Session 5: Endurance - Qualification of Horses and Athletes: reducing welfare risks

16 April 2019
16 April 2019 Author: fei

The opening session of day two, which is dedicated solely to Endurance, focused on the qualification of athletes, both human and equine, with the goal of reducing welfare risks.

Prior to the presentations detailing recommendations for potential rule changes put forward by the Endurance Temporary Committee, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez set the scene with a review of the discipline and the problems that have affected the sport over the past number of years.

“In order to address these issues, the FEI Board set up the Endurance Temporary Committee”, she said. “These courageous persons seated in front of you today have spent a huge amount of their personal time to accomplish their mission. They have minutely assessed the issues affecting the sport. They have reached out to and listened to our community and, with that feedback in mind, they have carried out an in-depth review of the rules which will hopefully bring the sport back to where it should be: riding versus racing with horse welfare and horsemanship at its core.”

See below for more on this session, including links to supporting documents.

Back to Watch Live! page

 Go to Session 4Session 5: Endurance - Qualification of Horses and Athletes: reducing welfare risks
16 April 2019, 09:00 - 11:00
Go to Session 6

Endurance Temporary Committee member Tarek Taher, Endurance representative on the FEI Athletes’ Committee and founder of True Endurance International Riders Association (TEIRA), spoke passionately about his love of the sport and the importance of feedback from the whole Endurance community.  

“Rest assured that your voices are being heard loud and clear, and your horses as well”, he said. “Your concerns and your suggestions have been the basis of everything we do at the Endurance Temporary Committee and the FEI. The communication between the global Endurance community, the ETC and the FEI has been phenomenal. The FEI has been proactive and extremely cooperative.”

Committee Chair Dr Sarah Coombs spoke about the mission of the Committee with the goal of taking the discipline forward based on the true concept of horsemanship. She also spoke about the necessity of changing the ethos within the sport.

“We need a change of ethos”, she said. “We need to test the stamina and fitness of the horse without compromising welfare, which will require good horsemanship, more strategic riding and more emphasis on recovery. Make no mistake about it, Endurance is a competition against the clock, but winning requires completion and without any emphasis on completion you are not going to win.”

The latest findings in the Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS) were presented by Professor Timothy Parkin, member of the FEI Veterinary Committee and the Endurance Temporary Committee, who heads up the research programme for the GEIS. Professor Parkin and his team at the University of Glasgow have used the huge range of data collected to show that previous and recent Failed To Qualify (FTQ) classifications and low previous completion rates increased the risk of an FTQ at following rides.

Committee member Valerie Kanavy then provided details of a proposed innovative completion percentage system, based on capped speeds for qualification up through the ranks from CEI 1* to Championships. This pyramid system would allow free speed only for those with a completion rate of 66% or over.

“You ride smart, you take care of your horse, you have successful completions, the faster you can go”, she said. “We’ve brought horsemanship and successful completion percentages back into the qualification process. Ride smart, ride safe, you can get to the top.”

The proposal met with mixed views and resulted in extensive debate amongst delegates and the panel, made up of the full Endurance Temporary Committee and FEI Vice President Mark Samuel, who has been the direct link between the Committee and the FEI Board.

Roly Owers, Chief Executive Officer of the equine welfare charity World Horse Welfare, spoke eloquently about the need for change in the sport.

“I would like to applaud the committee on the work you have done today. What has long been very clear in terms of risk with Endurance is speed. And I think that the proposal today, whilst I am sure it might need some tweaking, you seem to have come up with a very interesting and potentially very viable way of bringing responsible riding in and very much to the fore.

“I think we do have to accept that the situation now is not acceptable . . . when we know that speed is a significant risk we need to take action to limit it whilst maintaining a strong element of competition. So I would encourage everyone to be very open minded and I applaud you for coming up with this suggestion as I believe it will have a huge potential to grow Endurance in the future and not limit it.”

As debate on the new proposal continued, the FEI Secretary General reminded delegates: “this is not a done deal. This is the Forum, we are here to present the ideas. The Endurance Temporary Committee is going to go back, take it all into consideration and start working on the rules.”

In line with the FEI Statutes, the proposed rules changes will go out to National Federations and stakeholders in July as part of the full consultation process before the final rules amendments are put to the vote at the FEI General Assembly in November.


Supporting document & Presentation:

Opening speech by FEI Secretary General, Ms Sabrina Ibáñez

Qualification of Horses and Athletes: reducing welfare risks presented by the Panel


Supporting document for Day 2 (Session 5-6-7-8)

Speakers bios

Executive Summary Session 5 - Endurance - Qualification of Horses and Athletes: Reducing Welfare risks