Dressage Sport Needs Changes -CHIO Director Frank Kemperman Speaks Out at Global Dressage Forum

Dressage sport needs changes. This is what Frank Kemperman demands. The show Director of the CHIO Aachen, the most renowned equestrian tournament laid the groundwork for a World Cup and European Championship series. “Like it is the case in any other sport, we too should continuously improve our sport”, Kemperman said in the course of the “Global Dressage Forum” in Hooge Mierde/NL on Monday evening. He said that for the general public, dressage is still a secret today.

Additionally, in Kemperman’s opinion, dressage sport needs more top-level stars. “Currently Anky van Grunsven and Isabell Werth dominate the sport.” To establish a lead of ten to fifteen athletes, among other things, a different distribution of prize money is necessary. More top athletes should be able to be supported by their sport, because: “We have too many amateurs, we need more professionals.”

Kemperman stated that clear structures are of great importance. According to him, these days there are too many tournaments whose significance is very difficult to convey to the public. Thus, the World Cup with four or five events should be emphasized more vigorously as a clear highlight of the winter season. In summer, an official series of three or four tournaments should be established. “This series”, said Kemperman, “could simultaneously constitute the European Championships.”

Furthermore, Kemperman proposed to shorten the length of the single rides. A dressage competitor’s average competition length is 360 seconds – compared to 70 seconds among the show jumpers. A more compact form would make the sport more attractive – for both the audience and the media. According to Kemperman, also the athletes’ commitment is required. “They have to advocate their sport as ambassadors also outside of the dressage arena”, said Kemperman.

According to Kemperman, the FEI World Equestrian Games Aachen 2006 with 40,000 spectators in the dressage stadium and top TV ratings have shown the enormous potential of the sport. In order to tap the full potential, changes are indispensable to Kemperman.