According to Elisabeth Chat, Chairman of the Sport Commission, the reason for the disagreement has been the Prix St. Georges. This dressage test has been included in the European Championships from the very beginning, and citing dressage judge Waltraud Gruber, who attended last year’s event, a new time has dawned, as dressage with Arabian horses has taken a jump forward with regards to training and presentation. “The Dutch organisers sent a delegation to the ECAHO Meeting in Oman to reduce the requirements”, explains Elisabeth Chat. “But to delete this test would have been an affront against all the riders who have trained for years to ride this test at an European Championships; the UAE alone have four horses in training especially for that purpose. Unfortunately, the Dutch were not prepared to accept a democratic decision, as all sport delegates were in favour of the Prix St. Georges, just the Netherlands voted against it. The delegates showed no understanding for the situation and insisted that at last year’s event there were only three horses passing the test, while in truth there were 7 (out of 10) achieving more than 60%. One, Zonyx, even had more than 70% (download results). Finally, because they didn’t get what they wanted they decided to cancel the whole event, instead of accepting a majority decision.”
The AVS further states that “this (event) would only have been good publicity if the horses could have been shown as ‘Happy Athletes’, which in our opinion wasn’t possible under the current requirements of the Sports Commission.” The requirements for dressage, and only these have been disputed by the Dutch delegation, have not changed since the very beginnings of the European Championships in 2002. So why should the level be lowered, while at the same time the performances got better and better, according to Waltraud Gruber? Needless to say, that the all dressage tests are conducted according to FEI-Rules. However, one has to realize that Holland rarely had any horses competing for the monotitle in Dressage at the European Championships.
And finally, the sentence “The Netherlands are a country that highly values animal welfare”, can be disputed when it comes to what we see of Dutch Dressage riders in the “big sport”.