British Eventing (BE) competitors have been reminded that deliberately slowing down as they approach the cross-country finish in order to avoid time-penalties is punishable by sanctions including elimination.
BE said that since riders were first allowed to wear stopwatches at all levels of competition, in 2017, there have been a large number of people walking or trotting over the finish line.
This is in breach of BE rule 5.9, pace, which states that this can incur a disciplinary sanction.
“Competitors are asked to ride at a consistence pace, with regard to terrain, weather, the jumps and the horse, so it’s seen as cheating to slow down deliberately to cross the line,” Alexandra Bright, of BE’s sport department, told H&H.
“Riders might jump the last fence, look at their watch and realise they’re far too fast so they come back to trot or walk thinking it will help with time-penalties.
“A lot of people genuinely don’t know they’re not allowed to. That isn’t really an excuse but we’re trying to spread the word.”
Ms Bright explained that any sanction is at the stewards’ discretion.
“Of course there are times when it is feasible [to slow down across the line] if your horse is tired or lame, for example, which is why it isn’t a set penalty,” she said.
“It is discretionary, but the steward can give riders a disciplinary sanction. It could be elimination, it could be 10 penalties, or a fine: all penalties are listed in chapter three of the rulebook.
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“The idea behind riding the terrain is that you learn to ride at the correct pace for all the factors, it’s not a question of going hell for leather and then walking over the line.”
Fines can be up to £500, and other possible sanctions include cautions, 25 penalties and disqualification from other classes at the event.
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