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IJRC requests revision of elimination rule citing concerns about “career-changing outcomes for riders”

Thursday, 16 November 2023


Text © World of Showjumping



The International Jumping Riders Club (IJRC) is making another attempt at having the FEI revise the elimination rule in art. 241.4 in the FEI Jumping Rules, that was introduced on 1 January 2023 after being approved at the 2022 FEI General Assembly. The rule states that the President of the Ground Jury “(…) 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."

The IJRC has from the outset expressed concern about the rule. Repeating its worries in a statement released 15 November 2023, the Club writes that: "The elimination is unappealable, yet its split-second subjectivity could have career-changing outcomes for riders and national teams, especially at next year's at [sic] Olympic Games in Paris, where there is no drop score."

The IJRC now states it will make another try at having the rule revised during the 2023 FEI General Assembly, hoping that it can push through its proposal of allowing one or more Olympic medallists or – what it refers to as – “top riders”, advise the Ground Jury on the matter during the Olympic Games and major events. The IJRC initially hoped such an advisory role would be adopted in time for the 2023 European Championship, but had no success with its suggestion. In favour of its proposal of an advisory panel, the IJRC argues that  “(...) utilising other experienced personnel as part of the decision making process on the field of play at major FEI events is not unprecedented” – referring to the Dressage Judges’ Supervisory Panel, which is mandatory at the Olympic Games, world and continental championships on Grand Prix level as well as the World Cup Finals. The Judges’ Supervisory Panel consists of three members, ideally two judges and one trainer or athlete – and its purpose is to ensure fair judging. 

Despite having rejected the IJRC’s proposal of an advisory panel, the FEI has agreed to the IJRC’s suggestion to revise some of the wording in the rule – replacing the phrase "contrary to the principles of horse welfare” with "in the best interest of the wellbeing and/or safety of the Horse and/or Athlete”. The proposed change was submitted by the IJRC to the FEI as the Club was of the opinion the current wording had the potential to mislead the general public as to why a horse-and-rider combination had been stopped during a round, thereby unfairly subjecting the rider to criticism in social media. 

Despite the new wording – which is subject to approval at the 2023 FEI General Assembly next week – the IJRC believes the rule needs more clarity as the different scenarios that could lead to elimination remain undefined by the FEI. The IJRC is of the opinion that “an awkward-looking jumping effort could result from over-facing a horse or rider of limited ability – but equally it could be an isolated incident that is part of the normal learning curve of a young horse in expert hands.”


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