In 2019, eventers can look forward to a new star rating system for Fédération Equestre Internationale events, thanks to a vote at the FEI General Assembly, held Nov. 18-21 in Montevideo, Uruguay.
The change, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2019, turns the current four-star CCIs into five-star majors, with CCIs becoming “long format” or CCI-L, and CICs becoming “short format” or CCI-S. All other changes—including the addition of a new non-compulsory level called introductory, with a maximum height of 1.05 meters on cross-country, and the removal of the dressage coefficient to place emphasis back on cross-country—will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018.
Changes to arena eventing were also approved, which give national federations options to minimize risk. Organizers can either hold the competition under FEI rules, or they must implement the FEI’s minimum compulsory requirements. The changes include: Only A, B or C categorized riders may compete, the course can be no larger than two-star dimensions, and in the case of fixed obstacles, an optimum time, instead of fastest time winning, will be established.
David O’Connor was elected as chair of the FEI Eventing Committee for the four-year term 2017-2021. And in order to continuously improve risk monitoring in eventing, functionality has been added to the risk management software to track the details of all obstacles on each FEI cross-country course. This will allow for the collection of additional data to be used for analytical and statistical purposes.
After fierce debate over Olympic qualification and quota distribution, the deadline for riders to achieve minimum eligibility requirements for all Olympic disciplines has been changed from May 18, 2020, to “five weeks before the sports entry deadline for Tokyo2020.” The sport entry deadline will be determined by the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo2020 in 2018.
For show jumping, clarification was added regarding Olympic spots earned at the Pan American Games: “If the unused individual quota place is earned through the 2019 Pan Am Games, the quota place will be reallocated to the National Olympic Committee of the next best ranked Athlete on the overall individual classification at the 2019 Pan Am Games, excluding NOCs already qualified.”
A change to bring the show jumping “blood rule” in line with the other disciplines was approved. “Horses bleeding in the mouth (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip) Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Elimination.”
And hind boots in show jumping used for any purpose other than protection will be phased out, beginning with ponies, children and amateur competitions in 2019, with all FEI competition included by 2021.
The General Assembly approved testing of new invitation rules for CSI** and above events, with a decreased percentage of entries based on organizer invitation. The system will be tested during Weeks 11 and 21 of the 2018 season and will fully go into effect on July 30, 2018.
“The FEI is completely committed to look very carefully at how this affects the athletes, the organizers, all of the stakeholders, and how it affects the rankings, and is committed to perfect this and continue to evaluate it over time,” said outgoing FEI Jumping Committee Chair John Madden.
For dressage, the controversial proposal for a HiLo Drop Per Movement, where each individual movement’s highest and lowest scores are dropped, was withdrawn after a negative response. The Dressage Judges Working Group will implement a trial period for the HiLo drop score and an independent panel will analyze the result.
The other major change for dressage was removing most of the collective marks in FEI tests. Paces, impulsion and submission will be replaced with one score for the rider’s position and seat, correctness and effect of the aid.
A new laboratory approval and maintenance system will begin by the end of November 2017. An FEI Approved Laboratory Advisory Group comprised of the FEI veterinary committee chair, the FEI veterinary director, the FEI legal director and an independent member of the Association of Official Racing Chemists, reviews the applications and makes recommendations.
New endurance rules also passed, including reducing the minimum weight requirements at CEI ***/****/***** championships to 70 kilograms (154 pounds), raising the competition age of horses to 9 from 8 for championships and team events, and increases in mandatory rest periods following competitions for horses that reach average speeds of 20 km/hr (12.43 m/hr), even if they fail to complete.
The FEI extended its equine injuries research partnership, specifically the Global Endurance Injuries Study, with the University of Glasgow through 2019. The GEIS began in 2015 as a method to gather information to guide endurance rule changes. Current findings showed that speed and inadequate rest were risk factors for injury, which led to a recommendation to increase the mandatory rest period by seven days.
In the upcoming years, the study will create predictive models to categorize highest and lowest risk horse starts in the FEI endurance database. It will also develop a risk calculator to risk-assess horses before and during races.
The 2022 FEI World Equestrian Games are open for bidding once again, as the team from Samorin, Slovakia, declined to sign the host agreement and subsequently withdrew the bid.