Horse welfare at the forefront of proposed FEI Rules changes

Media updates
05 July 2023 Author: FEI Communications

The first drafts of the proposed FEI Rule changes have been published and are now available online here.

In accordance with the FEI Periodical Rules Revision Policy, the FEI Endurance Rules are the only ones undergoing a full revision but some modifications of lesser scope have been introduced to the other FEI Rules and Regulations as well. The focus of this year’s changes is on horse welfare with strong proposals featured in the FEI General Regulations, the FEI Veterinary Regulations, and several discipline rules.

“At the heart of the FEI's mission lies an unwavering commitment to horse welfare,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “This year, we have been fortunate to receive insightful horse welfare-oriented proposals from the National Federations and Stakeholders alike. Our Technical Committees and Headquarters have attentively listened to the community and incorporated many invaluable proposals into the fabric of the Rules.

“An important development is the proposed addition of an Equestrian Charter to the FEI General Regulations as Appendix O, whereby all those involved in horse sport adhere to the FEI Code of Conduct for the Welfare of the Horse, and acknowledge and accept that at all times the Welfare of the Horse must be paramount by pledging to the FEI Equestrian Charter.

“Another key proposal, made by the FEI further to the recommendations of the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission, is the introduction of a general provision harmonising the approach to measuring the tightness of nosebands across all FEI Disciplines using an FEI Objective Measuring Tool.

“A new Appendix L reflecting the concept of Key Event Requirements, related to horse welfare and horse and human safety, will be added to the General Regulations.

“Important changes are being introduced to in the FEI Jumping, Dressage, Driving and Vaulting Rules and new proposals specifically linked to horse welfare have been included in the FEI Endurance Rules, which are undergoing a full revision.

“The National Federations and Stakeholders have seven weeks to revert to the FEI with their feedback on these proposals and I look forward to an exciting and fruitful dialogue,” the Secretary General concluded.

The main changes related to horse welfare by discipline are listed below.


(memo detailing all the proposed changes to the FEI Jumping Rules is available here)

Article 241.4 Eliminations of the FEI Jumping Rules has been reworded to clarify that the Ground Jury has the clear authority to eliminate a combination when it would be in the best interest of the wellbeing and/or safety of the horse and/or athlete to do so.

In addition, it is now clarified via the Tack Equipment Database that comb spurs are not permitted given that they have the potential to harm horses.



(memo detailing all the proposed changes to the FEI Dressage Rules is available here)

Article 431.4 Dress – Spurs proposal to modify this article to specify that spurs are optional but when they are used, they must be made of metal.



(memo detailing all the proposed changes to the FEI Driving Rules is available here)

New Article 911.10 Principles – Horse Welfare on the Field of Play

In line with the recommendations of the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission, the FEI Driving Committee has proposed the addition of a clause concerning horse welfare on the field of play. This empowers the Ground Jury to promptly intervene and eliminate an athlete if this would be in the best interest of the wellbeing and/or safety of the horse and/or athlete.

New Article 933.2.4 – Horse Welfare - Definition and Penalty for Horse Falls

Since the current version of the FEI Driving Rules lacks a clear definition and penalties for instances of a horse falling during a competition, the FEI Driving Committee has put forward a specific wording and sanctions applicable to the discipline.

New Dangerous Driving Annex (Annex 10)

This new Annex is in line with the introduction of a Driving Recorded Warning. The Dangerous Driving Annex lists all the instances that qualify as Dangerous Driving, and the penalties according to the severity of the infringement.



(memo detailing all the proposed changes to the FEI Driving Rules is available here)

Article 703.1 – Qualification for FEI Championships

Based on the feedback received from the FEI Vaulting Forum 2023 and the survey on the future of the discipline conducted ahead of the Forum, the FEI Vaulting Committee has proposed new qualification criteria for squad members and horses to compete at FEI Championships. These changes aim to address concerns raised regarding safety and horse welfare.

Article 719.2.5 Equipment – two side reins

Based on the interim report of the “side reins study” conducted by the IFCE (Institut français du cheval et de l’équitation) in partnership with the French Equestrian Federation and the FEI, the FEI Vaulting Committee has proposed to allow draw reins in competition only as described in the rule proposal. Standing reins or auxiliary reins are not permitted.



(memo detailing all the proposed changes to the FEI Endurance Rules is available here)

The Endurance rules are undergoing full revision this year and it is proposed to modify/add/expand the following articles addressing horse welfare.

Article 801 Horse Welfare

Multiple additions clarifying the notion of Horse Abuse have been made to this article.

Article 816.6.1 Vet Games – Hart rate assessment

The maximum recovery time of each loop as well as the heart rate parameter for Championships have been decreased.

A new Article 816.6.6 specifying that at the first Vet Gate and onwards, except for the Final Inspection, all horses entering with more than 10 minutes recovery time must pass a compulsory re-inspection, has been added.

Article 816.8.1 Vet Gates – Hold Time

The hold times for loop distances ranging from 20 to 29km will be increased to at least 30 minutes.

Article 825.2.5 Tack and Equipment – Permitted tack

The article has been expanded to clarify that any evidence of soreness, lacerations and/or wounds in the mouth, must be recorded on the Vet Card and that if participation or continuing in the Competition is likely to aggravate any such soreness, lacerations or wounds or in any way endangers (or risks endangering) the welfare of the horse, the horse will not be allowed to continue and will be designated 'Failed to Qualify – Minor Injury' (FTQ-MI).

A new Article 825.2.12 regarding the use of curb chains has been added.

A new Article 833.3.1.1 (CEI Qualifications) stating that all six-year old horses entering in their first CEI1* must complete it with a speed restricted to no more than 18 km/hour has been added.

New Annex 9: FEI Endurance Awards

In order to reward a wider range of positive achievements of horses and athletes, a new Annex 9 The Endurance Awards is being introduced. It includes the Combinations Award, Consecutive Completions Award, and Best Condition Award.


FEI Veterinary Regulations

(memo detailing all the proposed changes to the FEI Veterinary Regulations is available here)

Article 1007 Veterinary Services

The proposed new wording clarifies that horse ambulance must now include a winch for the loading of recumbent horses.

Article 1008 Stables – I. Stable Area Requirements

A clarification has been made to the provision of stables for Vaulting horses. With respect to their size, the FEI proposes that they are all stabled in larger stables measuring at least 4m x 3m for their welfare.

Article 1008.6 has been largely expanded to include improvements in stable lighting, ventilation, standard of drinking water, safe movement of horses and people, and increased fire precautions. These improvements are part of the Key Events Requirements concept and will be referenced in the newly introduced Annex L of the FEI General Regulations.

New Annex X – Stable Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol

The FEI has proposed another new annex in support of the Key Event Requirements project. The aim of the new annex is to ensure FEI stables are cleaned and disinfected correctly and to harmonise these procedures.

Article 1010 Examination on Arrival Area

Clarifications have been made to the existing rule to support the highest levels of equine welfare. Unloading of horses upon arrival must now be carried out within one hour of arriving at the venue and the footing on which the Examination on Arrival takes place must be safe and non-slip.

Article 1027 Biosecurity at FEI Events

Proposals to strengthen biosecurity at FEI events have been made. Grooming, tacking-up of horses, and any other similar activities must not take place in stable aisles. The VC/VD may request the horse’s temperature is taken at any time during the Event on their request and must organise supervised temperature-taking of 5% of horses each day at events where horses are stabled for more than one week.

Annex VI – Sanctions in case of FEI Veterinary Regulation violations

Proposed new sanctions for falsification of a temperature record and recording a horse’s temperature using a method that is not FEI approved have been added.


Next steps

The following timeline will be applied regarding the next steps in the FEI Rules Revision Process:

16 August 2023: National Federations and Stakeholders are given seven weeks from the moment of the publication of the first draft of the proposed rule changes to review them and make comments and/or propose any changes in relation to the amendments referenced in the first draft only.

24 October 2023: Final draft of the proposed rules changes to be provided to National Federations and Stakeholders.

20 November 2023: Rules Session in the framework of the FEI General Assembly 2023

21 November 2023: Voting of Rules at the FEI General Assembly 2023