December 3, 2008 -- Fourteen high performance dressage athletes traveled from across the U.S. and from as far away as Germany to join the 19 members of the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF) High Performance Dressage Eligible Athletes Committee and the USEF High Performance Dressage Committee to attend a forum held November 11, 2008, in Chicago, Ill. The objective of the forum was to discuss the USEF's High Performance Strategic Plan for the period leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The forum was designed so that athletes could provide their input directly to the members of the USEF High Performance Dressage committees. These committees will ultimately determine the USEF strategy in pursuit of medals at both the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) and the 2012 Olympic Games.
With the help of Howard Pike, who served as facilitator for the forum, participants were able to work through a full agenda of discussion points relative to strengthening the position of the U.S. dressage team for both the WEG and the Olympic Games.
Two important topics dominated a large portion of the discussion. The first was focused around the best strategy to fill the role of national dressage coach and chef d'equipe that will be vacated by Klaus Balkenhol at the end of 2008. The second was how funds should best be allocated and invested each year to support high performance training sessions in the U.S. and to also maximize training and competition opportunities in Europe.
The input provided by the athletes who attended the forum enabled members of the High Performance Dressage Eligible Athlete Committee to meet immediately following the forum and formulate their recommendations to the High Performance Dressage Committee, which met the following day.
As a result of these highly productive meetings, committee members voted to initiate the following plan:
- A search committee will be formed by USEF CEO John Long to find a new national dressage coach and chef d'equipe. The committee will be populated by members recommended by the High Performance Dressage Committee along with direct appointments by Long. In addition to representatives from the High Performance Dressage Committees, the search committee will include USEF board members from show jumping and eventing, plus George Morris and Captain Mark Phillips, who currently serve as national coach and chef d'equipe for their respective Olympic disciplines.
- The High Performance Dressage Committee created a draft job description for the National Dressage Coach and Chef d'Equipe position which will be presented to the search committee. The search committee will fine tune and finalize the job description which will be posted on the USEF website along with an invitation for qualified individuals to apply.
- Applications will be reviewed by the Search Committee to determine whether eligibility requirements have been met and then a recommendation will be made to the High Performance Dressage Committee about the individual most suited for the position. The decision about who ultimately receives an offer for the position lies with the High Performance Dressage Committee.
A future press release will be issued by USEF when the job description and application are available for downloading.