Event riders clarify new rules with FEI

Event Riders Association representative Bruce Haskell, pictured with Kiwi Smog at Badminton in 2010.
Event Riders Association representative Bruce Haskell, pictured with Kiwi Smog at Badminton in 2010. © Mike Bain

Confusion over newly introduced eventing rules has resulted in a meeting between the Event Riders Association and FEI officials.

Representing the ERA, Ruy Fonseca (BRA), Bruce Haskell (NZL) and Nick Wallbridge (GBR), met with FEI Eventing Committee chair Giuseppe Della Chiesa  and Catrin Norinder, FEI Director Eventing & Olympic, in London on December 6, to talk through changes to new rules that will be implemented from January 1.

The meeting was designed as a clarification exercise and as an opportunity to discuss the motivation behind the eventing rule changes for 2013. Athlete Categorisation and Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) were two of the key points of discussion.

The new rules oblige National Federations and trainers to take more responsibility to ensure that their riders are ready to compete internationally, using their own NF qualification system and not relying solely on the MERs.

ERA President Francis Whittington, who had initiated the talks, was unable to attend the meeting, but said afterwards: “This meeting was part of the ongoing working relationship surrounding the rules and demonstrates that the riders are taking responsibility for their sport and that the FEI encourages their involvement in this process.

“It was a really valuable discussion and was very much appreciated by the riders. We were really delighted at how receptive the FEI were to our comments and it shows how dedicated the Eventing Committee is to the future development of the sport.”

Giuseppe Della Chiesa said: “It is always healthy to have an inclusive discussion around rules changes and after the very successful workshop at the FEI Sports Forum earlier this year, it was good to have another session, this time with representatives from ERA, to discuss these changes and how they will be implemented. The support from the riders is very much appreciated by the FEI.”


The FEI Eventing Department has now produced a document detailing FAQs on the 2013 Eventing Rules:

1. How has my national federation had input into these rules?

National Federations have been actively involved along the consultation process since June 2011. This was finalized with the approval by all NFs of the new rules at the General Assembly in Istanbul (November 2012).

Eventing Open Forums have been organised in Luhmühlen (GER) August 2011, Guadalajara (MEX) October 2011, Adelaide (AUS) November 2011 and Kihikihi (NZL) April 2012 and a special session for Eventing during the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne (SUI) May 2012.

NFs were invited in July 2012 to review 1st draft and propose amendments and the final draft of the 2013 Eventing Rules was made available on 11 October 2012. More comments were then received by a number of NFs and a final agreement, including several transitory provisions, with the Eventing nations was made at the General Assembly on the 7 November 2012.


2. How do the new rules better define the differences between CCIs (Long Format) and CICs (Short Format) Competitions?

The main areas where the differences between formats have been reaffirmed and strengthened in the new rules are: the distances of the Cross Country Test, the order of tests and the overall duration of the Competition.


3. National competitions used to be a part of the FEI qualification pathway (MER matrix) but these have been replaced by international Events – why? 

For that part of the qualification pathway that is under the responsibility of the FEI it is important that the FEI can maintain records and can directly control and verify the level and standards of the Competitions involved. This is only possible for the FEI in the international Events held under FEI Rules and with the direct involvement of FEI Officials.


4. Are there any circumstances when national Competitions can still be used as part of the FEI qualification pathway?

As a transitory provision for 2013, it has been agreed that, if necessary and for specific reason, NFs could apply for a limited number of targeted national Competitions to be considered equivalent for qualification purposes to international
Competitions of the same type/level. This is to avoid, during the first year of the implementation of the new rules, the possible risk of insufficient qualification possibilities in some areas with limited numbers of international Competitions.


5. Has the FEI qualification pathway (MER matrix) changed from before?

The basic MER matrix only includes minor changes, some new principles have been introduced and are now reflected in the new matrix.
New principles are:

  • Categorization of Athletes
  • Qualification as a combination for Athletes not categorized at the level
  • Qualification for the Horse only for Athletes categorized at the level
  • International Events only to be considered


6. Are the periods of qualification deadlines of 2 preceding years maintained:

For CI’s and CIO’s once the qualification has been achieved it will be for an unlimited period and will not expire after two years. For Championships, as in the past, the qualification will still expire and therefore must be achieved within the preceding or current year.


7. Do I progress through the FEI qualification pathway as a combination?

For CI’s and CIO’s qualifying as a combination or not will depend on the category of the Athlete and the level of the Competition entered.

For Championships the qualification procedure is unchanged and all Athletes and Horses must qualify as a combination within the preceding or current year.


8. Is Athlete Categorisation the same as ‘Rider Licence’?

The idea is similar, but to make the concept clearer the definition was changed further to the comments received by the NFs after the 1st draft of the Rules.

The Athlete categorisation principle has been introduced to recognize the riders who have proven their capability through a volume of positive consistent results.


9. What is the purpose of Athlete Categorisation?

It is to create a framework where proven competence and experience of the Athletes at the different levels of the sport can be recognized and valued.

Having an objective system based on results that can recognize the difference in experience and competence of the Athletes is a prerequisite for creating a more refined system of qualification that can take into account the great variety of situation that we experience in the sport.

The idea is to have a system able to show more “trust” for the Athletes that have already “proven” themselves while still taking care of the new and less experienced Athletes.


10.Do I have to be in an Athlete Category to compete in FEI Eventing?

No – As previously Athletes must achieve Minimum Eligibility Requirements to participate in FEI Eventing Competition, but there is no need to be in any special category to compete in FEI Eventing.


11. Will the Athlete categorisation be used for selection/balloting procedure for event entries?

No – Categories will not be used as the basis for the selection or balloting procedure for events, thus ensuring every athlete, whether qualified by category will have equal chance to gain entry to events for which they are qualified.


12.Do I have to be in Athlete Category A to compete in 4 star Events, WEG or the Olympics?

No – There is no need to be categorized to participate at 4 star Events, the WEG or the Olympics.


13.Does an Athlete with a higher Athlete Category gain any advantage when competing in the same class as another with a lower AC?

No – absolutely not.


14.Within the Athlete Categorisation article, what is meant by ‘corresponding level’?
Corresponding level refers to the star level of the MERs used to define the different categories:
D=1 star, C=2 star, B=3 star, A=4 star
(e.g. 2 star results are taken into consideration for the achievement of the C category then the 2 star level will be the corresponding level to the C category.)


15.What is the purpose of reverse qualification and how does it work?

The purpose of the reverse qualification is to ensure that when the Athlete is eliminated/when it goes wrong on the Cross Country, the basic principle of horsemanship of stepping down one level to regain confidence is applied. This should clearly happen also without a specific rule, but this is the safety valve to ensure the Athlete takes responsibility.


16.Are many of the rule changes driven by safety and intended to increase the responsibility on Athletes to ride within their capabilities?

The changes in the Rules governing the technical requirements for participation in international Competitions are in line with the evolution of the concept of safety and risk management and with the need of better focusing the responsibilities where they belong. Athletes supported by their trainers and NFs are ultimately the ones to decide when and if to upgrade themselves or their Horse. No qualification system should ever shift this responsibility.


17.When do these new rules take effect?

1st January 2013. However during 2013 a number of transitory provisions (listed in the Rules preamble) will facilitate the progressive implementation of some of the new provisions.


18.These are new and untried rules, what mechanism is in place to review and adjust them in light of experience from 1st Jan 2013 onwards?

The Eventing department will closely monitor the implementation of the new Rules and communicate any unforeseen circumstance to the Eventing Committee. Should any new provision appear to be truly inapplicable or unfair the Eventing Committee will review these immediately and propose a solution.


19. If so, what is the review timetable?

Immediate if urgent and necessary while a full review will take place at the end of 2013.


20.Who do I talk to if I need further clarification of any points in these new rules?

The Eventing Department at the FEI HQ.


NOTE: Event results:

NFs and athletes need to check their XC results at the event carefully to ensure that any penalties, El, WD or RT be correctly stated on the official results of the event, to ensure the reverse qualification is correctly implemented.




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