The people tasked with cleaning up endurance say they are “under no illusions about the challenges” they face, after their first meeting.
The temporary committee set up by the FEI board in October, to “urgently review the endurance rules in order to address the issues currently affecting the discipline”, met at FEI HQ in Lausanne, Switzerland, yesterday (12 December).
Committee chairman Sarah Coombs, a British vet, said: “Today’s meeting generated really strong and productive debate and, together with input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, we have already drawn up a list of our key focus areas. Your voices are being heard.”
Committee members had already had a “huge amount” of feedback from the endurance world, on a number of key areas.
These include: increased testing of horses for prohibited substances, increased sanctions for horse abuse, reviewing speeds, reassessment of rules on mandatory rest periods, redefinition of elimination codes (particularly catastrophic injury), qualifications, hyposensitivity screening, heart rates, over-training and over-competing, course design and crewing numbers.
“This first meeting also provided the temporary committee with the opportunity to establish the methodology it will use to fulfil its remit to carry out an in-depth review of the rules that will bring the discipline back to its original roots of endurance riding as opposed to endurance racing, with horse welfare and horsemanship at its core, while still maintaining the competitive aspect of the sport,” said an FEI spokesman.
“The temporary committee also agreed a consultation process that will involve further liaison with stakeholders to avail of their expertise and in-depth knowledge of the discipline.”
FEI vice-president Mark Samuel joined the meeting and will “facilitate communications” between the committee and the FEI board.
Dr Coombs said: “We are under no illusions about the challenges of the task ahead, but the future of the discipline is under the spotlight and we will do whatever is necessary to rebuild the trust of our community and restore the image of a discipline that has every right to remain a part of the FEI, provided the rules are adhered to and enforced to ensure that our horses are protected and cheating is stamped out.”
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The next meting will take place on 15 January, and there will be a session dedicated to endurance at the 2019 FEI sports forum (15 to 16 April), during which the committee will give an update.
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