Meet the hosts

Find out more about the three leading figures hosting this years National Convention, in association with Harrison Clark Rickerbys. 

National Convention 2021 - Christoph Hess

Christoph Hess is an FEI 4* judge and has been a key player within the German Equestrian Federation (FN) since 1980. His valued contribution as a coach led to a leading role as head of the training department until 2016. As a judge, Christoph was a ground jury member at the World Championships for Young Dressage Horses in Ermelo 2019, just one of many notable competitions in an official capacity. To commend his achievements in the equestrian sphere, Hess was awarded the German Golden Reiterkreuz at the Bundeschampionate in 2019.   
 
Speaking about his career, “I have been extremely lucky, spending almost 40 years working for the German Equestrian Federation (FN) – thereby combining my hobby with my workplace. On the 1st of May 2016 I went into retirement and since then have been able to partake in the development of riders, horses and judges and trainer/coaches both at home and abroad. I remain in the service of the FN as an educational ambassador.” 
 
Equestrianism has always been within the family, “ I have been actively involved in the equestrian sport for over 30 years.  My wife, Ilsa previously taught riding as a school sport, Phillip in Dressage up to Grand Prix level (Hof Bettenrode), Christian in International Show Jumping (Hess Showjumping) and Friederike in the area of Marketing by the Westfälischen Pferdestammbuch e.V.”  

National Convention 2021 - Philipp Hess

A talented rider and coach, Philipp Hess joins the National Convention panel alongside his father. Noted as a German young horse specialist, Hess is a regular booking as guest rider at young horse championships across Europe, including the Pavo Cup Finals in Holland for two years running. Philipp Hess was invited as guest judge rider for the Pavo Cup finals in 2019 and his expert commentary and riding skills were highly liked and praised by the audience. This prompted the KWPN society to re-invite Philipp as test rider for the 2020 Pavo Cup Finals. This professional rider has gained much respect and acclaim as a test rider at the Bundeschampionate as well as at the German stallion performance tests.
 
Speaking on his career, ''Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. Training of dressage horses and their presentation at tournaments up to the advanced level is a vocation”  

National Convention 2021 - Katrina Wuest

German Katrina Wuest is a 5* dressage judge, and key developer of the Degree of Difficulty (DOD) changes in Freestyle to Music judging. She has been a major influence on the FEI scene for many years, judging at high profile competitions across the world as well as working behind the scenes as part of the consultation process considering the design for the shortened Grand Prix test. As a judge, “Riders rely on the judges comments, we really want to give them long comments – we care about them.” Recently was the President of the Ground Jury at the Tokyo 2020 Games, the ultimate achievement in judging.  
 
She started judging in the 1970s, "I began judging on the lower level in the 1970s because as a rider I was annoyed with the very old way of judging at that time, especially on regional shows. I liked and understood the good judging, but not the bad judging and I wanted to make things better."
 
About the pressures of judging, “I’ve been a rider all my life, up to International Grand Prix level and it goes automatically – it's not so much pressure because you know how the rider feels on the horse and you know where the difficulties and highlights are – you go with the flow, you give the marks you feel you would if you were sitting on the horse. The press have put a lot of pressure on the judges and it’s our responsibility to be as honest as we can be and we need credibility, this is very important when we consider how much judging has changed in the last ten years.”
 
The judging catalog is complex but she worked out a unique system, "In all other judged disciplines, in ice skating, in gymnastics, you have a clear catalogue for what is difficult and not difficult. I was happy to meet Daniel Gohler, Grand Prix rider and technical genius, we spent 300 hours together to work out a catalogue of what they should get and now we have the Degree of Difficulty system."