Fédération Equestre Internationale officials have confirmed rule changes are on the table with regards to blood on the horse and the use of the whip for eventing.
“The FEI Eventing Committee is currently working on proposals to strengthen the Eventing rules regarding blood on the horse and a redefinition of the whip action allowed during competition with the express purpose of providing clarity for athletes, officials and everyone who follows the sport,” was the official statement.
David O’Connor, the chair of the FEI Eventing Committee, said he expects details to be announced publicly on June 1. Any rule change would then be voted on at the FEI General Assembly in November of this year in Manama, Bahrain. O’Connor did not wish to discuss specific changes, as they were still being considered before the committee.
Blood observed on the mouth of Marilyn Little’s horse RF Scandalous during cross-country at the Land Rover Kentucky CCI**** and a ground jury warning to Oliver Townend for excessive use of the whip at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton CCI**** (England) led to an enormous amount of online discussion regarding horse welfare for eventing.
The current eventing rules regarding whip use (FEI rule 526.3) read:
“Excessive and/or misuse of the whip may be considered abuse of Horse and will be reviewed case by case by the Ground Jury according to the following principles:
a) The whip is not to be used to vent an Athlete temper.
b) The whip is not to be used after elimination.
c) The whip is not to be used after a Horse has jumped the last fence on a course.
d) The whip is not to be used overhand, (i.e. a whip in the right hand being used on the left flank).
e) The whip is not to be used on a Horse head.
f) The whip is not to be used more than three times for any one incident.
g) If a Horse skin is broken the use of the whip is always excessive.”
Whip use could also fall under abuse of horse or dangerous riding rules at the ground jury’s discretion.
The current eventing rules regarding blood on horses in competition (526.4) read as follows:
“Blood on Horses must be reviewed case by case by the Ground Jury. Not all cases of blood will lead to elimination. In minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, or minor bleeding, after investigation in consultation with the Veterinarian, the Ground Jury may authorise the Athlete to continue. The cases indicating Abuse of Horse will be dealt with according to the provision of Art. 526.2 (Abuse of Horse – Warnings and Penalties).”