FEI Not to Enforce New Rule Banning Riders for 6 Months for Competing in Unsanctioned National Events if NFs Do Not “Expressly Object”

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George Williams, president of U.S. Dressage Federation, competing. © 2011 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com


The International Equestrian Federation said Thursday it will not enforce a new rule banning riders for six months for competing in unsanctioned national events if the national federation does not “expressly object” to the shows, but the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s High Performance Dressage Committee chairman said he hopes the rule will be clarified before implementation less than six weeks away.

Lisa Lazarus, the FEI general counsel, issued an explanation to the 133 national federations making up the international governing body of the sport, including the Olympic disciplines of dressage, eventing and jumping. The so-called “Unsanctioned Event” rule was one of at least three measures approved by the FEI’s General Assembly Nov. 8 aimed at tightening the FEI’s control of international horsesports. Among the series that could be impacted are expansion hopes by the World Dressage Masters and the Global Champions Tour of jumping.

There are, however, numerous series in many nations–the Spy Coast Young Horse series for both dressage and jumping horses and the Marshall & Sterling League for hunter/jumper competition, both promotional events in the U.S. and with substantial prize money–that may not be sanctioned by the national federation so are subject to the new rule.

“With respect to the scope of the rule, the rule only applies to events and/or competitions that are not in the FEI calendar (i.e. international events not approved by the FEI) and national events that are not authorized by the National Federation,” the FEI’s Lisa Lazarus wrote to national federations. “This means that the FEI will rely on the NFs to bring any national or local events that it has concerns about to the FEI’s attention.

“The FEI will not on its own initiative look for or police national events to determine whether or not they are authorized. Therefore, local events do not come within the scope of this rule so long as the NF does not expressly object to them.

“If an athlete, official, or horse does participate in a competition and/or event that is not on the FEI calendar or in a national event and/or competition that is expressly unauthorized by their NF, they or it cannot participate in any International or national event for a period of six months thereafter.”

Many hundreds of schooling shows, not sanctioned by the FEI or the USEF, are held across the United States every year, many organized by U.S. Dressage Federation group member organizations of which one, the California Dressage Society, for example, has 39 chapters with the mission to educate and promote the sport.

George Williams, the USDF president and also chairman of the USEF High Performance Dressage Committee, said in response to questions from dressage-news.com, he did not expect schooling shows to be an issue.

However, he said, “the concerns you raised and the examples you use are ones that we (USDF and the USEF DC) shared.

“The bottom line is the FEI is not as concerned with non-sanctioned events that happen on a national level (for example, schooling shows). They are leaving those events up to the NF. As long as the NF is not opposed to a non-sanctioned national level event the FEI is OK with it. That’s the simple version.”

“I don’t know how the USEF will treat the Spy Coast series, though I suspect favorably. Also I don’t know about the Marshall & Sterling League at Saugerties (New York).”

Now the FEI has clarified its position, George said he hopes the USEF senior leadership will address the “non-schooling’ type shows,” such as the Spy Coast Farm Young Horse series.

A widespread perception in Europe is that doping and other rules of competition at national events in the United States are not as stringent, though events run under FEI sanction are identical the world over.

The International Dressage Riders Club also weighed in on the issue with a news release that said:

“If you participate (compete or show) at an event that is not authorized by the FEI or your National Federation, you will be BANNED for six month from all FEI competitions.

“This applies to ANY horse–so if you normally show your young horses or non-FEI registered horses at unauthorized national or local shows then you will be banned for siz months.

“This applies to riders, horses and officials from Jan. 1, 2013.

“The only way around this is if your National Federation does not object to a local show…”

Meantime, the FEI calendar of events for 2013 has been formally published.

For the period Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, the calendar lists a total of 151 dressage shows, a slight increase over the 147 competitions listed for 2012.

The biggest increase in the number of shows was in Europe where 99 are scheduled for 2013 compared with 90 in 2012.

A big cut in the number of shows in Brazil to three next year from eight in 2012 and to two from four in Canada accounted for most of the reduction in shows to 34 in 2013 and 42 in 2012 in the Americas. The number of shows in the U.S. dropped to 26 in 2013 from 29 this year.

Oceania remained about the same, 11 in 2013 compared with 12 in 2012, while Asia will double the number in 2013 to six from three in 2012 and Africa has one scheduled show as against none in 2012.

Additions, modfications and changes will likely alter the 2013 total by the end of next year.