The board which oversees endurance in Britain has voiced its concerns over the controversy unfolding in the United Arab Emirates, saying the FEI has a duty to address a culture of riding horses beyond their means in the discipline.
The board, in a post on the endurancegb.co.uk website, said it had been closely following the progress of the FEI in improving horse welfare in the UAE under an agreement between the world governing body and the Emirates Equestrian Federation.
The board said that while there had been reports of many improvements, especially so at the endurance venue in Bouthieb, where local “house” rules are in place to effectively safeguard the welfare of horses, it was deeply concerned and shocked by the video that emerged from a CEN event at Al Wathba on January 30.
The video in question shows the closing stages of the Sheik Zayed Bin Mansoor Al Nahyan Junior and Young Riders Endurance Cup. The clip shows dozens of vehicles following the riders, with a chaotic procession of support crew running on to the course with slosh bottles to douse the tiring horses. Six riders were subsequently disqualified from the event for beating their mounts.
“We have today written to the British Equestrian Federation to share our concerns and have asked that they are passed to the FEI,” the board said in Thursday’s post. “We have requested that further action be taken and that this is made public as soon as possible.”
“The FEI have a duty to address a culture of riding horses beyond their means in the sport of endurance.”
The board said it fully supported the FEI in implementing new measures to protect horses and the sport worldwide.