An insight into riding at FEI level

Making the step to FEI classes

FEI Rules

Getting your National qualifications

Registering for FEI competition

Equine Influenza Vaccinations

Choosing an FEI Ride

Making an entry

Carrying Weights

Minimum Speed

Your first FEI ride

Rest Periods

Representing Great Britain

 

 

Making the step to FEI classes

 

The ‘FEI’ is the Fédération Equestre Internationale, which is responsible for equestrian competition at the highest level worldwide in the Olympic disciplines of Dressage, Eventing and Showjumping, the Para-Olympics and the non-Olympic disciplines of Endurance, Driving, Reining and Vaulting.  The FEI sanctions International events on a country by country basis plus Championship events by region, continent and worldwide.  You may already be aware that the World Endurance Championships took place at Euston Park, Great Britain in 2012 and hosted entries from all over the world.  It was a great opportunity for Endurance GB members to see the top horses from around the world competing on our home turf.

 

The FEI have horse welfare at the heart of their work and promote a commitment to Clean Sport for all.  The Endurance regulations are the most stringent in world sport.  No other Equine sport provides a greater level of veterinary attention and support to each individual horse.  Veterinary Officials, Judges and Stewards work together throughout the event to safeguard the welfare of the horse.  All listed officials must undertake training and examination on the FEI rules on a regular basis and the regulations include a minimum number of vets and officials for each event.  

 

 

FEI Rules

 

Endurance GB have adopted many of the FEI rules for their national classes but when you switch from National to FEI you need to be aware that you are riding under the FEI rules completely.  They take precedence over the Endurance GB Rules that you have been used to.  The FEI rules are available online here.

 

In addition to the Endurance specific rules, there are the FEI General Regulations and the FEI Veterinary Regulations that are followed.  Don’t be put off by the many pages of rules.   They offer the framework for the Officials to work by and as long as you have your horse’s welfare and fair play in mind, you should not have any problems.  Officials always try to be fair and offer guidance in a friendly manner.  Just stick to the route, know where you’re allowed to be crewed, what to do in the vetgate and your experience should be a positive one.  

 

We’re not going to repeat all the FEI rules here.  You can find them on the FEI website and they are worth browsing when you have some free time.  Another good way to learn about the FEI rules and how they’re applied is to attend a FEI Judge or Steward Course, run annually by Endurance GB.  

 

 

Getting your National qualifications

 

Most people progress to FEI classes after they reach Advanced level with Endurance GB because they have the ambition to test their horse over longer distances against the International measure of FEI rules.  Before you can enter an FEI event, you will need to have completed the required qualification rides for you and your horse to be eligible.  You may already be an Advanced EGB rider but you may not have completed the required qualification rides in the right order, within the timescale specified by the FEI.  The following is a brief summary of the requirements:

 

  • The athlete must be at least 14 years old.
  • The horse must be at least 5 years old to qualify to enter FEI classes but must be at least 6 years old before entering their first FEI 1* class.
  • Horses and athletes must (though not necessarily as a combination) successfully complete:
    • 2 rides between 40 and 79 km
    • 2 rides between 80 and 90 km
    • All rides to be ridden at 16kph or less
    • Horses must take at least 12 months but not more than 24 months to complete these requirements, i.e. the last qualifying ride must be at least 12 months after the first.
    • Athletes must take at least 6 months but not more than 24 months to complete these requirements.


Registering for FEI competition

 

In order to compete in FEI events you need to be a member of a NF, obtain an ‘Athlete License’ and register your horse.   British riders become a member of the BEF through their membership of Endurance GB or of SERC.  You can find the required forms to download here. 

 

What you need to do:

  1. Obtain an Athlete’s license from Endurance GB
  2. Register your horse.  Your horse must be microchipped and be allocated to an FEI registered Trainer.  This can be the rider and costs no more if you already have or are applying for an athlete’s license.
  3. Your horse will need an Identification Document, e.g. breed society or other national passport, but will only need an FEI passport if you intend to compete abroad or when you ride at 3* level and above.  


Equine Influenza Vaccinations

 

All horses entered in FEI classes must be vaccinated against Equine Influenza in accordance with the FEI Vaccination protocol.  Please be aware that the major difference which often catches people out is that the most recent booster must have been given within 6 months +21 days prior to arrival at the event, e.g. if your last booster was 7 months or more previously, you will need to get it updated at least 7 days before the event.   Here is the FEI rule:

 

1. All horses intending to participate in FEI competition must have at least received: 

• a primary course of two vaccinations, with an interval of between 21 and 92 days; 

• a third dose (the first booster) must be given within six months and 21 days after the date of administration of the second primary dose; and 

• at least annual boosters given subsequently (ie within 365 days of the last dose). 

2. If the horse is scheduled to take part in an FEI competition, the last booster must have been given within six calendar months + 21 days of arrival at the FEI event. (The 21-day window has been provided to enable vaccination requirements to fit in with the competition schedule.) 

3. Vaccinations must not be administered within the seven days before arrival at the FEI event.

 

Further clarification can be found on the FEI website here.  

 


Choosing an FEI Ride

 

In 2016 there are 11 FEI events scheduled around the country, including one in Scotland.  Full details of the distances available at each event and the entry criteria can be found on the FEI database.  Several of our rides also run National classes alongside so you may already be familiar with the venue and routes.  

 


Making an entry

 

Entries for FEI rides must be made via your National Federation.  For British riders entering EGB events, your entry and payment needs to be made via the Endurance GB entry system on the EGB website (as for any other EGB ride) – not by post.  Entries with full payment must be in before the Definite Entry Date – as per the FEI Schedule.  Bear in mind that the EGB ride close date may be different from the FEI class Definite Entry Eate (see the FEI schedule).   For all other rides (abroad or non-EGB, e.g. SERC Seacliff), use the International Ride Entry form and email it to the office. 

 

Once your entry has been paid for, the Ride Secretary and the EGB Office will both be notified. The EGB office will make a draft entry for you on the FEI entry system as per the entry you made on the EGB system. You will get an email from EGB about your definite entry, to which you will need to reply with confirmation either way.

 

If you need to make a change to your entry or you decide to withdraw -

 

Before the Closing Date:   You can do this on the EGB entry system but should also notify the EGB office.

 

After the Closing date:  You must email the EGB office directly with details of this change. EGB will then notify the Ride Secretary. If you are withdrawing with a valid health or veterinary reason, you will need to provide proof to the Ride Secretary within 10 days as per EGB rules if you expect a refund. 

 


Carrying Weights

 

Participants in CEI 3* and CEI 4* competitions must weigh at least 75kg (this can include the saddle and all riding equipment – except the bridle).  Often in CEI 1* and 2* classes there is no minimum weight. It will be shown on the FEI schedule so be sure to check.  If there is a minimum weight imposed for your class, you will be required to weigh in after the pre-ride vetting and could be checked at any time during the ride or when you finish.  If you are asked to weigh, take your tack and go quickly and quietly to where directed, leaving your horse to your crew to sort out.  If you are under the designated weight, you will be eliminated so take care to ride with everything that you weighed in with.  If you need to carry extra weight, investigate the best method to do this for you and your saddle.  Seek advice from experienced FEI riders.  There are no weight restrictions for Young Rider classes.  

 


Minimum Speed

 

The minimum speed for CEI 1* and 2* events is usually 12 kph and for CEI 3* it is usually 14 kph, as this is the minimum speed required for Championship qualification.  However, the organisers/Technical Delegate have the power to raise or reduce this if they feel the course warrants it – especially at times of the year with restricted daylight or in adverse weather conditions.

 

 

Your first FEI ride

 

First Inspection

 

On arrival at the venue a vet will check your horse against the passport to confirm the identity and check the vaccination record.  This is usually done as part of the pre-ride vetting.

 

 

Pre-ride vetting

 

This may be the day before the ride or on the morning itself.  Be aware that there is dress code in the vetgate.  Anyone going in with your horse to the vet must not wear sandals or shorts.  Otherwise, the vetting will be very similar to what you are used to with Endurance GB.  You may even have met the vet before.   There is a practise that the FEI officials and vets will be smartly dressed for the pre-ride vetting if done the day before the Ride and riders are also encouraged to make the effort to present themselves smartly and with clean horses.  It is great for the image of Endurance and adds a little ceremony to the event.  

 

 

Ride Day

 

If your horse is stabled at the venue, there is often a curfew on the stables to allow the horses to get a proper rest.  You will not be allowed into the stables until they open but this is usually a few hours before the start.

 

If you intend to start with the rest of the field, be at the start in plenty of time to warm up.  The starter will count down in minutes/seconds and tell the field when they can start.  You have up to 15 minutes to start after the official start time and you must be mounted to cross the start line.  

 

Be sure of where the route goes from the start line, which direction you are going, which colour loop you’re on, etc.  Don’t rely on the horse in front!  If you make an error of course, you are required to retrace your steps and rejoin the route where you left it.  If you do not, you will be directed to complete another part of the course of equal distance to that which you missed and you will no longer be eligible for a placing.  If you fail to complete the full distance, you will be eliminated.

 

You must not carry a whip nor wear spurs during any part of the competition.

 

You will already have experienced a vetgate during your qualification rides.  The principle is the same – the clock doesn’t stop ticking until you present to the timekeeper for vetting.  You have 20 minutes to present (30 minutes at the finish).  If the vet finds the pulse still to be over 64, you will have to go out and represent.  You only get two chances so get it right the second time.  

 

If the vet is not happy with your trot up, they may ask you to trot again in front of a panel of 3 vets.  The vets then vote secretly on paper slips, collected by a member of the Ground Jury.  Your vet will complete the examination and then the Ground Jury member will tell you whether you have passed or failed.  A 3 vet panel is always used at the final vetting.  

 

If your horse fails to qualify in the vetting, you may be sent to the official treatment vet for further examination and treatment if considered necessary.  These are usually very experienced vets used to dealing with horses during Endurance events so listen to their advice.  They, like you, have the best interests of your horse in mind.  

 

 

Rest Periods

 

If you are successful at your first CEI 1* 80km ride, your horse will receive a mandatory 12 rest day period and you cannot enter another National or FEI class until this has expired.  If you retire before the 40km mark, this is reduced to 5 days but only if you have completed the previous loop and successfully passed the vet before retiring.  

 

If your horse fails for irregular gait (lameness), an extra 14 days will be applied giving a total mandatory rest period of 26 days.  

 

If your horse fails for metabolic reasons and in the opinion of the designated Treatment Vet your horse requires immediate invasive treatment, your horse would receive a 60-day mandatory total rest period.

 

Longer distances incur longer rest periods.  Repeat fails escalate the rest periods. Please consult rule 815.3 of the FEI rule book for the full wording on the mandatory rest periods.


 

 

Representing Great Britain

 

Perhaps you aspire one day to compete for Great Britain.  This is a great privilege but achievable if you have a good horse, the time and commitment to train for such an honour.  FEI Rides are an essential stepping stone to participating in a British Team.  The International Championships rides for both Seniors and Young Riders are organised under the banner of the FEI and British Team members must be qualified through the FEI system to take part.  

 

Finally, one last piece of advice - ride your own ride according to your horse’s training and abilities and with due regard to the terrain.  You may well be riding alongside experienced International riders used to riding at speed.  Don’t get dragged along at a speed that your horse is not used to.   Have a great ride!