Outcry over rider’s dressage test: US Equestrian responds

  • US Equestrian (USEF) has broken its silence over videos of a dressage rider that have gone viral online.

    USEF said it is “aware of the video”, of an amateur rider at a festival in California in January.

    The competitor, and her schoolmaster ride, were shown competing at inter II level in two classes at the festival. She can be seen using her whip, and kicking while wearing spurs, as she attempts some of the harder movements, while the horse can be seen at times bucking and tail-swishing.

    “She and the horse are obviously not on the same denominator,” the commentator said during one movement.

    In a previous test, the video of which was also shared online, the combination scored 52% and 51%.

    “This is a national class so we have some people here with relatively little experience,” the commentator said.

    The video sparked outrage online, with widespread condemnation of the rider, while others felt the personal nature of the comments about the rider were inappropriate and some said the judges should have stopped the test.

    “USEF is aware of the video and the various conversations resulting from what the video depicted,” said USEF dressage managing director Hallye Griffin. “Some of this commentary has not contributed to well-reasoned and respectful debate.”

    Ms Griffin added that apart from a minimum score required to qualify for freestyle competitions, USEF “does not have rules in place regarding riding standards or qualifying requirements to move up the levels”.

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    She added that there is a rule outlining possible reasons for elimination, which states that during a class or test, the judge at “C” has the authority to eliminate for use of illegal equipment, non-compliance with protective headgear rules, not wearing a number, cruelty and abuse or leaving the arena without the judges’ permission”.

    “Dressage performance standards and qualifying requirement proposals have been and continue to be explored,” said Ms Griffin. “A 2008 proposal generated a great deal of debate but received little support, however over the past several years, discussions have taken place to re-visit these topics. We look forward to working closely with USEF affiliate, the US Dressage Federation, in obtaining feedback and coordinating forums on this issue.”

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