FEI Responds To Endurance Tack Abuse Photos

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has responded to internet outrage over photos of an endurance ride that have been the centre of social media outrage.

Another image from the same ride

Thousands of concerned horse people from every discipline, not only endurance, have been commenting and sharing the images originally posted on Instagram (since removed) and highlighted by British journalist Pippa Cuckson. Of particular concern was the image above of the sand encrusted horse wearing a very tightly fastened noseband.  Fastening nosebands in this fashion contravenes FEI rules for other disciplines and, for example, in recent months four showjumping riders have been penalised for this breach of regulation. In endurance there is no specific regulation with regard to tack and saddlery, something which te FEI's Endurance Temporary Committee hopes to address at a meeting next month.

?The ride was part of an international festival of Endurance at Al Wathba in the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the FEI's Group 7 area and the centre of much debate in recent years after a series of fatal horse accidents and doping scandals.

?The FEI response (below) to this incident is unusually long and detailed and is encouraging that there might be a new transparency emerging with regard to this particular discipline.

?The FEI Response
"Thank you for your e-mail.
We welcome third parties providing the FEI with evidence if they see incidents impacting horse welfare. This is particularly important in Endurance where the nature of the discipline makes it difficult to monitor all areas of the extensive field of play, so we very much appreciate you expressing your concerns to us. Please be assured, we follow up on every single case that is brought to our attention and, where there is solid evidence of horse abuse, a case will be taken to the FEI Tribunal.

We are aware of this distressing image from the CEI 2* at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi on 23 March 2019 and have followed up with the Officials that were on duty at the event. The President of the Ground Jury has informed us that the Chief Steward was notified by the first loop stewards that the horse was stopped on the loop and the noseband was removed. The horse was thoroughly checked by an FEI veterinarian at the first vet gate to ensure it was uninjured and the President of the Ground Jury was informed that it was unhurt. The stewards confirmed that the horse continued the ride without the noseband.
In addition, the athlete was asked to meet with the President of the Ground Jury on arrival from the first loop. The athlete apologised and was given an official verbal warning. The FEI is currently following up with the Officials to establish why the athlete was not disqualified and given a yellow warning card on the day.

As you probably know, the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) produced a five-year strategic plan and 41 recommendations which formed the basis of new rules that came into effect on 1 August 2014. However, because we are very aware that the rule changes have not fully solved the problems in the discipline, the FEI put in place an Endurance Temporary Committee in October last year.

This Temporary Committee is carrying out an in-depth review of the rules in order to identify the most effective way of bringing the discipline back to its original roots of Endurance riding as opposed to Endurance racing, with horse welfare and horsemanship at its core, while still maintaining the competitive aspect of the sport.

The Committee will be reporting to next month’s FEI Sports Forum and, as part of their proposals for rules changes, they will be dealing with the issue of tack and equipment. Also included are their proposals are the robust enforcement of the rules, optimising the performance of FEI Officials, including education, appointments, rotation and evaluation.

Please be assured, the FEI is working very hard to tackle the problems in Endurance head-on. We know that we have a long way to go on this, but we will not stop until the issues are fully resolved.
Kind regards,
Endurance Department
t +41 21 310 47 47
HM King Hussein I Building
Chemin de la Joliette 8
1006 Lausanne - Switzerland"