Welfare and dope concerns dominate endurance talks

  • Arab nations have been heavily criticised for the high incidences of broken legs and dope violations in Middle Eastern endurance yards.

    The comments were made during a round table discussion at the FEI sports forum in Lausanne on 2 May.

    FEI endurance judge Jean-Louis Leclerc alleged that multiple horses suffer fractures on single yards per season and he asked what the FEI was doing to improve the situation.

    The FEI’s Ian Williams said it is looking into causes and prevention of fractures in endurance “to ensure that the welfare of the horse is the central pillar [of the sport] in the future”.

    The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket is also studying orthopaedic injury rates in endurance horses globally, which will play an important role in the FEI study, he said.

    Top endurance vet Fred Barrelet labelled the high level of endurance medication violations investigated by the FEI as “disgraceful”.

    “If we analyse the substances now found, they range from the usual ones due to ignorance, to substances only somebody with huge knowledge and imagination could dream of putting in a horse.

    “This is malicious, intentional rule-breaking and should be hammered,” said Dr Barrelet.

    In reply, Dr Hallvard Sommerseth, head vet of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation, said the number of UAE riders appearing before the FEI bureau – currently three, with a further seven dealt with already this year – is because his federation tests extensively and reports offenders to the FEI.

    This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (10 May 2012)

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