Thunderous applause greeted the passage of the new Endurance rules at the FEI’s annual General Assembly, in what could well prove to be the last roll of the dice in a bid to straighten out the discipline.
In a separate vote, the key elements of the rules package will be implemented on January 1, in an indication that a majority of national federations are keen to have to them in place as soon as possible.
The new Endurance Rules were passed by a strong majority, with 94 national federations in favour and 19 against, with no abstentions.
The new rules are the result of more than a year of work by the Endurance Temporary Committee. It was appointed in an effort 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.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos had opened the vote on the proposed rules revisions with a special thanks for the work done by the committee.
“It’s a very special day, not only for Endurance, but it’s also the birthday of Committee chair Sarah Coombs, and I know what birthday present she would like today,” he told delegates.
Before the overall vote on the Endurance Rules, voting opened on four amendments supported by the committee, followed by voting on four additional amendments proposed by national federations during yesterday afternoon’s dedicated Endurance Rules session. Finally, there was a vote on the date of implementation.
Votes were all taken by a show of hands and those that were approved were then included in the overall vote on the Endurance Rules.
The four amendments supported by the committee centred on a correction around novice qualifications, revised wording regarding the distance for 3* Championships, amended text around the consecutive requirements for the qualification procedure for CEI 2* and 3*, and a correction to wording around qualification for 2* senior championships. They all passed with a comfortable majority.
Of the amendments proposed by national federations at yesterday’s Endurance Rules session, delegates approved the revision of Article 805.1 on minimum athlete weight for senior CEI 2*, which was amended from 75kg to 70kg, but the proposal to reduce the minimum athlete weight for Young Riders and Juniors from 60kg was not approved. Thus, 60kg is maintained in the overall rules.
Article 838.3.3 on the exemption from the CEI 3* combination requirement for Athletes with Elite Status was approved, as was Article 836.1.2(b) regarding the proposal to reduce the number of combination rides required for 3* championships from two to one.
The vote around the date of implementation was close. There were two options: full implementation of the rules on July 1 next year, or partial implementation on January 1, 2020, with certain provisions to be implemented in July as determined by the FEI Board.
A total of 49 national federations voted in favour of July 1 implementation and 55 against, meaning that the new rules will be implemented on January 1, with a mandate from the General Assembly to the FEI Board to advise which provisions will need to be implemented at a later stage.
The passage of the rules followed yesterday’s much-anticipated Endurance rules session, at which FEI vice-President Mark Samuel said now was the time “for action rather than more words” in cleaning up the discipline of endurance.
“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.”