Campaigners are hopeful for a sea of change in endurance after a raft of rule changes was approved at the FEI general assembly.
National federations voted in favour of measures including an increase in qualifying criteria and the introduction of minimum rider weights for all distances, with the aim of slowing horses or eliminating them before they suffer serious injury.
A spokesman for Clean Endurance said the group is “relieved”.
“Although seven articles were amended to reflect certain national federations’ desire for a loosening of the new rules, the overall rules package should nonetheless be effective enough to have a real impact on horse welfare in endurance,” she said.
“Clean Endurance had written to all national federations, urging them to vote in favour of the rule proposals to ensure the survival of endurance as an FEI discipline.
“We said the letter was a last resort to try to convey the absolute emergency situation endurance is in, and that a positive vote was of the utmost importance.
“Given that for the past several years, attempts at improving the endurance rules failed due to commercial or political interests prevailing over horse welfare, Clean Endurance is hopeful today marked a turning point in endurance history.”
The rule proposals came about after a year’s work by the FEI temporary endurance committee, which had been tasked with taking the discipline back to its roots of good horsemanship and away from winning at all costs. Its proposals also included changes to mandatory rest periods.
Endurance GB (EGB) operations director Esther Young said EGB is “extremely pleased” by last week’s vote.
“It shows the level of support worldwide for a real culture change in the sport,” she said.
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