“The sport of dressage is unmarketable in its current state,” announced Frank Kemperman at the Global Dressage Forum, Holland, 29-30 October.

Kemperman, the show director of CHIO Aachen, joined Joep Bartels, innovator of the grand prix kür, in demanding a shake up of the sport to increase public and national press interest.
“A show jumping round lasts 70 seconds, where a dressage test lasts 360 seconds, you try selling 10 dressage test to mainstream television at 360 seconds per test, it’s not possible,” said Kemperman. “We need heroes, too, both horses and riders. At the moment we only have two and you don’t know how lucky we are that they are from different countries [Isabell Werth (GER) and Anky Van Grunsven (NED)].”
Bartels and Kemperman also argued for fewer events that guarantee the top riders in the world will turn up and compete against each other. With the World Cup filling the winter months, they want a nations cup series to run over the summer, culminating in a major championship or Europeans.
“We have CDIOs CDI***, CDI*****, it’s so confusing for people, they want to know which are the best shows and that the top riders will be there,” explained Kemperman.
Bartels recalled riders fighting against the introduction of the grand prix kür, but pointed out how the music has created bigger audiences. He and Kemperman expect the same opposition for these ideas.

To find out how riders felt about the idea of a 70 second grand prix test, plus debate on more topics from the Global Dressage forum, don’t miss Horse&Hound 8 November issue.