The U.S. Equestrian Federation voted at the Nov. 22 FEI General Assembly to support changes to the Olympic format for equestrian sport.
The biggest change in format across all three Olympic disciplines involved the number of riders per team and how they are scored. In the previous format there were four riders that participated on each team with a drop score in each round of competition. Under the newly-approved format there will be three riders per team and no drop score. The active reserve can be substituted into the competition at the beginning of any phase of competition.
“After careful assessment with much involvement from key stakeholders, we came to the conclusion that without the change in Olympic format, it was likely that one of our Olympic disciplines would be dropped from future Olympic Games. This would be unacceptable,” said USEF President-Elect Murray Kessler. “The International Olympic Committee challenged our International Federation to present format changes that would increase relevance among fans and broaden global participation or risk being eliminated. These changes do just that and while we all resist change, this might even make the sport more exciting.”
The driving factors which ultimately drove the decision for USEF to vote yes on the format changes included:
- Keeping show jumping, dressage and eventing all in the Olympic Games
- Agreement to protect the current format for each sport at all other major championships
- No reduction in Team USA members as the new format includes three riders plus an active reserve that can participate and earn medals
- Supporting the FEI and IOC’s goal to give more countries in the world the opportunity to participate
- Supporting the effort to make the sport easier to understand and fan friendly (The drop score was confusing)
- Numerous other revisions to the details of the format changes that were made as the result on constructive dialogue in the various committees and forums leading up to the General Assembly vote
The USEF contingent was also able to accomplish changes or delay implementation of other proposed rules at the General Assembly that would have had severe negative unintended consequences on international sport in North America.
The changes to the Olympic format along with other highlights from the General Assembly will be reviewed at the USEF Annual Meeting being held Jan. 11-14, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.