Canadian dressage rider Karen Pavicic of White Rock, BC, announced on her Facebook page on January 23rd, 2018, that she had decided to switch allegiance and ride for Croatia:
“The start of 2018 brings more changes and new opportunities for me. With dual citizenship for Canada and Croatia, I find myself in the unique situation to be able to help develop the sport of Dressage both at home and abroad. After much reflection and consideration, I will be changing my sport nationality to Croatian, thereby supporting the FEI initiative of having more flags represented. I am still and always will be a proud Canadian. My goal to continue to compete Internationally is unwavering and I look forward to representing Croatia at future FEI championships.”
She explained that, “In 1997 when I got married, my husband and I were both Canadian citizens. When he obtained his dual citizenship (this is his country of birth) our family also became eligible to do so.”
Pavicic has visited Croatia several times, and while they do not have a national dressage team there, they do have a training centre at the country’s main equestrian club in the capital city of Zagreb. She will not be required to travel to Croatia to qualify for any championships or major games. “The plan is for my debut for Croatia to be February 21-25 (CDI at AGDF week 7). At that show will be Totem [a stallion by the legendary Totilas] competing in the FEI 6-Year-Old and Fausto [a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding], owned by Laura Penikett, at small tour. Interesting fact: both horses are Canadian-bred ‒ by Patricia Close and Rayelle Arbo.”
In July of 2016 Pavicic was involved in arbitration through the Sport Dispute Resolution Centre of Canada, arguing that she should have been named as the second rider to represent Canada at the Rio Olympic Games. Her protest was based on biased judging at the final selection trial in Ontario, the CDI*** held in Cedar Valley, ON, on June 17-19, 2016, where dressage judge Elizabeth McMullen had apparently told two of her colleagues that she intended to award higher marks to Megan Lane in this event to ensure she finished ahead of Pavicic in the standings for Rio Olympics selection (read here.) A further application to the Court of Arbitration for Sport immediately prior to the Games was declined.
Pavicic becomes the second high-profile Canadian dressage rider to “defect” to another country; in 2017, veteran Dressage Team member and Olympian Ashley Holzer, who became a US citizen in 2016, chose to ride for that country (read here.)
When asked whether she made this decision with WEG in mind, or something further down the road, i.e. the Olympics, Pavicic replied, “At the moment I do not have a Grand Prix horse for WEG 2018, but you never know what the future holds!”