Clean Endurance has welcomed the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision in an appeal by a top rider in the United Arab Emirates, Abdul Rahman Saeed Saleh Al Ghailania, in a horse abuse case.
The organisation, a global community which combats cheating and horse abuse while also pushing to improve horse welfare, said it was reassured that the court had decided that Al Ghailani had indeed engaged in horse abuse.
The court, it said, had upheld the main part of the sanctions handed down by the FEI Tribunal in June last year.
“This is the first time the Court of Arbitration for Sport has issued a decision on an appeal in an Endurance horse abuse case, and another landmark in the battle to improve horse welfare in the Gulf countries,” it said in a statement.
The formal protest against Al Ghailani’s riding had been lodged by a member of Clean Endurance, Pauline van Drumpt.
At the time the protest was lodged, Al Ghailani was the top-ranking Endurance rider in the UAE.
“Clean Endurance believes he should have set a particularly good example of horsemanship to those who aspire to emulate his results as well as to the general public.”
“Instead, Mr Al Ghailani repeatedly and violently kicked his exhausted horse to the finish line and used the reins to harass and strike it, while crew members chased the horse to make it go faster.”
Al Ghailani responded that such actions were commonplace and accepted practices in Endurance racing.
The court, however, strongly disagreed and found that Al Ghailani’s behaviour constituted horse abuse, causing pain and/or unnecessary discomfort to the horse both physically and mentally.
The court also concluded that, without doubt, the horse was clearly exhausted.
Al Ghailani denied kicking the horse, pushing it beyond its limits, or pulling the reins with high hands.
He also pointed out that none of the officials — including 15 Ground Jury members and 30 veterinarians — raised any concerns about his riding style or him abusing the horse, which was therefore not sufficiently obvious to be noticed by the officials at the event.
The president of the Ground Jury submitted a statement in which he explained that after watching the video of the event he did not see any cruelty or abuse of the horse and that the horse was not exhausted.
The court noted that the FEI did not initiate any disciplinary proceedings against members of the Ground Jury for not observing and sanctioning Al Ghailani’s riding during the event.
The FEI Tribunal had encouraged the FEI to investigate and sanction the officials present at the event if found to be appropriate.
The video evidence used for both the FEI Tribunal and the appeals court can be found here.