Video footage provides evidence in Endurance horse abuse case

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A UAE rider is fined and suspended, based on video evidence. The FEI Tribunal wonders why event officials did not take action.
File image by Christophe Schindler

An Endurance rider registered with the United Arab Emirates has been suspended for six months and fined 1500 Swiss francs after the FEI Tribunal ruled that he had committed horse abuse.

The case against Ahmed Ali Mohammed Allay Al Naqbi was based on video footage of the CEI 1* 100 km YAS Endurance Ride for Private Owners in Al Wathba, in the UAE, on December 8, 2018. Al Naqbi rode the horse F S Don Juan in the race.

The FEI was made aware of a possible case of horse abuse by Louise Raymond, from Clean Endurance, a global community that combats cheating, doping and horse abuse within the discipline.

The protest, submitted to the FEI on April 11, 2019, included two links to videos showing the incident, captured from the official live-stream by Dubai Racing and YAS TV.

Clean Endurance asserted that the footage showed Al Naqbi kicking his horse excessively, flicking the reins against its neck, and whipping the horse with the loose end of the reins. The organisation noted that Al Naqbi put both his hands on the saddle in front of him to lean on, in order to kick as hard as possible.

The FEI reviewed the evidence and decided to open disciplinary proceedings against Al Naqbi.

Al Naqbi provided a written submission, saying that he had been riding for six years without a blemish on his record.

“I have been attending all the seminars for training and have got all the education from the UAE federation in order to understand the rules and regulation properly.

“I would like to apologize for my behavior for this particular case and I promise that this is the first and the last time that you see this kind of behavior of me with the horse because I am very passionate about the horses and horse riding and care about the horses/animals a lot.

“I hope you accept my apology letter and I will make sure never to repeat such a behavior in the future.”

The FEI, in its submission, said Al Naqbi could be seen in the video violently kicking his horse repeatedly, and flicking from one side of the horse’s neck to the other using the reins as a whip. He was also seen to yank the reins in the mouth of the horse on several occasions.

It said it was of the opinion that the behaviour amounted to horse abuse under the FEI rules. The fact that Al Naqb kept pushing the horse despite the latter not responding makes it of very serious concern, the FEI added.

The FEI asserted that disqualification of the pair’s results from the event, a fine, and suspension were appropriate.

The tribunal, comprising Christopher Hodson QC, Diane Pitts and Valérie Horyna, said the facts were mostly undisputed. In particular, Al Naqbi seemed to have admitted his misbehaviour, for which he apologised in his written response to the allegations.

The panel expressed its gratitude to the original complainant, which it said had submitted a well-documented and duly supported complaint, following an FEI Event in which a case of horse abuse had taken place.

“However, the tribunal is concerned that the respondent’s behaviour, on the other hand, was not followed by any action from the officials attending the event, and/or the national federation in charge of the event.”

Al Naqbi’s actions amounted to horse abuse within the meaning of the FEI rules and regulations, the tribunal ruled. It said it was comfortably satisfied that the FEI had met its burden of proof.

The tribunal imposed a six-month suspension on Al Naqbi and fined him 1500 Swiss francs. It ordered him to contribute 500 francs toward the cost of proceedings.

The combination’s results from the event were disqualified.

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