FEI Releases 2017 Rules for Eventing

Photo by Eric Swinebroad. Photo by Eric Swinebroad.

The FEI has quietly released the new Rules for Eventing for 2017. For those who have memorized the rulebook word for word, you can check out the clean version here. If you’re like most people and need to see the red mark-ups to fully catch all of the changes, the marked-up version is here. All FEI eventing rules can be accessed at this link.

While there are several minor changes, we are outlining the highlights in this post. We strongly recommend that each rider read through the rules themselves.

WEG Moving to Three-Star Cross Country

Following the recent decision at the FEI General Assembly in Tokyo to codify the Olympics as four-star level for dressage and show jumping with a three-star technicality level over a four-star length course for cross country, the FEI has officially followed suit for the World Equestrian Games.

This means that the 2018 WEG in Tryon, North Carolina will become the first world championship venue to officially run in this format, followed by Tokyo in 2020. Additionally, only a maximum of five athletes from each nation will be allowed to ride, instead of the previous six. Teams will still consist of either three or four riders, unlike the new format for Olympic teams.

What does this ultimately mean for the sport? The CCI4* level will now be the pinnacle of eventing. Without championships at the highest level difficulty of the sport, will less of an emphasis be placed on team competitions? Will riders maintain horses for teams separately than horses for four-stars? Tell us what you think in the comments below, EN.

Tighter Requirements for MER Qualifications

The FEI has also updated the requirements for obtaining an MER (Minimum Eligibility Requirement) at international events. Previously, the MER requirements were the same for all levels and were as follows:

  • Dressage: Score 75.0 or below (This is equivalent to a 50% score for pure dressage.)
  • Cross Country: No jump penalties, and no more than 90 seconds over the optimum time (90 seconds over equates to 36.0 time penalties. The activation of a frangible pin for 11 penalties still resulted in an MER.)
  • Show Jumping: No more than 16 jump penalties. Time penalties not taken into account.

The new MER requirements will be:

  • Dressage: Score 67.0 or below. (This is equivalent to a 55% score for pure dressage.)
  • Cross country: No jump penalties. The activation of a frangible pin for 11 penalties may still obtain MER. For three-star and below, no more than 75 seconds (30.0 time penalties) over the optimum time. For four-star, no more than 100 seconds (40.0 time penalties) over optimum time.
  • Show Jumping: No more than 16 jump penalties. Time penalties not taken into account.

These new requirements will go into effect for 2017; all MERs obtained in previous years will be counted according to the rules in place at that time. Riders will not lose any previously earned MERs.

Missing a Flag on Cross Country

After a series of high-profile eliminations due to missing a flag over the past two years, the FEI has implemented what it hopes will be a solution to the issue. Previously, missing a flag on cross country resulted in elimination from the event. Riders were permitted to stop and ask the fence judge if they had made it inside the flag and could re-present for 20 penalties, but the fence judge could later be overruled by officials.

Under the 2017 rules, missing a flag will now incur 50 jumping penalties, not elimination. If a riders are unsure whether they made it inside the flag, they may continue on and risk incurring 50 penalties if the officials determine the horse’s shoulders were not inside the flag.

Alternatively, riders can still re-present to the jump or jump an option, incurring 20 penalties. The second option allows you to use the competition as a qualifier for a higher level if no further stops are recorded; incurring 50 penalties for a missed flag will not secure a qualifying score.

Additionally, asking for clarification of jump penalties from the fence judge is now considered unauthorized assistance and is no longer permitted.

Indoor Eventing Rules Created

The FEI has brought indoor eventing under its umbrella with the addition of Annex I: Indoor/Arena Cross Country Rules. Indoor eventing will now be classified as an FEI-sanctioned eventing class if it is held as part of an FEI jumping or dressage indoor competition.

Under the new 2017 rules, only Category A or B athletes may participate in FEI-sanctioned indoor eventing competitions. Lower categories will be permitted if the rider has obtained three MER qualifications at the three-star level in the two years prior to the class.

Cross country obstacles at FEI-sanctioned indoor eventing competitions will be limited to two-star size and difficulty. Speed, distance and the number of efforts will be adjusted based on the size of the arena. Officials must include a listed FEI eventing judge, and the course must be designed by an FEI 3/4* eventing course designer.

Other Rule Changes

  • Definite entries for FEI events must be made no later than four days preceding the beginning of the event. This will be the final selection of horses and riders participating. For championships and CIOs, substitution of horses or riders may only be done in accordance with the rules for those championships.
  • To be promoted to FEI 3/4* judge or technical delegate, officials must now have judged at an event outside of their own country during the previous two years.
  • At CIC events when there is no formal first horse inspection, the horses must jog briefly during the in-barn examinations.
  • It is no longer a requirement that the dressage ring be closed during each dressage test at FEI competitions.
  • Rowels on spurs may now be vertical as well as horizontal.
  • Body protectors are required any time a cross-country fence is jumped on competition grounds, including during schooling.

What do you think about the new rules, EN? Do you like the new requirements for MER qualifications? What about the reduced difficulty on cross country for WEG? Will the implementation of 50 penalty points for missing a flag work well? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

[FEI 2017 Eventing Rulebook]

[Full listing of all FEI rules for Eventing]