Next U.S. Team Trainer Needs to be Based in the U.S.A.
The next U.S. Dressage team trainer will need to be permanently based in the United States. This is one of the criteria which Gil Merrick, Managing Director of the United States Equestrian Federation's Dressage Sport Programs, disclosed in an interview with Dressagedaily.com reporter Lynndee Kemmet at the 2009 USEF Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.
German Klaus Balkenhol resigned as U.S. Team Trainer in October 2008 after completing his eight-year contract with the U.S.E.F. The news caused much speculation about the reason for resignation.
Merrick said that eight years ago "our needs were different than they are right now and when I speak to people about what we needed as a country it’s clear that Klaus was the ideal candidate to come on board and provide that for us. We needed someone with extensive international connections and someone who had earned their reputation through success at the highest international level. His ability to educate our riders who were new to the international arena about what it was going to take for riders to compete at that level was paramount. He was able to provide education for our up-and-coming riders. What developed over the eight years as we had more top riders and top trainers emerge was the rise of individual coaches who partnered with our riders. It started to redefine our needs.”
What Klaus could not bring to the table was being domiciled in the U.S. For the Chef d’Equipe and National Coach for Dressage (that will be the title of the next person to hold that position) to live in Europe worked before, but it won’t work now.
Klaus lives in Rosendahl, Germany, where he runs his own equestrian facility and supports the international dressage career of his daughter Annabel. As Klaus is nearing 70 years old, he is thinking of the long term welfare for his family.
"Our needs as a country have changed and we now require someone who is based permanently in the US to support our riders throughout this extremely large country,” Merrick told Kemmet. "So, in order to find the perfect candidate the search committee is not rushing into a final decision which will take some time so they will hire an interim person or persons to serve as Chef d’Equipe at the 2009 FEI World Cup Dressage Final and the 2009 CHIO Aachen in order to give the Search Committee of George Morris, Capt. Mark Phillips, John Madden, Karen O’Connor, Sue Blinks, Guenter Seidel and Mary Anne McPhail time to recruit the right candidate."
That committee has already had their first meeting to draft the job description. They are looking for someone who is going to bring the ability to partner with each of the riders’ personal coaches and yet retain the final authority on the field of competition.
According to Merrick, Klaus has always met the requirements of his contract and has never missed being where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there. Some people wonder whether a USEF National Coach is allowed to coach and train riders who are not members of the US teams. “Klaus has always been allowed to have other students,” commented Gil. “It’s always been agreed that he is able to work with other riders as long as it is all coordinated through the USEF’s High Performance Director. He has always let us known who he is working with.”
The search is now on for someone who is able to be permanently domiciled in the U.S. so that they can be available at very short notice to go to the places they will be needed throughout the United States.
“It’s very different from having someone who is based in Europe,” continued Gil. Although the potential candidate for this position could be from Europe or another country outside the US, but must then be willing to relocate to the United States in order to accept the position. “In his situation it’s not realistic for Klaus to move here.”
For more in-depth info on the USEF Convention check out Dressagedaily.com