FEI Eventing 50 penalty rule amended for 2019


The proposed amendments to the 2019 FEI Eventing rules ratified at the recent FEI General Assembly include changes to the much discussed Article 549.2 – Missing a flag

The rule, brought in at the start of 2017, originally aimed to make it easier for nations to complete cross country day with full teams at major Championships but it has had more of an impact on individual scores at non-Championship events.

Only one rider at the 2018 World Equestrian Games incurred 50 penalties (Switzerland’s Felix Vogg) while several riders incurred 50 penalties at 4* level in 2018 at Luhmuhlen (including the leader after dressage), Les Etoiles de Pau and the Australian International 3 Day Event in 2017 and 2018

The rule was clarified in March 2017 but ongoing concerns were highlighted in November during the 2017 Australian International 3 Day Event when the Ground Jury felt that rule needed to be reviewed and this was addressed in the rule revisions put forward earlier this year

“This rule needs to be reassessed as decisions of Ground Juries do not have enough evidence to justify their decision to athletes and public at large. It is felt that 50 penalties is too strong for the horses that actually made the effort to jump the fence”


Previously the rule stated that;

In case the Horse has clearly attempted to jump the element or obstacle and may have missed a flag, the Athlete can choose:

a) To represent (accepting automatically 20 penalties), or

b) To continue on course incurring 50 penalties (no elimination) in case the element or obstacle was not correctly cleared.

Note: If the Athlete represents and was clear in his first attempt, the Athlete will not be penalised with 20 penalties but no time will be removed.


The new 2019 ruling states that;

“A Horse is considered to have run out (20 penalties) if, having been presented at an element or obstacle on the course, it avoids it in such a way that the body of the Horse fail to pass between the extremities of the element or obstacle as flagged.

15 penalties will be given in case the Horse misses a flag but clearly negotiated the element or obstacle”


Marilyn Payne, President of the Ground Jury at the 2018 Australian International 3 Day Event, detailed the new rule (that had just been ratified in Manama) during the final press conference in Adelaide – watch the full video here (new ruling discussion starts at 15:26) 

“50 penalties will effectively take you out of the competition” said Blyth Tait, late in 2016 when we talked to him about the 50 penalty rule coming in. Will 15 penalties could make a big difference to this? We’ll find out how it all plays out in actual competition in 2019!