Recommendations for the safe handling of horses

A horse’s behavior should never be taken for granted since all horses can be unpredictable at times. This must be taken into account whenever handling horses at FEI events, e.g. in the stables, at horse inspections, loading and unloading from horseboxes.  

Safety recommendations for handlers

Safety can never be fully guaranteed, but a few basic safety principles can help prevent incidents or at least minimize the severity of their outcome. These principles contribute to safety as much as any rule on safe equipment and riding. No matter how experienced, anyone handling horses must be aware of them, and apply them consistently.

1.  Ensure that you are safely equipped

A sensible attire must be observed at all times:

  • Footwear – closed shoes or boots that allow the handler to walk and run easily, but also providing an element of protection e.g. leather boots. The following are examples of inappropriate footwear: high heels, sandals and other open shoes…
  • Gloves – recommended when leading a horse. Leading rope or reins must not be wrapped around fingers or hands.
  • Protective Headgear – recommended when leading an excitable horse. Head injuries can be the most serious injuries sustained around horses. Every horse handler should assess the risk with a particular horse or activity, and wearing helmets is encouraged.
  • Jewelry – some types of jewelry should not to be worn when handling horses. Body studs and earrings are easily caught or struck by horses. Finger rings cause many injuries when caught on leading ropes; these injuries can be severe.

In the interest of safety, if the Ground Jury is of the opinion that a horse handler is inappropriately dressed, the handler may be instructed to ask someone else to lead the horse unless suitable changes in attire can be made.

2.  Ensure your safety as well as the safety of those around you

  • Sensible training for the horse
  • Preparing a horse for competitions is not confined to competitive performance. Both preparation and training should include situations such as the horse inspection where safe handling of the horse is important. The responsibility of this training rests on the owner, the trainer and on the athlete where applicable.
  • Sensible decisions taking into account the characteristics of the horse that is being handled (i.e. stallions).
  • Ensure that the environment in which the horse is handled is not detrimental to a safe handling. In addition to exercising common sense, various situations are covered by a FEI rule whose purpose is to promote safety and which should be complied with (Horse Inspections, trot-ups…). If the environment appears to be a potential issue , do not take unnecessary risks and instead bring this to the attention of the relevant person (FEI Official, OC representative, FEI Veterinarian).

Safety recommendations for Organisers: creating a safe environment 

Compliance to the rules on horse inspection and trot-ups is essential.


The FEI’s general regulatory requirements on athlete safety and welfare are set out in the FEI General Regulations.

Additional discipline-specific requirements may be found in the relevant Sports rules.

Anti-Doping matters are regulated in the FEI’s Anti-Doping Rules for Human Athletes (ADRHA).

These documents can be found in the “Rules” section in the main menu toolbar of this website. Please use your cursor to select within the dropdown list.