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Asian Games Equestrian: Why was Hriday Chheda disqualified in Dressage?

Indian equestrian rider Hriday Chheda was disqualified from the Equestrian Dressage final for 'animal abuse'. What is 'animal abuse' in Equestrian?

Asian Games Equestrian: Why was Hriday Chheda disqualified in Dressage?

Shourya Mehta

Updated: 28 Sep 2023 6:12 PM GMT

Two days back Indian dressage team made the headlines for breaking 41 years of medal drought in Equestrian at the Asian Games, and one of the significant members of the winning team was Hriday Chheda.

Earlier today, Chheda’s wish for the ending the Games on a happy note by bagging a medal in the individual men’s dressage event was shattered by a disqualification. Hriday Chheda and his countryman, ace rider Anush Aggarwala, qualified for the final and were in the medal contention. While Hriday faced dejection for failing to qualify for the medal round, Aggarwala added a medal to his bag by winning a historic bronze medal in the same event, the first for India in the event.

But, overall, it was a bittersweet finish for Indian equestrians at the Asiad in Hangzhou.

Why Hriday Chedda faced disqualification

Just after his gold medal-winning display with the dressage team, Chedda, being in good form, was dreaming of a medal at the individual round.

However, he ended up being disqualified due to a violation of animal protection rules in place at the Games as his horse, Chemxpro Emerald, had some blood spots on the left leg which forced the officials to stop him from further participation in the competition.

According to the global governing of equestrian, FEI, “blood rule”, “Article 242: Disqualifications 3.1 Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose, or marks indicating excessive use of the whip and/or spurs on the flank(s) or horse’s back.”

Proper procedures are in place to ensure rules are correct. If riders have concerns, they can request the FEI to review the “blood rule” to ensure its appropriateness. Even though the horse’s condition is not intentional, they clearly contravene the written FEI rule outlining disqualification caused by the horse’s bleeding.

By taking the reference from the rule book of Equine Canada, elimination from a class for “evidence of blood on the horse”, environmental causes such as insect bites shall not normally be cause for elimination.

So the disqualification is not for environmental causes. Even though Chheda could not clinch the medal, he will not return home empty-handed. The gold medal-winning show of the equestrian team at the Asiad means the Indian team has started an equestrian awareness revolution, and we could soon witness the rise of the sport.

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