The requirements of and demands on a venue vary hugely depending on the discipline, competition level, number of athletes and horses anticipated, how many spectators are expected and many other factors. The first consideration is whether the Field of Play (arena, cross country course, endurance course etc) can be provided to the specification required by the respective discipline (see below). Arenas and other areas must be available for training and warm-up. Again these should meet the minimum requirements specified for each discipline, but most importantly must consider how many athletes and horses will be attending the event. The venue should ideally be designed to minimise distances between training and warm-up areas and the field of play. This will make the running of competitions and managing the flow of competitors much easier. There should be dedicated horse routes between stabling (if provided), training and warm-up arenas and the field of play, ensuring separation from and therefore the safety of pedestrians/spectators.
All competitions require some type of facility for judges and other officials to work from. These spaces are generally discipline specific but include judges boxes adjacent to jumping arenas, judges huts on the field of play around dressage arenas, control rooms for eventing cross country and driving marathon tests and judges chairs for reining. All such requirements are specified in the relevant discipline's FEI Rules.
Other horse related facilities are required including stabling, veterinary and horse inspection spaces. These are referred to in further detail below. There will also need to be good access to, and parking on site for horse lorries and trailers.
If spectators are expected to attend then consideration will need to be given to transport to/from the venue, car parking, seating or other facilities from which they will watch competition, as well as hospitality, catering and toilets. Larger events may include trade/retail villages, entertainment areas and children's education and fun zones. In planning the layout for a venue there should be clear separation between 'front of house' areas (for spectators) and 'back of house' operations (stabling, training areas, general site management and logistics zones). There must also be clear and quick routes established around the venue for emergency vehicles.
Finally if press / media are expected to attend the event a space should be provided for them to work in. Further information is available in the Media Operations section.
Venues may be existing in which case the general layout is probably already established. Alternatively venues may be temporary (eg. fields, exhibition centre etc) in which case there may be more flexibility in how the venue is laid out. In any case, as referred to on several occasions above, it is most important to consider the locations of the key components of the venue, their relationship with each other ('front of house' versus 'back of house') and the flows around the different areas for each client group - Athletes, Horses, Officials, Media, Spectators etc. Clear signage is an important element of achieving good flows around the venue.
If an Organiser is looking for a new venue and has some flexibility and options available then some important considerations include:
- Proximity of sufficient and good quality accommodation / hotels (Athletes, Officials, Spectators etc)
- Ease of access by road for horse transport, venue construction vehicles and general logistics
- In case of events with large number of spectators multiple access roads and venue entry points to minimise likelihood of congestion
The core sport related requirements by discipline can be found using the links below (eg. field of play, training facilities, equipment etc.).
- Jumping - FEI Jumping Rules (Art 201)
- Dressage - FEI Dressage Rules (Art 429)
- Para Dressage - FEI Para Dressage Rules (Art 8429)
- Eventing - FEI Eventing Rules (Art 535 - warm-up & exercise areas, Annex B - cross country, Arts 542 & 550 - for dressage and jumping see also FEI Dressage (Art 429) and Jumping (Art 201) Rules); further guidance on eventing venue requirements and layout can be found in the FEI Eventing Memorandum
- Vaulting - FEI Vaulting Rules (Art 715)
- Endurance - FEI Endurance Rules (Arts 800.2 & 801-803)
- Driving/Para Driving - FEI Driving Rules (Art 950 - dressage, Art 960-961 - marathon, Art 972 - cones)
It is compulsory to provide stabling facilities at events taking place over two days or more. Details regarding stabling requirements at FEI events are in the FEI Veterinary Regulations (Arts 1008 & 1020). This includes information on technical specifications, feed and bedding requirements and security. Key considerations include:
- Size - min. 3m x 3m (20% at 4m x 3m)
- ‘High quality and well constructed’ – safety is primary consideration
- Cleaned/disinfected prior to arrival of horses
- Good ventilation, lighting & water (with good pressure at all times)
- Systems and spaces for muck collection and regular disposal
- Wash-down areas with adequate water supplies with good pressure
- Fire precautions, procedures and plenty of 'no smoking' signs
- Security (not required CDI 1*/2*) – FEI Veterinary Regulations Art 1008.13
- Treatment and isolation stables (see Veterinary Facilities below)
- Sample collection stables (see Equine Anti-Doping & Controlled Medication Programme)
FEI rules require formal checks to be carried out on all horses before and during competitions. Specific areas and facilities must be available for these Horse Inspections. The minimum requirements are detailed in the FEI Veterinary Regulations (Art 1011). Key points include:
- 30m strip for horses to be inspected at walk/trot
- Firm, level, non-slip & clean surface
- Area for collecting/stewarding Horses prior to inspection
- Adjacent ‘Holding Box’ area for further evaluation (similar surface to main horse inspection strip)
Although every FEI international event must have emergency veterinary care in place, the level of veterinary facilities necessary will vary depending on the competition type, level, duration and other factors. The minimum requirements are detailed in the FEI Veterinary Regulations (Ch 2, part I) and cover aspects such as treatment stables, anti-doping sample collection facilities, isolation stables and equipment necessary for emergency and other treatments. The primary requirements include:
- Min. 2 treatment stables (FEI Veterinary Regulations Art 1059 re permitted treatments at events)
- Min. 2 isolation stables away from main stables
- Area for Horse examination on arrival (adequate space to minimise contact between horses, covered area for checking passports)
- Office for Veterinary Services Manager/FEI Veterinary Delegate
- Equine referral clinic nearby with diagnostic imaging and surgical facilities pre-notified & on standby to receive sick or injured Horse
Offices & Meeting Rooms
A number of offices and meeting rooms are important for the efficient running of events. This should include:
- Main Organising Committee office
- Show office - primary point of interaction between Organising Committee and athletes, should be centrally situated and easily accessible, recommended to consist of front of house / reception area and a back office
- Stable managers office
- Offices/meeting areas for FEI Officials – Ground Jury, Veterinary Delegate, FEI Stewards etc
Key FEI Officials (Chief Stewards, Technical Delegates, Veterinary Delegates, Ground Jury Presidents etc) will be able to provide further advice on venue and equipment requirements. These Officials will ultimately sign-off the suitability and readiness of the venue prior to competition. Furthermore the relevant FEI department are also able to answer any questions from Organisers and can be contacted here.
If you have any questions regarding organising FEI competitions or would like further advice not available through this guide please contact your National Federation or the relevant FEI department here.