Open Letter from Former Olympic Riders on the Swiss Olympic Upheaval

Sat, 01/26/2008 - 00:00
2008 Olympic Games

This letter reveals what former Olympic participants think of Silvia Ikle's Olympic withdrawal and the decision of the Swiss Equestrian Federation not to send a team.

With great interest we have read the reader's letter "Great Disappointment" by Mr. Christoph Ringier as well as the statement of Mr. Jürgen Koschel in Pferwoche, the issue of January 16, 2008. Mr C. Ringier has been a long time, generous and versatile sponsor of the Swiss dressage sport. Mr. Jürgen Koschel was the national team trainer and has announced his resignation after he heard about the withdrawal of Switzerland from the Olympics. We fully share the opinions of both.

It is incomprehensible that Silvia Ikle delayed her decision to withdraw both her horses Salieri and Romario from Olympic participation until begin January 2008. She has taken away every possibility for other team members and for owners and sponsors to come forth with a new Grand Prix horse. The rule says that a horse, which wants to go for an Olympic berth, has to be in Swiss ownership before 31st December 2007. It is unfair towards the FEI, the Olympic committee, and the foreign teams which still have the possibility to qualify.

The rash decision of the Swiss Equestrian Federation not to send a team to Hong Kong without Silvia Ikle, is very disappointing for the other team riders. They have also trained and prepared for the Olympics. It is the goal and dream of every rider to participate at the Olympic Games. Of course we would have no chance there for a top team placing without Ikle, but there are also other nations which can not rely on one top rider in their team.

After all, current team members such as Marie Line Wettstein with Le Primeur, Marcela Krinke with Corinth and Christian Plage with Regent have already scored over 70% on multiple occassions. Elisabeth Eversfield rides consistently up to 69% with Lion King, Simonne Staub and Robespierre scored 69% in the Grand Prix and 73% in the Kur at the highly visited CDI Stuttgart and achieved comparable results at the CDI Stadl Paura. The young Patricia Scharli scores 69% in the Special and 70% in the lur at the Swiss Dressage Championships.

With this trend these riders would have been able to improve until August to obtain an Olympic berth.

This team withdrawal by the Swiss Equestrian Federation is not in line with the Olympic spirit and does not address the symbolism of the 5 Olympic rings!

It is know that Silvia Ikle announced after the Olympics in Athens that she would not transport her horse to China. She qualified Salieri twice for the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas and withdrew from participating there.

As arguments for her withdrawal, she listed the subtropic climate, the long quarantaine time and the 11-hour flight (we have to mention that the current comfort for horses aboard an airplane is better than ground transportation). All these facts have been known since it was decided that the Olympic Games would be held in Hong Kong. Also, a test event with horses from Europe has taken place there last summer and the results were communicated to the national federations. Furthermore, air-conditioned stables and warm up ring as well as a veterinary service for these special circumstances are at the disposal of the riders.

Silvia Ikle's statement that she is acting out of the welfare of her horses not to ride at the Olympics casts a suspicious light on the dressage, show jumping and eventing riders of the world and makes one wonder whether they do not think about the welfare of their horses.

We regret the hurried decision of the Swiss Equestrian Federation not to allow a dressage rider to participate in the Olympics.

26th January 2008

Signed by:
Doris Ramseier, Daniel Ramseier, Christinge Stückelberger, Otto Hofer, Samuel Schatzmann, Amy Katrin de Bary, Ruth Hunkeler, Barbara von Grebel, Beatrice Bürchler, Hans Staub, Francoise Cantamessa.

Related Links
Jurgen Koschel Resigns as Swiss Dressage Team Trainer
Swiss Dressage Team Withdraws from Competing at the 2008 Olympics
Silvia Ikle Not to Compete at the 2008 Olympic Games