Australian Equestrian Federation Reforming Dressage High Performance Program

Thu, 09/10/2009 - 00:00
Australian Dressage News

Dealing with national team trainers has proven to be problematic for the Australian Equestrian Federation. Germans Ulla Salzgeber and Ralf Isselhorst, who served briefly as Australia's high performance team trainer, both left or resigned from the program.

The Australian Equestrian Federation has been rethinking the format and came up with the following proposal:

The Dressage High Performance Program has for some time now been seeking a suitable model to deliver effective coaching programs to riders within the High Performance Program. To a large degree, this has been limited by the resources available, but past programs have not quite achieved what has been expected. This has been for a variety of reasons, but perhaps primarily because we have been looking to the one coach to deliver programs at all levels.

In recognition of the long term importance of ensuring that Australian Dressage riders at all levels have access to quality coaching programs, the HPP have reviewed the current budget and operational plan to focus on the delivery of quality coaching programs at all levels of the high performance program. The review has focussed on the preparation and support of elite teams and riders, the development of emerging riders and horses in AUS, along with the transfer of knowledge from experienced overseas trainers and coaches that work within the AUS HP Program to future AUS-based coaches.

The HPP have identified three key coaching roles within the HP Program to allow delivery of programs across the board to riders and horses. A brief overview of these roles along with the timeframe and appointment process is outlined below. It should be noted that while there is currently one position available as the scholarship coach, the HPP believe that ideally more coaches there will be more coaches undertaking this development role in the future and as funding allows.

One further addition to the coaching structure and appointment of the three coaches will be the addition of the ‘Dressage National Talent Search Program’. Information on this program is contained below.

1. National Team Trainer

The primary role of the National Team Trainer will be to oversee the preparation of the AUS Dressage Team for Olympic & World Equestrian Games.

As part of the preparation of the National Team, other commitments would include:

  • Assist the HPP and work with riders in the planning of competition schedules for the National Team & National Squad riders in Europe
  • Fulfil the dual role of National Trainer & Chef d’Equipe at designated CDIO Events in Europe where the Chef d’Equipe is unable to attend
  • Conducting two National Squad Clinics per year in Australia
  • Conduct training clinics with EUR-based AUS National Squad members in Europe as agreed with HPP
  • Consult with National Dressage Selectors in regard to performance of AUS riders in Europe, potential

National Squad horses and feedback on combinations at High Performance Clinics.
It is expected this role will be undertaken by a Europe-based Trainer. This position will not be advertised but the HPP will draw up a short list and then approach suitably qualified trainers for this role.

The intention will be to have this position filled over the coming months in time for the 2010 World Equestrian Games.

2. National Development Trainer

The primary role of the National Development Trainer will be to provide coaching support to AUS-based National Squad members and identified emerging combinations and their trainers throughout Australia The role would include:-

  • Conduct of National Development Clinics in States throughout Australia (NSW, VIC, QLD, SA & WA). There will be two clinics in each of the nominated States per year.
  • Attend the Australian Dressage Championships and one other major competition as agreed with the HPP to assist in talent identification and provide support to identified combinations in a competition environment
  • Provide feedback to National Selectors as requested on the progress of National Squad horses and identified combinations
  • Liaise with the National Team Trainer in areas of talent identification and development
  • Provide coaching support as designated to members of the Youth Development Squad
  • Consult with the Youth Development Co-ordinator on the development of the YD Program

The HPP have identified a Trainer who they believe has the necessary experience and qualities required to effectively delivery this program. An approach will be made to the Trainer.

3. Scholarship Development Coach

The primary aim of this position is to provide the identified coach with an opportunity to gain experience, develop and be mentored by qualified trainers and coaches in a high performance environment.

The appointed coach would be required to undertake the following:-

  • Attend and assist with National Squad Clinics in AUS with the National Trainer
  • Attend and assist with National Development Clinics States as designated by the HPM
  • Undertake training as required to develop administrative skills
  • Assist in the management of the Youth Development Program
  • Continue to undertake training required to develop skills a Dressage coach

The position will be widely advertised throughout Australia and open to all Dressage coaches. Applications will be reviewed by the HPP and the successful candidate selected.

While the HPP accept that many of our leading riders are also some of our best credentialed coaches, due to the nature and requirements of the ASC scholarship, riders who are current members of National Squads will not be considered. At this point of time, the HPP will primarily target coaches who are committed to a career in coaching.

Following the selection of the successful candidate, Equestrian Australia will make application to the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) for the coach to undertake a two-year scholarship which are allocated to sports (on a merit basis) to assist in the development of future coaches.

Applications to the Dressage HPP will close on 20 September. If EA are successful with the ASC scholarship application, this role would commence in 2010.

Proposal for Dressage Talent Search Program

The Eventing High Performance Program has been successfully conducting a Talent Search Program for some years now. To this date, there has been no such program for Dressage. However, with the introduction of a National Development Coach and National Clinics to be conducted in each State, there is now the necessary support to introduce a ‘Dressage Talent Search Program’.

The Talent Search Program is aimed at identifying promising young horses that may have the qualities required for possible selection into National Squads in the future. The program allows promising young horses to be identified, recognised and integrated into the High Performance system in their early developing years. While all the details of the program are to still to be finalised, the HPP envisage the target age for Dressage horses in this program would be around 4 – 6 years old. The process of identification would be similar to that of the Eventing Program, where one assessment day is held once per year in each State and identified horses (and riders) selected onto the ‘Dressage National Talent Search Squad’.

The process would be as follows:-

  • A rider nominates their horse/s on the appropriate nomination form through the National Office to undergo an assessment on the nominated assessment day in their State.
  • The Dressage HPP would develop a standard assessment format to be used at each assessment
  • The “Assessor” would mark the quality of each requirement through the assessment with all the scores added up to provide an overall mark.
  • The Assessor would most likely be a National Selector.
  • Assessment days would ideally be held at the end of each year. Progress would be monitored at State-based National Clinics and at shows throughout the following year.
  • Riders selected onto the ‘Dressage National Talent Search Squad’ each year would be invited to the State-based National Clinics with the National Development Trainer who would monitor the development of Talent Search Squad members.

A maximum of 5 horses per State would be included on the National Dressage Talent Search Squad. Talent Search Squad horses would need to be reassessed each year (while in the age bracket) in order to hold their position on the Squad. This assessment may be through competition results or re-presenting to the Assessment Day in their State.

Further details for this program are still being developed by the HPP, but this outline provides you with a general overview of how this program fits in with the new role of the National Development Trainer and the proposed National Clinics.

Brett Mace
High Performance Manager

Related Links
Australia Looking for a Dressage Scholarship Coach 
Ralf Isselhorst Commences His Role with Australian Dressage Riders
Ralf Isselhorst Appointed Australian Dressage Coach