Dead end for Olympic endurance

  • Endurance’s progress towards Olympic status has been put ‘on ice’ amid welfare issues in the wake of two horses’ deaths at the World Equestrian Games at Jerez.

    The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) commissioned a team including British Equestrian Federation (BEF) chief executive Andrew Finding to investigate the sport’s suitability as an Olympic discipline. However, officials and supporters at an FEI open forum last week in Paris heard that its work had been suspended.

    FEI vice-president Freddy Serpieri told delegates that the Olympic progress ofendurance was now “a longer term project, if ever”.

    Despite this, he added that discussion at the forum, which focused on issues surrounding horses’ welfare during competition, had moved the sport forward.

    A team of officials, chefs d’equipe, supporters and vets had drawn up a list of recommendations. These included reinstating the one-day 160km championship and throwing out the two-day 200km ride.

    FEI assistant secretary Michael Stone agreed the one-day 160km event was “here to stay” and the two-day event, viewed as more media-friendly but potentially more difficult for the horses, would be abandoned. Tougher qualification criteria at major championships would also be a priority.

    In response to concern over championship-level veterinary procedures after the WEG deaths, the forum agreed to form a new FEI endurance veterinary sub-committee.

    Wendy Dunham, chairman of Endurance GB’s international committee, said: “Having the whole world here has been a big step forward and every nation has been able to learn from each other.”

    Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (13 February), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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