Recommendations of the Endurance Temporary Committee for proposed rule changes:
- Qualification from 1* to Championships: based on capped speeds and completion percentage for qualification up through the ranks from CEI 1* to Championships, with free speed only for those with a completion rate of 66% or over (as presented in Session 5).
- Course design: minimum loop length 20 km; minimum number of loops: 6 for 160km, 4 for 120km, 3 for 80km. A 5km distance between crew points and a max 10 km distance between water points.
- Number of crew: limit number of crew to three in crew areas, reinforcing the responsibility of the athlete.
- The role of the trainer: The registered trainer must be at least 18 years old. Substitution of the registered trainer of a horse taking part in an event not allowed after the date of Definite Entries. When a horse has a change of registered trainer, the Horse will not be permitted to compete for 30 days.
- Minimum rider weight: reduce minimum rider weight to 70kg for senior rides of 2* and above (regardless of athlete’s age).
- Maximum number of starters: maximum 200 starters per event subject to venue and appropriate ratio of competitors to Officials; maximum 400 starters per day subject to the same conditions.
- Criteria for test events: ensure smooth running of all Championships test events with requirement to match distance, course, panel of Officials, timing provider, data handling and heart rate monitoring.
- Heart rate parameters and presentation times: GEIS evidence supports 60 bpm in presentation time of 15 minutes; for venues where for the last 3 years, the top 10 finishers have an average speed of 20kph or greater over the same distance, 60 bpm and 15 minutes for all vet gates, with presentation time of 20 minutes at the finish; for venues where for the last 3 years, the top 10 finishers have an average speed of less than 20 kph, the existing rules regarding heart rate and presentation times will apply. At the first vet gate after the halfway point in a ride, horses that present with heart rate greater than 64bpm at the first presentation will not have the opportunity to re-present and will be designated FTQ-ME.
- Implementation of rules on the basis of Horse Welfare: where a rule change is judged to have a clear potential benefit to horse welfare, the FEI Board should require changes to be made if there is a chance that this could make a positive difference.
- Targeted Mandatory out of Competition Periods (MOOCP, currently MRP): longer MOOCP to be applied: additional seven days for horses exceeding the average of 22kph over completed phases; additional 14 days for 2 consecutive FTQ-ME; 6 months following 3rd consecutive FTQ-GA with specific examination protocol before being permitted to start; MOOCPs specifically targeted to musculoskeletal or metabolic serious injury and no longer related directly to immediate invasive treatment.
- Tack/equipment and horse abuse: Specific recommendations regarding permitted tack/equipment to bring Endurance in line with other disciplines.
- Extension of period for reporting rule violations to enable sanctions: extend to 12 hours for making an objection and then 24 hours to provide evidence.
- Increased sanctions for Horse Abuse: increase sanctions for Horse Abuse in line with current review underway by the FEI Legal Department; suspensions to be served within the competitive season of those involved.
- Increased sanctions for removing a horse from the field of play: Six months suspension plus 80 penalty points for first infraction.
- Visible blood: Horses in competition that have free-flowing blood from an injury or from an orifice should be examined by a panel of three veterinarians who will report their findings to the President of the Ground Jury. These horses would be designated FTQ.
- Serious (SI) and Catastrophic Injury (CI) designations: in order to eliminate confusion, the MOOC period that was previously triggered by Immediate Invasive Treatment would now be linked to the SI designation.
Professor Timothy Parkin, member of FEI Veterinary Committee and the Endurance Temporary Committee and who heads up the research programme for the FEI’s Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS), had earlier presented several parameters based on the GEIS evidence, which provided the scientific basis for the Endurance Temporary Committee’s proposed rule changes.
Data shows that the risk of failure to qualify (FTQ) can be reduced by a number of factors: increased number of rides as a combination, longer out of competition periods, fewer rides in the previous 120 days, and more loops of similar length in a ride. Professor Parkin also advised that a lower heart rate on first presentation decreases the risk of FTQ at the next loop. Statistics show that a heart rate of greater than 64bpm at first presentation, especially during the second half of the ride, increased the risk of FTQ.
FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström had opened the session with a focus on drug abuse, the new hyposensitivity protocol, the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication strategy for Endurance, post mortem results and injury reporting. The new post mortem protocol now includes forensic investigation which can identify pre-existing bone injury, injection marks and the time of the injection, nerve blocks and the type of substance used. The Veterinary Director also revealed that there are currently three ongoing horse abuse cases in Endurance based on post mortem findings.
Other possible future veterinary actions under the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Programme (EADCMP) include hair testing, out of competition testing for banned substances, saliva testing after the vet gate, thermography and detection of nerve blocking agents.