General information

The Sport Forum was chaired by Ingmar de Vos, President of the FEI.

Presenters: Sabrina Ibáñez, FEI Secretary General Catrin Norinder, FEI Director Olympic and Eventing Áine Power, FEI Deputy Legal Director.

Focus centred on the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris: irrevocable decisions concern teams with three riders and holding the Nations Cup before the Individual Final.

Other decisions concerning rules and regulations were postponed to the Rules Revision Process to be held on July 6th.

The International Jumping Riders Club’s President Kevin Staut, a panel member in session 2, Vice President Francois Mathy Jr and Director Eleonora Ottaviani attended the Sport Forum.

The day before the Sport Forum, Mrs Ottaviani also attended several meetings with the Equestrian European Federation (EEF), the International Equestrian Organisers Alliance (IEOA) the mission of which is to provide general and meaningful support to show organisers) and with the Alliance of Jumping Organisers (AJO).

Show jumping was presided over Stephan Ellenbruch, Chair of the Jumping Committee, and FEI Jumping Director Marco Fusté.

Speakers: Santiago Varela, Tokyo 2020 Jumping Course Designer, and Kevin Staut, IJRC President.

Main issues addressed

  • Timelines for Paris 2024 Qualifications, MERs and entries,
  • Pre-competition changes and substitution processes,
  • NOC Certificate of Capability,
  • Athlete/Horse nationality,
  • Medical/vet certificate procedures
  • Order of the Competitions: Individuals and Teams
  • Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MER)

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

In order to have a certain consistency in the performance of riders and horses, the proposal is that a rider may only obtain MER under the following conditions:

  • Height of MER competitions: 1.55m or 1.60m
  • Number of MER results required: 3
  • Maximum number of penalties: 4 at 1.55m, 8 at 1.60m

These suggestions should help maintain high-level sport and keep horses safe when they participate as the riders will be aware of the difficulties they will face before going to the Olympics.

Main Suggestions/Feedbacks:

Order of the Competitions in the next Olympic Games:

A suggestion was made to revert to pre-Tokyo competition order, with the team competition before the individual final.

Course Designer Santiago Varela feedback:

"Holding the Team Competition before the individual one is technically easier to manage, because team pressure effectively does the job for you and one doesn’t have to put all the pressure on from day one.  This allows greater progression in moving towards the individual final, which is the biggest class one can build during the four-year period.

-the individual qualifier should be judged on penalties and time and not only on penalties."

Substitution Process:

Only medical and veterinary substitutions will be allowed as stated under the requirement of a veterinary or medical certificate and only horses stabled at the Olympic venue and that have taken part in the first trot up, can be substituted.

The first trot up is mandatory for every horse whether it will compete or be used as a replacement.

Mr Ellenbruck explained that if a horse has been retired from the second round of the team competition for veterinary reasons, it can compete in the individual competition, but must be presented in the individual horse inspection and may only compete if accepted.

François Mathy Jr, IJRC Vice President underlined that it will be necessary to be careful with the public’s perception of having a horse taken out of a competition one day for veterinary reasons and then allowing it to compete again a few days later.

Kevin Staut, IJRC President, illustrated both the club's point of view and his own as a rider:

The MER is important for horse welfare and high-quality sport, because at the last Olympics we saw a number of bad images for our sport arising from horse and rider combinations that were not capable of jumping technical and big courses.

The MERs should guarantee

-to keep fence height at 1.55m and 1.60m level:

- that riders must finish three rounds with max. one fence down in a 1.55m class

-or two fences down in a 1.60m class.

This makes it safer for our horses to go to the Olympics and make riders aware of the difficulty of the Olympic courses before going there.

- 3* show organizers should be allowed to add a 1.55m Grand Prix when there is no 4* or 5* show, in order to obtain the qualification for the Olympics.

Number of wild cards per event:

With the purpose of achieving MERs, the number of wild cards will be increased taking into account those parts of the world in which it is not easy for riders to qualify for the Olympics. In any case, riders who receive a wild card must qualify for the Grand Prix just like all the others.

image@FEI Sports Forum 2022, Kevin Staut, IJRC President

IJRC Director Eleonora Ottaviani underlined the following:

IJRC Director Eleonora Ottaviani underlined that FEI wild cards are very welcome and always supported by the IJRC. We must however bear in mind that the invitation system envisages quotas. For example in a 5* show 60% by ranking, 20% for the National Federations and 20% to the organizer.

At the moment the FEI wild card is included in the riders’ ranking quota and that takes a place away from a rider listed in the ranking.

Furthermore, when there is a cancellation by an athlete accepted on the basis of the ranking quota, this place is then passed on to the OC.

We fully understand that the organizers need help, but sometimes it can happen that this number of 30 riders (hence 60% of 50 competitors), is reduced to 22/23. This is not fair.

I ask the Forum to consider, in 2022-2023, giving more wild cards to athletes who do not have enough shows in their own countries and to up-and coming athletes for whom is nearly impossible to enter a 5* show, but to keep a number of wild cards out of the quotas attributed to the ranking, OCs and NFs.

I also ask the Forum to add the same number of wild cards allocated to places established by FEI Rules for Grands Prix. Hence 50 riders plus FEI wild cards.

In the event there are more than 50 riders in a 5* show or 60 in a 4* show it is obvious that qualification rules apply.

The Event Standards Project:

This concerns the organisation of shows and facilities made available to athletes and grooms.

Event Standards Project main items:

-safety in the stables,

-limiting unauthorised access to the stables restricting it only to those working there, allowing horses and grooms to rest and avoid the danger of accidents in the stables.

-improve services made available for horses and grooms (ventilation, temperature control and lighting in the stables, water distribution locations, areas for walking horses and many other extremely important aspects for the welfare not only of the horses but also grooms and athletes).

-For the grooms, a greater availability of food outlets, showers and rest areas, wi-fi access and overall greater comfort.

IJRC President Kevin Staut underlined that:

“There is a large gap between top shows – 4* and 5* – and smaller ones. Access at top shows is seriously controlled, but at the top shows too what one wants to show to one’s sponsors or a few people, is the backstage. So one obtains accreditation for those who spend the whole day in the VIP area and they come with their kids, which I also understand is important for the show organisers, to show them what happens behind the scenes. But honestly, there are too many people who have access to the stables and have nothing to do there. That is a problem at bigger shows. It is true that at many 2* and 3* shows – even if one has accreditations according to the rules and on paper – everyone can go in. As far as top shows are concerned, I know that people who are coming to visit for a few minutes the stables are assisted by stewards and it is well done, but at times one sees some kid with candy or chocolate, and they try to give it to the horses, and it is really complicated for us to manage that.”

International Grooms Association (IGA)

FEI President Ingmar De Vos and the founder and director of the International Grooms Association (IGA) Lucy Katan acknowledged the creation of the IGA signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The IGA, was founded to obtain greater representation and acknowledgement for the career of grooms as well as improving their working conditions.