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June 27, 2012

FEI Overturns Rule About Automatic Penalties For Broken Frangible Pins

Frangible pins are an integral tool in the effort to improve safety in eventing, but their implementation has not been without controversy. Photo by Lisa Slade.

Riders will no longer automatically receive 21 penalties for breaking a frangible pin while competing in Fédération Equestre Internationale eventing competitions.

British riders affected the rule change this spring after collecting over 300 signatures on an online petition organized by the Event Riders Association. Francis Whittington, ERA chairman, commented to Horse & Hound: “It is the feeling of many riders competing in FEI eventing competitions, from CIC* to CCI****, that this rule should be removed.”

The petition gained the backing of British Eventing and was submitted as a formal appeal to the FEI eventing committee in May of this year.

This ruling is the latest in a series of changes regarding frangible obstacles. The original January 2009 rule stipulated that a broken pin would result in elimination. Riders met the change with almost immediate opposition, however, and by mid-2009 the rule was reduced from elimination to 25 penalties, and then later to 21 penalties.

At the time of the original controversy, BE chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith said: “We’re completely against [penalties] for breaking a pin, as we were for elimination. You cannot penalize people for something they cannot control—we have data to support the fact that pins weaken.”

Penalties will now be assessed only at the discretion of the ground jury.

 
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