Yesterday the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced bold steps designed to improve endurance horse welfare, proposing unprecedented athlete penalties for equine injuries, extended rest periods, and increased accountability. The moves were fully supported by delegates attending the endurance round table on the second day of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The welfare of the horse is not just a veterinary issue, it’s an issue for all those who work in the sport,” said John McEwen, FEI first vice president and chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee.

Proposed rule changes relating to officials’ accountability and responsibility, increased protection of horses through athlete penalty points and extended rest periods, appointment of independent governance advisors, and improved conflict of interest regulations received wide support from attendees.

There was also wide support for the new FEI Endurance Codex, which the endurance committee has produced to cover endurance officials, and separately endurance athletes and registered trainers. The codex—which defines responsibility, accountability, and sanctions for those in breach of the rules—already exists for FEI veterinarians.

The rule changes will be circulated to national federations for final review prior to going before the FEI bureau at its in-person meeting on June 9-10 for approval and immediate implementation.

During the debate session that followed, there was a call for information about injuries at national events to be included in the Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS); this was backed by Tim Parkin, BSc