Proposals to rewrite the rulebook for endurance will be circulated next month to national federations around the world.

The proposals are the result of a year-long review of the sport by independent experts and were initiated by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) following the vast growth of the sport and a number of equine deaths (news, 27 April 2007).

“Every page of the rulebook has been changed,” said Ian Williams, FEI head of endurance. “These are still only proposals, but the review has focused on completely revising two areas. The first is a general modernisation of the sport, such as what is acceptable kit, dress code, horse equipment and so on.

“The second is the creation of a pathway riders need to follow to work up through the sport towards FEI championships.”

Mr Williams explained that one of the problems associated with the sport’s growth has been that riders could compete at any level of competition without previous experience.

“Things have been tightened up in terms of welfare and control,” he said.

The FEI’s technical committee will view the proposals next week. Then the proposed rulebook will be circulated to national federations and posted on the FEI website. Riders worldwide are invited to give feedback via their federations.

Endurance GB (EGB) chairman John Yeoman said the rules would be discussed at committee. While EGB hosts only seven FEI rides, it also stages about 60 racerides for its own members that are run under FEI rules.

“We raised several issues with the task force, such as the high cost of entering FEI rides, and the issue of riders having to carry lead [to meet a minimum weight],” said Mr Yeoman. “We will be interested to see whether these have been addressed.”

He added that although EGB stages racerides, most of its 2,000 members only participate in graded pleasure rides — which are not run to FEI rules.

“But any changes we decide to take on from the FEI rules will be presented at the EGB AGM this November,” he said.

After national federations have fed comments back to the FEI, a new, final rulebook for 2009 will be produced. This will be circulated to national federations and voted on at the FEI general assembly in Buenos Aires in November.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (27 March, ’08)