As excitement builds ahead of the new season, British Eventing has released the 2023 Members’ Handbook, which details the rule changes for the coming year.
The 2023 Members’ Handbook is available to members by logging on through their online BE account here.
A summary of the rule changes is also available here.
So, what’s new?
Vaccinations have been heavily discussed in recent months and British Eventing has taken the decision to increase the permitted interval between boosters to 12 months for horses competing in national competitions. However, in the interests of equine welfare and to maintain optimum protection levels for your horse, it is strongly recommended that the most recent booster injection is given within six months and 21 days prior to the horse competing. You will also need to vaccinate within this shorter window if you wish to compete your horse in an FEI class or enter an FEI stable area.
Starting this season, all whips used for jumping must be padded. The ‘pad’ must be smooth with no protrusion or raised surface (which include embroidery) and be made of a shock absorbing material throughout its circumference. One whip, no longer than 75cm (and must be no less than 45cm) and not weighted, may be carried when jumping any obstacle in British Eventing competitions.
There has also been an update to the requirements for horse boots – all boots must be smooth inside without lumps, protrusions, or a rough surface. For show jumping, boots may only have Velcro, Stud or Hook fasteners (straps). Any boot that has a pull back, cinch, winch, buckle or click/ratchet fastener (straps) that double back is NOT PERMITTED. Full detail, together with helpful illustrations, is available in the handbook.
The standards for ‘protective headwear’ have been updated this year, with the 1998 mark for PAS 015 and the 2001 mark for Snell no longer compliant (PAS 015 must now be 2011 and Snell, 2016). In light of these changes, all hats will need to be re-tagged for the 2023 season. Riders are urged to plan ahead at their first event, ensuring they leave plenty of time to get any hats tagged before competing.
With regard to required standards, it is worth noting that the 2009 purple label for body protectors will no longer be compliant from 2024. This does not affect the 2023 season, but it is worth keeping in mind for anyone who needs to purchase a new body protector.
There have been a number of updates to MERs for the forthcoming season, including the removal of the need for two MERs at BE90 for riders wishing to compete in a BE100 class. Providing the combination is competing successfully at 100cm in other competitions, they will be able to go straight ahead and enter. This will open up new opportunities for riders at that level, especially for those riders joining BE from The Pony Club and British Riding Clubs. Riders in their 12th and 13th year will still need two MERs at BE90.
Another change to note with MERs is the dressage score requirement for anyone competing in national classes at BE90 or above. The MER standard had previously been achieved by completing a competition with no more than 50 dressage penalties, and this has now been reduced to 45.
From this season, entry fees will now sit within a window rather than a fixed fee. This will give organisers the flexibility to set their own fees – for example, reducing fees for some classes at Grassroots levels, particularly GoBE, to be more competitive (the lower end of the window being -10% from last year’s fee) or increasing fees to help cover inflation and increased costs (with the higher end of the window being +10% from last year). For 4* & 5*, the higher end of the window will be +15% from last year in acknowledgement of the cost of providing the sport at these levels, including the increased provision of FEI Officials.
Other changes include modernising the wording around horse welfare, updates to the allocation of foundation points and the introduction of five new dressage tests.
Please note: The updates in this story are for national competitions run under British Eventing rules. Riders competing in FEI classes are reminded to keep an eye on the latest rule updates from the FEI.