Another fatality at Sheikh Mohammed’s Dubai International Endurance City (DIEC) today (26 January) takes the total number of horses killed in Dubai endurance to six in 22 days.
El Nize Shareef, ridden by Elisabeth Hardy, suffered a “catastrophic injury” on the first loop on a 100km national ride.
The 10-year-old gelding is the sixth horse to die at a DIEC ride this year.
Two suffered catastrophic injuries at a ladies’ FEI ride on 4 January, when an average speed of nearly 40kph was recorded on the final loop, and one in an FEI ride on 7 January. All three were on the first loop.
Two more horses died during a 40km national event at DIEC on 23 January, while another died at an FEI ride on 12 December.
“The two latest equine fatalities… are very worrying, and there is an urgent need to understand from a veterinary and scientific perspective what is causing these catastrophic injuries,” said FEI endurance director Manuel Bandeira de Mello yesterday.
“As I’ve said before, it’s clear that over-training is probably the major cause and respect of rest periods is also crucial, but the new senior management at the UAE national federation is very much more hands-on than the previous regime and we will continue to work closely with them to address these serious issues.
“Additionally, the endurance committee will be conducting a thorough review of the endurance rules, which will include looking at ages of athletes, both human and equine, rest periods, potentially additional sanctions for trainers, and a review of the elite athletes system.”
H&H reported on 12 January that the FEI had said the recent fatalities could be associated with pre-existing fractures caused by tough training techniques.
A spokesman told H&H it would demand organisers address high speeds, at a series of meetings planned to take place in Dubai, and that it had not ruled out disaffiliating DIEC again from holding FEI competitions.
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DIEC was stripped of holding the endurance world championships last April owing to FEI concerns over horse welfare, and at the same time declined to consider any DIEC schedules.
The venue was allowed to stage FEI rides from 25 November 2016, having signed a new FEI ride organisers’ protocol.