Clean Endurance, a group which has pushed for reform to rein in cheating, doping and horse abuse within the discipline, says it welcomes the findings of the Endurance Temporary Committee (ETC).
The ETC was appointed by the FEI in October last year in a bid to find solutions to ongoing welfare issues and reputational damage to the discipline, much of it arising from the fast-style desert racing centred on the Gulf region.
It presented its extensive findings this week, on the second day of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Clean Endurance said in a statement that it was heartened by the FEI’s expression of its intent to move Endurance to a better place.
The group said cheating, welfare issues and drug use were still rife in Endurance.
“Clean Endurance applauds the emphasis on horsemanship and horse welfare the various members of the ETC made the centre of their respective presentations.
“Ensuring these values come back to form the foundation of Endurance is the only way the sport can survive and thrive in the future.
“Nearly all of the proposals brought forward by the ETC have in the past been suggested to the FEI by Clean Endurance, albeit often in more stringent versions.
“These include qualifying as a combination, imposing minimum weight limits to reduce speeds, limiting the number of starters, imposing longer minimum loop lengths and more phases in the competition, limiting the number of crew members, shortening presentation times and lowering maximum heart rates, not allowing second presentations at vet gates, the introduction of tack and blood rules, extending the time limit for reporting rule violations, and increasing sanctions for horse abuse.”
It said it encouraged and supported the FEI in taking forward the proposals as they stand today, with one caveat: It believes the completion-rate based qualification is potentially cumbersome for organising committees and officials, making it vulnerable to fraud.
“Regrettably, there are already many recorded examples of falsified qualifying results in our sport,” the group noted.
It recommended that the FEI examine the French ranking system for lower-level national rides, which incorporates speed and heart-rate recovery.
“This system has worked on set speed rides in France for over 20 years, can be easily adopted for free speed rides, and rewards strategic riding and horsemanship without the need for capping speeds.
“Clean Endurance has also asked the FEI to be mindful of the unintended potential negative consequences of extending the Mandatory Rest Periods (or “Mandatory Out Of Competition Periods” as the current proposal names them) as they can potentially penalise amateur riders who compete only one or two horses, as well as the organising committees which put on technical, ‘old school’ rides to cater for this group.”
The group would also like to see the re-introduction of the two-hour mandatory waiting period for invasive treatment after a horse has placed at an event.
“Far too often today, horses are in the clinic hooked up on drips while their ‘victorious’ riders are on the podium receiving their awards. Not allowing immediate invasive treatment will encourage riders to slow down and thus protect the horses.”
The details of the many rule change proposals still needed to be worked out by the ETC before the consultation process with national federations starts in early July.
“Clean Endurance urges anyone with an interest in the sport to provide their comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, to the FEI at email@example.com, and to their respective national federations, who will ultimately vote on these proposals at the FEI General Assembly in November 2019.”
Clean Endurance is a global collective committed to restoring the traditional values of the discipline. It has an informal working relationship with the FEI. Indeed, several recent FEI rule changes, procedures as well as sanctions, have been developed from matters the group has raised.