International dressage competition organisers have been asked to invite only the top three riders to line up at prize-givings for safety reasons.

The request, made by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), is a result of moves to regulate dressage award ceremonies following some recent potentially dangerous incidents.
At last year’s World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Anky van Grunsven’s horse Keltec Salinero (pictured) bolted when the crowd went wild during the mid-week team prize-giving.

“There has been the odd dodgy moment, and we don’t want any danger to welfare,” said Richard Davison, vice-president of the International Dressage Riders Club (IDRC), which has been working on the proposals with the FEI.

“This is just part of the discussions we’re having about prize-givings — the proposals are by no means finished yet. We need a formal system — there is currently none in place.”

But he said that although only the top three would line up, the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-placed riders would be introduced by a commentator and walk on horseback round the arena and out again first.

“We need a trial period; this has to happen in consultation with organisers, because they’re the experts at selling the sport,” Davison added. “We need a more special prize-giving that’s safe.”

The FEI has also reminded organisers not to encourage loud music at these ceremonies.
Aachen showground’s chief executive, Frank Kemperman, said he was positive about the recommendations.

He told H&H: “Dressage horses can’t stay as still in the line ups, so if something can be done to keep them safe, to avoid a repeat of what happened with Salinero, we support that.”

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (29 November, ’07)