Christine Traurig on Taking up the Role of U.S. Senior Team Chef d'Equipe

Thu, 03/07/2024 - 17:38
Christine Traurig at the 2024 CDIO Wellington :: Photo © Astrid Appels

-- Text by  Kathleen Landwehr, USEF press release

Christine Traurig stepped into her role as the U.S. Dressage Chef d’Equipe at the start of the year, and the 2024 FEI Nations Cup CDIO3* in Wellington, Fla., was her first chance to work with combinations representing the U.S. Dressage Team. Traurig, who helped the U.S. earn the team bronze medal aboard Etienne at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, shared how her Olympic experience as an athlete and coach have prepared her for her new role. She also discussed looking toward the future with plans for U.S. dressage to be successful in the years to come.

Do you have a favorite memory from your experience at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games?

I have two favorite memories. First of all, it was an unbelievable feeling after my test in Sydney, then I looked up in the stands and saw my two children there: Natasha and Lucas. They were little. They came with our nanny at that time. They were there, and they had their faces painted with “Go, Mom” and “Team USA” and stuff like that. Of course, that is a special part of my favorite memories.

The other favorite memory—that I think my teammates would remember as well—is that I was the rookie on the team. I had never ridden at a big championship like that. I was last to go in the team competition, last ride of the second day to decide the team medals. People thought the medals were decided, and they didn’t think they had to be concerned about me. It was a special moment because that ride that Etienne gave me was his best on that day. He gave his best, and we were able to win the bronze medal. That is a favorite moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

How has your career helped prepare you for your role with U.S. Dressage?

There have been a variety of experiences that I've had throughout my career being a professional. First, of all, the training of horses. Secondly, the training of riders. Then, having competed myself in an Olympic Games. I also have experienced the value of a team, the support within the team, and believe in team spirit. I have experienced it from the rider’s point of view. In my role as Chef d’Equipe, I really want to make sure I encourage that. I have also coached other riders to the Olympic Games and at the Olympic Games with Jan Ebeling and Rafalca and Sabine Schut-Kery and Sanceo, so I have also experienced it from a coach’s point of view. As a Chef d’Equipe, you have to be able to wear a few hats. I think it is very important that those experiences have helped me get into this role.

What are some initial steps that you are taking to prepare combinations for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games?

When we talk about the initial steps, as everybody knows, our selection procedures have put into effect the qualifying period. It has started, and all the riders are informed of what is required to meet the minimum qualifying scores and that will establish a ranking list. We always keep our list updated from week to week because some people have waited a little bit to start showing while others have been established on the ranking list due to what they have accomplished with their past records.

I think communication must be clear to the riders, trainers, owners, and their support team at home. Also, we have tried hard to make the selection procedures very clear to give us the opportunity to provide the riders and their horses with the best possible plan to succeed.

Also, the USEF staff has been diligently working on logistics, like deciding on potential observation events in Europe before Paris and where to stable and so on and so forth. Everything is being arranged so the time spent in Europe can be used productively to make things as easy as possible for the horses to get from location to location. The USEF staff has been working very hard on that.

Also, we have some exciting new combinations which have not shown yet, but I'm also staying in touch with where they're at and what their competition plan is because they are new to each other. There are definitely very exciting combinations we have yet to see. I am always looking for combinations where I see something for the future. It is Paris this year, but the road to L.A. 2028 has already started.

What are some of your goals to develop U.S. dressage talent for the future?

When we look at the development program, it is very important that we always communicate the missions of our pathway programs to riders, trainers, and owners. We want to identify the talent and the potential horses who can contribute or develop to be able to contribute to podium results over the next quadrennial. We have to think in that kind of rhythm; therefore, the development program is paramount. We want to develop horse-rider combinations so that we have greater depths to draw from for major championships. That starts with being able to identify talent, but also for riders, trainers, and owners to choose horses where they say, ‘Yes, I see that talent.’ We need greater depth of horses that we can bring along and draw from for team competitions.

I've been passionate about the USEF Dressage Emerging Young Horse Program. I've always said that we have to train our next champions ourselves, which also encourages us to develop riders who are world-class competitors as well as world-class trainers from the foundation to the pinnacle.

Because of how big this country is, we must have a coaches' support network because one person cannot be in all places. As much as we talk about the development of the riders, we also have to nurture and cultivate that pool of coaches and personal trainers. I hope we all feel that we speak the same language and there’s cohesion between us all.

Related Links
Christine Traurig Appointed U.S. Development Coach and Senior Team Chef d'Equipe
Christine Traurig Appointed New U.S. Young Horse Coach
Louisdor, New Grand Prix ride for Christine Traurig
Christine Traurig and Etienne Reunited
Arts, Brock, Holzer, Seidel Identified as First Trainers of new U.S. Dressage Coaches Support Network