fei endurance

The Endurance Temporary Committee, established by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Board in October to urgently review the discipline’s rules to address the issues currently affecting the discipline, held its first in-person meeting at FEI Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Dec. 12.

The Temporary Committee has received a huge amount of feedback from the endurance community on a variety of topics, including:

  • Increased testing of horses for prohibited substances;
  • Increased sanctions for horse abuse;
  • Review of speeds;
  • Reassessment of rules on mandatory rest periods;
  • Redefinition of elimination codes (particularly catastrophic injury);
  • Elite athlete status and “jockey riders”;
  • Qualifications, including qualification as a combination;
  • Increased completion percentage before allowing upgrade to next level;
  • Reinstate and redefine two-hour invasive treatment rule;
  • Hyposensitivity screening (the use of the FEI Hyposensitivity Control System was voted in at last month’s FEI General Assembly for implementation in 2019);
  • Heart rates and presentation times at vet gates;
  • Definition of and registration of trainers;
  • Overtraining/overcompeting;
  • Mandatory medication logbook and out-of-competition testing;
  • Extended provisional suspension for horses testing positive to banned substances;
  • Course design;
  • Tack and equipment; and
  • Crewing numbers.

“Today’s meeting generated really strong and productive debate and, together with input from a broad spectrum of stakeholders, we have already drawn up a list of our key focus areas,” said Sarah Coombs, BVetMed, MSc, MRCVS, of Great Britain, who chairs the Temporary Committee. “Your voices are being heard. We are under no illusions about the challenges of the task ahead, but the future of the discipline is under the spotlight and we will do whatever is necessary to rebuild the trust of our community and restore the image of a discipline that has every right to remain a part of the FEI, provided the rules are adhered to and enforced to ensure that our horses are protected and cheating is stamped out.”

This first meeting also provided the Temporary Committee with the opportunity to establish how it will fulfill its remit to carry out an in-depth review of the rules that will bring the discipline back to its original roots of endurance riding as opposed to endurance racing, with horse welfare and horsemanship at its core, while still maintaining the competitive aspect of the sport. The Temporary Committee also agreed a consultation process that will involve further liaison with stakeholders to avail of their expertise and in-depth knowledge of the discipline.

In addition to Coombs, the other members of the Temporary Committee are:

  • Endurance athlete and member of the FEI Athletes’ Committee Tarek Taher (KSA);
  • Chef d’équipe of the Dutch endurance team Pieter Wiersinga (NED);
  • FEI Veterinary Committee member Tim Parkin, BVSc, PhD, Dipl. ECVPH, MRCVS (GBR), who heads up the scientific research conducted at the University of Glasgow as part of the FEI’s Global Endurance Injuries Study; and
  • Valerie Kanavy (USA), a former member of the FEI Athletes’ Committee and the Athletes’ Representative on the endurance committee (2014-2018).

Mark Samuel (CAN), FEI vice president, joined today’s meeting and will facilitate communications between the Temporary Committee and the FEI Board. Sabrina Ibáñez, FEI secretary general; FEI Endurance Director Manuel Bandeira De Mello; FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström; and other FEI staff members also attended the meeting.

The Temporary Committee will hold its next in-person meeting on Jan. 15, 2019, and there will be a dedicated Endurance session at the FEI Sports Forum 2019 (April 15-16), during which the Temporary Committee will provide an update to delegates.