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September 5, 2013

USEF Revamps Dressage Young Horse Qualifying Process

To qualify for the FEI World Dressage Championships for Young Horses in Verden, Germany, this year, you had to compete at either the Eastern Selection Trials during VADA/NOVA Summer Dressage (Va.), June 6-9, or the Western Selection Trials during Dressage At Flintridge (Calif.), May 23-26. Starting in 2014, riders and trainers of young horses will have several more options.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation is expanding the selection trials process for next year, and it will include eight selection competitions—all of which are held alongside CDIs. The 2014 selection competitions are:

  • Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI-W, Feb. 27-March 4, Loxahatchee, Fla.
  • Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI*****, March 26-30, Wellington, Fla.
  • Houston Dressage Society CDI***, April 24-26, Katy, Texas
  • Del Mar National CDI***, April 24-27, Del Mar, Calif.
  • ESDCTA Memorial Weekend Dressage CDI***, May 22-24, Allentown, N.J.
  • Paragon Dressage CDI***, May 22-25, Estes Park, Colo.
  • KDA Annual Dressage CDI***, May 22-25, Lexington, Ky.
  • Dressage at Flintridge CDI*, May 22-25, La Canada-Flintridge, Calif.

Combinations wishing to compete at the 2014 FEI World Breeding Championships for Dressage Young Horses need to compete in at least one Markel/USEF Selection Event and one Markel/USEF Qualifying Competition. The qualifying competitions are all listed on the USEF website.

According to USEF Young Horse Coach Scott Hassler, the selection system was altered to allow more people to qualify and attend the competition in Verden.

“The good thing about the old system was that you created a head-to-head selection with the same judges—at least two out of the three—going around,” said Hassler. “Let’s see how it goes and hope we don’t lose something from getting away from that [with the new qualifiers].

“But we want to make it a bit more accessible—not easier necessarily—but we want to fix the program to make sure we get the best horses and riders,” he continued. “The whole goal for me now is that we really try to entice our best horses and riders to get involved. I also think at a CDI you have a tendency to have more buzz, more happening and more people watching, and I think it should provide a good setting.”

The new system could also allow Hassler more time to work with qualified pairs before they head to Germany.

“I can now be in touch if someone qualifies in March or April and get them familiar and get involved with the horses and make sure things are good,” he said.

While only Charlotte Jorst and her Vitalis competed at Verden this year, Hassler would like to see more pairs crossing the pond starting in 2014.

“There are two approaches,” said Hassler. “You can say, ‘OK, we’re representing the United States; let’s only take the very best, and if it’s one horse then it’s one horse.’ I can support that approach.

“On the other hand, the years we had full teams there, there’s great team camaraderie,” he added. "You get team spirit, and you have put riders in an electric international atmosphere that pays off later in their careers. The more they can get in that scene and compete in Europe and ride with those star riders under that pressure, then you’re gaining something. A staircase is made of steps. The podium is the highest step of the staircase, but you have to go from each step to there.” 

 
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