Saturday, March 5, 2011

What Happens If I Fall Off Right After the Bell?

Disclaimer: With the current focus on concussions, it's possible that this rule could be overridden. Because it is a rare occurrence, I have not witnessed such a fall for several years now and therefore cannot say how it is currently being enforced.

Imagine that you have trotted into the jumper ring to begin your round, the bell sounds, and then your horse spooks at the photographer standing behind a jump! You lose your balance and gracefully fly through the air, landing on your feet beside your incredulous horse. What happens now?

Based on Equine Canada rules, you can get back on if you fall off after the bell, but before crossing the start line. You may get back on to complete the course, provided you get back on in time! Disobediences that occur within those 45 seconds after the bell do not count towards your score. If you don't get through the timers within 45 seconds of the bell, the clock will start on your round and you will likely collect time faults unless you can make up that time. You must have jumped the first jump on course within the first 45 seconds after the time of your round has started (if you have not crossed the start line within 45 seconds of the bell, the time will start).

Here's the EC rule regarding falls just after the bell:

[...] The bell is used:
1.2. to give the signal to start and to activate a forty five (45) seconds countdown shown in the time equipment in the scoreboard or in another display beside the arena.
The forty five (45) seconds countdown sets the time that the Athlete can spare before commencing his round. The Ground Jury has the right to interrupt the forty five (45)-seconds countdown if unforeseen circumstances occur. Incidents such as, but not limited to, disobedience and falls, occurring between the signal to start and the moment the Athlete crosses the starting line in the correct direction, are not penalized.

The USEF has a similar rule in place.

If you fall off while in the ring before starting a hunter round, you will be eliminated and not allowed to continue because a hunter performance starts from the moment you enter the ring and ends only when you leave the ring.  Falling off at any point therefore constitutes a fall during your round, which necessitates elimination.

Remember that in Canada, if you fall off during a round, you may not re-mount in the ring at risk of being disqualified from all other classes in the ring that day. The USEF allows the rider to re-mount but does not permit a courtesy fence.

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