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Showjumpers will no longer be automatically eliminated for minor cases of blood on a horse’s flanks next year if proposed FEI rule changes go ahead.

Under the current rules, blood found on a horse’s flanks means automatic disqualification for the combination from that class at international competitions.

This has led to several controversial cases in recent years, where top riders including Scott Brash and Bertram Allen have been disqualified for blood on their horses’ flanks at high-profile shows.

Under article 242.3.1 of the FEI jumping rules, disqualification is “mandatory” in cases of horses bleeding on the flank(s).

Many leading riders and the International Jumping Riders Club have previously spoken out over the rule.

The new proposal, which was revealed on the FEI website earlier this month, appears to give stewards a degree of discretion. The jumping stewards manual will be updated to reflect the changes approved at the 2017 FEI General Assembly, which will take place in Montivideo, Uruguay, in November.

While a rider can still be disqualified for causing a horse to bleed — and for misuse of the spurs and/or whip — the possible change states “minor cases of blood on the flank will not incur elimination”.

These first draft proposals will be consulted on by national federations before a revised edition is made available in October. The final draft of the proposed rules revision will be voted on at the general assembly.

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Blood in other disciplines

Blood rules have also been updated in the rule change proposals for other disciplines.

The eventing rules have been clarified “following discussions with other disciplines” to read that “not all cases of blood will lead to elimination” and that the most serious cases will be dealt with under the abuse of horse protocols.

There is no automatic elimination for blood in eventing at present.

While there is no mention of blood in the current endurance regulations, there are proposals to include this in next year’s rulebook.

“Horses in competition that have free flowing blood from an injury or from a orifice will be examined by a panel of three veterinarians who will report their findings to the president of the ground jury,” states the proposed rule.

“Such horses will fail to qualify and will be eliminated from the competition.”

Valuting has also brought in a blood rule in “alignment with other disciplines”.

For reaction to these proposals and more on the FEI rule change proposals, don’t miss this week’s Horse & Hound — out today (Thursday, 20 July).