‘New guidelines for stewards were given unanimous approval by the FEI Bureau on 17th April and came into force on 15th May. The guidelines were Produced by the Working Group formed after the round-table conference held in Lausanne on 9th February. The new rules particularly address rollkur or hyper flexion, defined as ‘’flexion through aggressive force’’. Although the current FEI guidelines already included instructions on aggressive riding, the new section has clear instructions on the actions stewards should take if they see rollkur occurring. It would also catch those using their whips or spurs excessively, and those practising and movement repeatedly for more then 10 minutes at a time.
All training sessions, including pre-completion warm-up, must take place in the official arena under supervision of the stewards, and the chief steward must be present at all times. It has been recommended that CCTV is installed at certain venues to provide a way to better monitor the practise arenas. ‘’Everyone in the FEI has horse welfare at heart,’’ says Working Group Chair Frank Kemperman, ‘’and these new guidelines will help the stewards be more proactive, giving them the authority to do their job and prevent abuse in all disciplines.’’
Key initiatives in the new guidelines for stewards
*Movements which involve having the horse’s head and neck carriage in a sustained or fixed position should only be performed for periods not exceeding 10 minutes without change (diagrams showing head and neck positions will be provided to the stewards).
*No single neck position should be maintained which may lead to tiredness or stress.
*The rider is not permitted to use rough or abrupt aids, or apply constant unyielding pressure on the horse’s mouth through a fixed arm and hand position.
The guidelines state that it is the steward’s responsibility to ensure that riders respect the above procedures and intervene if required. The steward will intervene should he/she observe:
*Neck stretching achieved through forced or aggressive riding.
*The use of extreme flexion if it does not comply with the above.
*A rider deliberately maintaining a sustained fixed head and neck carriage longer than approximately 10 minutes.
*If the horse is in a state of general stress and/or fatigue.
*The steward may also ask the rider to walk for a certain period in situations where the rider’s stress may cause undesired riding.
*Only in exceptional circumstances and with permission of the Chief Steward, may a pre-completion training session exceed one hour. There should be at least a one-hour break between any training/warm-up periods.’
Source-July 2010 edition of Horse&Rider pages 8-9.