For much of the 2019 season FEI 2019 Eventing Rule Article 549.2 – Run Out – Missing a Flag has been a consistent source of discussion and confusion.
During the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International, held Oct. 16-20 in Elkton, Maryland, this 15-penalty rule came into play and had a profound effect on the competition results, as well as prize money and FEI ranking point allocations. Fair Hill was not the first instance in North America that this rule has been applied with deeply warranted concerns for riders, owners and the entire eventing constituency. North American competitions have seen this rule have more influence on results than competitions held on any other continent.
The ERA of NA would like to reiterate their support of the proposed changes to Article 549.2 that will be discussed and voted on at the FEI General Assembly Nov. 16-19, 2019, and would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020. The proposed updated wording would be as follows:
Article No. 549.2 Run out – Missing a flag:
- a) Clear: A horse is considered to have cleared the fence when the head, neck and both shoulders of the horse (to the point of the front of the saddle) pass between the extremities of the element or obstacle as originally flagged and the hindquarters of the horse jump the dimensions of the fence.
- b) Missing a flag: A horse is considered to have missed a flag (15 penalties) if part of the horses head, neck or shoulder (to the point of the front of the saddle) jump outside the extremities of the element or obstacle as originally flagged. The hindquarters must jump the dimensions of the fence.
- c) Run-Out: A horse is considered to have run out (20 penalties) if, having been presented at an element or obstacle on the course, it avoids it in such a way that the head, neck and both shoulders (to the point of the front of the saddle) fail to pass between the extremities of the element or obstacle as originally flagged or the hindquarters have not jumped dimensions of the fence. Continuing on course will incur elimination.
The ERA of NA supports the proposed changes for Article No. 549.2, but the implementation and transparency of the rule going forward needs to be amended.
While the ERA of NA believes this update is an improvement on the current rule, we also believe the following points should be considered and implemented.
- Assessment and adjudication of Article 549.2 should be handled uniformly at every FEI competition regardless of level or location.
- Should there be a question as to whether a horse-and-rider combination has cleared a fence, the issue should be reviewed immediately by the Technical Delegate and/or a member of the Ground Jury as opposed to waiting until the end of the competition day.
- The Official Video that is reviewed by the Ground Jury should be made public in a timely fashion to aid in transparency and serve as an educational resource for riders, officials and the eventing constituency.
- Video or photographs other than the Official Video should be allowed to be submitted and reviewed when an appeal is made.
- At fences where Official Video will be used for review, a clear marker of where the camera will be placed should be present at the time the course officially becomes open. In addition, there should be clear guidelines for officials as to the positioning of cameras to ensure the fair and consistent application of the rule.
- When setting the flags on a narrow fence or corner, course designers could further consider the positioning of flags in a way that increases the likelihood horses are not penalized when a good faith effort has been made to jump the fence correctly.
ERA of NA is dedicated to the betterment of the sport of eventing and we want to hear your opinions and input as we execute our mission. Please direct your questions and thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Chronicle will have a full wrap-up of Fair Hill and a story examining the flag rule and its future in the Nov. 4 print edition.
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