Endurance rules are to be tightened up in the wake of the high-profile welfare crisis in the sport.

The revised rules will be implemented on 1 August, rather than waiting to voted on at the FEI general assembly in December. The rules were approved by the FEI Bureau yesterday (Tuesday 10 June).

And as a further step to remove any “conflict of interest” FEI first vice president John McEwen will take over full responsibility for endurance during Princess Haya’s term of office.

Concerns had been raised after her husband, Sheikh Mohammed’s, equine operations were involved in racing and endurance scandals.

Sheikh Mohammed himself was given a six-month endurance ban after a positive steroids test in 2009.

Endurance has been plagued with reports of injuries and doping in the middle-east.

At the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne (29 April) the FEI announced “bold steps” to help improve the welfare of horses in international endurance events — including athlete penalties, extended rest periods and increased accountability for riders, as well as a review of all 2,700 endurance officials.

“The new rules are a great step forward and we strongly believe they address the key issues that the discipline has been facing,” said Brian Sheahan, chair of the FEI endurance committee.

“Now we can go forward with confidence to the World Equestrian Games, knowing that we have the right regulations and the right officials in place to ensure horse welfare and fair play, and also knowing that the athletes and their teams are confident in the rules and their implementation.

“While we will of course continually monitor the effectiveness of the new rules to make sure they are fit for purpose, this is definitely a major breakthrough for endurance that means that we can now turn the focus back onto the sport.”

However at the Forum, concerns were raised that the rules will not extend to national events, where there are also problems, and that trainers would not be held responsible for injuries.