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5 top French endurance vets have warned that the “excesses” of Middle Eastern endurance have spread to Europe. And controversies from last month’s Compiègne CEI  rage on.

Intimidation of officials was evident at Compiègne, they allege, and the behaviour of some Group VII (Middle East) nations — many now in Europe for the run-up to August’s World Equestrian Games — suggests FEI rules and vetgate procedures “do not seem appropriate to ensure the safety of the horses”.

The allegations come in an open letter issued the day after the FEI approved emergency rules to clean up endurance.

It is signed by Jean-Louis Leclerc, one of the global sport’s most respected figures and a member of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group, plus 4 colleagues who officiated at Compiègne — Drs Christophe Pelissier, Pierre Romantzoff, Antoine Seguin and Benamou Agnes Smith.

Pictures of a “skeletal” Bahrain horse at Compiègne went viral 3 weeks ago. While not mentioning this incident, the letter reveals there were insufficient officials to cope with a raft of late entries.

“Too many” horses were eliminated for metabolic reasons and had to go to the clinic with “high heart rates and states of dehydration, surprising, given the mild weather”, says the letter.

Advanced doping techniques may be masking signs of fatigue and lameness, it continues.

The vets were especially concerned that horses continued to be competed by last-minute jockeys with no knowledge of their ride.

However, the FEI has confirmed to H&H that this practice is allowed in races of longer distances, 120-160k.

Read the vets’ open letter

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (19 June, 2014)