A member of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family aims to reform UAE endurance with tough new local rules.
FEI rules still apply, but at the Bou Thib venue of Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, prizes will only be awarded to combinations meeting new best condition-orientated criteria. These include a GPS-controlled maximum speed of 20kph, 10-minute vetting time, 50-minute compulsory hold, hypersensitivity tests to discourage nerve-blocking, and a bid to reduce “mobile crewing” by limiting following cars to one per five horses and providing official crew points every kilometre.
Bou Thib hosts five of the 17 FEI rides scheduled for the UAE winter season. Sheikh Sultan hopes others will follow suit and wants competitors “to honour and protect our valued partner, the horse, while developing the horsemanship to achieve that objective”.
The initiative came about in conjunction with ATRM, the timing company run by French four-star endurance official François Kerboul. He said that Sheikh Sultan had sought reform long before the FEI suspended the UAE in March for major horse welfare violations and “non compliance with FEI rules and regulations”.
The ban was lifted in July.
However, now a “legally binding agreement” between the FEI bureau and the EEF guarantees that horse welfare will be “fully respected and that FEI rules will be stringently enforced”.
Kerboul added that under these new local rules, the winner of an 80km CEI* on 7 November would have finished 24th and the 12th-placed rider would have won.
H&H 26 Nov ’15