The use of videotape review has become common place in high level sports and is used to resolve decisions on the field of play that affect the outcomes of games. Equestrian sport has also started to use videotape review to verify scoring decisions. Both the Arabian Rules and the Jumper Rules contain videotape review procedures for verifying scoring questions and decisions in competition. The Arabians got it right; the Jumpers got it wrong.

JP 141.3. Use of Videotape. Judge(s) may, at their discretion, view videotape of all or part of a class in order to verify decisions involving scoring. Upon review of such videotapes, provided it is within 24 hours of the completion of the class, such judge(s) may make corrections to the placing of the event.

Jumping Video Review Rule 141.3 as written allows the results of any jumping class to be changed up to 24 hours after the class, meaning that no result can be considered final until a day later. Competitors, Owners, Sponsors, Spectators and Press need to know who the winner is at the end of the competition. The only exception should be a disqualification of a horse after the competition for a doping violation, which cannot be known before the end of the class. It is nonsensical to allow a video review to occur after the class results have been published that changes those results. The rule even fails to specify which video is to be used in a review – any videos or the “official” videos. The Jumper Video Review Rule is badly written and needs to be changed.

In contrast, Arabian Rule 204.4 is a properly designed video review rule and provides that:

  1. The videotape must be provided by an official competition videographer.
  2. All horse in the class must be videotaped.
  3. Whether or not to review the videotape is left to the sole discretion of the judge(s).
  4. The decision to review the videotape performance must be made prior to announcing the official results of the class.
  5. If any videotaped review is performed, the official results of the class must be delayed until after the review and a decision has been made.

Fairness to competitors, as well as to the other stakeholders in a jumping competition, requires that any issue about the scoring of a round be decided before the results of the completion are announced. If the scoring issue arises during a qualifying round, such as in a first round which is used to qualify a horse for the jump-off or second round of competition, the videotape review and decision must be made before the start of the next phase of competition. It is unfair and also exposes a horse and rider to undue risk of injury to compete in a round for which they may be found ineligible afterwards by video review. The way JR 141.3 is written, no grand prix victory (or any jumping class victory) can be considered final until after a 24 hour delay, in case a judge decides to look at the video after the class is over. This is bad for the competitors, bad for the spectators, bad for the sponsors and ultimately bad for the sport.

The USEF Jumper Committee needs to revise JR 141.3 and remove the uncertainty and unfairness that the rule as written creates by specifying what videotape will be used for the review and by requiring that any videotape review be completed before the announcement of the results for any round of competition.

-By Armand Leone