IDOC Pacific FEI Refresher Seminar @ Aachen CHIO 2017

What a mouthful that title is.. IDOC stands for the International Dressage Officials Club. This FEI Refresher Seminar was held specifically for IDOC members in the Asia Pacific region. The Aachen CHIO was chosen as the venue for this event. The seminar was conducted by Mary Seefried and Peter Holler, and Maria Schwennesen helped organised all 30 of us from different countries / regions – like herding cats really!


The IDOC Pacific members

The Aachen CHIO is one of the biggest and most prestigious horse shows in the world, and is held in Aachen, Germany every year. It showcases dressage, showjumping, eventing, vaulting and 4-in-hand driving events. You will watch the best riders / drivers compete to win top honour in each discipline. To say it is spectacular is an understatement!

To stay current as a FEI 2* judge, I am obligated to do a refresher seminar once every 3 years, as well as fulfill other judging requirements. I took the opportunity to come to Aachen this year and I do not regret my decision one bit.

We started the first day (Wednesday) with a theory session, then proceeded to the show grounds to watch the Prix St Georges CDI. Our accreditation meant that we had access to most areas, and had great seats in the dressage stadium.


Peter Holler and Mary Seefried


On Thursday, we watched the Grand Prix CDIO which took up the better part of the day and had some shopping time (there are many trade stands at the show and the shopping is amazing!) before we had the official IDOC dinner.



On Friday, we started again with theory and watching videos of the Grand Prix yesterday. Everyone had to review a number of tests from the day before and was then asked to present their observations to the group. From 3.30 pm onwards, there was the U25 Grand Prix, which is a different test from the normal Grand Prix. To see the young riders ride to such a high standard was pretty cool! That night, it was the Grand Prix Special CDI, which finished probably about 10 pm. Helen Langehanenberg on Damsey won this class – this horse has a great extended walk!


4-in-hand dressage



Dressage warm up arena

On Saturday, we had a lie in, which was much appreciated by everyone after the long days. We were only required to be at the show grounds at 11 am for the Grand Prix Special CDIO. We watched some pretty amazing horses – all vying for the top spot in the competition. Germany beat USA but USA has some seriously good riders and horses. They have definitely come a long way with their dressage. Laura Graves and Verdades are definitely stars!


A very happy Isabell Werth

After that finished, I went out to the 4-in-hand marathon course which was breathtaking. I forgot how much I missed my time in the UK when I was grooming for David Gulley, farrier / harness driver and we went to driving competitions all the time. The skill, speed and precision is out of this world when you watch them negotiate the obstacles.


Out on the marathon course for the 4-in-hand driving


At 6 pm, we did some theory on the Freestyle judging directives before watching the Inter 1 at 7 pm, followed by the Grand Prix Freestyle CDI. Each judge was also asked to sit with Mary and Peter during a test and judge each movement of the test, as it went on. This showed whether our marks were in line or not with the baseline standard. Fairly nerve-wrecking at the start for sure! That night, the skies opened and there was torrential rain. Of course I had left my raincoat in the hotel room, only today! Got home about 1130 pm rather wet and soggy.


Although we were all dressage enthusiasts, some of us were getting a little dressaged out by Saturday after a very long 4 days. This changed when we sat down on Sunday to watch the Grand Prix Freestyle CDIO; the best of the world competing against each other! Isabell Werth put on a great show to score 89% and no one else could beat her! Sonke Rothenberger and his amazing horse, Cosmo was 2nd and this is an upcoming pair to watch! Isabell also won the Piaff Prize which goes to the best dressage rider of the whole show, having been successful in most of her events.

For full results of each discpline, go to


It is now time to pack up and go home. It has been an amazing few days. I have learnt so much, met new friends and it has been very inspiring. A big thank you to Mary Seefried and Peter Holler for an amazing seminar!


The FEI refresher is only 2 days, but the IDOC made it a complete compulsory 5 days!

1 Mings Wanderings and Wonderings

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