Horse sport’s global governing body is celebrating its 100th centenary, with the horse-human connection at the core of year-long #FEI100Years commemorations.
The FEI has produced a video narrated by Swedish Olympic showjumper Peder Fredericson to mark the anniversary, with footage capturing a historic century in the equestrian world and paying tribute to the diversity within the community.
The Covid-19 pandemic meant that centenary plans had to be adapted, with celebrations now extending through to the end of May 2022. A dedicated 100 Years Hub has been created, featuring stories, interviews, online competitions and other fan engagement activities which will allow people to share their memories and experiences over the next 12 months. Fans around the world are encouraged to take part in the #FEI100Years digital celebrations.
As it launched the 100th centenary celebrations on May 28, the FEI called for the equestrian community to show its commitment to “Shaping the future of equestrian sports together”.
“The FEI’s 100-year celebration is about bringing together each and every individual who connects with the horse at any level,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.
“We want this to be an inclusive celebration commemorating our collective journey over the past 100 years and looking ahead to shaping the future of equestrian sports together as a united community.
“Equestrian sport is rich in diversity and the one key factor that binds everyone together is our shared connection with and passion for the horse. For equestrian sport to continue to grow and flourish we need to make sure that together we cherish all members of our community and that everyone contributes to the key values at the heart of the sport.”
The FEI was created in 1921 to oversee the Olympic disciplines of Jumping, Dressage and Eventing with just eight member signatories: Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America. Today, alongside the Olympic disciplines, the FEI also governs the non-Olympic disciplines of Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining as well as the Para-Equestrian disciplines of Dressage and Driving and has grown in membership to 136 affiliated National Federations.
The sport has experienced exponential growth globally over the last decade with more than 4600 international events now run under FEI rules annually, across all disciplines. In 2009, there were 27,000 athletes registered to compete internationally and this number grew to 43,000 in 2019.
The FEI has been governed by 13 Presidents over its 100-year history, including three successive female Presidents. During the 27 years that The Princess Royal GCVO (GBR), HRH The Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbòn (ESP) and HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein (JOR) were at the helm, the FEI earned a reputation for being an International Federation that championed gender equality on the field of play as well as in the administration of the sport. The FEI’s longest-serving President, the late Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh was due to celebrate his 100th birthday in the same year as the FEI.
In June 2020, the FEI welcomed its top tier classification in the Association for Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) governance review. The FEI was one of six International Federations that ASOIF said “stood out from the rest”, a testimony to the robust governance structures and best practices that the organisation has put in place over the years.
A key initiative in the drive for greater inclusivity in the equestrian community is a plan to formalise the international status of grooms and formally acknowledge the vital role they play with structures that ensure their wellbeing while they safeguard the wellbeing of the horses in their care.
Together with representatives from national associations and the global community, the FEI will address the global status of grooms on June 2 during the online FEI Sports Forum. A dedicated session will explore concrete measures to raise the profile of grooms internationally and discuss a more structured framework of cooperation between the FEI and the grooms community.