Since 2004, a special show circuit called the Ecco cup has become part of the Danish dressage scene. The Ecco cup are shows for the Danish pony and junior riders in order to scout for new talent and stimulate and support existing Danish youth riders.
The cup was the initiative of Rigmor Christensen and Danish pony chef d'equipe Vibeke Degn Andersen. They believed that Danish pony and junior riders did not get enough opportunities to ride the full FEI programme including the kur to music at national shows. This is exactly what the Ecco Cup tries to solve.
The Ecco shoe company, represented by Hanni Toosbuy Kasprzak, is the title sponsor of the show series. Ecco supports different sport disciplines in Denmark to stimulate positive development of young talented athletes. The company is especially dedicated to dressage because Hanni's daughter Anna Kasprzak is a passionate young dressage rider.
"The Ecco Cup wants to give young combinations a push in the back to qualify for international shows. Initially the Danish team trainers created an Ecco Cup for the pony divisions and the junior riders. One year later the Ecco Young Rider cup was established," Toosbuy Kasprzak explained. "The ECCO Cup does not involve large prize money. The purpose is for young riders to have their own tournament and especially give them the possibility to ride their freestyle to music in a competition."
In the beginning there were only few participants in the youth riders classes than we had hoped for, but the Cup developed itself into a popular show circuit coveted by many riders. Annually there are three qualification shows and an Ecco Cup finals in December.
"We spread the shows throughout the show season, some are indoors, others outdoor and we want to have them geographically spread over the country," Toosbuy Kasprzak added. "I'm happy to see that the Cup has become an important part of the development of Danish dressage riders. "
The biggest advantage of the cup is that the youth riders do not have to compete against professional senior riders and they get the chance to ride the kur to music, a test which is not standard at every show.
The Ecco Cup is not only an exclusive show experience for youth riders but it also stimulates them in their equestrian education and development as sport atheletes. "Every year Ecco hosts a session without horses, of which the topics are e.g. mental and physical training, lectures by a nutritionist or a veterinary, etc.," Toosbuy Kasprzak told Eurodressage.
Danish junior rider Carina Nevermann Torup is one the Danish young riders who participated in the Ecco Cup from the start. Aboard Kastanienhof's Vitus, she won the Ecco Cup finals three years in a row and the first year, she also finished second with her pony Lady.
To pony chef d'equipe Degn Andersen, the Ecco Cup has become a fixed mark in the Danish dressage world. "The Cup has created the possibility to compete at the best conditions to obtain good results, which is a necessary part of riding at the higest level," Degn Andersen commented. "Regularly riding the kur gives Danish riders the advantage to many nations against which we compete at several international show. I truly hope that Hanni Toosbuy and ECCO will continue to support this meaningful show circuit."
Carina Nevermann Torup commented on the advantages of riding in the Ecco Cup. "There is no better international preparation than riding the Ecco Cup," Carine stated. "It also puts you in the spotlight for the national team trainer and selection committees."
The Ecco Cup also helps prepare pony riders for the difficult transition to junior riders level. "There aren't many opportunities for pony riders to ride the kur and the transition from pony to horse is already very difficult, especially when you have to make your kur debut at the same time," Torup commented. Carina has ridden 26 pony kurs to music before she moved to junior riders levels.