New FEI pony height measurement rules came into effect on 1 January. Measurement certificates have been abolished and ponies will now be measured by vets at championship level competitions to check they do not exceed the height allowance. They will also be subject to on-the-spot height checks at all other FEI competitions. Organisations such as British Dressage are concerned about the implementation of the new rules, fearing that measuring at events could prove inaccurate.
“The FEI system of official measurement certification ceased to exist as of January 1st 2007 and ponies competing at the CH-EU-P (European Pony Championships) from 2007 onwards will be measured at the competition site and there may also be random measurements carried out during the year at other CIP,” said a spokesperson for the FEI.
But although the new scheme will put an end to the corrupt measurement certificates that led to horses competing at pony level, British Dressage is concerned about the accuracy of measuring a pony at a competition. “We fear that measuring at an event might not be particularly accurate,” said a spokesperson. “And we are concerned that a child could be turned away at the European Championships which would be extremely upsetting.”
Although the FEI’s definition of a pony remains unchanged – 148cm without shoes or 149cm shod, a pony is permitted to stand a full two cm higher at competitions. “We have, however, taken into consideration the fact that measuring ponies at competition creates a different set of circumstances which may lead to fluctuation in height and following much consultation with the relevant technical committees we have allowed for a margin of 2cm,” said the FEI spokesperson.
But the margin does not quell British Dressage’s anxieties. “It is quite a small margin – from my experience a horse can grow more than two centimetres at a competition,” the British Dressage spokesperson explained.
British Dressage advises all riders competiting at FEI pony competitions to get their ponies measured professionally. “You have to be realisitic about it if your pony is over height,” said the spokesperson.