FEI Adopts Dressage 'Blood Rule' at General Assembly

FEI Adopts Dressage 'Blood Rule' at General Assembly

Blood became an issue in dressage after the 2010 elimination of Jerich Parzival during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games when the Ground Jury noticed blood in the horse's saliva from a small wound sustained when the horse bit his tongue.

Photo: Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI)

Blood is definitely not acceptable at any level of competition, according to a new decision by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

The 24th edition of the FEI Rules for Dressage Events, adopted during the recent FEI General Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, finally puts an end to the "blood rule controversy." It clearly states that any horse with "fresh blood" on its body will be definitively eliminated from the competition.

"If the Judge at C suspects fresh blood anywhere on the horse during the test, he will stop the horse to check for blood," reads the new Article 430.7.6 of the rules. "If the horse shows fresh blood, it will be eliminated. The elimination is final."

Horses deemed to be free of fresh blood during this inspection by the judge, however, will be allowed to continue the competition, according to the rules.

Unlike the FEI's "blood rule" proposal made in 2011, this newly adopted article does not make special exceptions for high-level competitions such as the Olympics and the World Equestrian Games. In that proposal, bleeding horses at high-level competitions would have been allowed to continue the test after inspection, if the bleeding had stopped and the wound was considered "minor." The 2011 proposal stirred significant controversy, leading the FEI to postpone the rule until 2012, the FEI stated at the time.

Horses eliminated under the 2012 rules will be required to be examined by an FEI veterinarian before entering their next competition (the next day, for example). The veterinarian will determine whether the horse is "fit to continue in the event the following day(s)," the rules state. This compulsory veterinary examination also applies to horses that are injured during the competition and start bleeding after leaving the ring.

Whatever the decision of the FEI veterinarian, owners and riders will not be allowed to appeal; the decision will be final, according to the rules.

Blood became an issue in FEI dressage after the 2010 elimination of Jerich Parzival ridden by Adelinde Cornelissen (NED) during the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games when the Ground Jury noticed blood in the horse's saliva.

Specific rules about the presence of blood on a competing horse already exist in the FEI discipline rules for jumping, eventing, vaulting, and reining, according to the FEI. However, no specific rules about blood during dressage competitions had been passed before now. Previously, if blood was observed in dressage events, officials turned to the FEI's general rules on horse welfare and abuse, the FEI reported.


About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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