An endurance rider who used a bottle to “aggressively” beat his slowing horse has been suspended for six months by the FEI.
The FEI Tribunal found that the actions of UAE rider Ali Mohd Ali Al Hosani constituted abuse of LCE Corleone during the Sheikh Mohammed Cup CEI 160km ride in Dubai on 4 January.
H&H contributor Pippa Cuckson lodged a protest with the FEI over Al Hosani’s actions, which were caught on camera.
In her submission to the Tribunal, Pippa pointed out that the rider can be seen taking a “slosh bottle” from a groom, and pouring the water over the horse. He then takes a second bottle, moves it behind the saddle to slosh the horse’s loins, while giving the horse a “big kick”.
“He then swings his right arm forward and strikes the horse in an angry manner on the neck twice. This is done forcefully and from height, in an action quite different from pouring a slosh bottle,” the Tribunal heard.
The incident took place on the fourth loop, during which the horse had slowed. His high average speeds in the first three loops – 24.24, 25.72 and 24.15kph respectively – had dropped to 18.12kph, then dropped again in the fifth loop to an average of 14.11kph.
“It is likely that around now the rider realised his horse was tiring and he had fading hopes of a top 10 placing,” Pippa told the Tribunal.
Al Hosani said he had not meant to abuse the horse, the Tribunal report read.
“I would like to explain what happened exactly and as it shown in the recorded video, it is clear that when I took the second water bottle from the groom I started spraying water on the horse’s neck, I did this twice because I felt there still water in the bottle so I poured it again. It is true that I poured the water vigorously due to speed and I tried to pour as much water as possible, but I did not intend at all to hit or abuse the horse,” he said.
Al Hosani said he hoped “this will be only a matter of misunderstanding” and emphasised his “respect and commitment to all rules and regulations governing endurance rides”.
But the Tribunal disagreed, stating that the video shows the rider “clearly hit the horse with the water bottle twice and in an aggressive manner”, and agreeing with Pippa’s statement above.
Endurance rules ban whips, and the use of any other item as a whip, but the Tribunal found the rider used the bottle as a whip, and also that he “seemed to show no remorse for his actions”.
The Tribunal thought it is likely Al Hosani hit the horse “out of frustration or anger because of the horse’s falling speed”, and that his actions constituted abuse as he “likely caused pain or unnecessary discomfort to the horse”.
Al Hosani is banned for six months from 7 March, the date of the Tribunal decision. He was also fined 2,000 Swiss francs (£1,511) and ordered to pay 1,000 francs in costs.
Pippa said: “Naturally I am pleased Tribunal has recognised that this incident violates FEI rules and is an affront to horsemanship and the welfare of the horse. I am only sad I was reduced to lodging this protest because the ground jury did nothing – notwithstanding the incident being captured on the official livestream of the ride, and then going ‘viral’ on social media.”