Cesar A. Hirsch Dedicates His Career to Maintaining Good Horsemanship, Fair Play, and Welfare for the Horses in International Sport
By Lauren Fisher
For Cesar A. Hirsch, a life-long love of horses has developed into a successful career as an international equestrian official. Hirsch is devoted to his work as a professional judge and steward, and commits himself to following three golden rules for the industry. He is dedicated to maintaining good horsemanship in the sport, creating fair play for all competitors and protecting the welfare of the horse.
“I respect the horse, I have a passion for the sport, and I love competition,” Hirsch stated. “It is the only sport in the world where woman and man compete on the same level, as equals. As a judge and a steward, I think there are three commandments that you have to follow. First, you must have the passion and the horsemanship; second, you have to have fair play. I encourage equality; the rules are made for everyone, not to be applied to one and not to the other one. Last, but not least, is to protect the welfare of the horse.”
Hirsch is a passionate equestrian who began riding horses as a child in Venezuela and has spring boarded his interest in the sport into an international career. Hirsch grew up with horses; his parents and grandparents rode competitively, and he has been participating in equestrian sports since 1979. He competed both individually and on teams in local and international jumping events. His interest in the sport led to training and preparation as a course director, chief steward and judge of these competitions as well, which granted him the highest acknowledgement of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the international governing body of equestrian sport.
Having gone through a rigorous application procedure, Hirsch is a certified International level-3 rated judge and has served in several major roles for local and international competitions. He has served as President and Foreign Judge as well as Chief Steward and President of the Ground Jury (designated as the FEI Official at international level jumping events) at hundreds of events over the past 15 years, including four consecutive Pan American Games (Winnipeg, Santo Domingo, Rio de Janeiro, and Guadalajara); all International Olympic Committee (IOC) events in the Americas – the Bolivarian Games, Central American Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, and the Pan American Games – for three consecutive cycles; the South American Championships; the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games; FEI World Challenge Final (in Chile and Guatemala); at the prestigious Spruce Meadows tournaments; and several five-star events around the world.
Hirsch has also been appointed as the President and Foreign Member of the Appeal Committee of the FEI in many international jumping events, including the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada, and the CSI 5* Athina Onassis International Horse Show in Brazil for the past six years since its inception.
In an ever-changing industry, Hirsch is always learning and growing with the sport. As he points out, the education of a steward and judge never stops. “It is a whole-life process because it is so based on experience,” he acknowledged. “It is not just going and understanding the rules; you can’t know everything. It is a life learning process. Having the proper certification doesn’t make you the best steward. Things are always changing. There are so many details and a lot of logistics. You are always growing with the sport. The sport changes constantly, so we have to change too. It is very dynamic and very broad, but that is what I love.”
Hirsch has also expanded his role in the industry to serve as the Chef d’Equipe (team coach) at various international competitions like the Central American Games, where his team won the silver medal and the individual gold medal, and the CSIO 5* Nations Cup in the United States. He has been a part of the organizing committee at 35 international events, and has been named the Steward General for Venezuela, which is the highest authority in the country and the direct connection to the FEI. Hirsch oversees all stewards in Venezuela, teaches courses to educate them, and represented the region in a new FEI group that is tasked with creating a new education program and categories for stewards worldwide.
In 2012, Hirsch will be a FEI Olympic Assessment Delegate, which means he will represent the FEI to make sure the level of show jumping and technical aspects of competition are followed at the competition in Xalapa, Mexico, for riders to gain their certificate of capability for the Olympic Games.
He will also serve as the Chief Steward at the CSIO 4*-W in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which will host a Nations Cup team competition and a World Cup qualifier. There he will give an educational course for all of the stewards in Brazil. As the Foreign Judge for the World Cup qualifier in San Diego, CA, Hirsch will be responsible for judging the competition and sending to FEI all of the competition results, plus a report on the organization, quality, and technical aspects of event, ensuring that the show meets the FEI standards.
As President of the Ground Jury at this year’s North American Junior Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC), Hirsch will be responsible for many details and all aspects of competition, including certifying placings, presiding over all of the judges, and serving as the final decision maker on judging at the event.
Hirsch explained his responsibilities as President of the Ground Jury further, stating, “I am responsible for the running of the whole competition. The President of the Ground Jury has close contact with the Organizing Committee, Chefs d’Equipe and all FEI officials. You all work together in a team, but the President is the one who makes the final decision.”
Hirsch noted that he has been invited to serve at the NAJYRC in previous years, but could never attend due to other commitments. This year he is pleased to be able to attend as well as officiate at the event.
“I have actually been invited for the last three years and had to say no because I had the Central American and Caribbean Games at the same time,” Hirsch stated, “so this is actually my first time. I am looking forward to it, I am sure it will be great. It is high level competition; it is a very good event.”
With his extensive experience at the top levels of equestrian sport, Hirsch has shown his extraordinary ability and been recognized by the sport’s governing bodies. Hirsch’s ability to arbitrate and approach riders makes him extremely good at a complex and difficult job. As a Chief Steward and judge, Hirsch must know the rule books of both the FEI and the United States Equestrian Federation so that he can officiate at the competition and make sure exhibitors are following the rules.
Hirsch has had a hand in many different businesses with an international vision throughout his life. With many great international accomplishments, he continues to further his equestrian career.