Five-star judge Axel Steiner will conclude his career as an FEI judge at the end of 2013, but he plans to continue judging nationally for the foreseeable future.
Last weekend, March 1-3, Steiner officiated at the Palm Beach Derby CDI-W (Fla.), which celebrated its 30th anniversary. Steiner judged the first Palm Beach Derby, and a slight mix-up sparked rumors that it was his last trip to the judge’s box.
The FEI requires officials to retire after the age of 70, but Steiner, who will turn 72 in June, received an extension from the FEI to continue through this year. He concluded his duties on the FEI Dressage Committee as of March 1.
“After 24 years, the bigger shock was that I was off the dressage committee,” said Steiner.
During 2013, Steiner plans to make a final judging tour around the world. He will spend five weeks in Europe during April and May. While in Germany, he plans to judge the Wiesbaden CDI, where he made his competitive debut in dressage seat equitation at the age of 9 in 1951. His final CDI in the United States will be Dressage at Devon (Pa.). After that, he will end the year in Japan and Australia.
Even though Steiner said he wishes he could continue judging at FEI competitions, he hopes to contribute to the sport as long as possible.
“You have to be a grown up and have a drink and say, ‘How else can I help the sport?’ ” said Steiner. “It’s always interesting to talk to your colleagues; you learn something from each other. That’s really the difference between international judging and national judging. In national judging, very often you’re the only judge. By definition, you’re right even if you might be wrong.
“That’s probably what I’m going to miss the most—the interaction with my fellow judges,” Steiner added.