Pressure Building to Ease “Blood” Rule Elimination

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Adelinde Cornelissen looking at the mouth of Jerich Parzival after the pair were stopped during the 2010 World Equestrian Games team competition for blood on the horse's mnouth. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Adelinde Cornelissen looking at the mouth of Jerich Parzival after the pair were stopped during the 2010 World Equestrian Games team competition for blood on the horse’s mnouth. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Nov. 9, 2015–Pressure is building from trainers, riders and judges to ease the so-called “blood” rule to provide flexibility before eliminating a horse from international competition while strictly enforcing automatic elimination for blood in the mouth or caused by spurs or whip.

A proposal to ease the rule made by the Judges Supervisory Panel that oversees aspects of judging at Olympics and major championships has won support from the International Dressage Trainers Club and the International Dressage Riders Club, both formally affiliated with the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) that governs international horse sports.

The prospect of changing the current blood rule comes up this week at the annual FEI General Assembly in this capital where the 132 member nations of the organization get the final word on governing the sport.

The FEI Dressage Committee in its annual rewrite of the rules did not submit changes to the “blood” requirements.

However, the riders and trainers groups have come out in support of a revision that simplifies the process while not rigidly enforcing elimination for the appearance of blood in such instances as a fly bite or a a minor injury such as the horse accidentally nicked the skin but is fit to continue.

The proposed change states:

“If the judge at C suspects fresh blood anywhere on the horse other than from the mouth or the spur/whip, he will stop the horse to check for blood. If the horse shows blood and is judged fit to continue, then the horse may continue from the point where it was stopped. The horse must be sent immediately to an FEI vet after the test to ensure it is fit to continue to compete on a successive day. If the blood is from the mouth, spur or whip then it must be eliminated. This decision is final.”

The current procedure was drawn up after the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010 when Jerich Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen bit his tongue in the Grand Prix team test and was automatically eliminated by the rule in force at the time. The incident led to re-consideration of the rule.

As a result, if the judge at C “suspects fresh blood anywhere on the horse during the test, he will stop the horse to check for blood. If the horse shows fresh blood, it will be eliminated. The elimination is final. If the Judge through examination clarifies that the Horse has no fresh blood, the horse may resume and finish its test.

“If the FEI steward discovers fresh blood in the horse’s mouth or in the area of the spurs during the equipment check at the end of the test, he informs the judge at C, who will eliminate the horse and the/Athlete. If there is blood on the Horse, an FEI veterinarian is to be called to decide if the Horse is fit to continue in following competition(s) in the event.

“If the horse is eliminated pursuant to the above, or if the horse is injured during the test and starts bleeding after finishing the test, it should be examined by an FEI veterinarian prior to the next competition to determine if it is fit to continue in the event the following day(s). The decision of the FEI veterinarian is not subject to appeal.”