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February 21, 2012

Robert Ridland Approved As New Show Jumping Chef d’Equipe

The U.S. Equestrian Federation's Executive Committee has approved the recommendation of Robert Ridland as the next U.S. show jumping chef d'equipe/technical advisor pending the successful negotiation of a contract.

This position will become available in 2013 when George Morris retires after six years of service. Ridland was recommended to the Executive Committee by the Show Jumping Eligible Athlete Committee and the Show Jumping High Performance Committee. Eric Straus chaired the Search Committee, which guided this process.

This process began in June, and six applications were received by the USEF for consideration.            

Ridland, of Irvine, Calif., has a vast scope of knowledge and experience. In addition to having competed in the Olympics, he is a course designer, competition manager and has served on the FEI Jumping Committee and on the USEF Board of Directors. His company, Blenheim EquiSports, manages horse shows in California and has run three Rolex FEI World Cup Finals in Las Vegas.

“Robert has a great history in the sport,” said Morris. “He started in California with Jimmy Williams, who gave him a great base. He’s a very classy guy, beautifully educated. He talks well, looks the part and I’m sure will be the part.”

Ridland worked with Bert de Nemethy at the USET headquarters in Gladstone, N.J., in the 1970s. “He has the USET/European background. He has all the credentials,” said Morris. “He’s a sort of a bridge, I would say. Bert [was chef d’equipe], then Frank, then I took over. That was the original team, the old guard after the war. Robert is in between, not of the old or new guard but still a remnant of Bert. He’s a great bridge to the younger people today. From many perspectives it’s a great choice.”

Morris said he won’t miss the job. “I did it a long time,” he said. “I’m riding a great deal, teaching a great deal. I will teach and travel and stay in touch with them. I’m doing the George H. Morris educational program with the [USEF].”

He hopes Ridland will continue to make team selection a balance between objective and subjective selection. “He will be sensitive to trying to bring standards of showing here at home back up,” said Morris. “I hope he’s on board with the fact that we have to have a continual presence in Europe, diplomatically, have to have a presence and hopefully a top presence for the good of the sport, not just for our sport but all over the world. I’m sure he will attend to all those facets.

“I’m not going to look over Robert’s shoulder,” Morris added. “Frank didn’t look over my shoulder. But I’m going to be very supportive.”