A rider and trainer who whipped his horse and kicked it so hard that daylight could be seen between his legs and the saddle has been given a 12-month ban for abuse.
The FEI Tribunal ruled against UAE endurance rider Mohamed Ali Al Marzouqi over his actions riding Romeo in a one-star class in Abu Dhabi last December.
A member of campaign group Clean Endurance reported the actions of Al Marzouqi, who was wearing bib 71, when he was caught on camera, near the end of the ride.
“This behaviour constitutes abuse,” the submission to the Tribunal read. “Mr Al Marzooqi was kicking the horse as hard as he could, to the point daylight can be seen between the entire length of the rider’s legs and the saddle. He struck the horse repeatedly with the reins. The horse was visibly exhausted.”
The FEI was of the “strong opinion” Al Marzouqi’s actions did not “constitute normal riding”.
“The FEI submitted that [it] has carefully watched the video and it was clear the rider was pushing his horse by excessive kicking and using the reins as a whip,” the Tribunal report states.
“The FEI counted the excessive kicking to 27 times and the whipping with the reins to 19 times. It was important to remember this was only a few seconds of video from a ride going on for 100 km over six hours.”
The FEI concluded the rider had used the aids excessively, several times, and his actions constituted abuse.
Al Marzouqi, who is also the registered trainer of “many horses”, told the panel he had been taking care of and looking after his horse throughout the ride.
“On the last loop, it is natural riders would encourage the horse to get a good position,” he said, adding that he had not abused or beaten Romeo and “will never do so”.
He said he is tall and has long legs, which may have made the kicking look worse, and that he tried to loosen the reins.
“I want to assure you, that I did not kick hard or beat the horse as what you have seen on that video and this was witnessed by the ground jury, who were there,” he said. “I consider my case is not a violation and I will assure you I will always look after my horses and promote the welfare of the horses.”
But the report states: “The Tribunal, however, disagrees. In the Tribunal’s view, the video evidence shows Mr Al Marzouqi repeatedly struck the horse with the reins on its neck, and such action is considered ‘whipping’. Furthermore, the video shows Mr Al Marzouqi kicking the horse; according to the FEI 27 times.”
The Tribunal found the rider had abused his horse, and “encouraged” the FEI to ensure officials act on any abuse, as it has with previous complaints raised by Clean Endurance.
Rosemary Sloan from the group, who lodged the protest, said: “Someone has to speak up for our gentle partner, the horse. We know from anecdotal evidence that this behaviour is but the tip of the iceberg, and we are only able to lodge abuse protests and obtain sanctions because of our diligent monitoring of video footage provided by the official broadcasting companies of these events.
“I hope the rider in question learns from the sanctions imposed on him for the brutal treatment of a horse in his care.”
The rider was banned for 12 months, disqualified from the event and fined 4,000 Swiss francs (£3,100) and ordered to pay 1,000 francs in costs.
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