Written by: Jan Stephens

Jan Stephens answers your questions about horse show rules.

Thumbnail for Ask the Steward: lunging, scratches, FEI barn access and more

Am I allowed to lunge my horse in the warm-up ring? Or do I have to stay out only if there is a “No Lungeing” sign posted?

If there is no specified lunge area, most officials will try to help you find a safe place or time to lunge. When horses are warming up or preparing for a class it is inappropriate and dangerous to have horses lungeing. In EC Dressage rules, lungeing must be stewarded (7.16.3). It is the organizer’s decision as to the positioning of a lungeing area where room and space allows. The rules do not specify that lungeing space must be provided, however (7.16.7).

In what situations does a steward need to be present?

Let’s look at a specific case: a competitor at a hunter competition has not been placed in their class. They are hot. “My horse has placed in every class this year, that judge is blind!” As you can see, it might be counterproductive for this competitor to seek out the judge in the heat of the moment. The rules protect both the judge and the competitor by involving the steward:

Art A1312 (5.6.7)

  • Judges may not be approached with regard to any decision immediately before or during judging.
  • Competitors may not see a judge’s score card except with the permission of and/or in the presence of the judge and steward or technical delegate.
  • Judges are not required to give reasons to any competitor for their decisions. A competitor may make inquiry through the steward as to the reasons for decisions.
  • The steward will act as the go-between for this competitor and the judge, allowing the competitor the opportunity to express his concerns while the judge’s time and space is protected.

At a dressage competition, if the rider ahead of me scratches, can I ride my test sooner, or do I have to wait until my allotted time?

If the rider before you scratches and you are prepared for your test, a steward will confirm with the jury that you may go before your scheduled time. If, however, you are not ready, you may wait for your original scheduled time.

Why is the general public (or even members of the press) not allowed access to the FEI barns?

The duty of the organizing committee (OC) is to provide a safe, enclosed area for horses competing at a very high level. The horses as elite athletes must be guaranteed a quiet environment where they can take a deep breath and be assured of some rest. For this reason, and for their protection, the rules state “it is the duty of a steward to safeguard the welfare of the horses and to prevent any form of forbidden practice.” If all members of the public were allowed in the stable area, the welfare of the horses would be impossible to monitor.

With permission of the OC, individuals such as sponsors and media may be escorted through FEI stables by a steward. Again, it is so important that both athletes – horse and rider – can consider the FEI barn a retreat.