The presence of blood on a horse’s flank during a showjumping competition will move from a disqualification to elimination under the FEI’s new proposed rules for the discipline.
Amendments to the rules of jumping will be under discussion at the FEI’s General Assembly in Montevideo, Uruguay, on November 21. National Federations had the opportunity to air their concerns about the initial proposals, before the final draft is presented at the GA.
The blood topic was in the headlines in late 2015, when Bertram Allen’s horse Quiet Easy II was disqualified at Olympia for having blood on his offside flank. He would have won the grand prix competition he was disqualified from, and at the time, leading riders were critical of the turn of events, and Cian O’Connor said the rule regarding mandatory disqualification needed to be reviewed by the FEI.
After the issue hit the headlines, FEI secretary-general Sabrina Ibáñez said: “I have absolutely no doubt that the protocols regarding blood on the horse were followed correctly at London Olympia.
“Let me be clear, disqualification under this rule does not imply that there was any intent to injure the horse, but it is crucial that the rules are enforced in order to ensure that horse welfare is protected.”
Under the rule change, Article 242 – Disqualifications, clause 3.1, referring to horses bleeding on the flank, has been replaced with “marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse; additional sanctions may also apply”, with the latter referring to Article 243, Abuse of Horses.
Rule 3.30 of Article 241 (Eliminations) is now worded to include “blood on the Horse’s flank(s)”.
In contrast, the eventing rules up for discussion at the General Assembly appear more lenient. Amendments to the Blood on Horses rule (Art. 526.4) propose that “Blood on Horses must be reviewed case by case by the Ground Jury. Not all cases of blood will lead to elimination. In minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, or minor bleeding, after investigation in consultation with the Veterinarian, the Ground Jury may authorise the Athlete to continue. The cases indicating Abuse of Horse will be dealt with according to the provision of Art. 526.2 (Abuse of Horse – Warnings and Penalties)”.
Schooling at international events
The rule disallowing schooling of a senior rider’s horse by someone other than the rider, from 6pm the night before an international event, at or near the field of play, has been altered to apply to only Junior and Young Rider’s horses. However, under Chapter II, Article 10, does permit lunging and work in hand by a person other than the rider, under supervision of stewards.
The full rule is: Under penalty of disqualification, it is not permitted for a Young Rider’s or a Junior’s Horse to be schooled by anyone else other than the Athlete himself mounted in the saddle, in or outside the town where an Event or a Championship is held, as from 18.00 hours on the day preceding the commencement of the first Competition of an Event or Championship until the conclusion of the whole Event or Championship (not applicable to U25 category). However, lunging, work in hand, etc. by someone other than the Athlete, under the supervision of the stewards, are permitted.
Under Annex X, male riders may now ride as veterans from the age of 45, bringing them into line with female riders. Previously, the age was 49 for men.