The French endurance riding community appears to be losing confidence in the ability of Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) organisers to ensure a scandal-free ride at Sartilly (28 August) in the light of recent European rides where Middle Eastern teams have competed.
The Association Française des Veterinaires de Endurance Equestre wrote last week to the French Equestrian Federation, urging a clampdown, while a 3,500 signature petition has been sent by riders to FEI president Princess Haya, whose husband, Sheikh Mohammed, owns stables at the centre of the controversies.
Tough new FEI rules aimed at cleaning up endurance took effect on 1 August 2014, but the vets note that the old rules are increasingly violated.
The Association’s Michael Payan flagged up the growing practice of failing to stop for water — contrary to FEI rules that water should be offered to horses every 10km. He says this has led to a notable increase in severe metabolic problems.
“We would like the President of the Veterinary Commission to have the opportunity to define and propose [with other officials] on which loops not proposing or not allowing a horse enough time to drink may be considered as abuse. Sanctions could be a yellow card,” he said.
Five vets officiating at Compiègne CEI in May — organised by the same team that will run Sartilly — have already publicly protested about problems there. These included record cases of dehydration, the “thin horse” scandal (pictured above), yellow cards issued for horse abuse and the death of a Sheikh Mohammed-owned horse, for causes a post-mortem examination deemed inconclusive.
First published in Horse & Hound magazine on 31 July 2014