Major reforms around officials, training proposed by Endurance committee

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It appears no avenue has been left unexplored by the special committee appointed by the FEI to examine ways to reshape Endurance.

The conclusions of the Endurance Temporary Committee, appointed last October in a bid to tidy up undesirable aspects of the discipline, will present its findings on the second day of next week’s FEI Sports Forum.

It is the first time an entire day at the annual forum has been dedicated to one issue.

The committee, which has reportedly received wide-ranging input and met in person several times, has been exploring ways to bring the discipline back to its original roots of Endurance riding as opposed to Endurance racing.

The discipline has been wracked by controversy for years, much of it centered on welfare issues and behavior in the professional desert-style racing seen in the Gulf region.

The committee, led by Britain’s Dr Sarah Coombs, will present its findings over several sessions, with the limited supporting documentation released ahead of the forum suggesting there will be an emphasis on the committee’s philosophy for changing the approach of athletes and officials to the sport.

The committee will present its conclusions around the qualification of horses and athletes and reducing welfare risks. This will cover horsemanship, strategic riding, completion rate, and qualification standards.

Delegates will also hear the latest findings in the Global Endurance Injuries Study, set up in 2015.

Some shortcomings in the disciplines have been laid at the feet of officials, with critics arguing it is poor enforcement and application of the rules that has given rise to some of the problems.

An entire session is devoted to educating officials and correct application of the rules.

The committee has a series of recommendations on education and officials. Its proposals include:

  • The introduction of a single Code of Conduct for all FEI officials;
  • The introduction of job descriptions with checklists for all FEI officials;
  • The development of a competency-based evaluation system with the goal of replacing the age limit.
  • The introduction of an FEI-controlled rolling education calendar;
  • Improvements to the quality of education material and course delivery;
  • Establishment of a new course director for the education program, and funding;
  • That all disciplines should make extensive use of the new online learning platform, FEI Campus;
  • That the FEI is to establish a common fund to support developing officials in getting more officiating experience;
  • The introduction of “rotation” for FEI officials at FEI events.
  • Creation of a “Development Pool” for FEI officials.
  • Extending the number of FEI officials appointed to FEI events in all disciplines;
  • Creating a top layer of FEI officials for the sport at a professional level;
  • Establishing a new management position within the FEI to head the Officials System.
  • Developing a harmonised approach to officials’ allowances across geography and discipline.

Another session will examine potential improvements and innovations to reshape Endurance in other areas, including drug abuse, the hyposensitivity protocol, the anti-doping strategy, post-mortem results, injury reporting, rest periods, heart-rate and presentation times, course design, crewing issues, weights, tack and equipment, and protests.

The day will also factor in time for discussion and questions.

No decisions will be made during the forum, but it is hoped the extensive presentations and discussions will offer national federations and other stakeholders the chance to understand the proposed new direction for the discipline.

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