Proposed FEI 'Blood Rule' Discussion Postponed

In an effort to ensure maximum equine welfare, the vote on the highly debated "Blood Rule" of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) that would affect all FEI dressage and para-equestrian dressage competitions has been postponed until next year, the FEI reported.

The FEI Bureau elected unanimously Nov. 11 to withdraw the proposed modifications from the agenda of the 2011 FEI General Assembly, which ended Monday in Rio de Janeiro. The proposal would have been sent to the vote on Nov. 14.

The commonly called "Blood Rule" would have allowed horses with blood on their bodies at high-level competitions to return to the dressage arena if an FEI veterinarian determined the bleeding had stopped and welfare was not an issue. At lower level FEI dressage and para-equestrian dressage competitions, such horses could remain disqualified and would not be permitted re-entrance despite a veterinary exam.

The debate gained significance as opponents claimed that any bleeding horse at any level of competition should remain disqualified, as a question of fairness and equine welfare.

The FEI Dressage Committee proposed to the FEI Bureau to withdraw the item from this year's General Assembly "in order to allow the Veterinary Committee to study the issue from a horse welfare perspective," the FEI reported.

The issue will also no longer be limited to dressage and para-equestrian dressage, according to the FEI. The Veterinary Committee will consult with other FEI discipline committees (jumping, eventing, endurance, etc.) and will come up with a proposal that will be "valid and applicable for FEI disciplines."

The Veterinary Committee's proposal will be discussed as part of the Veterinary Regulations revision at the FEI Sports Forum in April 2012. The proposed modification will then be presented for vote at the 2012 General Assembly, for implementation at the start of 2013.

Article 430.7.6 of the FEI Dressage Rules and the FEI Code of Conduct Article in the Para-Equestrian Dressage Rules remain in effect. These stipulations covering horse welfare "will continue to allow for the elimination of horses that show evidence of blood anywhere on their body," 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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