Written by: Jan Stephens

Jan Stephens answers your questions about horse show rules.

Thumbnail for Ask the Steward: stabling area, dangerous riding, horse injuries and more

When stewards patrol the stabling area, what are they looking for, specifically?

Stewards maintain a presence in the barn during FEI competitions to ensure a high level of stable security. They are there to act as a deterrent to the entry of unauthorized persons and uncontrolled exit of horses. As they patrol, they are looking for irregular practices and asking for authorized appropriate paperwork for medication or treatment of horses. Any cruelty or abuse in the area is immediately reported to, and dealt with, by the technical delegate and the ground jury.

At each event, the chief steward meets with the veterinary delegate and they discuss what support therapies are allowed in the stables. For instance, shockwave is not allowed in the stable area. Laser treatments must be administered with less than a class 4. Cooling boots, wraps, etc.. must not be turned below the freezing mark. MagnaWave must be administered from a low setting. All these things are decided by the vets and monitored often by the stewards.

Above all, stewards are in the stable to be the voice of the horses. If water is lacking, the groom might be called to make him/her aware. Stewards do not enter a stall unless the animal is in distress, but they would not hesitate to call the groom or the person responsible if that horse needed attention.

What constitutes “dangerous riding” on a cross-country course?

The rule book says that any athlete who, at any time during the competition, deliberately or unintentionally by incompetence exposes himself, his horse or any third party to a higher risk than what is strictly inherent to the nature of the competition, will be considered to have acted dangerously and will be penalized according to the severity of the infringement.

What does that include?

a) Riding out of control (horse not responding to aids);

b) Riding fences too quickly or too slowly;

c) Repeatedly standing too far off fences;

d) Repeatedly being ahead of or behind the horse’s movement when jumping;

e) A series of dangerous jumps;

f) Lack of responsiveness from the horse or the athlete;

g) Endangering the public in any way;

h) Jumping obstacles not part of the course;

i) Willful obstruction of an overtaking athlete.

The following penalties and sanctions can be given: recorded verbal warning; yellow warning card; 25 penalties; 25 penalties and yellow warning card; elimination; elimination and yellow warning card.

If a horse is injured, whose job is it to fill out an Accident and Injury Report, and to whom is it submitted?

The Accident and Injury Report is a double-sided page with one side dedicated to the athlete injury and the other to the equine. The form is filled out by the steward, technical delegate, or a member of the competition organizing committee. In the case of the horse injury, a statement is requested from the official or treating veterinarian where possible. These reports are submitted by the steward or TD with their reports; if there is no steward or TD, the injury report is sent by the organizing committee to Equestrian Canada (EC) with the Competition Master Report.

In the case of a fatal tragedy, EC must be notified within 24 hours, or as soon as possible. Officials are provided an emergency number to facilitate this reporting procedure.