British authorities take action to ‘change mindset’ in endurance

  • Endurance GB (EGB) and the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) have today revealed further details about their plans to “change the mindset of trainers and riders competing in this country.”

    A new endurance working group will look at “parameters around optimum speed, heart rate and recovery times” to be trialled at Kings Forest (14-16 April), Haywood Oaks (28-30 April), Royal Windsor (12 May), and Euston Park (20-21 May).

    The move follows growing global concern about horse welfare in the UAE, and also the involvement of the ruling Al Maktoum family of Dubai who remain involved promoting the summer Euston series.

    Last year there was no significant reduction in average winning speeds at Euston by visiting riders from Dubai. Sheikh Rashid Dalmook al Maktoum – currently suspended for an alleged FEI doping offence – won a 120km event at Euston on 13 August with Ajayeb, clocking up a final loop speed of 27.4 kph. At her next outing, the world championships in Samorin, Ajayeb sustained a fatal fracture.

    The British working group will be chaired by BEF board director Dr Tim Watson and veterinarians, organisers and technical delegates. It will also examine policies on the appointment of officials, the event calendar and increasing British participation rates.

    BEF chief executive Clare Salmon said: “Horse welfare is an ongoing priority for the BEF and EGB and by initiating this new British protocol, we hope this will ensure a safe sport in which the wellbeing of the horses is paramount. The aim of the protocol is to implement modifications that will ultimately reform the sport by changing the mindset of trainers and riders competing in this country.”

    Riders banned from UAE competition

    The news comes the same week that Germany has prohibited its riders from competing in Dubai, and in the wake of calls from a leading figure in French endurance for the FEI to act on “corruption.”

    Yesterday DOKR (the German Olympic Committee’s equestrian division) barred German endurance riders from competing in Dubai until horse welfare visibly improves. DOKR also asked German ride organisers rides not to invite UAE riders to compete this summer. In recent weeks Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark have also barred their riders from competing in the UAE. After a Belgian was the “catch” rider of a horse fatally injured in Dubai, the Belgian federation requested its riders to consider whether they should compete in Dubai.

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    Benedict Emond Bon, the French endurance team manager, has meanwhile called for the FEI to “redefine” the sport.

    In an interview with leading French magazine L’Eperon Mme Emond Bon said: “There are two important axes on which we must act: the first concerns the drift of endurance to horse racing with interchangeable jockeys, and the FEI regulation favours this. The second axis is the widespread corruption that prevails in some countries, not fortunately in France, but it is not only the Emirates. To settle that, the FEI must make a true definition of the sport’s discipline of the endurance and to put an end to the corruption with severe penalties.”

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