Endurance status quo “clearly unacceptable”

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The dedicated Endurance Rules session attracted a full house and generated constructive dialogue in Moscow during the FEI General Assembly 2019.
The dedicated Endurance Rules session attracted a full house and generated constructive dialogue in Moscow during the FEI General Assembly 2019. © FEI/Liz Gregg

FEI Vice-President Mark Samuel said now is the time “for action rather than more words” in cleaning up the discipline of endurance.

Speaking at the much-anticipated endurance rules session at the FEI General Assembly in Moscow, Russia, Samuel, who has acted as FEI Board liaison on the Endurance Temporary Committee (ETC), was uncompromising in his message to delegates on the critical importance of the ETC’s review of the sport’s rules and tomorrow’s vote by the General Assembly.

Samuel, who was FEI Board liaison on the Endurance Temporary Committee (ETC), was the moderator for the dedicated Endurance session, where delegates discussed proposed Rules revisions for the sport.

“This journey has been a sacred trust,” he said in his opening. “The status quo was clearly unacceptable. It is the time now for action rather than more words. Our partner, the horse is counting on us.”

Along with the feedback received as part of the consultation process, there was further input from National Federations at Sunday’s Regional Group meetings. As a result, the ETC made additional revisions to the proposed Rules which will be voted on at the General Assembly today, and these were explained in detail by Committee Chair Dr Sarah Coombs.

She too stressed the importance of horse welfare and the level playing field: “The welfare of the horse is our number one priority: not competition, not commercial or business interests and not administrative convenience. Every one of us is bound by the Code of Conduct for the welfare of the horse. This requires that we respect the horse during and outside competition, above all else.

“The use of illicit drugs is an abuse of the welfare of the horse. Clean Sport is a fundamental aspect of the contract to participate in FEI competitions. Where the use of banned substances and controlled medication and in particular the widespread use of nerve desensitisation has come into our sport it must be rigorously dealt with.”

Multiple topics were raised on the proposed amendments during the session, which was allowed to exceed its allotted three-hour slot to allow for all points of view to be aired. Minimum athlete weight, qualifications, ride distances, novice rides, rotation of Officials, change of trainers and the date of implementation should the Rules be approved were all debated at length.

Tomorrow’s vote on the overall approval of the Endurance Rules, which will include the date of implementation in 2020, and with the option to vote on individual provisions separately, will only be taken once the additional proposed amendments have been voted on.

Rule changes under consideration include heart rate parameters of no more than 64 bpm within 15 minutes of crossing the end line of each loop (except the final loop, where the time limit is 20 minutes); a maximum number of four crew members per horse allowed on the field of play; dyes and henna may not be used on the horse at any time on the field of play; and registered trainers must be 18 years old or older.

» FEI Endurance rules session

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