Don't look for helmets at the FEI World Cup or World Equestrian Games dressage events quite yet, but a discussion of a possible rule change at the Dressage Committee's meeting earlier this month in Paris considered some regulations for head protection. Also on the discussion list: blood in the mouths of competition horses.
As always, rule revisions will be presented for National Federation approval at the FEI General Assembly in November for implementation on 1 January 2012.
Background: The FEI Medical Committee has recommended making protective headgear mandatory across all disciplines when riding at show grounds outside competition arenas.
At its meeting in Paris, the Dressage Committee took on the subject. They discussed making protective headgear mandatory everywhere on the showgrounds except during competition and warm-up prior to competition. The committee discussed mandatory helmets for athletes under 18 and in Young Horse classes where they would be required everywhere, including during the test.
Note: I worried about the wording of this press release and asked my media contact at the FEI for some help in sorting out what this might mean. Malina Gueorguiev, Manager of FEI Press Relations in Lausanne, Switzerland, clarified that riders who are in competition attire before their classes would not be required to wear helmets in warmup or in the competition arena but other riders, dressed in non-competition attire, would be required to wear a helmet when mounted in warmup arenas.
A draft rule is being prepared for the next committee meeting on 2 August. This would then go forward to the General Assembly for approval and implementation on 1 January 2012.
Blood in the arena
Who could ever forget Parzival's disqualification from the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games? Dutch team member Adelinde Cornelissen was stopped during her test when a tinge of blood was noticed in her horse's mouth. Months later, it was discovered that specific language about blood in the mouth didn't exist in the dressage rules.
At Paris, the Dressage Committee proposed a new blood rule explicitly stating that the test would be stopped if blood appears anywhere on the horse.
A press release from the FEI describes the possible new rule in this way:
"At top level events (Olympic Games, Championships and Finals for seniors), where FEI vets will be present at the warm-up arena, they would examine the horse and the test would resume if bleeding from minor injuries had stopped.
"If the bleeding had not stopped, the horse would be eliminated. Where vets are not present to examine the horse, bleeding would result in immediate elimination."
The FEI's Vet Committee and Legal Department are considering the proposal for this rule, which would sit in Article 430.7.1. or Article 440 of the Rules for Dressage Events.