FEI General Assembly Approves All Proposed 2019 Eventing Rule Revisions

Photo by Eric Swinebroad.

All proposed eventing rule changes for 2019 have been approved by the FEI General Assembly, which concluded today in Manama, Bahrain. The rule changes will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

While there are rule changes impacting numerous different sections of the FEI Eventing Rulebook, we have outlined the most notable revisions below. Click here to read the full document of proposed, and now approved, rule changes for 2019.

Blood, Whip Use and Yellow Cards

  • All cases of minor blood on the horse caused by the athlete, either in the mouth or on the flanks from spurs, will be given a recorded warning or stronger sanctions.
  • Should the same athlete receive more than one recorded warning for a case of athlete-induced blood on a horse within three years, the athlete will automatically receive a yellow warning card.
  • Two recorded warnings for the same offense will result in a yellow warning card.
  • Use of the whip has been limited to two times per use. The ground jury can deem multiple excessive uses of a whip between fences as abuse of the horse.
  • If a horse’s skin is broken or has visible marks, the use of the whip will always be considered excessive.
  • All cases of excessive use of the whip will automatically result in a yellow warning card or stronger sanction.

Read EN’s detailed breakdown of these changes 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 approved the following rule changes in relation to dressage for 2019:

  • Collective marks will be removed and replaced with one overall mark for “Overall Impression of
    Athlete and Horse,” which is 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 approved the following rule changes in relation to cross country for 2019:

  • Missing a flag on cross country will now result in 15 penalties instead of 50 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 the body of the horse (head, neck, shoulders and pelvis – legs are not included) fails to pass between the extremities of the element or obstacle as originally flagged. Continuing on course without representing will incur elimination.”
  • 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

Show jumping time penalties will now match cross country, with 0.4 time penalties added for every second over the time allowed.


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 tack and equipment rule changes in Chapter 7, items 43-45, of this document.

The revised Eventing Rules will be updated here in due course. View notes from the 2018 FEI General Assembly here.

This article has been updated to clarify the new show jumping time penalty equation.