A director of the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) wants the organisation to refuse to approve any riders seeking to compete in endurance in the Middle East for two years, with the exception of the Boudheib venue, where “house” rules have proved effective at maintaining horse welfare.
A lengthy resolution, proposed by AERC director Paul Sidio, is to be considered by the organisation’s board of directors during its telephone conference call on February 12.
A copy of the resolution is laid out in the draft agenda.
Sidio’s resolution focuses on the FEI’s Region 7 grouping, which includes the United Arab Emirates. The region has been at the center of a string of endurance controversies in recent years.
He proposes that the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and AERC mutually agree that neither organization shall sanction athletes to compete in endurance events in Region 7, with the exception of those at the Boudheib venue, for two years.
Sidio notes that the FEI has, in the past three years, imposed a provisional suspension on the entire UAE (which was lifted after several months) and had also removed its sanction from the premier event on the Dubai Endurance calendar for two years in a row.
“Despite continued efforts at education and training, rule violations continue mostly unchecked in Region 7,” his resolution asserts.
“Violations such as vehicles on course, excessive crew numbers in vet checks, horses disappearing mid-ride and exiting the grounds without vet examination, and attempts to alter ride results. These infractions continue at all Region 7 venues excepting Boudheib Endurance International Village.”
Sidio’s resolution argues that horses in the region continue to be raced at unsustainable speeds, resulting in an unacceptable rate of catastrophic fracture deaths, again excepting the Boudheib venue.
Three known fatalities had occurred in the first 10 days of the UAE ride season, it said.
The resolution argues that a refusal to provide approval for riders competing in the region can be justified under the Ted Stevens Act, given that the activities in the region had been detrimental to endurance.
Under the Act, when events are deemed detrimental to a sport, approval for athletes to attend such events is to be denied.
It wants both the AERC and the USEF to agree that they will not sanction athletes to compete in endurance in Region 7, except for Boudheib.
The decision can be reviewed in two years, when progress in the region can be assessed.
Sidio, in supporting material, said he intended to simplify his resolution.
“Some AERC members will think that we are being too authoritarian and banning riders,” he wrote. “We are NOT banning riders. We are demanding that USEF obey and enforce the law.”