World Number Four Oliver Townend has been given a Recorded Warning by the FEI after the culmination of Badminton Horse Trials, where he was eliminated at fence 24 during a hold on course with the former Andrew Nicholson ride Swallow Springs, with whom he was sitting in third place overnight. This elimination came after the pair had picked up 11 penalties for triggering the safety device at fence 19B, a collapsible table which the 15-year-old gelding banked. Swallow Springs had previously appeared to touch down with his hind legs atop the final element of 13ABCD, the KBIS Brush Boxes, and went on to do the same at 22, the brush-topped corner in Badminton Lake. He was held at 24, an official stopping point on course, due to a horse being transported off the course at 26, and was then not allowed to continue by officials.
He has since been awarded the Eventing Recorded Warning for “dangerous riding/series of dangerous jumps.”
Article 527 of the FEI Eventing Rulebook states that “an Eventing Recorded Warning will be systematically awarded for the following offence:
a) Athlete continues after clear 3 refusals, a fall, or any form of elimination.
b) Any other case of Dangerous Riding
c) Athlete not seeing a doctor after a fall
d) Athlete leaving the venue after having retired, been eliminated or stopped during the Cross Country Test without having their Horse checked by the Veterinary Delegate
e) All cases of minor Blood on Horse caused by the Athlete either in the mouth or on flanks from spurs as a minimum or by stronger sanction(s) (as provided for under Art. 526.2).
f) for pressing a tired horse together with 25 penalties.”
A Recorded Warning differs from a Yellow Card Warning Card, which will be “systematically awarded for the following offence:
a) All cases of excessive use of whip, as defined above, or by stronger sanction(s) (as provided for under Art. 526.2).
b) Any other cases of Abuse of Horse
c) Excessive pressing of a tired horse
d) Riding an Exhausted horse coupled in addition to Disqualification.”
The cumulative effect of each type of warning differs slightly: should an athlete receive three or more Eventing Recorded Warnings, at any international event and for any offence, within 24 months of the first one, they’ll receive a two month suspension from the sport. For Yellow Cards, the time frame is shorter, but so is the number of chances: any second Yellow Card within twelve months of the first will result in a two month suspension.
This is Townend’s only current sanction within the time frame: he received an oral warning, rather than a Recorded Warning, in the indoor eventing competition at Stockholm in November of 2022 for “abuse of horse/excessive use of the whip”; prior to that, his most recent sanctions date back to 2018, where he received a verbal warning at Badminton and one at Blair, the first of those covering two horses, and both for “abuse of horse/excessive use of the whip”.
The FEI Sanctions lists can be viewed in full here.