Endurance welfare row extends beyond steroid abuse

  • The European Equestrian Federation (EEF) — of which Britain is a member — has weighed into the growing controversy about Middle East endurance.

    The EEF has asked the world governing body, the FEI, to publicise the “actions it has already taken to protect our sport” and appoint an “independent commission” to look into horse welfare issues.

    The move follows the strident representations of the Swiss Equestrian Federation about doping and injuries. But the Swiss are not happy with the FEI’s unpublished response and now want all competition accident statistics revealed.

    The Belgian federation also claims that injuries in endurance have reached “unimaginable proportions”.

    A recent study in the British Veterinary Journal highlighted injury-inducing average speeds of over 26kph, reaching 35kph in the last 15-20km over straight tracks that are typical of Middle East endurance.

    Two weeks ago, steroid use in sport horses was outlawed in Dubai by its ruler, Sheikh Mohammed, following the doping scandal involving his racehorses.

    However, Swiss federation president Charles Trolliet told H&H: “Steroids are only part of the problem. The decree does not address the very large number of fractures.

    “The FEI has given us its classic answer — ‘horse welfare is paramount’. What it is not saying is, these are our special actions [we will take].”

    An FEI spokesman told H&H it was rolling out a new Injury Surveillance System.
    “The Swiss Federation appeared satisfied with the FEI’s approach when we met at the Sports Forum in Lausanne [8-9 May], so we are somewhat surprised and disappointed at their change in attitude,” said the spokesman.

    This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (6 June 2013)

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