In December, the IJRC met to discuss the decisions taken regarding the FEI regulations. Most discussed and in-demand change is the one concerning the extension of the power of the jumping jury. "The jury may immediately exclude a combination from continuing to jump the course as soon as horse welfare is or appears to be compromised. A rider cannot protest this. This applies to all international show jumping competitions and this authority for judges goes into effect Jan. 1, 2023." Last weekend the Officials Club met to discuss this rule, where President Glenn Maes was also present. "It becomes a question of what is the difference between learning to ride a horse and not being able to ride a horse!"
At the IJRC (International Jumping Rider Club, nvdr.) a big question mark was raised over the new elimination rule, which has been in effect since the beginning of this year. Glenn Maes, president of the IJOC (International Jumping Officials Club, nvdr.) acknowledged the difficulty of this new rule. "We, officials have to behave, for the benefit of the sport, as professionally as possible. A big issue here is, how can we use as many resources as possible to convince real horse people to become officials. I am convinced that we need those people, such as former riders, this to increase the average knowledge of our officials."
"In connection with the new rule, we need to frame it within horse welfare. I understand that the rule came in after the Tokyo Olympics, which was the right thing to do. But we have to look at the rule as an emergency brake. Like the train, this rule is there for safety. Not to be used indiscriminately." explains Glenn Maes. "The fact is though, if you pull the emergency brake, it is irreversible. Otherwise, the point of an emergency brake is gone."
"In equestrian sports, we already have a system of yellow and red cards. I myself in my career, and this has been several years, have applied this rule only once."
Riders' concerns & difficulties
"I understand the rider's concern, but we, the officials are also concerned because of this rule. We are asking ourselves the (legitimate) question of how to use this rule and when exactly to apply it. How are we going to use this rule?" continues Maes. "So it will be an exercise that we will have to conduct together with the riders."
According to Glenn Maes, we must further be aware that the rule now also applies to all regional and national competitions organized under FEI regulations. "It cannot be the intention that we are going to penalize novice riders in 80cm or 90cm classes on the learning process they undergo. There, too, it becomes difficult. After all, where is the line between learning to ride jumping or not being able to ride a horse or ... "
Betting on Horse Welfare
"It is therefore also becoming more and more important that from the FEI the theme of horse welfare is taught and applied and this from the beginning."