EEF Resuscitates "Dressage Working Group" with New Board, Strong Interest in Central Europe

Mon, 12/12/2022 - 16:39
Winner of the EEF Dressage Evolution Team competition at the 2022 CDI-W Motesice. This team competition is one of the initiatives of the EEF Dressage Working Group to promote dressage sport in Central Europe :: Photo © Sona NIkova

The European Equestrian Federation (EEF) has voted on a new Dressage Working Group, which was proposed to the board and unanimously approved at the video conference General Assembly in Warsaw (POL) on 27 October 2022.

The EEF is  a federation of federations and an umbrella organisation for its members, 38 national Equestrian Federations (NFs), and nine associate members. It deals with all questions relating to European Equestrianism in conversation with the FEI.

Dressage Working Group

Members of the new Dressage Working Group include judges, trainers, riders, and officials to cover all stakeholder groups in dressage.

The new workgroup members are:  Elisabeth Max-Theurer (AUT - chair), Christoph Umbach (LUX, Judges), Andrej Salacki (POL, Trainer), Thomas Baur (GER, Organizer), Klaus Röser (GER, Riders Club), Natalie zu Sayn Wittgenstein (DEN), and Carlos Lopes (POR).

The EEF Dressage Working Group is not a new initiative.

Andrzej Salacki
"There was already a dressage working group, previously chaired by Ulf Helgstrand, but there was not a lot of activity within the group and Ulf (Helgstrand) had to retire after his third term," Elisabeth Max-Theurer told Eurodressage. "The Austrian Federation suggested my nomination for the EEF Board. I have successfully done a lot of work with the Central European Dressage (CED) group on many similar topics as with the EEF. "

Max-theurer continued, "as there was not really a specialist in Dressage on the board, I became the Chair, and I am proud and happy to have a really strong group of members on my Board. We (the new DWG members) are all motivated to work together with riders, trainers, organizers, veterinarians and of course with the FEI."


According to the EEF website, the Working Group has pinpointed two items on the current agenda, i.e. making recommendations for the Paris 2024 format and drafting a World Cup qualifying proposal for Central Europe.

"There were some recent decisions and rule changes (at the FEI General Assembly in Cape Town), where the stakeholders and NF’s voices were not always heard," Max-Theurer explained. "It is extremely important for European Dressage to have more impact with the FEI. It is also imperative to make our sport more popular to the public. However, the welfare of the horse is paramount, and of course in accordance with the training scale."

When asked which points working points the DWG will tackle, Elisabeth replied:

Elisabeth Max-Theurer and Arie Yom Tov, organizer
of the Group C Olympic Qualification in Hungary
"We are creating new formats for team competitions for developing countries in Europe to encourage participation in our sport. We hope to help NF’s from these less developed countries to improve their riders, judges and trainers. There is certainly a lot of work to do, but I think it is a good chance for Dressage Sport to evolve and become more cohesive. Therefore, we have to take on this challenge."

DWG member Thomas Baur re-iterated this point to Eurodressage. "My goal with the EEF is to do my best to help to improve things in our sport. Therefore, we need to be proactive and have answers ready for upcoming decisions made by the FEI. Our aim is to better involve the NF’s and most importantly the Stakeholders," Baur said. "We must make sure that all the voices are heard in the decision making process."

Interest in Central Europe

The EEF has taken a particular interest in the development of dressage sport in Central European countries. 

The EEF is supporting the bid from Hungary, following consultation of the EEF WG Dressage with the interested teams from Group C, to be the host for the  Group C Olympic Qualification. The FEI agreed to this at its FEI General Assembly in Cape Town, so in 2023 the FEI Olympic Qualification Dressage event for the Group C is hosted by Unikornis Stable, at Pilisjászfalu, Hungary. The event will take place 7 - 11 June 2023.

Group C covers Central and Eastern Europe as well as Central Asia.

EEF Dressage Evolution Team competition

At the start of 2022 the EEF announced a new format of team competitions, initially in jumping and then in dressage, aimed at the lower levels and youth categories.

The main goal of this initiative is to stimulate development, to support riders, trainers and organizers of international dressage events and to create new opportunities for riders to experience a team format. In addition, "the idea is to combine these competitions with education of officials and education of scribes," as the minutes of the DWG November meeting stated.

Pilot Event at Motesice 

The “pilot event" took place during the CDI Motesice in Slovakia and was organized by the event director Dr. Slavomir Magal, supervised by Dr. Ilja Vietor, Slovak representative in the Central European Dressage working group (CED). 

The first winners of the EEF Dressage Evolution Team
Five teams, representing either one complete nation - two Czech and one German alongside two "mixed teams" Slovak-Austrian and Slovak-Czech competed for two days. Different combinations of classes on three difficulty levels were tested: child / junior / young rider, CDI-amateur rider / junior / PSG or junior / CDI-amateur / young rider. Testing these different combinations showed that for fairness of results it is necessary to calculate placings and not percentage points in different classes. Despite the necessity for some optimization, the team spirit was excellent because every team member was especially marked by a distinct coloured ribbon and announced before the start. 

Event director Dr. Ilja Vietor said, “we are really grateful to Teodor Sheytanov, EEF Sport Development Manager, and the EEF who came up with the idea to organize this series and supported us by providing valuable prizes for the competitors. We hope that in the future this competition will attract attention and motivate more dressage riders to participate in international competitions.”

Photos © Sona Nikova - Lukasz Kowalski

Related Links
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Thomas Baur: "Does the FEI Dressage Committee Sit in an Ivory Tower?"