Friday, May. 24, 2024

Debbie McDonald Steps Down As US Dressage Team Coach

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Debbie McDonald, who first assumed the role of technical advisor to the U.S. dressage team in 2018, is stepping down Aug. 1, the U.S. Equestrian Federation confirmed today. The news of McDonald’s departure was first announced by Dressage-News.com.

McDonald had just been reinstated as technical advisor in February, and USEF said at the time that she would lead the team through the 2024 Paris Olympics. That move came 14 months after the organization announced that it was not renewing McDonald’s contract, shortly after McDonald and her husband Bob were sued in civil court.

“After many discussions, it’s a difficult decision for me, but the right one, as I begin to slow down my teaching schedule to spend more time with my family, to step away from the technical advisor role in order to allow the program to find a successor that can ultimately help lead the program through Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028,” McDonald said in a statement. “It’s been an honor to work with the U.S. Dressage Program over the past 15-plus years, both as a coach and technical advisor. I wish nothing but success for the program and will still be involved with coaching on a limited basis. I look forward to seeing our athletes continue to succeed on the world stage.” 

“We respect Debbie’s decision to step down as technical advisor and are reviewing the potential of her working as a featured clinician for some of our programs and pathway events in the future. We are setting our sights forward to the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games and will begin our search for a technical advisor with a goal to fill the role by December 1, 2023, with commitment through the LA 2028 Games,” said Hallye Griffin, USEF’s director of FEI sport, in a statement. 

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McDonald, 68, who won the 2003 FEI World Cup Dressage Final (Sweden) and earned a team bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympics (Greece) with her superstar mare Brentina, took over team coaching duties from Robert Dover after the 2018 FEI Tryon World Equestrian Games (North Carolina). Under her guidance, the U.S. team earned a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, its best finish since 1948, and team silver at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. She also served as U.S. Dressage Development Coach from 2009 to 2019. 

USEF will appoint an interim chef d’equipe to lead the team for the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, this fall and provide support to athletes.   

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