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Posted by Julia Battams, EA National Performance Director for Dressage and Para-Equestrian on 23/04/2015.
Great Britain’s Lee Pearson (left), Austria's Pepo Puch and Ricky Balshaw (GBR) (right) at the first FEI Para-Equestrian Forum
Photo credit: Amanda Berens/FEI

INSIGHT - Para-Equestrian Forum in Germany

Nations from all Olympic Groups, Paralympic athletes, experts, managers, judges, classifiers and vets from 22 countries were welcomed to the FEI’s first Para-Equestrian Forum last month in Essen, Germany, in conjunction with Equitana. 

Julia Battams, EA National Performance Director for Dressage and Para-Equestrian attended the forum and provided us with an insight ...

"The two-day PE Sports Forum was intended to encourage interested parties from around the world to discuss and engage in the future of Para-Equestrian Dressage, which will celebrate its twentieth Paralympic Games anniversary at Rio 2016, and discuss the wider backdrop of PE sport. A SWOT analysis was done on a selection of subject areas and discuss potential future directions for the sport. Meeting the challenges of developing Para-Equestrian sport in Asia, South America and the Far East, and opening up the sport to young athletes across these regions and globally, were key topics at the Para-Equestrian Forum. 

There were presentations by a variety of speakers including Sharyn Gregory, one of Australia 's International Para-Equestrian Classifier and Suzie Cunningham, International FEI 4* Para Equestrian Judge from Australia.

Pepo Puch, first Austrian Para-dressage rider, medallist at the London 2012 Olympics Games (gold and bronze) and in Normandy 2014 WEG (2 silver medals) was present with his inspiring life story. He received a euphoric standing ovation with many delegates filled with emotion.

Amanda Bond, former British Dressage Chief Executive, updated delegates on the latest developments heading into the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games in her role as FEI Technical Delegate. 

Craig Spence, International Paralympic Committee’s Director of Media & Communications, gave delegates useful tips on raising the profile of the sport, working with volunteers, using social media and putting the spotlight on athletes. 

There were also speeches from Trond Asmyr, FEI Director for Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage, Ulf Wilken, Chair of the FEI Para-Equestrian Committee and others. 

The first day took the form of workshops with three groups discussing areas of Officials, Tests and Competitions. The future of the sport in each of these areas was discussed with great input from all participants.

Day two brought us all back together to summaries the topics from the previous day's workshops and priorities some areas to action. These discussions are summarized very well on the FEI webpage. 

For me the value of the forum was both in the standard and information provided by the presenters, but also in the opportunity to discuss topics in depth with the range of attendees including athletes, managers and organises from a variety of nations. Interestingly there was by and large agreement on most areas of weakness and also agreement around ideas to improve these weaknesses with barely any dissent despite the wide variety of nations and roles in attendance. In all a very well structured and very worthwhile forum with some exciting innovations for the future."

Julia Battams, EA National Performance Director for Dressage and Para-Equestrian

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