FEI Releases New Guidelines For Stewards on Handling “Blood Rule” Violations

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ertram Allen and Quiet Easy compete in the Olympia Grand Prix, December 2015. Ph. Jessica Rodrigues/RB Presse
Bertram Allen and Quiet Easy compete in the Olympia Grand Prix, December 2015. Ph. Jessica Rodrigues/RB Presse
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Seven months after the controversial disqualification of winner Bertram Allen and Quiet Easy from the Olympia Grand Prix at the Olympia Horse Show in London, the FEI has released a detailed rules annex designed to clarify and guide stewards that encounter the scenario of blood on a horse, specifically in the instance of blood on the flank that indicated excessive spur use.

After Allen’s winning result was disqualified due to a small scratch on the flank of his horse, which FEI stewards determined was a violation of the “blood rule”, calls were made throughout the international show jumping community for a re-examination of blood rule decisions. Allen’s disqualification was the most high profile instance in show jumping of application of the blood rule.

The entire Annex to the rule change was added to the FEI Manual for Jumping Stewards  this month, and reads as follows in its entirety:

ANNEX XVI – STEWARDS’ PROTOCOL FOR HANDLING CASES OF BLOOD ON A HORSE’S FLANK(S) AND/OR MARKS INDICATING EXCESSIVE USE OF THE SPUR(S)

STEWARDS’ PROTOCOL FOR HANDLING CASES OF BLOOD ON A HORSE’S FLANK(S) AND/OR MARKS INDICATING EXCESSIVE USE OF THE SPUR(S)

A member of the Ground Jury must be available throughout the event to examine, at the request of the Chief Steward, a horse if it is found to have blood on the flank(s) and/or marks indicating excessive use of the spur(s).

If a Steward notices blood on a horse’s flank at any time in connection with the warm-up for a competition or at any time in connection with a horse leaving the competition arena, including but not only during post-competition boot and bandage control, the following procedures must be followed.

  1. The Steward must inform the Athlete that there is an issue with blood on the horse’s flank(s), and that he will

a) Take photographs of the horse and the affected area(s) and of the spurs

b) Inform the Chief Steward (unless he is the CS)

After informing the Athlete as above, the Steward must:

a) Take a close-up photograph of the injury and the blood.

b) Summon the Chief Steward and inform him.

c) Take a photograph of the general area where the injury/blood is located.

d) Take a photograph of the horse, including its competition number that, if possible, also shows the area of the injury/blood.

e) Take a photograph of the spurs that the Athlete was using.

f) Remain with the horse until the Chief Steward arrives, making sure that nobody touches the area in question and that the blood is not wiped off.

NB: If the horse is in a very public area, the Steward should require that the horse be moved to a more private area before proceeding with the above steps. The Athlete may, if he wishes, place a horse rug or cooler over the horse while the horse is being moved.

  1. On his arrival, the Chief Steward will:

a) Examine the area in question making sure that he is wearing an unused latex glove.

b) Establish whether points a) c), d) and e) above have been followed, and if not, take the appropriate photos as required above.

c) Lay the back of his gloved hand over the area in order to transfer blood from the flank(s) onto the glove taking care not to smear or spread the blood over a wider area.

d) Photograph the blood on the glove.

e) Advise the Athlete that according to FEI Rules, he must inform the Ground Jury of the situation and tell the Athlete that the horse must remain available and under the supervision of a Steward until further notice.

f) The Chief Steward will then report the incident to the Ground Jury member designated to handle such cases and show him the photographs.

If blood is not visible on the horse’s flank but the horse has a mark or marks which could indicate excessive use of the spur(s), the Steward must summon the Chief Steward, who will follow the procedure outlined in paragraph 3 above.

The Ground Jury may not take a decision on disqualification until the designated member of the Ground Jury has seen the photographs and examined the horse. It is not the role of the Chief Steward or any member of the stewarding team to inform the PR that he has been disqualified. This is the responsibility of the Ground Jury.

If blood is noticed on a horse’s flank prior to the horse entering the competition arena, the Steward shall inform the Athlete that the horse will not be allowed to enter the competition arena until the procedure outlined above has been carried out and permission has been granted by the Ground Jury for the horse to take part in the competition. Failure of the Athlete to comply with the Steward’s instruction will result in the issuance of a yellow warning card by the Chief Steward.

The Chief Steward must always brief his team on the above procedures before the start of the event.