Measures to address horse welfare issues in Endurance - Message from FEI Secretary General

Published 07 February 2017

You may be aware that there have been a regrettable number of catastrophic injuries and positive cases in Endurance in the UAE and I would like to update you on measures to be implemented by both the FEI and the United Arab Emirates Equestrian Federation to address these horse welfare issues. The FEI will also be issuing a press release on this shortly. 

 

In view of the deaths of seven horses in the UAE in the last four weeks, six at national Endurance competitions and one at an FEI event, and today’s news of seven adverse analytical findings, I have requested immediate action from the UAE National Federation.

 

We have already expressed our concerns that the fatal bone fractures we are seeing in the UAE are possibly the result of over-training and are likely to be pre-existing injuries that haven’t been given sufficient time to heal.

 

To summarise, the actions that the FEI and the UAE NF will be taking are listed below:

 

A session dedicated to risk factors and bone injuries in Endurance will be held on the second day (11 April) of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne (SUI). Initial findings of the Global Injuries Endurance Study, conducted by Dr Tim Parkin and Dr Euan Bennet of Glasgow University, will be presented and Dr Chris Whitton from the University of Melbourne will present on bone fatigue.

 

The findings will then be presented in more depth during the Endurance Forum in Barcelona on 23 and 24 May. 

 

If, following presentation of the scientific data, there is a clear consensus on immediate actions to be taken, I will propose the use of emergency procedures to speed up the implementation of new rules, as we have done previously when faced with similar issues.

 

In addition, the FEI will host a series of meetings with trainers and team veterinarians in the UAE specifically to address the high level of catastrophic injuries in the region.

 

The UAE NF measures include:

 

  • Requirement for stables involved in equine fatalities to provide full medical history for each horse and any medication administered; details of the horses’ nutritional programmes and training schedules, including the methods used, the hours of training and distances covered, the timing and venue conditions
  • A study of each Endurance course in the region, including a detailed assessment of track conditions
  • Inspections at all remaining Endurance events in the 2017 UAE season conducted by an expert panel of Endurance course specialists and experienced veterinarians, including the FEI Veterinary Director
  • Working directly with local organising committees to investigate equine injuries at their venue
  • Increased sanctions for those responsible for injury to horses, including imposing maximum permissible fines (€15,000 per offence) and penalty points
  • Expanded scope of individuals that can be held accountable, in addition to trainers and veterinarians

 

The new senior management at the UAE National Federation, who met with the FEI President last month, is far more engaged and transparent than the previous administration. We are hopeful that, through their continuing cooperation with the FEI, together we will make dramatic improvements in addressing the causes of these injuries and the high levels of positives. This is something that needs to be done from the inside out and, while we can and will help from an educational perspective, there needs to be a willingness to improve from within and that now seems to be the case.