- Horse Training

‘Hell no’ turns into ‘sure please’ on eventing flag rule debate

  • The urge for food amongst eventing’s leaders to reopen the flag rule debate has gone from “hell no” to “sure please” after a possible breakthrough in Sweden.

    Eventing’s flag guidelines are a spiky topic, in regards to the gray space the place a mix knocks a flag on a cross-country fence. This leads to generally prolonged selections as to whether or not they had been clear (no penalties), ran out (20 penalties), or the horse’s level of shoulder was outdoors the extremities of the impediment, however its hindquarters jumped the peak of the strong half (15 penalties).

    By its nature, the flag rule normally comes into play at slim or nook fences and has had many variations in definition and penalties over time.

    Vet and FEI threat administration steering group member Staffan Lidbeck introduced the rule, which has been in place in nationwide competitors in Sweden since 2020, on the FEI eventing threat administration discussion board.

    Flags are connected to fences utilizing rubber bands and steel cramps, and the higher attachment might be dislodged. Mr Lidbeck burdened that it isn’t essential for flags to be connected in precisely the identical means from fixture to fixture, however the way in which fences are flagged should be constant for everybody competing at that occasion.

    Combos mechanically obtain seven penalties when a flag loses its higher attachment, and 20 penalties for a run-out or when a horse jumps the fence with no a part of his hindquarters going by the flag.

    “We now have to make the cross-country extra influential. There are too many clear rounds and it is a secure strategy to make the cross-country check extra influential,” he mentioned, including that that is maybe not the ultimate reply, however it’s working in Sweden. “It’ll additionally improve extra exact and balanced using and thus enhance security. It’ll make life simpler for officers and likewise for riders.”

    He mentioned the Swedish federation selected seven penalties because it means combos can have two flags and nonetheless end with a qualifying rating, however not three.

    But it surely has not been examined at larger ranges, as all fixtures at three-star (intermediate) and above in Sweden are FEI occasions.

    Swedish eventing technical delegate and course-designer Lars Christensson mentioned: “I feel it has made riders respect fences extra, and so they trip extra accurately. We can be going the appropriate means if we introduce this within the sport.”

    Rider Clayton Fredericks mentioned: “I feel sure, there’s a place for this. I might agree that the penalties needs to be low. It’s clear and concise. There’s in all probability nonetheless going to be some dialogue if it’s a marginal slide-off. We would like everybody to be aiming for that excellent trip, we all know nobody ever will get that, however that’s the objective.”

    Cleonice Attolico Guglielmi mentioned that as a floor jury member, she “actually likes this rule”.

    “I feel it’s going to make riders trip extra precisely. It’s going to make them trip combos safely,” she mentioned.

    Eventing Riders Affiliation president Bruce Haskell mentioned: “The query we actually need to ask earlier than we make any modifications is what’s unsuitable with the present rule and what’s the perceived want to alter?”

    He added that everybody desires a sport that makes fast selections – having a debate hours after a rider’s spherical at an Olympics as to whether or not they had penalties or not is “unacceptable” – and any modifications need to be balanced selections.

    Course-designer and technical delegate Alec Lochore questioned whether or not there can be a threat it could push riders additional in the direction of the broader a part of corners.

    Course-designer Mike Etherington-Smith mentioned he personally doesn’t like the thought, however understands the logic and that something that may get outcomes out extra rapidly on the finish of the day is vital.

    He learn out notes from a dialogue earlier than Christmas with prime riders, coaches and course-designers about this and mentioned: “It’s not going to essentially scale back among the discussions that floor juries need to have on the finish of the day, about whether or not one thing was a run-out or not.

    “It’s not going to be one remedy to repair all these items. However hopefully among the discussions can be taken off the desk.”

    FEI eventing committee chairman David O’Connor requested the discussion board if a gaggle needs to be put collectively to suggest this rule in close to future, and was met with a powerful present of fingers from the room.

    “That may be a shift, as a result of 4 years in the past that was ‘no and hell no’,” he mentioned. “There’s a shift in pondering of the route the game goes, and that’s why we’re right here.”

    • What do you consider the eventing flag rule debate? Ship your ideas to hhletters@futurenet.com, together with your identify, nearest city and nation, for consideration for the Horse & Hound letters pages

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