FEI Delegates gather for a day of Sessions at General Assembly

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Proposed modifications to FEI Rules including a full rules revision for Endurance, ideas for optimising the existing rules revision process, the FEI’s work in the areas of education, sustainability, accessibility and the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games were the subjects under discussion at the sessions in Mexico City (MEX) today. 

In the FEI Rules Session, FEI Deputy Legal Director Aine Power discussed the existing FEI Rules Revision Policy, which was initiated in 2020. According to the policy, a full revision of discipline rules takes place every four years, while rule changes outside the context of a full rule revision are only permitted when they meet specific criteria (e.g. addressing urgent athlete and horse welfare and safety issues, correcting inconsistencies, implementation of new technologies, mandated changes from organisations such as IOC, IPC, WADA and ASOIF or in other circumstances when approved by the FEI Board).

The FEI Rules Revision Policy was implemented to streamline the rules process, addressing feedback that the annual review of all rules had become excessively burdensome. While the current policy serves to uphold principles of democracy and transparency, the delegates were asked to consider whether the constantly evolving rulebooks and the volume of changes that are put forward every year align with the overall purpose of rules, which is to provide clarity in the sport. The implementation of a new rulebook every year impacts on athletes, officials, National Federations, and Organising Committees who must familiarise themselves with the changes on an annual basis.

In the session, delegates were asked to consider if they were happy to maintain the status quo or if thought should be given to making some changes, for example limiting the number of annual rule changes or if an alternate model needs to be considered. The FEI Deputy Legal Director stressed that the door would remain open for discussion and encouraged delegates to provide their feedback.

The session continued with a discussion of the key changes proposed to the FEI Endurance Rules which are undergoing a full revision. These changes relate to: star level of events; categories of FEI Endurance Events; minimum weights; novice qualifications; CEI qualifications and validity of CEI star level qualification; Championship rules; mandatory out of competition periods; rotation of officials; Technical Delegate and Ground Jury roles; elite athlete status; athlete and trainer penalty points; warning cards; horse inspections, examinations and control of medication; officials required for events; and Endurance awards. 

In the second half of the session led by FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch, delegates were taken through various proposed changes to the FEI Statutes, General Regulations as well as other discipline and Veterinary Rules and Regulations.

All proposals and modifications will be put forward to the FEI Hybrid General Assembly for approval on 21 November. Delegates will be required to vote separately on proposals concerning the new FEI Social Media Policy, Integrity and Ethics related provisions, and the transition period on the Appointment of National Officials in Eventing.

In the session – Making the most out of educational and development programmes – FEI Director of Education and Officials Frank Spadinger and FEI Director of Solidarity Jean-Philippe Camboulives showcased the extensive educational tools and solutions that are made available by the FEI – free of cost – to help inform and educate the equestrian community.  

Delegates were informed about the various online materials and videos available through FEI Campus, as well as awareness campaigns like “Beat the Heat” and “Think Outside the Box”. The vast catalogue of in-person courses for National Federations, Coaches, Grooms, Farriers, stable managers, biosecurity-related personnel and Veterinarians was outlined for delegates. A common thread through the discussions was the crucial role that National Federations play in informing and distributing educational content.

The session was followed by discussions on the Sustainability and Accessibility activities of the FEI.

In his video address, FEI Sustainability Manager Somesh Dutt took delegates through the FEI’s sustainability initiatives, in particular the FEI Sustainability Handbook for Event Organisers, urging organisers to pose critical questions about product sourcing, composition, packaging and end-of-life implications before making key sustainability decisions.

FEI Director of Games Operations Tim Hadaway then took the floor to introduce the recently created FEI Accessibility Handbook for Event Organisers, which aims to provide a systematic approach to enhancing the accessibility of FEI Equestrian Events for para athletes, support staff, spectators, media, volunteers, and stakeholders with disabilities.

The cost-effectiveness of integrating sustainability and accessibility into the Event planning process from the outset, as well as the importance of early engagement and collective involvement, was keenly emphasised. The value of including a dedicated sustainability and accessibility role within event teams, ensuring consideration across all planning aspects, was also put forward to delegates for consideration.

In the last session of the day, Tim Hadaway and FEI Eventing Director Catrin Norinder took delegates through the preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The session covered venue teams, layouts, competition schedules, operational intricacies, and design considerations, including jumping and cross-country obstacles, dressage arenas, and hospitality. Rule clarifications, an explanation of qualification procedures, key dates and deadlines for the Olympic and Paralympic Games were also put forward to delegates.

FEI Hybrid General Assembly 2023, Mexico City (MEX). Session 1, Rules. Taken on 20 November 2023 by Liz Gregg. Copyright of FEI / Liz Gregg.

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