As the 2011 competition season starts to get underway, let’s take a quick look at the new FEI rule changes for 2011 that went into effect on January 1st. There are very few issues in eventing that can get people riled up as much as rule changes. Here in the US we are lucky to have fantastic leadership at the USEA who have guided us through very important safety rule change proposals, such as the mandatory helmet rule, without the conflict that often maligns rule proposals. The mandatory helmet rule is a very long way away from being approved and implemented at FEI competitions, but there are several important and, I think reasonable, FEI rule changes for 2011. I have selected a few of the more important changes for review:
1) The minumum distances and times for the cross-country courses have been reduced for all FEI levels. The minimums drop by about 10% across the board. For example, the minimum distance for a 4* has dropped from 6270m to 5700m while the maximum distance stays the same at 6840m. In some sense, the short format just got shorter, but it might allow several smaller venues around the world to host a higher level of competition.
2) The 2010 dressage simplification to bundle several dressage mistakes all into the category of ‘errors’ has been extended. Error of course, circling the arena while carrying a whip, entering the dressage arena with a whip, not entering the arena within 45 seconds after the bell, and entering the arena before the bell all are subject to the 2, 4, then elimination penalty system. This was implemented in 2010 and has now been officially extended.
3) Breaking a frangible obstacle or device has been changed from incurring 25 penalties to 21. Ground Juries will still have the option of removing the penalties at their discretion. I have no idea how the FEI came up with ’21′ rather than some other number. Somewhere in the FEI corporate headquarters there must be a dart board with a bunch of integers pinned on it. Kidding aside, the logic seems to be to punish breaking a frangible slightly more than a stop, but anyone with a stop at an FEI competition is probably going to have time penalties anyway, unless your name is Jessica Phoenix at Bromont.
4) A physician with advanced trauma and life support certification is now required to have access to the entire facility of the event at all times. Previously, just any physician was required to have access. This change makes a great deal of sense and is certainly worth the slight added hassle for organizers, although it is worth noting that many of these safety changes due increase the workload on organizers.
5) There are several rewrites to rules addressing conflicts of interest by officials. A conflict of interest is not permitted at the International Chamionship level, but the rules become more open to conflicts of interest if they are approved by other FEI officials as the levels decline. The only rider-judge connection that I can think of is from the Payne family, but Marilyn is such a professional that I don’t think that would ever be an issue as Doug starts competing in more international competitions. That said, it’s probably a good idea to have the rule in place to avoid the issue ever being raised.
[FEI 2011 Rule Changes via LD]
Like many riders, I understand the rules in a practical sense but I don’t know the details of the rules as extensively as I should, and so writing about rules always makes me slightly nervous. Thus, let me state the obvious and say that if you are an FEI competitor you should read through the rules and the modifications thoroughly. Go eventing.