The Missing Medals of Verden 2021? FEI Replaces WCYH Medals with Victory Plates

Sun, 10/10/2021 - 20:31
No Medal for WCYH Champions Charlotte Fry and Kjento at the 2021 World Young Horse Championships in Verden :: Photo © Astrid Appels

At the 2021 FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Championships for young dressage horses, the three top place-getters in each of the three age divisions were sent home without a medal or champion sash, making the entire prize giving ceremony and lap of honour a bit lacklustre.

At the press conference following the Finals on Saturday, Wilken Treu, managing director of the Hanoverian Society, which organized the 2021 edition of the WCYH, disclosed that the FEI had sent the medals to Germany but they were "stuck in customs". 

As a consolation, the "medal-winning" riders in the finals on Sunday were handed a porcelaine plate by the Hanoverian society as little extra, but no "ad interim" medals were used to brush up the glamour of the award ceremony. 

Not the First Time

This was not the first time that no medals had been given to the riders. At the 2019 edition of the WCYH in Ermelo, the riders were suddenly "medalless" and only received a sash with sponsor Longines' brand name on, while the owners were gifted a silver plate by the FEI.

In addition, that year in Ermelo, the breeders had to elbow their own way into the prize giving ceremony, much to their discontent as these Championships are supposed to celebrate "breeding". Swedish equestrian journalist Lena Sellman wrote a column about this neglect for Eurodressage.

At the time in 2019, Jan Pedersen, chair of the WBFSH stated "the choreography of the award ceremony was the organizer's responsibility."

The Plates were Stuck in Customs, Not Medals

Breeder Friedhelm Kühnen shows the
WBFSH certificate he received in Verden this year
for having bred bronze medal winning
For Magic Equesta
So fast forward to 2021 and the medals that were stuck in customs. Eurodressage touched base with the Hanoverian society as well with the FEI on the matter. 

Wilken Treu confirmed that in his communication with the FEI they always referred to "medals" but it were in fact silver plates. 

"Preliminary to our event we were always talking about medals but never got a correction that it is a plate now," Treu told Eurodressage. "Some days after end of the Verden Championships these plates arrived in Verden. After communication with FEI we sent them back, so that FEI could send them to each person placed first to third."

The FEI stated that, "this year, the FEI Trophy awards were indeed held up for a month at the border, and consequently sent back to the FEI. The FEI then sent them directly to the Athletes, who were asked to pass on the relevant trophies to the Owners of the horses."

The Horse is the World Champion, Not the human Athlete

The FEI replaced the medals by plates in 2019. 

In 2019 in Ermelo, 6-year old champions Frederic
Wandres and Zucchero did not get a medal either
"The FEI Board approved at its in-person meeting in mid-April 2019 modifications to the presentation policy at FEI WBFSH World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in the disciplines of Jumping, Dressage and Eventing and at the FEI World Championships for Young Horses in the disciplines of Endurance and Driving as from 2019," an FEI spokesperson disclosed to Eurodressage.

"Based on the principle that at FEI Young Horses Championships, the horse is the World Champion and not the human athlete, medals are no longer presented to the athlete. The change followed discussions and input from National Federations, Stakeholders, Athletes, FEI Committees and the WBFSH and the relevant Organisers and has been well received by everyone. FEI Trophies are engraved and presented to the athletes and horse owners."

The spokesperson continued, "As it was decided to no longer award Medals to the Athletes but to reward the Horse owner with an engraved FEI Trophy (gold, silver and bronze) and a small FEI Trophy (gold, silver and bronze) which is offered to the athlete, medals were not given at the last two editions of the WBSFH (ie: in 2019 and 2021, as 2020 was cancelled). The World Breeding Federation for Sport Horses and/or the organiser have the possibility to offer a recognition or special prizes to the breeder and/or studbook of the winning horse(s)."

Bring Back the Medal !

Eva Möller's silver plate sent by mail by the FEI
instead of a silver medal
This week, the "medal winning" riders from 2021 got their silver plate from the FEI in the mail.

Eva Möller, who is a serial winner at the World Young Horse Championships - having won gold in 2012 and 2013 (Sa Coeur), silver in 2010 and 2021 (Soliere, Danciero) and bronze in (Blickpunkt) - confirmed to Eurodressage that "together with WBFSH the FEI has decided that these young horse Championships are more about the horses, than the riders."

The lack of medals is adding to the already very confusing situation whether the WCYH is a Breeding Championships (WBFSH's responsibility) or a Dressage Championship (FEI's field) and which nation horses, riders, and owners are representing.

As this is not a breeding competition as such, where horses are presented in hand, but an under saddle class, the riders' role seems crucial in the presentation of the horses? Why wouldn't the top three riders deserve a medal for the job done, like it has always been before 2019? 

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