A proposal to limit every country to one seniors “CIO” (Official International Event) in any discipline has been shelved by the FEI after Canada, the U.S. and Mexico protested.

The trio were forced to point out the huge disadvantage to riders from the huge land mass of the Americas compared to Europe, where some countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg are so small it takes less than half a day a day to drive across them.

If the proposal had been passed by the FEI General Assembly in Bahrain later this month, it would have presented a huge dilemma in jumping for Canada, with both Spruce Meadows and Vancouver holding CSIOs, and the U.S. with Wellington and Ocala. Each country could have staged a second CIO only with approval of the FEI board (new name for the FEI bureau) and only with “the recommendation of the relevant technical committee.”

Equestrian Canada (EC) strongly opposed the change because of the constraints on Central America and South American countries, who often cannot hold CIOs due to the high organizing and travel costs and who rely on Canada and the US to host these events. It would severely limit athletes competing outside Europe, reducing access to Nations Cups. EC also felt the FEI criteria for making a “fair and transparent decision for when exceptions are made” was unclear.

The Mexican federation explained when teams from “any country south of USA” were lucky enough to get an invitation to a CSIO in Europe it had to forfeit unless it already had riders based overseas – Mexico has to do 40-day quarantine in the U.S. This meant the few opportunities for developing countries to compete at a Nations Cup are the five annual CSIOs in North America. Mexico added: “We believe having two CSIOs in Canada or in USA does not affect anyone, and athletes get more preparation throughout the year. “

USEF added that the U.S. budget to compete in the Mexico and Canada legs of the 2018 FEI Longines Nations Cup North and Central American League was close to $200,000, based on one horse per rider. USEF’s representation also stated: “The FEI family continue to talk about Nations Cups being the most important property the FEI has but this change will greatly reduce the ability of athletes outside Europe to compete in Nations Cup. It is suggested that the FEI should be encouraging more CIOs, not making the approvals process for the status quo more complex.”

For the time being, the CIO limit will apply to Europe only. However, the issue may yet be revived, for it seems likely a new working group next year will further assess the process for CIO allocation.