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IJRC requests FEI to review controversial elimination rule

Monday, 19 June 2023

The International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) has requested the FEI to review the Jumping Rules' article 241.4*, which gives the President of the Ground Jury the possibility to eliminate a horse-and-rider combination while a round is ongoing if it would be contrary to the principles of horse welfare to continue. The rule came into effect as of January 1 this year.

The IJRC now asks the FEI to allow former elite level riders to join the Ground Jury in an advisory capacity at championships and Olympic Games. The IJRC states that the request “results from serious concerns over the new “elimination” rule which enables a sole judge to eliminate a horse or rider who appear in difficulty during their round”.

In a press release, the IJRC detailed their position – stating that “elimination is unappealable, yet its split-second subjectivity could result in career-changing outcomes for riders and national teams. This is of particular concern to the IJRC this season, when many have their last available qualifying opportunities for Paris 2024, and for at Olympic Games itself, where there is no drop-score.”

In addition to requesting the introduction of an advisory panel, the IJRC has also suggested that the FEI changes the wording in the article – stating the current version could be misleading to the general public as to the reason for elimination. The IJRC is suggesting that the wording gets changed from “(…) that it would be contrary to the principles of horse welfare” to “(…)for the safety of horse and rider”. The Club added that it supports the elimination of a horse in instances of blood around the mouth or nostrils.

The IJRC is of the opinion that the current situation “warrants immediate action by the FEI board, before the European Show Jumping Championships in Milan (August 29-September 3) but, at the absolute latest by January 1, 2024, Olympic year.” 

During the FEI’s consultation period last year, the IJRC proposed amendments to article 241.4, including allowing the right to appeal – but was not heard by the FEI. The new rule was approved by the 2022 FEI General Assembly in November last year and not surprisingly it was intensely debated at the IJRC’s own General Assembly in Geneva in December. It was during the IJRC General Assembly that 2016 Olympic champion Nick Skelton put forward the proposal of an advisory panel.

“There are many recently retired top riders like me who are at all the major shows. Our experience is there to be utilized,” Skelton commented in a press release from IJRC. “Motorsport already makes use of its ex-drivers’ expertise in this way. If a horse is taken out of the arena swiftly after having a bad jump early on, you’ll never know if he could have gained in confidence during the rest of his round and finished well. That is a training setback and a conflict with the basics of good horsemanship. Nowadays we tread a fine line, but we must educate the public while being conscious of its growing role in equestrianism’s social license to operate.”


*Article 241.4

“The President of the Ground Jury (or in the absence of the President of the Ground Jury from the Ground Jury box, the Ground Jury Member designated by the President of the Ground Jury to take over the running of the Competition in their absence) may, in their sole discretion, ring the bell (or instruct another Ground Jury member to ring the bell) to eliminate an Athlete/Horse combination while a round is ongoing if the President of the Ground Jury (or their designee) decides that it would be contrary to the principles of horse welfare to allow the combination to continue the round. The decision to eliminate is final and not subject to appeal or protest.”

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