One of biggest obstacles dressage faces is how to make it more easily understandable to the general public, and Adequan Global Dressage Festival sports director Thomas Baur is hoping he’s found the solution.
Grand Prix Knock-Out Dressage will make its debut at the Adequan GDF in Wellington, Fla., on Jan. 10, right before the evening’s featured freestyle class.
The competition, which serves as an exhibition of dressage and is not held under U.S. Equestrian Federation or Fédération Equestre Internationale rules, was started as an experiment by organizers at the Helsinki CDI (Finland) in October and was held again at a show in Maastricht, the Netherlands, in December.
In the competition—which allows four horse-and-rider combinations—a pair of riders contest a shortened version of a Grand Prix test at the same time. The test highlights some of the most complicated movements, like piaffe and passage, and lasts about two minutes.
The combinations are judged by three judges, sitting at C, who score the movements the same as they would for a normal Grand Prix test. A winner is chosen from each pair, and they go head-to-head again with a more complicated test to determine a winner. The losers from both pairs ride off to determine third and fourth place.
“We thought that it would be an add-on for the shows in Wellington,” said Baur. “It has to be developed. We are in the very first stage of it. It’s quite promising and could be something for the future to make dressage more attractive.”
Baur said the plan is to hold a Knock-Out competition before the Friday night freestyles of every CDI held at the GDF facility, and that the rules and format will be tweaked as they go on.
“At the moment, it depends on how the speaker sells it to the public and how transparent the judging can be made for the spectators,” he said. “That’s the challenge at the moment. The freestyle is our top selling product, but maybe this is something for the future to be attractive to the public.”