Two Swiss pairs and one Russian combination have now been eliminated under blood rules at the European Dressage Championships in Gothenburg.

Switzerland’s Charlotte Lenherr was stopped midway through her grand prix test, when the judge at C, Germany’s Evi Eisenhardt, spotted pink foam in the mouth of Darko Of De Niro ZS CH.

“The judge at C stopped me; she thought she saw blood on his mouth. It turned out he had a scratch on his bottom lip, which then made him pink around the mouth,” Charlotte Lenherr explained.

“He was not bleeding when we checked him again. I think the excitement makes him bite more than usual, but we have checked him now and there is no more bleeding and the horse is fine.

“I am very sad, but it’s still lovely to be here and that’s life.”

Charlotte has campaigned the 13-year-old black stallion by De Niro internationally since last October, and this is the first championship for both of them.

A second blow for the Swiss

The Swiss team went on to finish eighth in the team competition, with grand prix scores in the high 60s from the remaining three riders, but suffered another blow when Anna-Mengia Aerne was eliminated following her grand prix special test with Raffaelo VA Bene (below) earlier today.

Blood was found on the 16-year-old grey stallion’s flank at the post-competition check. The Dutch judge at C, Francis Verbeek van Rooy, was informed and the pair, who scored 68.67% in the grand prix, were eliminated.

Russian team hopes were dashed on the second day of grand prix competition when their top combination, Inessa Merkulova and Mister X, were eliminated due to fresh blood being discovered in the horse’s mouth at the post-test horse inspection.

Article 430.7.6 of the FEI dressage rules reads: “If the FEI steward discovers fresh blood in the horse’s mouth or in the area of the spurs during the equipment check at the end of the test, he informs the judge at C, who will eliminate the horse and the athlete.”

There was a further blood elimination this week at the European Para Dressage Championships. Belgium’s Michele George would have taken bronze in the grade V freestyle, had it not been for blood discovered in Fusion OLD’s mouth after her test. Read more here.

Don’t miss the 31 August issue of Horse & Hound, with full reports, analysis and expert commentary from the dressage, para dressage and showjumping European Championships in Gothenburg.