International dressage is steeling itself for discussion of the “blood rule” at the FEI General Assembly in Rio (11-14 November).

The FEI’s 133 national federations will decide whether to approve a new regulation that would bring dressage into line with other sports.

But rumours are that members may push for the amendment to be taken off the voting agenda and redrafted.

Under the rule, which would only apply at FEI championships, a test would be stopped and the horse examined by an FEI vet if blood is seen.

But if the vet feels the injury is minor, the horse may continue.

In both international showjumping and eventing, blood on the body or in the mouth means disqualification. But in minor cases, for example where a horse appears to have bitten its lip, a rider may be allowed to continue.

The idea of ditching dressage’s “any blood and you’re out rule” has prompted opposition from some riders.

And British dressage personalities are weighing in on both sides of the argument.

Laura Bechtolsheimer has signed a petition against the rule. She opposes the suggestion that a rider could re-enter the ring even if cleared by a vet.

“We would lose all credibility for the sake of a few very rare unlucky incidents,” said Laura.

“Dressage is not the same as showjumping or eventing.”

Her views are shared by the International Dressage Riders’ Club, the Officials Club and the Association of International Dressage Event Organisers.

Germany and the US said they will vote against the proposal.

But the International Dressage Trainers Club (IDTC) sides with other federations to champion the new rule.

Dane Rawlins, a member of the IDTC board, told H&H: “If blood is seen, the test is halted and the horse will be examined. Under the ‘automatic elimination’ option, there is no guarantee or requirement for further veterinary attention.”

The “blood rule” stems from the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, where Adelinde Cornelissen’s Parzival was eliminated because he had blood around his mouth. It transpired no FEI rule covers a bleeding mouth.

Speaking at the Global Dressage Forum in Holland (30-31 October), chairman of the FEI dressage committee Frank Kemperman said when the proposal had been sent to all 133 nations in June, only two opposed it. The rest did not reply.

If passed at the general assembly, the rules will be implemented on 1 January 2012.

H&H will be reporting from at the General Assembly. Follow at: www.horseandhound.co.uk and on Facebook and Twitter.

This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse and Hound (10 November, 2011)