Pierre Arnould, the Belgian national coach (pictured above) who said endurance could be banned if the FEI did not address horse welfare concerns, has been expelled from the FEI endurance technical committee.
Others have openly made serious allegations, notably 5 top French endurance vets who last month criticised the “excesses” of Middle Eastern riders and queried the FEI’s commitment to cleaning-up endurance (read their open letter here).
However, the FEI wrote to Mr Arnould saying he breached non-disclosure agreements, and no longer has the confidence of the other committee members.
Mr Arnould says he is neither surprised nor disappointed. He believes his remarks, well reported last October, prodded vets, media, riders, officials and organisers to “engage” further.
“The FEI itself had to take many measures that are no less than I suggested when on the committee, with one exception: effective implementation,” he said. “The rules are good, but nobody dares to apply them, much less towards riders with no respect for anything and who have unbeatable financial power. See what happened at Compiègne recently.
“I assumed my actions were in perfect harmony with the FEI charter that states horse welfare comes before any other consideration. Curiously, while unacceptable behaviours are customary in some nations, the only person to be punished is the one who draws attention to acts contrary to FEI ethics and regulations.”
The Swiss federation has written to Armagan Oezgoerkey, Europe (Group I) representative on the FEI bureau, criticising his support of Arnould’s expulsion, which was approved unanimously by bureau members.
The FEI is recruiting a new head for its endurance executive, following news that Ian Williams is to retire at the end of 2014, after 12 years. His successor faces the challenge of applying the tough new rules passed on 10 June (news, 19 June). The job description stresses the need to be able to deal with riders from many different “cultures”.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (3 July, 2014)