Leaving behind one of the most outstanding Olympic Games in Rio, the action moved to  Barcelona for the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™Jumping Final. This was won by the German team after an emotional jump off.

Marcus Ehning riding Pret A Tout held his nerve to pull off a faster clear round against the Olympic champions Nick Skelton with Big Star, giving an important victory to Germany!

This win was a fairytale ending for Ludger Beerbaum’s international team career as in Barcelona it was his last appearance for the German Team.

Just before the team final competition, there was a touching ceremony to honor Ludger’s retirement. He made a speech in which he thanked all his friends, his owners and his family that have always supported him. He added that he made the decision to retire a few months before Rio and he wishes all the best luck to his teammates in the future. During the ceremony Cayetano Martinez de Irujo, Eleonora Ottaviani and Rodrigo Pessoa from the IJRC Board, where Ludger is still acting vice-president, presented him with a silver box bearing the following inscription : “Congratulations Ludger for all the successes with your Team but…..die Arbeit mit uns endet heute nicht! Deine IJRC Freunde".

Alongside with all these events, there were a lot of meetings, some of which were connected with the proposal to change the competition format at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo, namely to have three rider\horse combinations per team without the possibility of a drop score. There is word that this change of format will apply only to the Olympics for now and that the discussion about international team competitions, such as WEG, Europeans, Panam and Nation Cups, will be left for later. All options are open at this time.

On this subject, the NARG (North American Riders Club) consider the three-rider format a “disastrous concept”. The IJRC agrees with NARG’s statement, which after all is backed by the following uncontested reality:

“Rio provide great evidence of the real consequences of this approach. Athletes standing by the welfare of their horse can mean surprises when horse are not able to compete. If a team has 3 riders at the start of competition and the first riders has an elimination score the team might as well pull out.

We understand the desire of the FEI to increase the number of nations at the Olympics. However there are other solutions to broadening the number of “flags” represented while improving the viewing experience and expanding the audience.

We feel that going to three-rider team will in all likelihood “kill” the sport.

Perhaps the FEI should consider fewer teams (of 4), which would allow more individuals and therefore more nations. A lot of little countries has one rider that can compete in the Olympics.

Alternately, perhaps that FEI should consider reallocating a portion of the overall Olympic horse quota …

In order to make the sport easier to follow organizers need to improve the scoreboard and the announcers (and TV commentators). Logical improvements to these two components (like it was done in others sports) could make the standing of each team clear for everyone watching.

As in most sports, larger audiences, either TV or Internet, are achieved through better production and engaging host.

Show Jumping commentators, as knowledgeable as they are, are so concerned with appealing to the athletes that there is a little actual critical commentary and the voice became background noise.

Concerning the Water Jump all riders (IJRC and NARG) do not think the water should be eliminated.

The Water Jump is a unique and important course design test and should remain available to our course designer.

The water jump is a test of bravery and test both the rider’s skill and the horse’s ability to lengthen and stretch. The exercise is generally followed by a rider-ability and carefulness test such as a maximum height vertical or a double vertical.

We do feel however that the specification of the water jump feature could be improved and regulations tightened. A more standardized water jump should be designed and mandate that could  then be universally produced and easily installed at any venue. The size should be mandated between 3,50 and 3,75 meters. Other factors in the presentation of the water jump should also be considered and regulated: the depth of the water colour, the landed lathe should be mandate as white, installation easily performed and controlled, scoring aspect also need to be addressed (having the tape AFTER the water jump is not a fair judgment of the water jump. As a solution, the landing tape could possibly be submerged in the water as the test is clearing the water not the tape. This could be supported through the use of fixed cameras as in tennis or some other creative approach.”

The activity of the International Jumping Riders Club didn't stop in Barcelona this month, as the IJRC Director Eleonora Ottaviani went to Sweden to join the second educational session of the Young Riders Academy program.

The Young Riders Academy is a program conceived for European talented young show jumpers, under the patronage of the European Equestrian Federation (EEF), with the cooperation of the International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) and the support of Rolex.

In Sweden the team that is following the third edition, will attend a challenging program based on a lot of different subjects, such as: doping, medication and prohibited substances, anatomy, physiology of horses, lameness young horses training, finance and management.

After this very intense period, the IJRC Club (Eleonora Ottaviani and Laura Borromeo) will attend another busy week, in England, with the European Equestrian Federation’s General Assembly.

With a modern and progressive approach, IJRC’s aim is always to work together with the FEI, the EEF and all other organizations involved in the horse sport.