Event organisers must arrange in advance stringent protocols for transporting equine fatalities to autopsy, after a casualty at last year’s world endurance championships was dumped at a livestock crematorium.
Organising committees, not the FEI, are responsible for ensuring casualties are taken for compulsory autopsy. But a catalogue of errors at Samorin in Slovakia last September led to the body of UAE team horse Ajayeb being “lost”. She was traced only because she was still wearing her GPS receiver from the ride.
The FEI announced its new demands on organisers the same week Samorin became the only remaining bidder for the 2022 World Equestrian Games (WEG), after Kentucky announced it was dropping out of contention (page 4, H&H magazine, 19 January).
The new protocols result from the FEI’s official investigation into what happened to 15-year-old Ajayeb.
Ridden by Sheikh Rashid al Maktoum, she was put down after sustaining an open leg fracture. Because of a shortage of horse ambulances, her body was off-loaded and stored in a non-refrigerated location for three days.
She could not be sent over the border as originally hoped for autopsy in Austria due to a paperwork oversight. A pathology facility in Slovakia then agreed to take her. But after leaving Samorin on the Tuesday, she failed to arrive, and was finally located among a pile of dead cows.
A FEI spokesman said its investigation revealed “shortcomings” but “no evidence of malpractice”.
“The findings also highlighted there were challenges as the incident happened on a non-business day and that there were some paperwork and authorisation issues related to legislation about transportation in different countries.”
Samorin is one of only two venues to apply to host WEG 2022. It was also considered as a late replacement for WEG 2018 after Bromont dropped out.
FEI senior personnel attended the endurance world championships in Samorin, but thereafter chose the new Tryon venue in North Carolina, USA, as host for the 2018 Games.
Samorin is a 200-acre site developed by billionaire Slovak financier Mario Hoffmann, 48. A champion in dragon-boat racing and canoe sprint, Hoffman started riding at the age of 40 and quickly became an endurance enthusiast.
In the long term he plans to cater for multiple sports including swimming, gymnastics, skating, athletics and cycling as well as equestrian at Samorin.
H&H, 19 January 2017