In a letter dated January 26, to the show management of the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach 2013, the president of the International Dressage Riders’ Club Kyra Kyrkland questions the implementation of the FEI Elimination Rule Article 430, 7.6. which eliminated US Olympian Tina Konyot and Calecto V following the Grand Prix, January 25, at the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach. “To my understanding,” the letter states, “the Judge at C did not see blood during or following the test, did not stop the test, nor did he inspect the horse before requesting elimination. This is a contradiction to Article 430 7.6.
“If the Judge at C suspects fresh blood anywhere on the horse during the test, he will stop the horse to check for blood. If the horse shows fresh blood, it will be eliminated. The elimination is final. If the Judge through examination clarifies that the horse has no fresh blood, the horse may resume and finish its test. If the horse is eliminated pursuant to the above, or if the horse is injured during the test and starts bleeding after finishing the test, it should be examined by and FEI Veterinarian prior to the next Competition to determine if it is fit to continue in the Event the following day(s). The decision of the FEI Veterinarian in not subject to appeal.”
The Steward at the competition found fresh blood on the side of the horse by wiping it with a white cloth, and then showing the cloth to the FEI Veterinarian, according to Konyot, and then told her she was eliminated. “I was distraught,” said Konyot, “and brought my horse to the barn." She was visited by Carl Hester and Katherine Bateson. Hester informed Konyot of the new rule implemented in January 2013, which she admits she had not read. Konyot said she did see a small speck of what could have been blood on the cloth the Steward showed her, and surmised that perhaps when Calecto V took a pretty hard stumble during the test her spur could have nicked his side. “But there was no blood on the spur," Konyot said, "and nothing on his side. At no time did a Veterinarian come to inspect my horse after the incident." Konyot stated that if she knew then what she knows now, “ I would have kept my horse at or near the in gate until the next judges’ break for the Judge at C, Gary Rockwell to examine my horse, and also insisted that my horse be examined by an FEI Veterinarian in compliance of the rule.”
The rule created for the welfare of the horse specifically states the horse should be examined by the attending FEI Veterinarian. “I would have welcomed the opportunity for my horse to be inspected by a vet to be sure there was nothing wrong, which I felt I knew, but for a consequence so severe as to be eliminated from such an important competition, his welfare is of course my utmost concern.”
The International Riders’ Club has questioned the implementation of the rule in this case, as an action of great concern to riders whose careers and horses are being held to the highest of standards, to help protect their rights and the rights of their members. Konyot stated she had nothing to do with the initiation of this letter, which was copied to show management, FEI Director of Dressage Trond Asmyr, Judge Stephen Clarke, IRDC Wayne Channon, and IRDC Catherine Haddad.
“To my understanding,” the letter from IRDC President Kyra Kyrkland dated January 26, continued, “the Steward found fresh blood on the side of the horse by wiping it with a white cloth after the test. According to the above rule, this horse must now be inspected by the FEI Veterinarian to determine whether it is fit to compete today. The Steward does not have the power to eliminate the horse after the test. The Steward may only recommend that it be inspected by the show vet.”
However in an official statement issued by show management a seasoned team of FEI Events, and managers of the World Dressage Masters Palm Beach since its inception issued an official statement that the judge at C did request the examination of the horse.
Official Statement Regarding the Elimination of Tina Konyot and Calecto V Following the World Dressage Masters CDI5* Grand Prix
Wellington, FL - January 26, 2013 - Upon review of the process and after consultation with the FEI, it has been confirmed that the current rules regarding the elimination process were followed to the letter. Before she left the official equipment check area ringside, the rider was informed by the FEI Chief Steward that the Judge at C had made the decision based on Article 428.8 and Article 430.7.6 that the horse must be eliminated due to the evidence of fresh blood. On behalf of Wellington Classic Dressage and the official Ground Jury of the WDM/Palm Beach.
Konyot admits that as a competitor she is ultimately responsible for knowing the rules and how they are to be handled. “I admit I prefer to read Vanity Fair, ” said Tina, trying to get past this, “and have learned a valuable lesson about my responsibility as a rider at this level. If anything can come of this, hopefully it will help my fellow competitors better understand this rule and its implications.”Konyot also emphasized she was treated very kindly at the event, and regrets she was not able to be a part of it beyond the Grand Prix. “I would never do anything to jeopardize the health and welfare of my horse who I love and adore.”