What You Need To Know: The FEI’s 2018 Proposed Rule Changes

Oct 25, 2017 - 3:39 PM

At the Fédération Equestre Internationale’s General Assembly, scheduled for Nov. 18-21 in Montevideo, Uruguay, delegates will consider rule change proposals for all the FEI disciplines and then vote on them. If passed, the rule changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

We broke down the major changes you might see for all three Olympic disciplines—eventing’s are the most dramatic this year—but you can also read the proposals for all disciplines on the FEI’s website.

Eventing’s Proposed Changes

•  The implementation of the new proposed star system will be put off until 2019.

•  But the new 1.05-meter level will be introduced in 2018 to bring more riders to the international level, especially from developing countries, and it will be called “Introductory” until the new star system takes effect.

•  With the new star system, the CCI and CIC names will become “long format,” or “CCI-L,” and “short format,” or “CCI-S.”

The new proposed system of levels.

•  Current four-star CCI will become “Five-Star Majors” in 2019.

•  The proposal for a short format (or CIC) four-star (or five-star as it would have been known) was withdrawn.

•  It’s proposed that the number of cross-country jumping efforts for the Olympics and World Equestrian Games be reduced from 45 to 38-42. 

•  Requirements for current four-stars, (future five-stars), are currently under review, but could include: minimum prize money to be increased gradually, broadcasting standards, spectator attendance, and athlete, media and spectator facilities.

•  There is a proposed wording change to the rule regarding blood on horses. The new wording states that not all cases of blood will lead to elimination for all three phases. With minor cases of blood, after consultation with the veterinarian and ground jury, the athlete may be allowed to continue.

•  A proposal to remove the dressage coefficient of 1.5 starting in 2018 was supported by many national federations, including the United States, Great Britain and New Zealand.

The German and Dutch federations did not support it, saying, “Although the deletion makes it simpler, it will result in closer dressage results, which emphasizes the influence of the jumping phase. It makes even better dressage judging necessary with the judges using the full scale of marks. A good dressage education usually results in safer cross-country riding. For the same reason furthermore the dressage tests must not be shortened, and the collective marks should not be touched either. “

•  There are a few changes proposed to arena eventing competitions. Proposed changes include only allowing A, B or C categorized riders, maximum two-star fence dimensions, and running with an optimum time if there are fixed obstacles to ensure safety. If there are knockable obstacles or hedges, the competition may be run against the clock.

3. Schramm DSC_2083WEB
Arena eventing could see some changes with the new FEI rule change proposals. Photo by Kimberly Loushin.

•  Discussion has been postponed until 2018 on whether to replace all collective marks with one mark from the Olympic dressage test and remove the general comments, but a new short test for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be drafted. 

Show Jumping’s Proposed Changes

•  Instances of blood on a horse’s flank were moved from the mandatory disqualification from the entire competition to mandatory elimination from the class in which the blood is observed.

•  Earphones and other electronic communication devices have been prohibited by the FEI for competitors and grooms when mounted at all times.

•  For a faults-accumulated speed class held indoors, a rule change proposal would allow a rail to be added to the rider’s final time as 2, 3 or 4 seconds, at the discretion of the organizing committee. Currently it is a mandatory 4-second addition.

•  Technical delegates are proposed to be added to the list of show officials who may issue a yellow card. Currently that list includes the president of the ground jury, the president of the appeal committee and the chief steward.

•  The minimum age of a horse competing at the FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final is proposed as 9. Previously the minimum was 8.

•  One proposed rule concerning prize money suggests that should a class exceed 100 horse-and-rider pairs, the prize money should increase by a certain percentage. For example, if there are 101-110 starters, 133 percent of the original competition prize money would be provided, or if there are 111-120 166 percent of the original purse would be provided.

•  With regards to the Pan American Games, there are proposals to increase the maximum  spread of the fences, making them in line with Olympic and World Equestrian Games spreads. Spreads would go to 2.0 meters, with a limit of 2.20 meters for the triple bar fence, and the water obstacle would go from 3.50 meters to 4 meters.

Show jumping horses at future Pan American Games could face spreads more like those at the Olympic and World Equestrian Games in the future. Photo by Lindsay Berreth.

Dressage’s Proposed Rule Changes  

•  The most controversial topic and proposal to come out of the FEI’s Dressage Working Group this year was the HiLo Drop Per Movement, wherein each individual movement’s highest and lowest scores are dropped. The change would apply to all FEI tests except for the young horse tests, and it would occur when there is a ground jury with more than three members.

However, after a negative reaction from many of the key the national federations, including the U.S. Equestrian Federation, the DWG is now suggesting that “further discussion will be proposed at the GA, and a test period could be introduced for 2018.”

•  Another proposal will remove all collective marks in all FEI tests in 2018, leaving only a mark for the rider. “With the possible exception of the rider/aids mark, the [Dressage Working Group] feels that the collective marks are already taken into account in the movement scores,” said a statement from the group.

“The switch of emphasis from a movement mark—based on exactly what the judge sees at the moment of execution—to a collective note that is designed to summarize the entire test, does not aid the judge’s focus.”

If an FEI proposal regarding collective marks passes, judges won’t spend as much time on their tests at the conclusion of a ride. Photo by Lisa Slade.

•  For FEI Grand Prix-level championships and games, each judge’s hut will be equipped with a button linked to the “Judges Signaling System,” allowing each judge to discreetly inform the judge at C in case of blood, lameness, error of course or saddlery equipment. The button would be optional at all other FEI events.

•  For safety reasons, a proposal would allow whips in prizegiving ceremonies.

•  A proposal regarding championships states that “the chefs d’equipe are responsible for the behavior of their teams and/or individuals throughout the event. They and their [national federation] are responsible for any damages that occur. Chefs d’equipe should be offered accommodation together with their athletes.”

•  If the proposal is approved, athletes will now have 30 seconds to enter the dressage arena after the freestyle music has started. Previously riders had 20 seconds from the start of the music.


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