Horses With Blood May Get Second Chance to Compete at Championships

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Blood showing on the mouth of Jerich Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen leaving the competition arena at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. © Ken Braddick/

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, June 23–Horses on which blood appears during competition at top championships may be given a second chance to continue under a new rule being considered by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

A review of procedures by the FEI Dressage Committee followed the elimination of Jerich Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen of The Netherlands at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky when blood appeared in the mouth of the horse during the Grand Prix that determined the Nations Cup. Holland won gold based on the scores of the other three Dutch team members. Under the WEG rules, nations could compete up to four combinations but only three scores counted in the final result.

The WEG incident led to the Dressage Committee reviewing the rules which always led to elimination under welfare of the horse procedures. The rules did not address the issue of the appearance of blood specifically.

The FEI reported Thursday that at a meeting of the Dressage Committee earlier this month, Trond Asmyr, the FEI director of dressage, presented a draft of a change to clarify the issue.

Committee members all agreed that blood anywhere on a horse in the arena meant the test had to be stopped.

However, the committee determined that at Olympic Games, World Equestrian Games, World Cup Finals and continental championships at Grand Prix level where there is a vet present by the arena, “it could be motivated to allow examination and a second chance if appropriate (the bleeding had stopped and the Vet deemed that there was no abuse to continue), especially with only three riders on a team, in order not to take out a whole team.”

This would only be practical at top level events, the committee determined, as a Vet would not always be immediately available at lower level events.

Therefore, for horses with blood appearing while in the arena would be stopped and examined by a vet at the top events.

“In minor cases and the bleeding has stopped, the horse would be allowed to resume the test,” the committee concluded.

“Resumed bleeding would entail elimination.

“At all other CDIs, blood on the horse leads to immediate elimination.”

Dressage judge Wim Ernes with Germany's Anja Plönzke on Le Mont d'Or which showed blood on its mouth during a CDI5* in Florida last winter. The new rules would uphold elimination of the combination from a non-championship class, as occurred in this case. © 2011 Ken Braddick/

The FEI’s Veterinary Committee and Legal Department are considering the proposed rule change.

A final decision would made by made at the FEI General Assembly later this year to become effective Jan. 1, 2012, and thus would apply to the World Cup Final and the London Olympics for next year.

An example of the continental championships to which the change would apply include the Europeans in 2013. The Pan American Games that are the current Olympic team qualification for the Americas have been at small tour level though a separate continental championship at Grand Prix level to qualify for Olympics after London in 2012 is being explored.