The Secretary General of the International Equestrian Federation, Dr Bo Helander, resigned yesterday. The Executive Board accepted his resignation and he will no longer hold the post from 31 August 2005.

Helander had been Secretary General for the last ten years, after having worked as Head of the Legal Department for a time. He decided to hand in his notice this week to help make way for the structural changes which were approved at the FEI’s general assembly in London and which will be rolled out over the next months.

However, Helander will continue to be involved with the FEI, serving as Senior Advisor to the Executive Board and covering specific assignments within this remit.

“The FEI Executive Board and Bureau expressed their appreciation and thank Dr Helander for his dedication and all the work accomplished during his tenure at the FEI,” the federation said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the FEI Welfare sub-committee, which will focus on welfare issues affecting competition horses, held its inaugural meeting at Badminton last week. A number of appointments were made to the committee, which will be chaired by FEI Veterinary Committee member, Dr Andrew Higgins.
Head of the FEI’s Veterinary Department, Dr Frits Sluyter, will act as group co-ordinator and former Head of the FEI Veterinary Department and International League for the Protection of Horses consultant, Alex Atock will serve as secretary. Director of Operations at the ILPH, Tony Tyler, is also among the appointees.

The group, which will meet once a year but can schedule additional meetings on an occasional basis, set out to “provide a focal point for dialogue between National Federations, others with an interest in the welfare of the competition horse and the FEI.”

A number of other welfare experts — including the Director of Equine Sports Science and Medicine at the British Equestrian Federation, John McEwen, the Equine Consultant to the RSPCA, David Muir, and the Chief Executive of the ILPH, Brigadier John Smales — joined the inaugural meeting to discuss how to present welfare in the context that would best benefit FEI disciplines.

“Welfare will always be a difficult subject requiring judgement,” Higgins said after the meeting. “Our aim is not to whitewash real issues but rather to tackle them in a constructive and meaningful manner for the benefit of horses and equestrian sport as a whole.”