Federation presidents explain the decisions on the Olympic Format of three per team

Federation presidents explain the decisions on the Olympic Format of three per team

Two weeks ago, the General Assembly of the FEI took place in Antwerp. It was the first time in 100 years that the FEI held the meeting in Antwerp, Belgium. The President of the 'KBRSF', Stephan Detry and the President of 'Paardensport Vlaanderen' Glenn Maes attended the FEI General Assembly and were also guests in Jump Off episode five. They debated the decisions made regarding the Olympic Format of three riders per team. 

At the General Assembly the officials made the decision to stay with the Olympic format of three rider per team. Even though the equestrian world strongly stated their dislikes for the format. How do you explain such a decision? 

Stephan Detry: "To be very clear, there was a vote on whether to go from four horses to three horses. There was no vote on whether to keep the format of Tokyo. That is a very important difference. The FEI itself has already formulated proposals such as the third result that, for example, can amount to a maximum of sixteen penalty points. If something goes seriously wrong during the round, the rider can then give up more easily without jeopardizing the results of the team. That's one train of thought. Another is three riders and a scrap result. That has now been voted on. The fuss people are making now is in my opinion unnecessary. The FEI remains in favor of the four-horse format for equestrian sports in general. At for example the European Championships or in the Nations Cups, the format of four riders per team remains unchanged."

Glenn Maes: "According to me, the biggest challenge is animal welfare. That has to be our number one priority. This point brings us to the standards where riders can qualify to meet those criteria. I think we should go to a system where those criteria can only be met at the highest level of competitions. If thoses rules are followed properly, you'll automatically get horse-rider combinations who can handle that kind of level and in the same time so also the format of three riders per team. That should help us to ensure the welfare of our horses." 

So what is the format like at the Global Champions Tour? Can you explain why the riders aren't against the format at those competitions? 

Stephan Detry: "In the Global Champions Tour, the format is applied fifteen or sixteen times a year. So you can't say it's a political game of the FEI, as some riders claim. There are also riders against the Global Champions Tour of course. You'll always have people who don't agree with you. But as well as Belgium and the FEI ware here to help the riders, to make their life's in the sport more easy, not more difficult." 

But why do some riders feel that it is rather a political decision to keep the format of three riders per team? Is there a reason for it? 

Stephan Detry: "The FEI's job is not to go into conflict with the riders. My intention is to find a consensus with a third partner. We have everything to gain from speaking the same language, more likely a "horse language" let's say. After all, everyone has the same goal here, to defend their passion for this sport. So I don't think it's fair that officials are being shot at by the riders. Because all those officials are volunteers. They do this for free and don't earn anything from it. So that explains that this decision has nothing to do with political reasons, at all!" 

How are you going to communicate all this information properly to the riders? Because it is a lot to take in. 

Stephan Detry: "We've already published an interview with Ingmar De Vos on our social media in which he explains the matter clearly. Nevertheless in my opinion, we can't communicate more about this subject than we already do. Only one point has been determined, and that is that we are going to a format of three horse and rider combinations for the Olympics Games. This fuss is not necessary at this moment. It's only once every four years and now everyone is making such a big deal about and I don't know what for."

Click here to watch the full interview in Jump Off episode 5.