Eventing falls will mean elimination for most riders under new British rules

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Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges come to grief at Badminton in 2017.
Paul Tapner and Bonza King of Rouges come to grief at Badminton in 2017. © Mike Bain

Riders who fall during a British Eventing competition – even in the dressage – will be eliminated from the class, under new rules imposed by the organisation.

Those with horses in other classes will have to pass a “fit to ride” assessment by the event doctor before being allowed to continue.

Further, a rider who falls during the warm-up of any phase, or before going through the start of the jumping or cross-country course, must be checked by a doctor before continuing, or before leaving the field of play.

The rule changes have been implemented following continued monitoring of concussion research and Head Injury Assessment Guidelines and consultation with healthcare professions, the Chief Medical Officers for BE and the FEI and British Eventing Officials and Organisers.

BE Chief Medical Officer Judith Johnson said post fall assessment of riders may require a thorough physical, mental competence and neurological assessment. “This is a time-consuming process may need to be repeated after a period of time in order to make a clinical decision whether that rider is fit to compete again that day. We have a duty of care to our members which, in the light of recent guidelines on concussion management, has led to this rule change.”

© Mike Bain

BE National Safety Officer Jonathan Clissold said the new rule would bring BE in line with FEI rules regarding the fall of a competitor which have been imposed since 2008.

He said that the level of assessment to ensure the safety of riders who wished to complete that phase would also require additional medical staff on site, and impact on the structure and organisational framework of an event.

“However, these checks can be performed outside of the competition area itself to allow riders who have fallen in the warm-up to continue in the competition,” he said.

“Whilst every effort has been made to enable a rider to continue after a fall in a safe manner, BE and event organisers have worked incredibly hard to provide standards of safety and medical provision for all BE events that are as high as possible and this rule change is essential to ensure that rider safety is maintained.”

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