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Is rider licensing on the cards for international events?

Riders contesting international events may first have to obtain a licence under new rules proposed by the eventing committee of global horse sport’s governing body, the FEI.

National federations widely support licensing – whereby riders would have to prove “a reliable and consistent competence” at a level by a certain number of qualifying results.

But British Eventing (BE) said it could not fully back the rules until it had seen the amendments made at an FEI eventing committee meeting held on 25-26 September.

“The rules were far from clear, so we have gone back to the FEI with various questions,” said BE chief executive Mike Etherington-Smith.

Francis Whittington of the Event Riders Association said: “It’s a good idea for the future, but the regulations have not been drafted tightly enough to be effective at the moment.”

Licences are intended to improve the standard of combinations at each level.

Irish international rider and trainer Eric Smiley feels minimum eligibility requirements should be tougher. In feedback to the FEI he wrote: “Too many riders and horses are competing above their experience or competence.”

Under the draft rules, a rider’s licence to compete at a level would be lost after a period with no qualifying results at that level or as a result of infringements – for example, dangerous riding. Horses could also be downgraded.

The draft rules go out to national federations next week. If agreed they will be ratified at the FEI’s general assembly in Istanbul (5-8 November).

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (4 October 2012)

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