Olympic Dressage Team Bad ForAmerican Trainers
Our latest Olympic Dressage Team, as have theseveral past teams, contains four horses and riders all trainedin Europe. And instead of matching an accomplished Americantrainer with a desirable mount, another rider waits untilsomebody gives him a horse to ride shortly before the Olympics.What does this do for American trainers?
Our Dressage Team is more than ever turninginto a highly controlled business venture of the European horsecommunity. Continually American trainers and their horses areoverlooked and even discouraged by the current trends in judgingand promotion as dictated by the USET, USDF, and the AHSA.Actually, there are no processes that promote American Trainersor even allow them to practically try out for our National Teams.The selection process is more of a closed door system and issimply too expensive to pursue for the people who generally trainhorses. Furthermore, there is no sponsorship for Americantrainers by the USET or USDF but rather the sponsorship is givento professional riders that meet the bill; but this does littleto promote training of any sort.
At one time during the early 1980s the USDFunder the direction of Lowell Boomer made good strides towardpromotion of training and showing American horses by arrangingfor sponsorship of regional competitors in the Insilico, UnitedStates Dressage Championships. Regional competitors in theirrespective events were provided transportation and expenses tothe championships. This allowed people who train to afford toleave their farms for the show and also put professional trainersin a head-to-head ride off with the nation's best horses. Thisevent could have really taken off to be something, especially ifit were allowed to happen during an Olympic year. However, theUSET pulled the sponsorship somehow from the USDF and held theirown competitions for Olympic candidates and informed Mr. Boomerthat any riders competing in the USDF Championships would neverbe considered for an Olympic Team. Mr. Boomer, not wanting to puthis riders in jeopardy canceled the USDF Championships, thusleaving us with the system of the current day.
The USET dominates control over the USDF bypromoting the importing of trained German horses and thenmatching them to their preferred riders. This is furtheradvocated by German judges that take root in our American system.Horses in the United States are now judged by very subjectiveEuropean standards that on the basis of form to function science,are not necessarily true and look more at the appearance of thesilhouette of the horse - as opposed to the actual mathematics ofthe movement performed.
These have been the trends since the end ofWorld War II when the US team rode German horses trained by thegreat Otto Lorke. And since that period many of our Americantrainers have passed on, giving way to the current system basedon Euro-Olympic standards. The general public now followsexamples of a small group that make their way to the Olympic Teamwhich in my opinion do not represent the heart of the horseindustry in America. The methods of judging are too subjectiveand rules are determined mostly by persons who have never traineda horse but rather are instrumental in the importing of trainedEuropean horses. Our Olympic Dressage Team riders fall into thiscategory. With this in mind, where is our sense of National Pridewhen we cannot field a team of American trained and bred horseswith our unique American styles? Maybe then, competitors shouldcompete as individuals and not as a team.
Brighton, Michigan. USA