The Safety Pin Rule | Keep, Amend Or Remove?

Astier Nicolas picks up 21 penalties at Belton CIC*** For Breaking A Frangible Pin

But Negotiates The Fence Safely To Complete

Some of the fall out from the problems on cross country at Rolex Kentucky, surrounds a FEI rule, and the 21 penalty points it imposes on any competitor breaking a frangible pin. A fate suffered by both Clark Montgomery & Andrew Nicholson at fence 9. In a recent podcast interview Andrew Nicholson made some interesting observations about how this can influence things depending on how a horse with a particular type of jumping style likes to moves over a fence, but he seemed to accept this was now part of the job and you just have to deal with it.

Chairman of The Event Riders Association, Francis Whittington, recently tweeted a petition in support of getting the rule removed:

The introduction of these pins has been something of an evolution over many years, and possibly someone somewhere is able to pull together all the information available to date that allows for further ‘consultation’ on this controversial issue.

Here’s an interview with Hugh Thomas from late 2010 on the evolution of the pin and the rule:

Personally, my initial reaction is, I think 21 penalty points is too high, and it should be more aligned with time penalties than jumping penalties, but that could be argued to have other implications like ‘racing to make up time’ and inviting further risks. I think it should stay and be amended, but without more information to hand I’m not ready to put a flag in the sand at any particular penalty point.

It’s an interesting topic though, because it is changing the way the cross country phase is evolving – let’s just hope it’s not evolving into a showjumping competition!

Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.


  1. I agree, 21 points is a ton and should be lowered. Not really sure why I agree with it, since XC fences were not originally able to even be knocked down. But I think its a wonderful safety precaution, just wondering why the penalty is so high.

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