FEI General Assembly 2011 Rio: It’s a hard job…

  • It’s has been my first taste of an FEI General Assembly and it’s exhausting!

    International horse sport’s annual get together gets through so much business in a day it’s enough to make your head spin – and so are the drinks here in Rio, but that’s a different story all together!

    Today, Sunday 13 November, was the first afternoon the press were allowed in to see what issues the FEI’s 130-odd national federations (NFs) have brought to this year’s Assembly.

    And they are pretty diverse.

    European equestrian federations are concerned about a clash between next year’s Global Champions Tour and Nations Cup competitions.

    They also want the FEI to review Olympic qualifications before the Games come to Rio in 2016 as they say some routes to the Games are easier than others.

    The South Americans want the International Dressage Riders Club expelled from the FEI because of its expulsion of their candidate to be rider rep on the Dressage Committee.

    And there is German concern over proposals for all horses involved in FEI competition to be microchipped.

    Improvement of the structure of the FEI was on the agenda this afternoon (see H&H on Thursday for more on this story).

    The FEI Constitutional Task Force presented its hot off the press review of the role of regional groups, continental associations, how nations are represented on the Bureau, fees and membership.

    It was a head-spinningly fast insight into how happy the wider FEI family is, presented by Equine Canada’s Akash Maharaj.

    As with all families, get everyone together in one room and there are differences of opinion, as the review shows, but overall there has been broad consensus on most subjects discussed at Rio so far.

    The slightly muted atmosphere could also be put down to the consequences of last night’s welcome dinner from the Brazilian federation.

    Delegates were taken to a restaurant on the edge of the white sands of Copacabana beach, where the hospitality was exceptionally generous, with deadly green cocktails, a wine lake and meat mountain.

    Waiter after waiter presented choicest cuts of this that and the other on skewers in a never-ending parade of ribs, steaks, racks, hearts… and “baby cow”.

    I predict that even the most confirmed carnivores will be inquiring about the vegetarian option tonight.

    Alas those of you who have visited South America, however, will know that’s a vain hope.

    The FEI hotel is also beside Copacabana beach and the thought of the former Met coppers on the FEI Integrity Unit – including Lord Stevens himself – wandering among the bikini-clad ladies in their dark suits is a mental image that will stick with me.

    As I left this evening delegates were off for cocktails at the Rio de Janiero International CSI-W team jumping event.

    Of course the real meat will come tomorrow at the General Assembly itself, before the gala dinner and FEI Awards.

    As they say – it’s a hard job, but someone has to do it!

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