Amsterdam: FEI-Stewards take care of the horses

Amsterdam: FEI-Stewards take care of the horses

Five months have passed since the European Dressage Championship in Rotterdam. Anita van Os is now FEI steward at the Jumping Amsterdam in January 2020. At the European Championships in Rotterdam, she was the steward who had to report Charlotte Dujardin. At large tournaments, FEI stewards take care that everything is done for the welfare of the horse. She did her job quite correctly. It was difficult anyway. Because in Rotterdam the horse had a small slide mark, which she noticed during the routine inspection. But it meant the end for the British top dressage rider Charlotte Dujardin with her horse Freestyle. Anita van Os does her job professionally. The consequences for Charlotte are far-reaching. And of course that touches Anita van Os. “The team of stewards has to do a job, but we are people, not machines,” she says in Amsterdam. A station of the World Cup Dressage for the Western Europe League takes place here. A very important tournament and for the first time since Rotterdam the steward and rider meet again. Again with the mare Freestyle.
 

Charlotte Dujardin and her horse Freestyle, Weltcup Amsterdam 2020

The first competition for the dressage riders is the Grand Prix. The last starter is the British Top rider Charlotte Dujardin. The mare Freestyle goes through the test light and easy. The audience cheers. While the stadium speaker announces second place, Charlotte Dujardin leaves the competition arena. Right behind the curtain, all horses are routinely checked: is the mouth okay, the chin strap is not too tight, is there anything on the legs, flanks or in the mouth that should not be? On behalf of the World Equestrian Federation FEI, eight stewards, including Anita van Os, did this for all horses at this tournament. Everything is completely normal for outsiders. No abnormalities. But then something special happens: Charlotte Dujardin bends far from her mare and hugs Anita van Os tightly. The two women grab their hands briefly. They actually don’t know each other. But Anita van Os was in the team, that was responsible for the controls of the horses at the European Dressage Championships in 2019. It was a black day for Charlotte Dujardin.

We have a job to do, but we are people, not machines.” Anita van Os, FEI-Steward, Jumping Amsterdam 2020

For the multiple Olympic champion and world champion, the EM 2019 ended after the first test. Her spur had slightly injured her horse Freestyle. There was a small slide mark. But the matter was clear. Blood mean immediate exclusion and whether much or little blood does not matter. FEI stewards do not ensure medals, but the wellfare of the horse. But the controls of the FEI stewards have far-reaching consequences. The stewards report if they find anything. The chief of the ground jury then decides everything else. “I just did my job. I can do it professionally and still imagine what the feeling is like. We treat each other with respect. ”It is only a short moment when Charlotte Dujardin bends her horse in Amsterdam months after the European Championship and holds Anita van Os in her arm.

 

"I appreciate all stewards," says Charlotte Dujardin

It was the same steward in Rotterdam that had to report me. For everybody it was a very sad moment. She had to report me. She had to do her job at the end of the day that’s what they are there for. You know there was a bit blood on her side, so she had to report me. That’s fine. I understood the rules. The rules are the rules. And then yesterday it was the first time I’ve seen her since Rotterdam. She was just so happy to see me and I felt given her a hug. You know she still feels guilty for the fact that she had to report me, but the rules are the rules. I appreciate all the stewards. The stewards do a fantastic job and they are there for reasons. You know what had to happen happens. So you know it was nice that she was very nice to me, very friendly and supportive to me when I was eliminated, because she know how hard it was.“

It is particularly hard to be eliminated at the European Championship. At another tournament, Charlotte Dujardin might have been able to start again in another competition after a veterinary check, because later the small wound was no longer visible. “There was absolutely nothing to be seen after she was washed and she was dry,” explains Charlotte Dujardin, “You didn’t even know it was there. It was a freak accident that happenend. But it was there, I had to take the consequences and that I have made.” In the event of an EM, there must be a Grand Prix rating. So rider and horse retired from the 2019 European Championship.

 

Anita van Os has been an FEI steward for many years. Out of conviction and because she loves horses. She is a woman with equine expertise, riding, judging and training for judges. And at many tournaments, like countless others, she invests many hours in her role as an FEI steward. “Of course you never hope to find anything. Charlotte is an ideal, a model for many. And what is very important: nothing happened on purpose in Rotterdam. We as stewards do our job, but we are human beings, we are not machines. We have feelings. ”And when she said that, her eyes were wet

They do it because they love horses

On behalf of the World Equestrian Federation FEI, stewards take care that everything is done for the welfare of the horse. They watch the action at the warm up area for hours or check the horses immediately after the competition. They do it because they love horses and for the benefit of equestrian sport.

On behalf of the World Equestrian Federation FEI, stewards take care that everything is done for the welfare of the horse. They watch the action at the warm up area for hours or check the horses immediately after the competition. They do it because they love horses and for the benefit of equestrian sport.

FEI stewards work as a team

“We are a team of eight stewards at the competition in Amsterdam. The same stewards who are here today will be back tomorrow. It only works as a good team. We all make sure that the horse is happy here and that it is ridden and treated in the right way. We are 30 stewards across Holland. And together we take care of the wellbeing of the horse.”
Har van der Venne, Chief Steward Amsterdam 2020
 
If a steward finds something what he has to report – the order is as follows: Steward, Chief Steward, President of the Ground Jury. The Steward informs his Chief and the Chief goes to the President of the Ground Jury (PGJ). The Stewards report via their Chief Steward when they find something.

 

Hans Hartwig and Wim Knops - FEI stewards since years
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