The Blood Rule Comes into Play at Rio: Two Riders Found in Violation After Round One

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ur Vrieling and Zirocco Blue have a refusal at the triple combination, the first of two refusals on course.
Jur Vrieling and Zirocco Blue have a refusal at the triple combination, the first of two refusals on course.

During Sunday’s First Individual Qualifier/First Team Round of the Rio Olympic Games, two riders were eliminated from the competition after they were found to be in violation of Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules.

Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts was disqualified for excessive use of the spur after his horse Zilverstar T stopped for the second time, at fence 11B on course. Philipparts, who was competing for Belgium as an individual, will not return to compete in the Second Individual Qualifier.

The second rider, Jur Vrieling, was competing for the team of The Netherlands. He was eliminated after his horse, Zirocco Blue, also made two stops on course. The second stop occurred at fence 11A, and Vrieling was eliminated for excessive use of the whip at that fence. Blood could be seen on the horse’s flank as it left the arena.

“We can confirm that Jur Vrieling has been disqualified from today’s individual Jumping competition,” said Stephan Ellenbruch, President of the Rio 2016 Equestrian Olympic Ground Jury. “The FEI’s rules are very specific -if any blood is found on the flank of a horse, the Athlete/Horse combination is automatically disqualified from the competition. 

“The veterinarians on site have examined the horse, Zirocco Blue, and will continue to monitor to ensure he is fit to compete on Tuesday, 16 August for the Jumping Team Round 1 qualifier event.”

Vrieling accepted the elimination, and put forth a statement in response: 

“I was encouraging him, saying ‘come on boy, don’t do this again’. I should not have given him these extra pushes. It is stupid, this happened in the heat of the moment, and it will not happen again.”

Rob Ehrens, coach of the Dutch Show Jumping Team, added, “I’ve been a professional rider for 27 years and I know the feeling when everything goes wrong. But this should not happen and will not happen again. While Jur and Zirocco Blue are chasing medals, this has to be handled professionally. We will use tomorrow to relax Zirocco Blue.”

The FEI explained that while Vrieling is eliminated from Individual competition, he will be allowed to return to compete for the Team: “He is disqualified from the individual competition, but for the team he can compete in the team and this is according to the FEI rules, as in several other sports such as athletics.”

Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules reads: Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose or marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Disqualification.)