More Proposed FEI Rule Changes for 2019 You Need to Know

The FEI is proposing that “unattached neck straps” no longer be allowed. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

EN is publishing a series of articles on the proposed FEI rule changes for 2019. Click here to read through our guide on proposed changes to the FEI rules governing blood on horses, whip use, and the yellow warning card and recorded warning system.

All proposed FEI rules changes will be discussed and voted on at the FEI General Assembly in Manama, Bahrain on Nov. 16-20, 2018. All approved rule changes will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

Read on for a summary of other proposed changes. For ease of reading we have listed proposed wording changes in bold red for added language or struck through for deleted language.

You can view the full summary of proposed changes on the FEI website here.

Definition of Categories

The new category system approved at the 2017 FEI General Assembly will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. CIC will no longer be used to designate the short format. Instead, CCI-L will denote long formate and CCI-S will denote short format.

The new 1.05-meter Introductory level introduced in 2018 will become the new CCI* level in 2019 and can be organized as short or long format in regard to order of the phases and horse inspections.

All other FEI levels will shift up in their star category according to the chart below:

The CCI5* level system will be gradually introduced over the next two years. The current CCI4* competitions — Kentucky, Badminton, Luhmühlen, Burghley, Pau and Adelaide — will all receive the new CCI5*-L category designation in 2019 but must fulfill new requirements over a period of two years to retain the designation.

CCI5* Requirements:

  • Minimum level of prize money: €150,000 Euro ($175,000 USD)
  • Mandatory closed-circuit television for public, athletes, owners and ground jury
  • A minimum of 30 starters, maximum of 75 starters
  • 11-12 minute cross country course (6,270-6,840 meters in length with 40-45 efforts)
  • All-weather dressage arena is strongly recommended

CCI5* Yearly Review: A yearly review will take place to evaluate each CCI5* event in regards to performance against the established criteria. A pre-assessment will take place at the end of 2019, with a formal evaluation at the end of 2020. The Risk Management Steering Group will also be involved in the yearly review to assess the fall rate on cross country and other safety measures.

Starting in 2020, all CCI5* competitions will be reviewed on an annual basis, with CCI5* status renewed or revoked accordingly for the following year.


The FEI has proposed the following rule changes in relation to dressage for 2019:

  • Removing the collective marks and replacing them with one overall mark for “Harmony of Athlete and Horse,” which would be scored on a double coefficient.
  • At 4* championships and 5* level events, if the score of the flying changes varies by 3 points or more from the average of the scores of the other judges for the same movement, the ground jury must review the video after the dressage test on the same day. Adjustments to scoring for the flying changes can be made accordingly.
  • Only ear bonnets that “allow horses to use all their senses and move freely with the ears” will be permitted.

Cross Country

The FEI has proposed the following rule changes in relation to cross country for 2019:

  • Eliminating the current 50-penalty rule, which gives 50 penalties for missing a flag on cross country and continuing on, and instead giving 15 penalties if the “horse misses a flag but clearly negotiated the element or obstacle.”
  • “A horse is considered to have run out (20 penalties) if, having been presented at an element or obstacle on the course, it avoids it in such a way that either the head, neck or either shoulder the body of the Horse fails to pass between the extremities of the element or obstacle as flagged.”
  • Only official video recording will be permitted as evidence when reviewing penalties. “Officials will clarify before the start of cross country … which video recording will represent the official view to avoid any misunderstanding.”
  • “Unattached neck straps” will not be allowed on cross country.
  • Hackamores without bits will not be allowed on cross country.

Show Jumping

The FEI has proposed that every 2 seconds over the time allowed in show jumping should result in only 1 time penalty.


The FEI has made extensive changes and clarifications to the bitting section of the rulebook “to take into account the wide use of snaffles in eventing,” as well as defining the action of bits. You can view the full list of proposed changes and legal bits on pages 23-27 of this document.

What do you think of the new proposed FEI rule changes for 2019, EN? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.