An endurance rider who abused his mount at an international ride in Bahrain said he whipped the horse “because it was lonely”.
The FEI Tribunal ruled that “promising young rider” Khaled Ebrahim Khalil Khairi’s behaviour was unacceptable, as he used an extra pair of reins to whip his tired horse, Happy Jack, in a competition on 14 January 2017.
A witness contacted the FEI after the ride, at Sakhir, Bahrain International Village, last year, stating that: “As a viewer and a fan, I travelled to see the competition and as a horse lover and fan of the sport, I have seen very bad sportsmanship from the rider who abused the horse harshly, that disturbed me as a viewer and many who were watching.”
The witness also submitted a video, which the FEI said showed a “tired horse, pushed by its rider to keep on going, and that Mr Khairi used a whip on the horse excessively and pushed it in order to force the horse to keep galloping”.
The Tribunal record states: “the video shows that the horse was followed by a vehicle during the ride, and that the rider used some kind of ‘whip’ – an extra pair of reins – which the rider at a later stage handed over to the driver of the car.”
Using whips, or other items as whips, is banned under endurance rules, and the FEI’s submission to the Tribunal highlighted the fact the rider had admitted he whipped the horse.
“The FEI was further surprised [he] used a whip despite the prohibition, and further that according to him, it was a ‘mild response to the horse’s behaviour’,” the Tribunal report states.
“The FEI was of the opinion that such behaviour had to be sanctioned, in order to protect the welfare of the horse, but also to have a deterrent effect for the future.
“The FEI concluded that Mr Khairi inflicted unnecessary pain and discomfort to the horse… to push a tired horse by using a whip and forcing it to continue to gallop as Mr Khairi did created a welfare risk for the horse that deserved punishment.”
The 22-year-old rider admitted to whipping the horse, the report states, arguing that it was “not a harsh response from me”.
He explained: “[It was] a mild response to the horse’s behaviour that was not befitting the ride as the horse became lonely. This particular horse requires to be accompanied by [a] group of horses during the ride. I had whipped the horse for motivation and did not abuse it.”
The rider admitted the crew vehicle had been following but said it “crossed into the trail after the crew found my actions inappropriate and relieved me of the rein which I had used to whip the horse”.
He added that before this incident, he had never abused a horse on the trail “or even while training”.
“Finally, he apologised for his actions, and reassured that such an incident was not to happen again,” the report states.
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The Tribunal ruled Khairi, who according to the Bahrain national federation is being considered for a scholarship and is a “promising young rider”, had abused the horse and “acknowledged his apology”.
He was given the minimum suspension, three months, from the date of the decision this month, disqualified from the ride, fined 2,000 Swiss francs (£1,531) and ordered to pay 1,000 francs in costs.
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