The winner of Bahrain’s premier endurance race — the FEI King’s Cup — at Sakhir on 8 February has been handed a yellow warning card. This was after incriminating video footage was posted by the event’s own broadcaster.
Outrage followed on social media, before the FEI announced that the judges had disciplined rider Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa with a yellow card and CHF500 (£335) fine.
The Bahraini federation has also suspended the rider and a member of his crew for the rest of the winter season.
The clips showed a groom leaping out of a following vehicle and beating the tiring horse several times.
A 2nd clip shows the rider himself striking the horse with exceptionally long reins.
H&H correspondent Pippa Cuckson saw the video during the FEI endurance conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on 9 February.
Being advised by head of non-Olympic sports Ian Williams that the FEI could not act without receiving an official complaint, she agreed to lodge one herself. She believed 7 FEI rules had been breached, mostly associated with unauthorised assistance.
However, the official reason is listed on the FEI tribunal website as “abuse of the horse”.
Pippa has been in touch with the FEI legal department about the procedure for complaints; but it has emerged that the option for members of the public to protest or appeal are extremely limited.
Critics have previously pointed to the negligible use of yellow cards in endurance, compared with other equestrian sports.
This is the first given out in a Middle Eastern race in 11 months, the last also being at Sakhir.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (20 February 2014 edition)