Carl Hester: A chance to shape the future of dressage *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    It’s a narrow field of eligibility, but I urge those who can to vote for the FEI Dressage Committee rider representative and to do it well in advance of the 23 September deadline.

    Voting is only open to riders over 18 who have competed at one of the last two senior FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), Olympics or Paralympics. I share the candidates’ view that the voting criteria could have been more inclusive. What about those who have ridden at European Championships? However, it’s important everyone buys into the process of having our representative on the FEI dressage committee so, if you’re eligible, plan ahead.

    The two candidates, Sweden’s Patrik Kittel and Spain’s Beatriz Ferrer-Salat, are not only fab at their day jobs, but are highly capable, motivated and good communicators. Both are multi-Olympians, have ridden at WEG twice and have been selected to represent their respective nations in Tryon later this year.

    I have contacted both candidates and, bearing in mind this is not an election platform, here is my take on the points they each hope they will get the FEI to address…

    With welfare at the forefront, we need to be able to rely on stewards who won’t be hysterical, but are practical horse people with good ethics. We all put our horses first and Patrik’s life has been steeped in horses while Beatriz’s passion for animal welfare is well known (she has 13 rescue dogs — even more than me).

    There is a fantastic opportunity here for a real rider representative who has form, is out at shows, visible, to meet and encourage riders, judges, stewards and organisers to communicate their views so that our sport can come together and decide on its direction.

    As Patrik said, there is a feeling that the sport has been a little split and the problem is that while people may feel the FEI-level decisions don’t concern them so they don’t get involved, they’re then upset when a decision is made that affects them. This is our chance to have a voice within the FEI.

    Beatriz feels a careful eye should be kept on the World Breeding Championships so we don’t see over-produced youngsters, but horses that will go on to grand prix. I agree.

    And then there’s the pressure to make our sport more attractive to TV and the public. As Beatriz has said, to accomplish that, yet keep dressage true, is a real challenge.

    Therefore, it’s so important that we have a representative on the FEI committee who we can talk to. Best of luck to both candidates.

    Beatriz is also one of the six candidates approved to stand for Luis Lucio’s seat on the FEI Dressage Committee when his term comes to an end this year. Can we get both in? It all filters both ways throughout our sport.

    Tricky transitions

    Best of luck to our under-25 team at their European Championships (13-17 August) in Exloo, the Netherlands. Here are four riders with talent for the future. This is a young championship, only in its third year, and I hope we can find a suitable position within the British Equestrian Federation/British Dressage pathway for it so the riders get the support they deserve. Like children on horses, this is a great category, which can help riders make the notoriously difficult transition from young riders to seniors.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 16 August 2018