A proposal to introduce minimum rider and equipment weights across more FEI endurance races in a bid to help reduce speeds has been met with a mixed response from national federations.

Under current rules, only senior CEI4* championships and senior CEI3* competitions have minimum weights for rider and equipment, of 75kg.

The new proposal, which will be voted on at the FEI general assembly on 18 November, introduces minimum weights for all levels about one-star.

These are 75kg for all senior international competitions at CEI2* and above; and 60kg for all junior and young rider two-stars and above and junior and young rider championships.

The Belgian national federation has said it “totally disagrees with the issue of weight”.

“This will force many young riders and female riders to add a dead weight of 10, 12 or even 15 kilos,” it adds.

The federation also states it will “not solve the problem of excessive speeds” and raises concerns over the other potential impacts this could have on horse welfare and attracting riders to endurance, suggesting 70kg for senior competitions would be more reasonable.

The United Arab Emirates, Germany and the Netherlands all also raised concerns over the amount of dead weight many horses would have to carry as a result of the change.

“We consider a minimum weight of 70kg to be a better weight as most riders are lighter than 75kg with equipment, this means that the riders have to carry a dead weight to make the 75 kg,” stated the German federation.

“This we consider is not fair, as regards animal welfare, as dead weight can shift during the course of a ride and cause health problems for the horse due to rubbing or uneven weight distribution.

“Most riders would have far less problems with dead weight if the barrier was 70kg and not 75kg.”

The FEI endurance committee has responded, stating: “As the [national federations’] comments differ from each other and it seems to have some consensus having the weights, the endurance committee submits for approval the proposal as it was proposed.”

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The description of the definition of the sport has also been amended to make direct reference to horse welfare.

This now reads: “Endurance riding is a competition to test the athlete’s ability to safely manage the stamina and fitness of the horse over an endurance course in a competition against the track, the distance, the climate, the terrain and the clock without compromising the welfare of the horse.”

Endurance levels have also been divided from four to five separate star levels and other proposals include an additional seven-day rest period for horses who reach average speeds of 20km/h or higher at a competition.

This will apply regardless of whether or not the horse completes the competition and will be on top of the mandatory minimum rest periods for each distance, as set out by the FEI.

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