Carl Hester: ‘The right way forward for dressage’


  • Carl Hester feels confident the future of dressage is in safe hands following the recent election of the FEI dressage committee

    MARIBEL ALONSO’S election to the chair of the FEI dressage committee with an overwhelming majority of votes cast by national federations is great news for our sport. A five-star judge, technical delegate and veteran of many championships; trainer, owner, sponsor, rider (although not competitively) and businesswoman, Maribel is a great communicator in all of the four languages she speaks.

    I was glad to have the chance to hear her vision. With welfare at the forefront of her manifesto, one of her key aims is to communicate proactively “the benevolence of dressage”.

    She said: “I want to serve the sport regardless of difference of opinions and viewpoints. Challenges and opportunities are interconnected and require real teamwork, collaboration and openness to technology and innovation. I will aim for a better communication and transparency, but everyone has to show willingness to engage through principles of trust and cooperation.

    “The involvement of riders, trainers, officials, owners, sponsors, breeders, volunteers, grooms, media and organisers to promote the beauty of our discipline is vital. Sustainability, welfare of the horses and an integral vision to pass on the torch to the next generations have to be embraced with even more energy.”

    Britain’s own Peter Storr has been elected to serve as judges’ representative on the committee, replacing Andrew Gardner who has given many years of service to the sport, for which we owe him our thanks.

    Peter’s background as an international rider and trainer has always informed his judging career, and his main reason for standing for election was that “to get things done you’ve got to get involved, and to put something back into the sport I’ve had a lot out of over the years”.

    Peter too is committed to finding the right way for our sport in an open and honest manner. As judges’ rep he’s looking forward to supporting judges and helping the dialogue between riders, judges and all stakeholders with the aim of promoting consistent judging through training, management and bringing up new judges in the right way. He will also be keeping a close eye on how the code of points develops.

    It is very encouraging and positive to see such a wealth of experience on the FEI dressage committee, and these two, along with Monica Theodorescu (Germany), Patrik Kittel (Sweden), Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (Spain) and Russian five-star judge Irina Maknami, offer a good spread of nations.

    I wish them all the very best and look forward to seeing positive development.

    Leaving a legacy

    FOLLOWING the tragic loss of the stallion Party Trick, along with Sophie Hulme’s three rides, in a collision while the horses were en route to Blair Horse Trials, the fundraiser set up afterwards has been renamed The Party Trick Legacy. Its aim is to breed a few sons or daughters of the late stallion which might be good enough to get to major championships.

    Party Trick’s rider Nick Gauntlett tells me they have been offered the use of some proven world-class mares, and dams of world-class horses, to be put in foal using frozen semen from the horse Nick says was the best he’d ever ridden. The progeny Party Trick has produced so far appear to have inherited his best qualities.

    This campaign isn’t just about asking for money, it’s about being part of the next generation of horses and probably different riders at top level, so I thought it worth reminding people about the project [which you can support here if you wish].

    Let’s hope something good, extraordinary even, might come of such a terrible accident which could, alarmingly, have happened to any of us.

    ● What changes would you like to see in dressage? Tell us at hhletters@futurenet.com

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