Frangible pin rule changed after eventers’ successful protest

  • A reduction in the number of penalties awarded for breaking a frangible pin has been issued by the FEI, following complaints from riders.

    Earlier this month (10 March) members of the International Event Riders Association (ERA) and key industry figures met with the FEI. They argued against the new 2015 rule in which 21 penalties are automatically given to any rider breaking a frangible obstacle or device unless “clear mechanical failure has produced an unexpected activation of the mechanism”.

    At the time a spokesman for the FEI said: “The need to clarify this rule has been raised by athletes and officials to ensure its consistent interpretation and application.”

    ERA international was “openly opposed to the revision”, which it claims “effectively removes the ground jury of an FEI event from the decision making process”.

    The group also argued that the rule “penalised safety”. Riders had concerns that the rule would lead to course-designers using fewer frangible pins at events.

    However, yesterday (Monday 30 March) the FEI announced that the ruling had been changed from 21 to 11 penalties.

    The new 11 penalty ruling comes in today (Tuesday 31 March).

    “The modification is made in the interest of risk management programme, following meetings with eventing riders and three- and four- star eventing course-designers who expressed concern that the current rules would restrict the use of frangible devices,” read a statement from the FEI.

    The wording has also changed from “breaking a frangible obstacle” to “activating a frangible device”.

    The rule now reads: “Each athlete activating a frangible device will be awarded 11 penalties, whether the activation occurs as expected (i.e. activation by significant pressure exerted by the horse on the fence). In the case of unexpected activation (i.e. activation by an insignificant contact) the ground jury will be called to evaluate the possible removal of the penalty.

    “In evaluating the possible removal of the penalty, ground juries are not called to investigate if the horse would have fallen or not if the contact was with the front or hind legs, or if the rider was riding dangerously or not, but only if an unexpected activation occurred through a light tap. This is the only case where penalties can be removed.

    “There will be no appeal against a decision of the ground jury arising from the field of play, where the decision is based on factual observation of the performance during a competition.

    “In this case a detailed report explaining the reasons for removing the penalty must be produced by the course-designer/technical delegate and, signed by the president of the ground jury, must be returned to the FEI.”

    Earlier this year, British Eventing (BE) told H&H it has “no plans” to implement penalties for breaking frangible pins, despite the FEI strengthening its stance.

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