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Proposed US eventing rule change would bring sport more in line with Britain

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is considering adopting a new rule aimed at reducing risk, which is similar to one already in place in British Eventing competitions.

During the USEA virtual annual meeting and convention this week (8-11 December) changes to the rulebook were discussed including the rule on faults in the showjumping phase.

It has been proposed that anyone who knocks down five rails in showjumping must retire from the competition. This will apply in both short and long format competitions.

Malcolm Hook, chair of the United States Equestrian Federation’s (USEF) eventing rules working group and member of the USEA competitions, calendar and rules committee, said the proposal stemmed from discussions last year with the USEA cross-country safety sub-committee.

“We talked about it and checked with EquiRatings to see if there is any statistical evidence that knocking down rails in showjumping is indicative of the possibility of an increased likelihood of falls in cross-country and it turns out that yes, there is a relationship,” he said.

A USEA spokesman said the rule is being presented to reduce risk in eventing.

“The reasoning has been that in reviewing the incidents of poor riding at competitions the USEA cross-country safety subcommittee views it as important to highlight that poor showjumping performance should result in retirement,” he said.

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“This should be equally applied regardless of whether showjumping or cross-country occurs first in the schedule of competition. British Eventing (BE) instituted this rule for similar reasons and it would be an additional measure to lessen risk in the sport.”

The BE rule states that compulsory retirement will occur for those who incur 24 penalties (via knockdowns or refusals) in showjumping. This is enforced at the end of the round, unless the competitor retires or is eliminated.

USEA rule changes will be discussed by the USEA board of governors in December. They will then be voted on by the USEF board in June 2021, and if approved will come into effect on 1 December 2021.

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