The final afternoon of the two-day FEI Sports Forum focused on Para-Equestrian Dressage and non-Olympic sports, with the session being opened by Trond Asmyr, FEI Director, Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage.
The decision to limit Freestyle to the top third of athletes in each Para-Equestrian grade at Games and Championships was well received by National Federations. This will be implemented for the first time at a Paralympic Games at Rio 2016. The proposal to implement a change to the drop score system for team results from 1 January 2017 was equally well received.
Key areas from the inaugural Para-Equestrian Dressage Forum in Essen (GER) last month, which was attended by para-equestrian experts and athletes from 22 countries, were also highlighted, including re-naming the grades, recruiting new and young riders, pushing for more combined Para-Equestrian Dressage and able bodied Dressage events, and the potential for an FEI World Cup™ series with sponsor support.
“Maintaining the focus on Para-Equestrian Dressage is our top priority,” explained Trond Asmyr. “A record-breaking 33 nations and 100 riders and horses competed for Para-Equestrian Dressage medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014, which was a major breakthrough.
“The Paralympic Games are now the second largest multi-sport event in the world, and next year we will be celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Para-Equestrian Dressage in the Paralympic Movement at the Rio 2016 Games. The FEI is wholeheartedly committed to growing Para-Equestrian Dressage and creating more opportunities for our athletes to compete at the top-level.”
Proposals for Driving, Endurance, Vaulting, Reining
The Technical Committees for Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining made several proposals for consideration at today’s Sports Forum specifically on Championships formats, and with spectator experience at the forefront.
The proposals, which can be referenced in full here, include:
- Driving four-in-hand: shorter dressage test for individuals; for teams (all in one day): dressage, pas-de-deux and cones relay, or combined marathon; pure cone event for individual drivers
- Endurance: change from one-day 160km format to a two-day 100km-per-day format, with a controlled start on the second day; maximum of four combinations per National Federation, and only highest placed three to count for team classification; countries starting with less than three combinations only eligible for individual classifications
- Vaulting: introduce “Nations Format” team classification (composition - one Individual Female, one Individual Male and one Squad); recreating the atmosphere of Vaulting at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 by consulting with event organisers on lighting, music and spectator engagement
- Reining: maximum number of athletes at Championships: 100; individuals in the Final to choose own music
National Federations flagged the need to safeguard horse welfare and respect rest periods, following the proposal of the two-day, 100km-per-day Endurance format. There was also support from National Federations to introduce the Nations Format in Vaulting and several of the innovations proposed for Driving were backed by delegates.
The session concluded with a Reining Round Table focusing on the revision of the competition and Championships format, pattern classification and a presentation of Para-Reining competitions (CPERIs).
FEI Athlete Committee Inaugural Meeting
The first FEI Athletes’ Committee meeting since the FEI Athlete Representative elections last year was also held at FEI Headquarters today.
“Athletes play a vital role in the way equestrian sport is developing and appealing to wider audiences, thanks to their experience, passion and knowledge of the sport,” said Maria Gretzer, Chair of the FEI Athlete Committee. “Our first session was a great success, and we’ll be covering athlete career management and athlete involvement in FEI Championships and Games at our next meeting.”
FEI President Closes Sports Forum 2015
FEI President Ingmar De Vos brought the 2015 edition of the FEI Sports Forum to a close, thanking all participants, including the International Olympic Committee, National Federations, FEI stakeholders including athletes and Organisers, and the FEI Technical Committees for all their work in preparing the proposals.
“The Technical Committees have put forward strong, and sometimes quite provocative proposals, but it’s been done deliberately to make you think”, he said. “The debate that I’ve heard here over the last two days has been very good and there’s been some real out of the box thinking, but nothing has been decided yet. The Sports Forum is a phase in a very transparent decision making process where the ideas of the Committees can be tested against the ideas of our members and our stakeholders.
“The Committees now have a very clear idea of what they have to do on some of the key areas that have been discussed, and they will finalise the proposals before they go out to the National Federations and then to the General Assembly.
“There are also several other areas that need to be further explored, and the FEI will be conducting a survey with National Federations for deeper discussion.
"We know the World Equestrian Games should be shorter and we absolutely need to control the costs and the number of athletes, so that Organising Committees can establish a realistic budget. And we know that we need to be very clear on the more detailed requirements. But one of the most important conclusions from the Forum is that there is a future for the World Equestrian Games and it’s a bright future, as long as we address the issues that have been brought to the table.
“I am confident about the place of equestrian in the Olympic programme. All International Federations need to understand they will be judged on different parameters than in the past. We are living in a more competitive world than ever before and all sports are trying to get the best out of that world. We need to take our responsibility seriously. We will continue to work very closely with the IOC and go to them with our proposals within the set deadlines."
After thanking delegates for their valuable contributions to the decision making process, the FEI President urged everyone, including those who were unable to attend the Sports Forum, to continue the debate on the dedicated FEI online platform here.