The 2016 World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Ermelo, The Netherlands, will be hosting the inaugural 7-year old championships on 29 - 31 July 2016. While 7-year old pilot projects have taken place at the World Championships in Verden the past two years, the 2016 edition will actually host the first official championship according to a format set by the FEI.
FEI Dressage committee member Hans-Christian Matthiesen is the driving force behind solidifying a format for and instating the 7-year old Championship at the World Young Horse Championships.
"Our goal was to increase the sport factor at the World Young Horse Championships," Matthiesen told Eurodressage. "We did not want to hold a 4-year old Championship in order not to push young horses too fast, but we opted for a 7-year old Championship instead. It offers a more difficult test and it is more attractive to watch."
The demand for a 7-year old Championship came from riders and spectators alike. The example was set by the Falsterbo International Horse Show in Sweden where each year the "Open Scandinavian Championships" for 7-year olds are being held and considered one of the crowd magnets of the show.
The format for the 7-year old World Championships in Ermelo will be slightly different from Falsterbo, where horses are judged purely on a technical level for their performance in a developing Prix St Georges horse test.
"Young Horse classes for 7-year old horses can be judged by a Ground Jury of three or five FEI Judges," Matthiesen explained. "For a Ground Jury of 3, the President sits at C and judges only the technical execution of the test. The second and third judges sit at E or B and judge only the quality of the horse. For a Ground Jury of 5, the President and a second Judge sit at C and a third Ground Jury Member at E, judging only the quality of the horse by using a joint scoring method connected by headsets. The other two Ground Jury Members are individually judging only the technical execution of the test, one sitting at M and the other at B, but neither connected among each other nor connected to the judges at C and E. The quality of the horse and the technical execution of the test shall be weighted each with 50% towards the end result. All errors have to be deducted according to the FEI Rules."
Riders will get an explanation for the individual marks by detailed comments on the test sheet. "Comments after each ride are not compulsory. However, they are recommended in order to make the competition more attractive to the public," Matthiesen added.
Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, and Sweden are already actively including team selection for 7-year olds in their standard 5 and 6-year old team selection and observation trials. The first horses selected for Ermelo have already been announced.
Photo © Astrid Appels
Eurodressage Coverage of the 2016 World Young Horse Championships