In recognition of his enormous positive impact on the sport of dressage in the United States for nearly three decades, Robert Dover was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame in 2008. His legendary career in competition includes an American dressage record six Olympic Games (1984-2004), four Olympic team bronze medals, and five U.S. National Grand Prix Championship titles. He has been the top U.S. trainer and instructor of international horses and riders for many years. Here is the induction speech, given by then-USDF President Samuel Barish, when he joined the Hall of Fame.
Our second inductee into the hall of fame is Robert Dover, in recognition of his enormous positive impact on dressage in the United States for nearly three decades. Dressage in the U.S. would not have the status it has today without Robert’s talent, influence, creativity, and generosity.
It all started when his parents, Jean and Herb, gave him a horse for his bar mitzvah at age 13. He specialized in dressage when he was 19. I remember when I met Robert in 1980 in Poolesville, Maryland when he was a young dressage trainer of 24 with two students. Robert, you have come a long way, baby! His dedication, talent, and immersion in the European competitive arena forced the judges to take him seriously and to rethink their views of the U.S. as a second-rate dressage nation. Robert has won more dressage honors than any other American: a member of a record six consecutive U.S. Olympic Dressage Teams from 1984 to 2004, elected captain of each one; four Olympic team bronze medals, 1992 in Barcelona with Lectron, 1996 in Atlanta with Metallic, 2000 in Sydney with Rainier, and 2004 in Athens with FBW Kennedy; 1994 U.S. Olympic Male Equestrian Athlete of the Year; 1995 Whitney Stone Cup from the USET for excellence in international competition; five-time USET Dressage Champion; and seven-time U.S. rider in the FEI World Cup Final. His creativity, talent, and flair in musical freestyles are legendary.
In 1987, Robert defeated six-time Olympic gold medalist Reiner Klimke to win the Aachen Grand Prix freestyle in Germany before a crowd of 65,000 people, and watched as the U.S. flag was raised for the first time in 27 years, while the band played “The Star Spangled Banner.” Robert considers this the high point of his fabulous career. His long-time dressage instructor and trainer, the late Colonel Bengt Ljungquist, another Hall of Fame member, would have been very proud of Robert’s phenomenal accomplishments.
He has been one of the top U.S. dressage trainers for a very long time. Among the horses that he has competed successfully on internationally at Grand Prix are Aristocrat, Devereaux, Everest, FBW Kennedy, Federleicht, Juvel, Lectron, Lennox, Metallic, PSI Romantico, Rainier, and Waltzertakt. Almost every top U.S. dressage rider has been taught by Robert, including Guenter Seidel, Dorothy Morkis, Jane Savoie, George Williams, Chris Hickey, and Katherine Bateson Chandler.
Robert has given back to the sport in many creative and charitable ways. He has popularized dressage with the public by creating and promoting a TV show patterned on American Idol, called “The Search for America’s Next Equestrian Star: Dressage,” which attracted more than 400 applicants. The show aired on the Fox Reality Channel, with five one-hour episodes, in the fall of 2007.
In 1996, Robert founded the Equestrian Aid Foundation, whose mission is to assist anyone in the equestrian world suffering from life-threatening illness, catastrophic accidents or injuries by providing direct financial support for their medical or other basic needs. He has been made Chairman Emeritus of the foundation.
He served on the U.S. Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council for eight years, and was one of the leading members of the USET Dressage Committee for many years
Robert Dover has been one of the most influential and prominent members of the U.S. dressage community for almost thirty years. He is one of the most talented and successful people that I have ever known. I am honored to induct Robert Dover into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame.
Samuel J. Barish