When David Gribbons built his wife’s dream home at their farm near Orlando Florida, he was very proud of a particular feature; an elevator from the pantry to their bedroom. That was so his wife Anne Gribbons, international dressage judge could easily bring her suitcases in and out from her frequent travels. The decision to purchase property in Orlando was also based on how close to an international airport she could be. Gribbons “officially” began her job as USEF Technical Advisor for the American Dressage program in January, and while her judging duties have been scaled back, she is putting that elevator to good use as she has crisscrossed the country multiple times watching over our combinations who may be representing the United States at the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games.
Gribbons has seen every qualifying Grand Prix ride either in person or on video. She has stood by the elite rider’s trainers at the shows to observe, support and provide input if needed. She has helped to organze and attend the clinics organized in various parts of the country with Kyra Kyrkland, Steffen Peters, Guenter Seidel and Morton Thomsen. With the qualifiers for the National Dressage Championships now completed Gribbons and her “crew” Jenny Van Wieren and Eva Salomon at the USEF home office, are busy organizing and planning for some of the WEG hopefuls to compete in Europe. Gribbons was very candid about her concerns for America’s chances for a team medal early on, but has been encouraged by what she has seen in the past five months on the job. “We are in somewhat of a time warp, with some of the older horses fading out, and quite a bit of incredible talent coming up which is not quite ready for prime time. In spite of her “realistic” views Gribbons admits she is now a lot more optimistic than she was when she first began her position, one that many of the elite athletes had asked her to apply for.
“I have seen some horses that I didn’t think were going to be able to step up to the plate in time really making the effort.” Gribbons added. “I have seen some riders getting their act together in the last five months. I have watched combinations go from one clarity to another in their test riding. This is also one point where I am hoping to be helpful. As a judge, I sure know what it’s supposed to look like in the test. And let us not forget that we have a definite chance for a top individual medal in Steffen Peters. Around him and Ravel we will try to build as strong a team as we can to have a good showing at WEG."
As one of the most respected International “O” Judges in the world, Gribbons spent the past few years judging every major Dressage competition in Europe including the 2009 European Championships. Not only does she know what the competition will be like, she also brings that strength to the training program now in place to support the Elite athletes who have been without a clear leader since Klaus Balkenhol resigned as team coach. In the test riding clinic she conducted with Steffen Peters, Peters would work with the riders on one day, and then the following day they all rode the test “in full regalia” as if they were actually at a major show. All the riders were taped and had to sit and watch each other as Gribbons went through the tests with them. This program gave them the opportunity to experience the judge’s perspective about why a judge would give a score for a movement. It helped the riders understand about how and why a judge would arrive at the rider’s score, which is part of the collective scores at the end of the test. In addition to how the movements came out this score also reflects how the rider deals with any issues that the horse may have and whether the riders solves the problem during the test or makes it worse.
Gribbons is quick to emphasize this is no one man job, and that for a country as vast as America, with so many talented horses and riders throughout, that she is just “the connector, the red thread to be there to facilitate the connection between rider, horse and trainer. Although I am happy to work with any rider who wants me to I do not think that one person is a superman who can give every lesson to every person in the country and have them go along with it. That is because the riders are such individuals and they like to have their own trainer. What they need is somebody to supervise the training, and to monitor it and that is what I feel is my role. I am certainly capable of seeing if it is getting better or worse and have spent time with each trainer to observe and know what they have put into each rider.”
“This is a completely new way of doing things, and it takes time. But the athletes so far, especially the elite athletes have been wonderful to work with. I think that they are starting to realize that there is a support system there for them. My mission and the mission of the USEF Dressage with Eva and Jenny are strictly to be helpful with them. It is not about me or us but to get help for them to facilitate their efforts and their training and to help them get to their goal. “
So for Gribbons the crisscrossing continues, and David’s elevator continues to be put to good use.
Next on Anne's agenda
- The Developing Dressage Clinic with the UASEF Developing coach, Debbie McDonald - June 11-13
- Another trip to California where Anne will be working with Steffen Peters and Jan Ebeling and his coach Wolfgang Wittig.
- Fritzens-Schindlhof CDI4* in Austria June 25-27 where several Americans will be having their first outing on the international scene: entered are Tina Konyot and Calecto V, Guenter Seidel on UII, Catherine Haddad and Winyamaro, Chris Hickey on Douglas Hilltop and Cabana Boy, and hopefully Todd Flettrich and Otto who is first on the waiting list.
- In July Gribbons will return to Germany for Aachen CHIO where the USA has two riders entered: Tina Konyot and Todd Flettrich .