FEI rider suspension for 'irregular use of bit' via a hayball contraption
At Pau this year, a Canadian rider was eliminated for having a large ball of hay tied to her horse's bit to act as some kind of tongue management device.
I read about this last night in a recent issue of Eventing, and since I was unfamiliar with this means of horse-control, I looked up the FEI hearing notes.
The FEI officials at Pau looked at the horse after dressage and observed the following:
The rider was eliminated.
the bit was found with a ball of hay the size of a big plum attached round the middle joint of the bit, seen as an intricate device which clearly was man-made showing various knots to hold it all in place.
The rider appealed her elimination, claiming it was just food, but the FEI maintained that the hayball was clearly man-made and deliberately attached to the bit. They also stated that 'hay is not a permitted material for bits.'
I admit to having found large clumps of hay/grass in my horses' mouths at times, but never have I seen any evidence that they can perform knot-tying tricks or clever macrame with their tongues. It all sounds too Twin Peaks-y for me.
Is this a common practice? I've never heard of it before. Or was the rider somehow treated unfairly? I admit I know nothing about this case other than what was cited in the report.