Hundreds of eventers are calling for the scrapping of a rule that imposes penalties for breaking a frangible pin in international horse sport.

Frangible pins are fitted to some cross-country jumps and break if the fence is hit with a certain amount of force. They are designed to reduce incidences of horses somersaulting and landing on riders.

A request for riders’ views on the rule has amassed almost 300 responses and a proposed amendment will be submitted to the FEI this week.

It suggests that if a competitor breaks a pin without falling, the rider continues penalty-free. Then there is an enquiry by the ground jury and technical delegate who assess the video footage.

They must prove the horse and rider would have received a fault had the pin not broken – for example, a fall or stop – for the 21 penalties to be awarded.

Event Riders Association chairman Francis Whittington said: “The FEI has in place a rule giving 21 penalties for breaking a frangible pin. It is the feeling of many riders competing in FEI eventing competitions, from CIC* to CCI****, that this rule should be removed.”

Fellow eventer Stuart Higgins, who rides at two-star, added: “It is only fair to penalise riders when they break a pin if the pins are changed every time a horse taps a fence.”

Mike Etherington-Smith, chief executive of British Eventing, said the organisation has always opposed penalty points for breaking pins.

“There is a mechanism to deal with occasions when fences are broken due to irresponsible riding,” he said.

“The rule as written discourages the use of pins and gives course-designers a moral dilemma, when they should be encouraged to use frangible devices wherever appropriate.”

An FEI spokesman said the issue would be discussed at a meeting of the eventing committee this week.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (17 May 2012)