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The FEI Tack App – Keeping up with what is allowed

Thursday, 16 November 2023


Text © World of Showjumping




To bring clarity as to which tack is allowed to be used at FEI competitions and help the equestrian community navigate the current FEI rules and regulations, the FEI Tack App was launched in May 2023. 

While any changes to the current FEI rules and regulations normally are done annually after consultations, discussions and by vote at the FEI General Assembly, the FEI Tack App is updated monthly. With intense competition schedules, keeping up with the frequent updates can be challenging – and with approximately 10k downloads of the app* since the launch in mid-May within a FEI athlete community that consists of about 42k active riders, around 3/4 of the current FEI competitors are not using the app at all. However, the FEI explicitly asked World of Showjumping to add that their TackApp website has had 31K page views since its launch.

Tack App to replace Guidelines

As part of the proposed changes to the FEI General Regulations to be voted on at the FEI General Assembly in Mexico City next week, the FEI has suggested to remove the current references to the guidelines for use of tack, equipment and dress in different disciplines. When approved, the current guidelines will no longer apply and the FEI’s decisions on whether specific tack and/or equipment is permitted or not permitted will be specified in the FEI TackApp and the FEI Tack, Equipment & Dress Database.  

As feedback to the FEI’s proposal regarding dropping the guidelines, the British federation explained their concerns regarding the FEI Tack App stating that the current process makes it difficult for national federations to follow and support the FEI’s rules on tack and equipment effectively, as there is little communication about the reasons for any changes. “This then results in pressure on the National Federations from manufacturers when their tack and equipment is excluded without sufficient feedback, data, or evidence to support decisions,” the British federation wrote. “This is particularly relevant when these decisions are for welfare reasons. We would like to request that the FEI look to change how they define what tack and equipment is able to be used in competition and warm up. With the focus firmly on equine welfare even those steeped in the sports are questioning the appearance of some of the bits that are allowed to be used currently. We also note that at present we are not keeping pace with manufacturers who make adaptations to equipment which is not permitted to evade the restrictions in place along with the increase in new equipment some of which is being advertised as “welfare friendly” with limited evidence to back this up.”

An agile solution responding to an ever-evolving market

The FEI Tack App is a result of a recommendation made by the FEI Equipment Expert Group – a part of FEI President Ingmar De Vos’ Presidential Programme for 2022-2026. The group identified a need to develop a publicly accessible database which would provide the equestrian community and FEI officials “(…) with a clear understanding of what tack and equipment can and cannot be used during FEI Competitions.”

When World of Showjumping asked FEI who suggests the changes to the app, which kind of consultation process is in place, and who is part of the decision-making process, a FEI spokesperson explained: “The FEI Tack, Equipment and Dress Database and mobile Tack App is populated with individual items and their status (Permitted/Not Permitted/Not Applicable) based on the applicable FEI Sports Rules, the FEI Veterinary Regulations and other FEI Rules and Regulations. In such cases, which cover most items, no decision and/or changes are made by the FEI. The Tack App merely reflects the content of the FEI Rules and Regulations in effect. Exceptionally, when the FEI Rules and Regulations do not provide sufficient guidance or are silent when it comes to individual items of tack, equipment or dress; the FEI Equipment Expert Group in consultation with the FEI Technical Committees and sport, veterinary and other experts when appropriate, reaches a decision whether or not the item is permitted.” 

“Since the FEI Tack, Equipment and Dress Database is newly launched, the FEI needs to populate the database and this takes time,” the FEI spokesperson told WoSJ. “Once the initial database has been fully populated with all the existing items, we expect the frequency and number of new items to be added to significantly decrease. The Database is updated once a month i.e. every first Monday in the month. The updates are more frequent than the annual rule revision process as new tack, equipment and dress are launched to the equestrian market by the manufacturers almost on a daily basis. The FEI needed an agile solution that would be able to function with this context and be agile in responding to the ever-evolving market. This is of essential importance in particular when a particular tack, equipment or dress raises horse welfare concerns or concerns regarding athlete safety. In such cases, a quick reaction is needed by the FEI in order to protect the horses and athletes.” 

Updates and notifications

As to the current measures taken to notify riders and other stakeholders on the latest updates, the FEI explained that notification messages are currently being developed, to which the user will be able to register – for any discipline in their interest. This will then alert the user of any newly updated items. 

The FEI Tack App is not intended to replace the FEI rules, and in any case of divergence, the FEI rules will take precedence, while the FEI officials on-site shall have the final decision regarding the interpretation and implementation of the rules. 



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