Belgium Loses Medal Due to Judging Incompetence

Fri, 07/25/2008 - 23:57
2008 European Pony Championships

I always wonder why the FEI does not take European Pony, Junior and Young Riders Championships as serious as Grand Prix Championships, such as the World Equestrian Games and European Championships?! Youth riders train equally hard and spend equally as much money on their dressage careers as the big time Grand Prix guys. Yet the greatest judging discrepancies occur at their Championships.

Last year, the 2007 European Junior and Young Riders Championships caused a riot because of inunderstandable judging; this year the team test at the 2008 European Pony Championships was another example of delirious judging, as if a member of the panel experiences a moment of temporary blindness while sitting in his/her box.

If you had attended the team championship class at the 2008 European Pony Championships, you could not but agree that Belgium got "stolen" its medal because of a judging lapse. Belgium's anchor rider Julie van Olst finished 11th with her world class pony Haasendonck's Sultan scoring 69.368 %. Four judges scored her 70.263 %, 70.526 %, 71.316 %, and 69.737 % while the judge at B, Isobel Wessels, seemed to have been clueless and marked Van Olst's ride with an absolutely disgraceful 65.000%. Van Olst ranked 6th and 8th with the four experienced judges, and 25th with Wessels! This is inexcusable and has led to Belgium's fourth team position. Had Wessels given Van Olst the lowest score, say a 69%, Julie's overall team test mark would have been 70.1% and would have given Belgium the bronze team medal. Had she got 70% from Wessels, Belgium would have got silver.

This 2008 show season, Van Olst was the high point champion at two of only three major international pony shows organized in Europe beating acclaimed Dutch and German riders! Such lapses in judging hurt the sport and mock with the psychological, emotional and financial dedication of the competitors. Each year there are judging issues at European Youth Riders Championships and one can only urge that the FEI solves this internally, immediately.

The best scoring Belgian was Noemie Goris on the German bred Alexandre Dumas. The transformation this pony has made in a year time is incredibly. Both rider and pony have gained confidence in the ring and trust in each other and they had a peak performance in the team test at the European Championships. They scored 70.263% and placed seventh.

Trained by Carmen De Bondt, Goris produced a lovely trot tour with her dark bay gelding. Dumas moved well out of the shoulder and is light footed in front while tracking up behind. The test had no major mistakes and was ridden very correctly. Only the simple changes could have showed a better collected walk.

Belgium's second highest scorer was Jorinde Verwimp on the grey stallion Tonkawa SD. Correctness was also her motto and Verwimp rode her pony well in the frame with steady contact with the bit. In canter, the pony tends to loose his rhythm a little but showed good simple changes. They scored 69.421% and were followed in the ranking by Van Olst and Sultan on 69.368 %. Belgium's scratch score was American-Belgian born Alexa Fairchild on the French owned Neerveld's Blamoer. They scored a solid 67.00% which is a fantastic score to have as scratch score.

Belgium scored 209,052 percentage points overall (3972 pts).

Text and Photos copyrighted Astrid Appels/Eurodressage - No reproduction allowed without permission

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