The FEI has made changes to its rules surrounding maternity leave in order to provide further flexibility and give riders the option of adapting the duration of their leave to their individual situation.

The previous minimum period for maternity leave for jumping, dressage, and driving, was six months and the maximum period, 12 months. Following requests from athletes who wished to have the option to return to competition earlier, the minimum period has been shortened to three months. The maximum period remains at 12 months. In addition, riders will now have the possibility to come back earlier than originally indicated when they initially requested the leave.

“It is good news that the board has allowed for greater flexibility regarding maternity leave,” FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said. “The FEI was one of the first international sports organisations to introduce provisions for maternity leave in April 2010 and we remain committed to protecting the welfare of our athletes. These rules had been first put in place for jumping and were gradually extended to dressage and driving. This had been done in order to allow athletes, who have had a baby, not to lose all their rankings points while off the circuit.

“The FEI has listened to the riders who have expressed the desire to have the option of returning to competition earlier than six months and the FEI Board is very much in favour of supporting athletes wishing to achieve the best possible balance between family life and a high-level sports career.”

The board also approved the incorporation of maternity leave provisions – as updated – into the FEI endurance and para dressage rules. Maternity leave provisions for vaulting are being examined and updates will be provided in due course.

The FEI Eventing Committee has considered including medical and maternity leave provisions in the Eventing Ranking Rules but is currently not in favour for “risk management” reasons.

Check out our Christmas subscription offer – the perfect gift for a horse lover!

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue