The Equestrian Federation of Australia has appointed multi-Olympic medallist and World Cup champion Ulla Salzgeber as its new dressage training advisor.

The German dressage rider started working with the Australian team in January, when she held clinics in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The EFA hinted at the time that Salzgeber’s involvement could become permanent and has now formalised this arrangement.

“Now that the Athens Olympic Games has come and gone, it is time to focus firmly on the major objectives in 2006, the World Equestrian Games in Aachen,” they wrote in a statement. “The recruitment of an internationally-recognized trainer is a key part of the overall high performance strategy for the Equestrian Federation of Australia.”

In her new role, Salzgeber will approve the training programme for each team rider, as well as holding regular camps for them throughout the year. She will also be instrumental in choosing team members, after feedback from her January clinics led the EFA to rethink the squads’ structure and selection criteria.

Australia will now have three national teams. The A squad will only include combinations with grand prix experience who have preferably achieved an average of 65% or more at a CDI-W or CDI three-star. The B1, or transitional, squad will include pairs who are moving from small tour to grand prix, and the B2 squad will have combinations that have competed at advanced level and show international grand prix potential.

The teams will be reviewed at regular intervals and Salzgeber, together with the EFA dressage selectors, will choose who makes each squad.

Riders will need the experience and stamina required to cope with a “rigorous training programme.” Suitable combinations must also have the potential to represent Australia at international level and must have competed at major events, such as National Championships and CDI***. And if “they are unable to maintain the rigours of competition and training during a reasonable period,” they will lose their place on the squad.

The first teams will be selected in April and, by then, EFA and Salzgeber will finalise the dates for the first national camp.