Andrew Nicholson has criticised the decision not to stop him after he was chased by a loose dog during his showjumping round at Equi-Trek Bramham International Horse Trials.
The New Zealand eventer was contesting the CCI3* showjumping on Yacabo BK on Sunday (10 June) when he became aware the dog was at his horse’s heels.
“It must have been very close to his hind legs because he was trying to kick it,” Andrew told H&H. “It amazed me that the judges didn’t ring the bell to stop me.”
The combination lowered one pole in the final line, but the judges removed the penalties.
“The treble was the last fence and as I landed from the second-last one, there was at least one man running round inside the ring trying to catch the dog,” Andrew said.
“I presumed he’d caught it because there was a lot of cheering and clapping, and I turned to the treble – and then the dog appeared between the horse and the fence.
“Yacabo had to canter over the dog and jump a big oxer into the treble, and that was the fence he had down.”
Andrew said he understands that “dogs get away”, and it is the fact he was not stopped that concerns him more.
The rider praised his young horse, who stayed focused to jump a clear on holding ground
Dogs at horse trials have long caused arguments, but organisers of major events have told H&H they are not considering
Olivia Wilmot was riding in the advanced section at the Festival of British Eventing when the incident occurred. Please note
“I kept thinking I couldn’t have heard the bell but the clock was still ticking,” he said. “It was downright dangerous. It’s all about horse welfare now; what would have happened if he’d got a pole between his legs and broken a leg going into the oxer?
“At one point I had the man running towards me trying to catch the dog – he was more of a problem at one stage – and this is an eight-year-old horse, competing at that level. I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t stopped.
“I’m sure some people will say I could have stopped, but I’ve been brought up that you keep going until you hear the bell ring.”
Former Badminton-winning eventer Jane Holderness-Roddam, who was on the event’s ground jury, told H&H that under FEI rules it is down to the rider to pull up and raise his hand to ask for the clock to be stopped.
“Until he turned to the last fence, it wasn’t considered dangerous,” she said. “The dog was running around, which wasn’t ideal, but it was only when he turned into the treble, and the dog crossed in front of the rider, that it was dangerous, in our opinion. That’s why we took the penalties away, in the spirit of the sport.”
Mrs Holderness-Roddam pointed out that the president of the ground jury was Les Smith, whom H&H has approached for comment.
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