Robert Dover began riding at the age of 13 and specialized in dressage at 19. He competed in every Olympic summer games between 1984 and 2004, winning four team bronze medals and also a team bronze at the 1994 World Equestrian Games. In 2013, he was named Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe of the U.S. Dressage Team. He will retire this year after the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina.
I think that American dressage—coming from the enormous country that defines it—is growing in quality and depth at practically quantum speed. I believe the positive momentum over the past six years has been palpable to everyone in our community. Once the team was given the coaching staff at all levels and a clear “Roadmap to the Podiums,” as well as the funding and resources needed to achieve our annual markers, the Americans stepped up to the plate, as they always have and always will.
We are a nation that believes in fair play, but at the end of the day, we also want to win. We are not afraid of hard work and sacrifice. That is how so many of us, who moved overseas for years to train among the very best, came to compete against and beat them on their own soil.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games proved once again that the United States is a world power in dressage. But we will never rest on our laurels. Right after winning our medals, our US Equestrian Federation (US Equestrian) staff, led by director of sport, Will Connell, and director of dressage, Hallye Griffin, along with myself, our superb coaches, and members of our dressage sport committee, began creating our next four-year plan, “the Roadmap to the Top.” We have clear goals for our USEF/USDF Emerging Athlete Program, now sponsored by Discover Dressage, for our youth and young horse divisions, so that they can enjoy world-class training and competitive results. Our development program for U25 (under age 25 riders) and developing grand prix combinations is equally in great shape thanks to support from Akiko Yamazaki. Finally, our depth at the elite grand-prix level has never been stronger, with combinations able to score from 74 percent to over 80!
Our sights are set for the FEI World Cup Dressage Finals in Paris this April, a great European tour with our top eight athletes this summer, and a fantastic show in Tryon at the World Equestrian Games this September.
I am forever thankful to our riders, coaches, trainers, owners, sponsors, grooms, US Equestrian staff, United States Equrstrian Team Foundation, veterinarians, farriers, specialists, and of course, the fans. We‘ve created an American “machine” that will take us forward into an increasingly successful future and ultimately to the highest Olympic podium!