An organisation representing the bitless equestrian community is taking the views of its supporters to the FEI later this year, where it will discuss “the common drive to improve equine welfare standards” and the public perception of horse sport.
The World Bitless Association (WBA) has been invited to a meeting with the FEI after Covid-19 restrictions have eased, following its recent campaign “Why not bitless for cross-country eventing”, which was created in response to a rule introduced in 2019 banning the use of bitless bridles on cross-country.
The organisation is keen to take the views of its supporters to the FEI and is asking those interested to take a survey about their use and opinions of equine hearwear.
The WBA said that discussions about the ban of bitless bridles on cross-country were shaped by the views of members of the FEI Eventing Committee, chaired by David O’Connor, which also included evidence submitted by the WBA.
Support for the WBA campaign to allow bitless bridles on cross-country came from many respected individuals and organisations, including the International Society for Equitation Science and the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants, RSPCAs in Australia and Britain, and British Eventing. But the WBA was disappointed that only two national federations — the USA and Britain — supported the campaign.
“The FEI Eventing committee remained strongly opposed to the use of Bitless bridles in the cross-country phase for risk management reasons,” the FEI said.
“Subsequently, the changes to the 2020 FEI Eventing Rules were approved unanimously by the National Federations at the FEI General Assembly in Moscow (RUS) in November 2019 and no discussion points were raised against the proposed Bitless ban during the dedicated rules session the day before,” the FEI said.
The World Bitless Association (WBA) is a UK-based registered charity that believes in equality for bitted and bit-free horses and riders. It works to improve knowledge and raise welfare standards by the provision of affiliated evidence-based trainers around the world. It also lobbies for rule changes with equestrian federations around the world.