‘We are deeply concerned and shocked’: Endurance GB calls for further action in UAE welfare case

  • Endurance GB (EGB) has responded to scandals in the sport in the UAE, saying the organisation is “deeply concerned and shocked” by recent footage that has emerged.

    On 30 January five riders — including the first three over the line — were disqualified from a junior/young riders 120km ride at Al Wathba for beating their exhausted horses.

    A video clip of the final stages of the race went viral, leading for many calls on social media for the UAE to be resuspended immediately (news, 4 February).

    “The board has been closely following with interest the progress of the FEI in improving horse welfare in the UAE, in accordance with the agreement put in place with the Emirates Equestrian Federation [EEF],” read a statement.

    “While there have been reports of numerous improvements, especially at the Bou Thib venue, we are deeply concerned and shocked by the video that has emerged from a CEN [national] event at Al Wathba on the 30 January.”

    EGB had previously been criticised for not speaking out against the continued welfare issues and scandals in the sport in the Middle East. The EGB board has now written to the British Equestrian Federation to voice concerns.

    “We have asked that these are passed to the FEI,” read the statement. “We have requested that further action be taken and that this is made public as soon as possible. The FEI has a duty to address a culture of riding horses beyond their means in the sport of endurance.

    “The board fully supports the FEI to intervene and implement new measures that protect horses and the sport worldwide.”

    Last week (Tuesday, 2 February) four endurance rides in the UAE due to be staged were announced as “postponed” as worldwide outrage over the horse welfare crisis continued to escalate. And in another surprise move, all remaining rides in Dubai for the rest of the season have disappeared from the calendar of the Dubai Equestrian Club.

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    FEI director of endurance Manuel Bandeira de Mello said: “Following meetings between the FEI and the EEF, the EEF has postponed four endurance events so that agreement can be reached on proposed measures to urgently address a number of serious issues in endurance in the region.

    “The CEI1* in Dubai on 8 February [have] been postponed, along with national events on 4, 5 and 6 February. The FEI has set a deadline of 11 February for the EEF to come back with an agreement on the proposed measures.”

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