A new FEI protocol is aimed at clarifying the “blood rule” in relation to marks on showjumpers’ flanks.
The FEI stewards’ manual for jumping has been updated to include the new protocol, for handling cases of blood on flanks, and/or marks which may indicate excessive use of spurs.
It states that a member of the ground jury must be “available throughout the event” to examine a horse, at the chief steward’s request, if either of the above is found.
If a steward notices blood on a horse’s flank at any time in the warm-up or when it is leaving the arena, not only during boot and bandage control, the following procedures must be followed.
The steward must tell the rider there is an issue with blood on the horse’s flanks. The steward must photograph the horse, the affected area and the spurs, and inform the chief steward.
He must remain with the horse until the chief steward arrives, ensuring no one touches the area concerned, and that the blood is not removed. If the horse is in a public area, it should be moved to a more private place, and the rider may put a rug over the horse while it is moved.
The chief steward will take photographs if this has not been done as above. Wearing latex gloves, he will examine the horse and lay the back of his hand on the affected area to transfer blood on to the glove, which he will then photograph.
He will then tell the rider he has to inform the ground jury, and that the horse must stay under a steward’s supervision, and report to the ground jury member responsible for such cases.
If blood is not visible, but the horse has marks which could indicate excessive spur use, the steward must summon the chief steward who will examine the horse.
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A decision on disqualification must not be taken until the designated member of the ground jury has seen the photographs and examined the horse.
If blood is seen on a horse’s flanks before it enters the ring, a steward will stop the rider entering until the above checks have been carried out and permission has been granted by the ground jury for the horse to compete. Failure to comply with the steward’s instruction will result in a yellow card for the rider.
The chief steward must brief his team on these procedures before every event.