French Links, Frangibles & More: What’s Being Voted on at the 2020 FEI General Assembly

The 2020 FEI General Assembly, originally scheduled to be hosted by the National Federation of South Africa, will this year be solemnly devoid of glitzy galas heaped to the rafters with all-you-can-eat shrimp and horse-shaped ice sculptures, followed by late-night hotel bar brawls over obscure fine-print rule changes (can’t we just agree to disagree about French link snaffles?). Thanks, Coronavirus! It’s still taking place though, albeit virtually, and we can still follow along with all the scintillating administrative action.

It’s not exactly thrills-and-spills cross country, but nonetheless we have the opportunity to follow the FEI General Assembly in real time via live stream. And, on second thought, you just never know what sort of madness the FEI thinktank will cook up when you gather them up from all round the world and stuff them into a Zoom chat together (who can forget their proposed rebranding of eventing to “equestrian triathlon,” “equestrathon” or “tri-equathlon” in 2015) …

… so it’s best to keep a close eye on their proceedings. We appreciate that they make that easy via transparent coverage, including a live stream of the sessions and rolling online updates.

Some sessions of the 2020 General Assembly, moved online due to the pandemic, are already underway: Regional Group, Continental Associations and Board meetings have been taking place since Nov. 13. Anti-doping and Rules meetings take place on Saturday, Nov. 21 — you can see what Eventing Rules changes will be voted upon here, and I’ve squandered X amount of hours of my life that I’ll never get back synopsizing them for you below:

501.3.4 World Individual and Team Championships: The maximum number of Athletes per National Federation is limited five if the World Championships are combined with other Championships or six combinations when the Eventing World Championships are held separately from the other disciplines.

505.3.1 Distribution (Prizemoney): The total amount of money published in the schedule must be distributed; BUT organizers have some new flexibility with regard to allocation.

511 Requirements for Promotion: The requirement for transfer and maintenance of status will be included in a separate document dedicated to the Education system and removed from the FEI Eventing Rules.

513.1 Short Format (CCIs-S and CCIOs-S), 513.2 Long Format (CCIs-L and CCIOsL), 513.3 CCI 1*-Intro (Unified Level), 513.5 Championships & Games, 513.5.1 Championships and Games: Further to the update of the Veterinary rules in regard to veterinary officials educations/eligibility a number of revisions have been proposed.

515.3.1 General Duties: The TD is now responsible for an event’s Serious Incident Management Plan.

515.4.1 Course Designer & 515.4.1 Cross Country & 515.4.2 Jumping: The Course Designer role during cross country is to work with the Technical Delegate and Ground Jury to deal with judging queries, sanctions, reviewing of course/fences during XC in case of repetitive falls or weather situations. The Course Designers are responsible to ensure that all frangible technologies are fitted in accordance to the rules and guidelines.

520.1 Athletes not yet categorised at the level of the Competition: Qualification requirements for less experienced riders to participate at higher level events will be strengthened, to be implemented after the Olympic Games deadline for qualification of July 1, 2021.

523.3 Examination after a fall & 524.3.2 Cross Country – Finishing Area: Clarification that an athlete leaving the venue without seeing a doctor or without having his horse checked by the vet is considered a specific eventing sanction.

525.2 Warnings and Penalties (Dangerous riding): Clarification that in case of Dangerous riding the sanction is either 25 penalties or elimination.

526.1 Definition (abuse of Horse): A serious case of Dangerous Riding should be sanctioned by a Yellow Warning Card and added to the list of Abuse of Horse.

538.1.1 Protective Headgear (Dress) & 538.2.1 Civilian (Dressage Test) & 538.2.2 Members and employees of military establishments and national studs: While riding anywhere on the show grounds, the use of a properly fastened Protective Headgear is mandatory. See rule for details and exceptions.

538.2.1 Civilian (Dress) & 538.4.1 Civilian (Dress): Athletes shall wear the official clothing of their NF.

539.1.2 Permitted (Training and exercising saddlery), 539.1.4 Forbidden (Training and exercising saddlery), 539.2.2 Permitted (Dressage test),539.2.3 Forbidden (Dressage test), 539.3.2 Forbidden (Cross Country and Jumping test saddlery) & Annex A 1.4 Illegal bits & 1.5 Permitted Mouthpieces: 

  • Blinkers are not allowed for the cross country; for show jumping, jumping rules apply
  • Further to the Eventing Rules update last year including a differentiated list of bits allowed for Eventing compared to Dressage, the following needs to be clarified:
    • Leather bits and leather-covered bits are permitted
    • Leather-like material for bridles for dressage are permitted
    • Throat lashes are compulsory for cross country
    • Sliding Hanging Cheek mouthpieces are not allowed; clarification that the bit cannot slide vertically and that the rein must be able to move freely in the ring of the bit
    • A bit may have a curved port; the height of the deviation is but the width is not. In order to clarify this, the proposal is to line with the Dressage rules and use the same wording.
    • Clarification of what type of mouthpiece/cheekpiece can be used for a Briddoon when a double bridle is used

544.1.2 Scoring Flying Change: The Eventing Committee had agreed to review the rule proposal on a yearly basis. Now that the dressage tests have been modified, it should be easier to judge the flying change and therefore it should not be necessary to review a video.

547.2.4 Frangible/Deformable Obstacles: The introduction of mandatory frangible devices to higher level events will be extended across all levels for 2021. All open oxers, open corners, verticals or near verticals with open rails, top rail on triple bars and gates where the rail dimensions and weight fit the acceptable parameters of an FEI approved frangible device, must be fitted with frangible devices.

547.2.5 Water Crossings: Each cross-country course must have at least one obstacle related to water.

547.2.7 Ground Lines: Ground lines must be used on fences at all levels.

547.5.2 Obstacles with Alternatives: An alternative obstacle must be sited in such a way that the horse/ rider must make a new attempt/approach after a refusal or run out.’

Annex A 1.2 & 1. 5 (Dressage bits): The ‘French link’ snaffle is allowed.

Annex D – Medical Services Explanation: Recommendations for Medical services at FEI Eventing Events including specific requirements for the cross country test should be considered as guidelines for two years before being implemented as mandatory.

Annex H.1.2 – International Pony Events and Qualification: CCIP2-S results should also count as a qualification for Championships.

The big event, the Ordinary General Assembly Board Meeting, will take place on Monday, Nov. 23, from 12 to 4:30 p.m. CET (6 to 10:30 a.m. EST) and will be available to watch live hereA summary of the key discussions from the two sessions on Anti-Doping and Rules on Nov. 21 will be published hereWrap-ups, including resolutions and main decisions from the FEI Board meetings, will be published on the following day and can be found hereAll information on the FEI General Assembly, including the program, is available on the GA 2020 hub.


See you there (or not!)