Two leading jumping riders have been disqualified from the first round of the Rio Olympics; both for excessively punishing their horses after refusals.
Jur Vrieling was eliminated on Zirocco Blue, who had two refusals, one at 4b — the second part of the treble — and one at 11a, right in front of the far-side crowded grandstand.
Jur whipped the horse after the refusal, and he and the much-admired 12-year-old stallion by Mr Blue were disqualified after the ground jury deemed him have used his whip excessively. The disqualification only counts for the individual competition, however, and Jur will be permitted to ride in the teams one.
Rob Ehrens, Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation national coach said in a statement: “I’ve been a professional rider for 27 years and I know the feeling when everything goes wrong. But this should not happen and will not happen again. While Jur and Zirocco Blue are chasing medals, this has to be handled professionally. We will use tomorrow to relax Zirocco Blue.”
In a statement released, Jur Vrieling explained: “I was encouraging him, saying ‘come on boy, don’t do this again’. I should not have given him these extra pushes. It is stupid, this happened in the heat of the moment, and it will not happen again.”
Stephan Ellenbruch, President of the Rio 2016 Equestrian Olympic Ground Jury, said: “We can confirm that Jur Vrieling has been disqualified from today’s individual Jumping competition. The FEI’s rules are very specific – if any blood is found on the flank of a horse, the ahlete/horse combination is automatically disqualified from the competition.
“The veterinarians on site have examined the horse, Zirocco Blue, and will continue to monitor to ensure he is fit to compete on Tuesday, for the jumping team round qualifier.”
Earlier in the competition, Belgian individual rider Nicola Philippaerts and Zilverstar T — a 12-year-old KWPN stallion by Berlin – ran into problems at 11b. The horse refused twice at the second part of this difficult double on the final line of fences. Nicola, 23, was then disqualified by the ground jury for excessive use of the spurs. It is understood that blood was spotted on the horse where his spurs had come into contact.
*Please see FEI rule below:
Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules: Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose or marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorise the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Disqualification.)