Proposed changes to the rules of endurance spell out more clearly the responsibilities of riders and trainers, and explains potential conflicts of interest for event officials.
The proposals will be put to FEI member nations at the endurance roundtable talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, late in April on the second day of the world governing body’s Sports Forum.
The proposed rule changes are the result of a months-long consultation process, sparked by growing concern among some FEI nations centred on welfare issues in endurance in the Middle East.
The Endurance Strategy Planning Group proposed changes after several nations voiced concern over the number of doping infringements from the region, excessive fracture rates, and what some viewed as the cavalier approach to the rules by some competitors.
Proposed changes around the vet gates include the requirement that all horses must remain at all times clearly under the observation of FEI veterinary officials, the ground jury, and steward.
The rule proposals contain more detail around forbidden assistance and suggests that the punishment be clearly stated against each breach, as well as the provision to include trainers as a person responsible.
The proposals spell out that riders must not be followed, preceded or accompanied on any part of the course or immediate adjacent track by any vehicle.
It also clarifies that providing aid or accepted aid outside designated areas is forbidden.
It further states that it is a breach to accept “any intervention by a third party, whether solicited or not, with the object of given advantage to the athlete or the horse”.
The proposals build more details around what constitutes a conflict of interest among officials.
It further dictates that any horse removed from a competition, voluntarily or otherwise, must be presented for veterinary inspection with 30 minutes of removal.
Any horse which fails to qualify for metabolic reasons and requires immediate invasive treatment at any CEI event must be given a mandatory rest period of 60 days before it is again eligible to complete in a CEI event.
A codex says potential conflicts of interest among FEI endurance officials may include being the owner or part-owners of horses in the event, being in a situation of financial dependence or gaining financial profit from owners, riders, trainers, organisers and other related organisations; and having a close personal relationship with a competitor.
Given that the trainer in endurance can now be held as additionally responsible, a clear definition of who is a trainer is required, the material released by the FEI says. It says the trainer is defined as being responsible for the preparation of the horse for competition, as well as advising the athlete on riding tactics during the event.
In “high-level” events or events that can be used as qualifications for championships, it is proposed that all horses must be microchipped, that transponders must be used on all mounts, and that electronic timing systems must be used to control the start and finish in all loops. Further, FEI-approved heart-rate monitoring systems must be employed.
The material can be found on this page for download, under the link “Endurance Round Table Annex”.