Your Royal Highness,
The members of the Dressage Committee have been reading the articles related to your interviews in international press with great concern.
The Dressage Committee members cannot believe that these were the words of the President of our International Equestrian Federation, who would always back up her sport and disciplines and therefore they still believe that some misinterpretation by the journalists has occurred.
In one of the interviews you expressed your concern about the set up and presentation of Dressage, the popularity of which is abnormally low as well as some complaints about the judging and the making of panels and committees.
Please allow us to comment on what has been published.
If Polo had to replace one of the present equestrian disciplines, this would imply a large financial burden to the IOC. In fact a Polo team consists of 4 riders with each 5 horses, this is 20 horses per team. 10 teams would mean 200 horses which certainly would not cover the requested universality.
To our knowledge and after IOC official statements in this respect, the IOC has assured their intention of not taking equestrian sport out of the Olympic Games 2012 and certainly the Dressage Committee is as strongly engaged as much as the other FEI disciplines and FEI officials to maintain and even improve the image of our Sport for the future.
We would like to point out that Dressage is no doubt developing worldwide. More and more Countries are having dressage on their programs and organize competitions and championships.
Since the Olympic Games in Sydney, the Freestyle to Music has attracted even more public than the individual final in jumping. FEI World Cup Dressage Finals are attended by large crowds. WEG in Aachen 2006 had 130.000 spectators!
All European Championships have been organized with great success. The last edition in Italy, considered a “developing” country in this respect, had 14.000 spectators! Several important CDI’s are part of social life and an important part of the image of main cities in the world, like Stuttgart, Amsterdam, s’Hertogenbosch, Aachen and London etc.
The public in Hong Kong may have been different to other OG as, Sydney or Atlanta, but it was very comparable to Seoul. This is because of equestrian sport and especially dressage not being a well known sport in such countries.
We would like to bring to your attention that the level of our “O” judges is of high quality as further proved by the ongoing statistical research committed by FEI Dressage Department/HQ in this respect, including the 2008 Olympic Games, the results of which are available at FEI. Nevertheless, we all aim for a new ongoing education system, which will be strictly followed by all judges under “modernized” new criteria set up under the directives and strict control of FEI Headquarters.
All members of the Dressage Committee have a lot of experience in equestrian sports and especially in their own discipline. We are all hardworking and committed volunteers who respect the rules.
Therefore, we feel not to deserve such an incorrect statement relating to the choice of judges for Championships and Olympic Games “made by Dressage Committee within a selected circle of close friends”.
In fact all O-judges have been appointed on a rotational basis. Furthermore, the appointment of officials for Championships are now decided by the Dressage Department/HQ based on recommendations of Dressage Committee members as well as that of other stakeholders in accordance with present statutes and regulations.
In fact, the Dressage Committee is presently acting mainly as a “consulting entity” to the Dressage Department/HQ, concentrating mainly on technical matters such as revising Dressage Rules, which anyway become effective only after approval of all Federations through the General Assembly, or producing new tests for dressage competitions, which have been devised almost entirely upon proposals made by representatives of riders, trainers and judges.
Therefore we cannot imagine what kind of negative impact we, the Dressage Committee, may have on the development of our discipline when all key decision are under FEI Head Quarter control, whereas only technical matters are being recommended by the Dressage Committee, mostly after preliminary consultations as above and subject anyway to the final approval of National Federations or HQ as applicable.
We respectfully ask Your Royal Highness to clarify any misunderstandings or misinterpretations that may have been made by the journalists as soon as possible and look forward to your reply.
members of the Dressage Committee
Mariette Withages-Dieltjens, Vincenzo Truppa, Monica Theodorescu,
Dieter Schuele, Dolores Fernandez de Bobadilla, Minako Furuoka
cc: FEI Bureau
Alex McLin, Secretary General
David Holmes, Executive Director Sports
Eva Salomon, Dressage Director