Following days of intense debates and statements, the FEI Hybrid General Assembly has issued its verdict. NFs casted their votes and so the Olympic format with three horse-rider combinations and the qualification system for Paris 2024 were approved. 70 Nations voted in favour and 30 against.

This is the unequivocal result of votes casted.

In recent days we have published statements made by a number of riders representing the shared opinion of the vast majority, among them Steve Guerdat, Kevin Staut, Rodrigo Pessoa and Isabell Werth spoke for their colleagues expressing themselves in favour of 4 horse and rider combinations in each team based on irrefutable reasons. Their main reason is the welfare of both horses and riders competing at Olympic levels and hence the need for a drop score so as to avoid having combinations obliged to finish at all costs so as to avoid team elimination. The Tokyo Olympic Games emphasised the critical aspects of the new Olympic format, which became clear not only to riders and coaches but also to spectators watching on television. 

It is therefore a format that does not appear to take into account the principle on which equestrian sports is based, the well-being of horses.

The 3 combinations format has undoubtedly allowed the FEI and the IOC to achieve their goal of having a higher number of nations competing in the Olympic Games:


Tokyo 2020     19 Teams (3 pairs)  - 16 Ind    (TOT team + ind 73 pairs)

Rio 2016         15 Teams (4 pairs)   - 15 Ind    (TOT team + ind 75 pairs)

London 2012  15 Teams (4 pairs)   - 15 Ind    (TOT team + ind 75 pairs)

Bejing 2008    16 Teams (4 pairs)   - 13 Ind    (TOT team + ind 77 pairs)

Athens 2004   16 Teams (4 pairs)   - 22 Ind    (TOT team + ind  86 pairs)

It is an understandable objective as far as the IOC is concerned since its goal is to increase the number of nations competing, but it goes against the real needs of riders whose primary objective is respect for horses and the ethical values of equestrian sports as well as guaranteeing them long sporting careers.

Welfare and horsemanship are the only path to victory and to ensure that equestrianism in appreciated as a sport and shared not only by professionals but also by supporters all over the world who are more sensitive to respect and ethical values.

There is a need to reiterate that the 4 horse-and-rider combination format is all about the horses’ welfare as well as respecting horse-and-rider combinations and without forgetting the importance of the quality of the sport. It is of the utmost importance for the future of our sport that the opinions of riders should be taken into account before final decisions are made.

Quantity must not be achieved at the expense of quality.

“Horses must remain the subject and not the object of our sport” Piero D’Inzeo


Photo Copyright: FE/Kai Försterling (The podium at Tokyo: Sweden Gold / USA Silver / Belgium Bronze)