Before heading into the ring make sure that you know the rules. Nothing is more irritating to the judge than having to explain rules to disappointed competitors.
Some of the more common rules are known - like 2 cumulative refusals and your out. But what constitutes a refusal?
According to FEI Article 221 (Federation Equeste International) a refusal is considered “when a horse halts in front of an obstacle, which it must jump whether or not the horse knocks it down or displaces it.” That’s the easy description. But there are many interpretations of ‘stopping’ and other considerations that are judged. There are also, run outs, resistance and an uncorrected deviation from the course.
A refusal can be penalized if the halt in front of the jump is prolonged, or if the horse steps back, either voluntarily or not, even a single pace, it counts. This means if the horse jumps from a stand still it counts as a refusal.
What about Sliding Through the Jump
We’ve all seen horses slide through a jump. They get ready to jump and at the last minute just don’t lift their legs and end up sliding through the jump. When this happens the judge must decide immediately if it is scored as a refusal or a knockdown. A refusal would require that the bell be rung and the competitor must stop immediately and retake the obstacle after it has been rebuilt.
If the judge feels that the horse attempted to jump the jump but slid through it, the rider will continue and be penalized for a knockdown.
A Run Out
A run out is when the horse goes by the jump without jumping it. It can very succinctly described as when “ a horse or any part of the horse goes by the extended line of the obstacle to be jumped”.
A run out is considered a disobedience and is penalized as such. That is 4 penalties for the table A jumpers and the time taken for the speed or Table C jumpers.
A resistance is also considered a disobedience and is penalized as such. A resistance is when a horse refuses to go forward, stops, steps back or makes one or more ½ turns. If the rider stops the horse for any reason it can also count as a resistance. This may only be allowed if the course is rebuilt improperly. If the horse is ‘resisting’ for 45 consecutive seconds the horse/rider will be eliminated as per FEI Article 240.3.4.