New initiatives to help equestrians in Ukraine are being launched this month by the FEI’s Solidarity Relief Fund.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos said the initiatives were a mix of short to mid-term objectives aimed at keeping individuals and horses safe and well in Ukraine. They also included “long-term future proofing to ensure the sport is not entirely put on hold and can recover after the war”.
“It has been awe-inspiring to see the global equestrian community come together to support Ukraine and we will continue to do everything in our power to maximise the reach of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to help the equestrian community and the horse lovers of Ukraine,” said De Vos, who is also Chair of the FEI Solidarity Committee.
The initiatives include four new athlete scholarships; the sourcing of bespoke veterinary supplies; and finance for 80 temporary horse boxes to support the set-up of additional horse hubs in Ukraine.
It follows a meeting at the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne in April between the FEI and a delegation headed by Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) Secretary-General Mykhailo Parkhomchuk, and members from the UEF and the UEF Charity Foundation. There, they discussed priorities, reviewed ongoing support systems in place, and set long-term objectives for Ukraine and the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.
Established in February 2022, the dedicated CHF 1 Million ($US1 million) FEI Solidarity Relief Fund for Ukraine has been supporting several equestrian-related schemes across Ukraine and neighbouring nations receiving Ukrainian horses and athletes. This includes the creation of a logistical hub in Granat, located between Lviv and the Polish border, to prepare horses for transfer into the European Union; funding and distribution to regional hubs of critical horse supplies such as feed and bedding; and the emergency evacuation of a Vaulting team.
The FEI has been working with the UEF and the UEF Charity Foundation, with FEI President and Chair of the Solidarity Committee Ingmar De Vos referring to their Ukrainian colleagues as their “eyes and ears on the ground”.
Based on the existing FEI Solidarity Athlete Scholarship scheme, two Ukrainian jumping riders, Oleksandr Prodan and Anastasia Bondarieva, and two dressage riders, Danylo Konovalov and Diana Borovyk, have been selected to receive the scholarship grant to support training and competition related preparation with the ultimate goal of representing Ukraine at FEI Championships in 2022 and 2023.
Aged between 17 and 24, they were already competing at international level before the onset of the war, but the current circumstances meant they had to put many of their aspirations on hold. For Diana Borovyk, having survived the blockade of Sumy and taking up residence in her local equestrian centre to be with her horses while the war raged around her, being able to continue training and competing is “a dream come true”. She has also been invited to compere in a Young Riders Class at the CHIO Aachen Festival 2022.
US contributes veterinary supplies
Dedicated emergency veterinary supplies are being packaged into specialised kits and dispatched to strategic locations around Ukraine. They include over-the-counter as well as prescription medication so veterinarians have all the necessary supplies to care for the horses remaining in the country. The kits are funded by the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund, with 100 percent of all donations raised being distributed through the FEI.
The USEF Ukraine Relief Fund has already reached more than $US100,000 and continues to work closely with US-based philanthropic organisations to leverage their fundraising networks to support the horses and people of Ukraine.
New horse hubs
In addition to the existing horse hub in Granat, the FEI is working with the UEF Charity Foundation to supply 80 stables to two new hubs which are being built to allow horses to remain safely in Ukraine. The new hubs are located near existing stables so the horses will have access to all the necessary infrastructures and can continue to train in good conditions.
De Vos said there was a clear progression in the support structure and goals of the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund.
“At the onset of the war, the FEI reacted quickly to the situation and set up the Solidarity Fund with the initial outreach aimed at sourcing and funding for immediate and vital supplies as well as evacuation related procedures, unaware of how long the conflict would perdure and how devastating it would be.
“We have now reached a point where we can be more strategic because we have the systems in place.”