Outcry after horse suffers broken leg in Bahrain endurance ride: FEI investigation finds no cover-up

  • A video of an endurance horse breaking a foreleg, which went viral and led to strong criticism of the FEI’s handling of the incident, has turned out to involve a national ride that was not under the FEI’s jurisdiction.

    Graphic footage purportedly from the FEI Bahrain King’s Cup on 4 March was posted earlier this month by an online blogger under a pseudonym. It showed the stricken horse first stumbling and unseating the rider, and then trying to following the others on three legs, its broken limb hanging, while other riders looked on but did not stop to help.

    The blogger claimed this catastrophic injury (which should be recorded as CI in official results) had been deliberately omitted from FEI results. They also alleged other endurance fatalities in Bahrain were being disguised as horses that had failed to complete (FTC in official results). FTC is used to record horses who drop out of an endurance competition without being processed at a vetgate.

    The video went viral, with social media blasting the FEI for not reprimanding officials overseeing the ride.

    Watch the footage *Warning: graphic content*

    However, after weeks of investigation, the FEI told H&H the horse was competing in a 80km CEN (national ride) staged alongside the King’s Cup and had been correctly noted as CI in the CEN results. He was Samba De L’ile, ridden by Abu Tahir Abdulrazaq.

    A FEI spokesman said: “The FEI fully investigated the Bahrain fatality, including consultation with the relevant officials and liaising with the national federation. We are satisfied that the incident, whilst no less tragic, took place during a CEN.

    “Five CEI and CEN rides took place that day and all were started within 45 minutes of each other. All horses were on the same track meaning the entries became mingled out on the loops.”

    The FEI has beefed up fracture monitoring in its bid to reform endurance in Group 7 countries, which includes the Middle East. But the Bahrain incident has highlighted the omission of many national rides from this monitoring. The UAE is the only Group 7 country currently obliged to inform of the FEI of deaths in its national rides.

    Concern remains that some fatally injured horses taking part in both FEI and national rides may have escaped detection by being recorded FTC, then being put down later the same day after leaving the site of the competition.

    Two horses declared FTC at Al Wathba, UAE in December – Shikara la Marjorie and Moon’s Sundance – were re-registered as dead on the FEI database the same day as the ride, but without the ride results being amended.

    The FEI has since confirmed to H&H that should a horse die after leaving a competition, it would not be reported as a CI on the ride results.

    H&H invited the original poster of the video to comment on the FEI’s findings, but has not yet received a response.

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