Poor weather conditions during the Nations’ Cup at the CSIO St. Gallen, Switzerland, held May 30-June 2, led to the disqualification of the German show jumping team from the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona.
Due to the weather, and concerns over footing, the Organization Committee and the chefs d’equipe decided to alter the Nations Cup course by removing the water obstacle and reducing the triple fence to a double. In addition, teams were allowed to make horse and rider substitutions.
Despite these allowances, the German team opted to withdraw, citing concern for their horses’ well-being. As a result, according to FEI regulations, they have been disqualified from the Final since a team has to participate in all rounds of competition in order to be eligible. Germany will, however, remain in Division 1 due to a rule which allows the top division to increase capacity from eight to ten teams in 2014.
In the end, round two of the Nations Cup competition was cancelled due to the poor conditions, yet, the ruling stands.
Germany’s Ludger Beerbaum stated on his website:
“For us it was a real shame that the other nations didn’t speak up about the conditions during Friday’s Nations Cup in St. Gallen – the footing was just too bad. In the beginning three or four teams said that they wouldn’t compete, but then the FEI told us that the countries not competing wouldn’t have a chance of making it to the final and also that they probably would be out of the first division. That made the other nations [change] their minds.
“We were offered to ride our second or third horse as well as letting the reserve rider in, but we didn’t want to risk any of our horses.
“The second round was cancelled and that was just another proof that we made the right decision. Still there is a rule that makes it impossible to qualify for the final as long as there are not special circumstances present. If some other countries would have followed their initial decision not to ride, it would probably look totally different for Germany now.
“It’s not good news for Germany that we won’t qualify for the final, but of course that is not as bad as having a horse with an injured tendon after the class. On the other hand the final will not be worth half as much when a country such as Germany isn’t in it.
“There is so much talk about the welfare of the horses and that this always shall be the main priority, and then we are punished for prioritizing exactly this. In the class before the Nations Cup only half of the riders competed, as everyone thought the footing was too bad. I wanted to ride to get the feeling about how the footing really was. I jumped six fences before I retired, and said that it would be the wrong thing to jump the Nations Cup under such conditions. Maybe horses that aren’t that careful would have coped with such footing, but for a careful horse it would be devastating.
“The course was also changed; the open water and the triple combination were left out and the fences were lowered. So from a course point of view it became a normal 1.45 class that we do every weekend. And after the Nations Cup the rest of the show was cancelled which should be yet another proof that we made the right decision.
“We don’t regret our decision and will make it again if necessary…but the questions related to this will come up at every press conference after every Nations Cup, and it will be an entitled criticism of the FEI, because their decision in St. Gallen was based on anything but horsemanship.”
Following the abbreviated competition, the British team took first place, with Switzerland in second and Belgium in third. The current standings are as follows:
1. Switzerland, 180 (2 starts)
2. France, 157,67 (2)
3. Ireland, 150,67 (2)
4. Great Britain, 143,67 (2)
5. Ukraine, 100 (1)
6. Netherlands, 65 (1)
7. Spain, 64 (1)
8. Germany 0 (withdrawn)