Teams would be capped at three riders under the current proposals ©FEI

The number of team members across the dressage, eventing and jumping disciplines could be capped at three after the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) discussed potential changes to the format of its Olympic Games competitions.

The idea was one of the key changes proposed at the governing body's General Assembly in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

FEI President Ingmar De Vos led the discussions with National Federations on the proposed alterations and underlined the implications of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Agenda 2020, which has ushered in a move from a sport based to an event-based programme from Tokyo 2020.

The notion of introducing a three-team member limit would be designed to increase the number of countries participating in equestrian competition at the Olympics.#

Previous Games had seen dressage having either three or four members to a team, eventing four or five and show jumping four.

Additionally the jumping could see a total of 20 national teams and 15 individual athletes from other countries compete, with a jump-off for first place in both the individual and team competitions in the event of a tie.

In the event the team competition requires a jump-off, all three of a team's horse and rider combinations would compete against the clock but only the best score would count.

Another proposed change would see just the top ten teams begin the final without any penalties.

Meanwhile, dressage competition would see a total of 15 teams and 15 individual athletes participating. using heats to qualify the top 18 riders for the individual final.

During the eventing, dressage would be condensed into a single day of competition rather than over two days, by using a shorter test, while the traditional format of dressage, cross country and jumping would remain to protect horse welfare and ensure reliable immediate results.

The jumping phase of the team competition would act as the qualifier for the top six or seven teams to go through to the team final, with a proposal to have all three team members in the arena together, competing after each other, to allow team results to be available instantly.

The dressage phase of eventing competition would be held over one day, rather than two
The dressage phase of eventing competition would be held over one day, rather than two ©Getty Images

“Olympic Agenda 2020 is a driving force in this process, but even prior to that we already knew that changes needed to be made to our formats and the presentation of our sport,” said De Vos prior to discussing the proposals.

“But why do we want to change our formats and the way our sport is presented?

“The answer is really quite simple, because we want to remain relevant in today’s ever changing sporting landscape and gain the exposure and visibility our sport deserves.

“We need to take advantage of the excitement and drama of our sport, make it easier to understand, attract young and larger audiences, be broadcast friendly and see more nations represented in our sport.”

John Madden, chair of jumping, dressage chair Frank Kemperman and eventing chair Giuseppe Della Chiesa led the discussions on their disciplines, with feedback from the discussions set to be used by the FEI before they present detailed format change proposals at the FEI Sports Forum 2016 in Lausanne, Switzerland from April 4 and 5.

The new proposals will then be voted on at FEI's General Assembly next year, before being submitted to the IOC before its Executive Board meeting in early 2017, with the formats set to be used from Tokyo 2020.

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