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A British international rider has called for clearer rules on the fitting of nosebands after receiving a yellow card for “abuse of horse”.

British young rider team member Charlotte Dicker received an FEI yellow card on 15 July at the junior and young rider European championships in Fontainebleau, France, as her 13-year-old mare Sabatini’s noseband was deemed too tight when inspected by a steward after Charlotte’s individual test on 13 July.

“I can confirm that the ground jury at the 2018 FEI young rider championships gave me a yellow card after the stewards reported at the tack inspection after my individual test that my noseband was tight,” said 19-year-old Charlotte.

“I used the same soft, padded leather noseband the day before in the team test, done up on the same hole, and have done so in all my competitions this season, from Premier Leagues to CDIs, and never had a comment from a steward.

“My horse Sabatini is my world and I would never do anything to compromise her welfare or cause her discomfort however I accept the decision,” added Charlotte, who was the highest scoring British rider in the team test in Fontainebleau on 12 July, earning 71.12% to finish 10th.

The current FEI rule on noseband tightness states: “Neither a cavesson noseband nor a curb chain may ever be as tightly fixed so as to harm the horse”, and Charlotte has called for clarification and standardisation on the rule.

“To have a standardised measure of what’s too tight would make it a clear rule rather than an individual’s opinion so, as riders, we won’t be caught out as I have,” she said.

“I will take this as a valuable lesson learned and continue to train and compete with the sympathy, compassion and feel that has been instilled in me from an early age.”

The noseband protocol within the FEI stewards’ manual reads: “One and the same steward must conduct the noseband check for all horses entered in the same competition. The tightness check must be done with the steward’s index finger between the horse’s cheek and the noseband. The steward must wear gloves during this check.

“Ideally the finger size of stewards appointed for the noseband check at different competitions throughout the event shall be of similar size.

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“In case of an apparent overtightened noseband during the horse’s warm-up, the appointed tack control steward is entitled to conduct the check also during the warm-up and, in case of the noseband being over tightened, ask the athlete to loosen the noseband. The noseband of the horse will be checked again by the same steward after the horse has finished the test. If the noseband is still too tight after the second check, the chief steward will give a yellow warning card to the athlete.”

Charlotte and the Hanoverian mare Sabatini, who is by Stedinger, have been competing internationally together for three years, coming up through juniors and young riders.

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