Horses could be monitored during training as part of efforts to reduce worrying welfare issues in endurance, centred in the Middle East.
Proposals include higher qualification demands for riders and horses in long-distance events and extended recovery periods for mounts, the European Equestrian Federation (EEF) says.
Endurance has been in the spotlight in recent months over high fracture rates and doping infractions centred on the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The issue came to a head after several European national federations, citing a long list of doping breaches highlighted in cases before the FEI disciplinary tribunal in recent years, called for urgent action.
The EEF has reported on a seminar held in Abu Dhabi on October 23, attended by representatives of the UAE Equestrian Federation, the FEI and invited stakeholders, including the EEF.
EEF president Dr Hanfried Haring, who attended with the body’s vice-president and head of the Danish Equestrian Federation, Ulf Helgstrand, along with the secretary-general of the German Equestrian Federation, Soenke Lauterbach, said a clear need for action was acknowledged.
“Everyone is now very conscious of the fact that there is an urgent need to address these issues. We could obviously identify a worldwide awareness of this problem.”
Haring said it was pointed out during the seminar that the international rules were comprehensive, but had to be enforced.
The seminar discussed numerous suggestions, such as higher qualification demands for riders and horses on long-distance rides, extended recovery periods for the horses as well as monitoring of the horses during training outside the competition periods.
Helgstrand said: “The most important thing is that everyone is aware of an issue that has to be addressed and that the FEI is working hard on this.”
Endurance will be discussed at a special session during the FEI General Assembly on November 6 in Montreux, Switzerland.
Proposed modifications to the rules safeguarding the safety and the welfare of endurance horses are expected to be approved. An endurance conference is scheduled for February in advance of the FEI Sports Forum in April.
Haring said: “We do not want to create an impression that we can change the whole world at a single blow but I am sure that the [FEI] Endurance Strategic Planning Group has received valuable suggestions and input for its future work as they were clearly described by the group’s chairman, Andrew Finding.”
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