As you know if you read yesterday's press release from the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Canadian jumper Victor, ridden by Tiffany Foster, was disqualified after FEI hypersensitivity tests found an area of "clear and obvious hypersensitivity on the front of the left forelimb."

A protest by Canada was to no avail because disqualifications by the ground jury on the basis of hypersensitivity or injury may not be appealed.

Foster, who learned of the decision 15 minutes before she was to ride, reportedly left the arena in tears. The BBC quoted Canadian team manager Terrance Millar as calling the FEI's decision "a blind application of a rule without any common sense at all." Miller described the area in question as a small nick on the horse's leg--an everyday sort of minor boo-boo.

I feel for Foster and the Canadian jumping team. How foolish it must seem to them to have an apparently otherwise fit and ready-to-go horse removed from competition for the kind of minor injury that horses get all the time. We spray or dab some wound stuff on the area and off we go.

At the same time, I was in Hong Kong four years ago when jumper after jumper at the 2008 Olympics was eliminated for testing positive for substances that can increase skin sensitivity. The rationale, of course, is that a horse whose legs are super-sensitive will be that much more loath to touch a rail. As a horse lover, I find the idea of using the threat of pain to gain a competitive edge repugnant. Presumably so does the FEI; thus the hypersensitivity protocols.

I've been hearing the following unfortunate pronouncement since, oh, about kindergarten: When one or two people try to take advantage, then rules have to be effected that hurt everybody. A pompous statement, but sadly one that's too often true. And that is what appears to have happened to Foster and the Canadians: If indeed all Victor had was a little nick (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), then they were the unfortunate "collateral damage" of a tough, zero-tolerance rule enacted to help protect horses' welfare. Canadian team manager Miller may be correct that it's nonsensical to DQ a horse for a tiny cut, but using common sense entails introducing human judgment. And judgment can be flawed--or worse, biased.

The bottom line here is that the FEI makes these rules because, if it didn't, a few people would do bad things to the horses they say they love. And that's the saddest part of all.