Outrage has erupted over para dressage’s lack of inclusion at the 2015 European Championships at Aachen with riders calling it a “backwards step”.

At the Global Dressage Forum (GDF) in Denmark (20-21 October), Princess Benedikte of Denmark, the president of the Global Dressage Foundation, was “horrified” to hear that para equestrian is not due to be included in the programme.

She said she was sending a statement to Aachen, to read: “Participants of the GDF strongly recommend that para equestrian be included as one of the disciplines”.

However, after it was pointed out the venue was awarded the event by the FEI, she said she would no longer pursue this, but would “continue to press for future integration of para dressage championships”.

The FEI told H&H the dressage and para dressage championships were always due to run separately — with para dressage at Deauville.

“This was a decision taken by the organiser for logistical reasons,” said a spokesman.

British Dressage was not surprised either.

“While we always like to see para dressage incorporated at major championships, our understanding is that it was not included as part of the bid,” said BD’s Jason Brautigam.

“As we have seen at Herning [2013] and at Caen for the World Equestrian Games, para equestrian adds another dimension. As this sport continues to grow, we are sure inclusion will become the norm rather than the exception.”

But riders were appalled after the news was put into the public eye at the GDF last week.

“Shame on us, how can this be good for the sport?” asked Wayne Channon, president of the International Dressage Riders Club.

Paralympic gold medal-winner Natasha Baker told H&H: “After successful combined competitions it seems a backward step for para dressage and its profile.”

An Aachen spokesman told H&H: “All the 2015 competition sites are next to each other; this idea of staging several disciplines in one location is the central focus, but there is only sufficient space to implement this. Staging a further discipline is not conceivable.”

Read the full Global Dressage Forum report in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine (30 October 2014).

This news story was first publised in Horse & Hound magazine (30 October 2014).