As many riders across the country buckle down and ready themselves for the slew of competitions that lie ahead, the FEI stewarding rules have been updated and some of the changes may necessitate tack changes with immediate effect.
One regular debate that crops up when it comes to tack and the limitations within the adult age category is the use of a secondary rein that is not directly connected to the bit or bridle. While, previously, the FEI stated that they may be used as a secondary rein providing that the primary rein was connected to the bit or bridle, the updated Stewarding Guidelines now state that these are no longer permitted in the competition arena. With the Outdoor Grand Prix currently underway and the open grades commencing their event from Friday the 2nd, these new rules, although published in close proximity to the event are now active and this will be applicable immediately.
There are many versions of this now-prohibited item currently being used among our open riders and it is highly recommended that riders make the necessary changes to their tack prior to the start of the competition on Friday. Riders who choose to try their luck at the event will be subject to several possible penalties, including mandatory elimination for illegal tack, should they compete with the incorrect equipment.
In the updated rule, the FEI stipulates that auxiliary reins “that run through the rings of the bit and over the top of the head [are] not allowed in the competition arena and may be used in the practice arena only if a pair of reins is attached to the bit or directly to the bridle.” This essentially prohibits the use of the aid commonly sold by South African tack shops as the “Abdulla/Abdullah Rein”. The FEI is aiming to reduce the use of equipment that acts as reverse running reins or training aids applying excess pressure on the poll. While a similar action is created to that of a traditional rope gag, the rope gag is still legal as the reins are connected directly to the bit.
Final clarification regarding variations of this equipment is pending from the FEI, however, in the meantime, we advise erring on the side of caution by avoiding the use of such auxiliary reins regardless of their individual differences. If using multiple reins, all must be connected directly to either the bit or the bridle.
If in doubt about the legality of your tack whilst at an event, the best option is always to approach the Chief Steward prior to competing for clarification.