International-level eventing formats will be under discussion in a series of forums over the next few months. © Mike Bain
One of the main topics under discussion is eventing's two formats - CCI (Concours Complet International) and CIC (Concours International Combiné) - and the confusion surrounding them.
When eventing's long format (CCI) was used - with four phases on the day between the dressage and showjumping - the CCI took in a medium-paced warm-up phase (A) before the fast-paced steeplechase (B), followed by roads and tracks (C), followed by (D) the cross-country. Horses were inspected by a veterinarian and their temperature and heart rate monitored in the "ten-minute box" before being allowed to continue.
At that time, a CIC event had only the D phase (cross-country) on the second day.
But when the new short format came in (taking out phases A, B, and C) the distance of CCI events was changed to make them more difficult than the CIC. CIC now has a shorted course with fewer obstacles.
The discussion paper on the formats said that the issue had "been much discussed inside and outside the Eventing Committee", and officials acknowledged that maintaining a clear difference between the two formats had become increasingly difficult.
"If we retain the two different competition formats should there be a clearer difference between the formats?" the discussion paper asks.
"Should the sport be concerned that the specificity of each format is often difficult to understand for the insiders and nearly impossible for the general public?"
The committee also queries whether the traditional order of tests (dressage, then cross-country, then jumping) is important and "does it have any influence on the public perception of 'horse welfare'?"
The sport's qualification system has also come under the spotlight, with the system being criticised for being "too complicated and often misleading for the wrong perception that having obtained a qualification for a higher level automatically would imply 'competence to compete at that level'."
"The change of definition from Qualification Result (QR) to MER (Minimum Eligibility Requirements) does not seem to have improved the situation and National Federations still find it difficult to reject an entry to an international competition by riders/horses that have obtained the MER, if they are not considered competent to participate at that certain level," the discussion paper says.
"Hence the question if the eventing qualification system is fulfilling the right role in the sport today and if not, how it could be improved.
"The overall qualification system has often been perceived to be too complicated and the original policy of using the same criteria for horses and riders has made it very difficult to make justice of the great variability of cases.
"After ten years of the current system it might be useful to reconsider the whole system and its foundation." It also asked if "reverse qualification" (downgrading) in the case of "a clear failure of performance" could improve the system and increase the level of responsibility of those involved.
The first forum will take place on 25 August in Luhmühlen, Germany, during the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships. The second forum will be held on 19 October in Guadalajara, Mexico, at the 2011 Pan American Games.
The third forum will be hosted in Adelaide, Australia, during the Australian International 3 Day Event (17-20 November) and the fourth during May 2012 in New Zealand.
"The future development of eventing will be at the heart of these forums," said FEI Eventing Committee chair Giuseppe Della Chiesa (ITA).
"The feedback we have received so far from the global eventing community has been extremely constructive. We are looking forward to discussing these key issues face-to-face and in further detail at the forums."
Following the final forum in May 2012, the recommended rules revisions for eventing will be finalised. These will be presented to the FEI General Assembly in November 2012 for implementation on 1 January 2013.
The FEI Eventing Committee, chaired by Giuseppe Della Chiesa, and comprising Deputy Chair Anne-Mette Binder (DEN), Clayton Fredericks (AUS), Robert Kellerhouse (USA), Alec Lochore (GBR) and Pierre Michelet (FRA), began its consultation process for the 2013 rules revision in June 2011.
National Federations, Organising Committees, riders and officials were asked to supply their initial thoughts and comments on suggested rule revisions by July 18.
The Open Forums will be used to discuss key issues raised as part of this preliminary consultation phase.