Jury but could not find out in time. As I told the Athletes in the interview, I would have dropped out of the process if that had been confirmed before they voted. However, we have three more American 5* judges available, and it is highly unlikely that there would be no American judge assigned for the panel in Kentucky.
Although I find judging fascinating and challenging, I am a competitor and rider at heart, and being “in the trenches” is very exciting because if all goes well, you see progress and it is satisfying from creative point of view.
I am gratified by the vote of confidence from the Active Athletes, and looking forward to working closely with them to build a stronger brand of American Dressage.
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