Hooge Mierde - “It is very interesting to be the dressage director of the FEI nowadays, as more things are going to change now then in the past twenty years”, said Trond Asmyr, the dressage director of the Federation Equestre International (F.E.I.). With the F.E.I sports director, David Holmes, Mr. Asmyr was one of the speakers at the ninth Global Dressage Forum, in Hooge Mierde, Holland. During two days of lectures and demonstrations, on 26th and 27th of October, many of the changes were highlighted by officials, trainers and scientists. World Cup winner Steffen Peters (USA) was the star of the Forum.
The changes will have to be decided upon by the F.E.I. in the upcoming months. There are proposals for a new Olympic format with the Nations Cup no longer to be decided in the Grand Prix and the reserve riders to be permitted to start as individual entries. Also, the kür to music will even be more prominent in dressage, the FEI representatives predicted. On Monday 26th of October a very interesting demonstration took place by Physical sports specialist dr. Eckart Meyners and Olympic gold medal winner Heike Kemmer from Germany. They demonstrated specific physical training for the rider and explained that this can be an essential cornerstone for success. Official Olympic judge Katrina Wüst gave her proposals for a new way of judging the kür to music in a more objective way by using a set point system for the degree of difficulty.
On Monday evening a fantastic demonstration of horsemanship took place as Steffen Peters, from California USA, trained several riders and rode some horses, completely unknown to him. On the next day Peters continued to show his abilities by training younger riders and he even mounted an inexperienced three year old horse. Peters showed that training in dressage has proceeded over the last years, as he demonstrated the perfect combination of classical background and modern sports principles. He was applauded by the audience of over 300 dressage experts from over 20 countries and became the “star of the show”.
Other interesting items were the lectures on doping by Dr. Frits Sluyter, on the prevention of injuries by Dr. Rachel Murray, and on specialised treatment of the hoofs by Master farrier Rob Renirie. With much interest the statistical evaluation of 5 years of international judging by top scientist professor David Stickland was awaited. His huge work, the analysis of all individual judges scores at many hundreds of events, gave some spectacular inside looks in the judging process. Overall the five judges at international events have an average deviation from the total score of 1.6 %. “This can be better”, Stickland said, “I have calculated that an average deviation of 1 % is possible, and as a matter of fact this score was almost reached during the recent European Championships in Windsor”. Stickland concluded that the judges are quite okay, but the system of judging is not. “There is not enough evaluation, which is necessary for the educational process and a supervising panel must be introduced, as is the case in many other sports.
On Tuesday afternoon this Global Forum came to an end with a clinic by German top trainer Ton de Ridder on the preparation for dressage tests. He presented some very talented riders and horses, and showed the details which are important during the warm-up and can make the difference in the test.