I have never been an official at any endurance ride (I served as the
Foreign Veterinary Delegate for the WEG) in which there was so much conflict
and disagreement between the organizing committee and the FEI officials
appointed for the event. For one example among many, the organizing committee
and the Toulouse Group placed pressure on the Technical Delegate (Dr. Hallvard
Sommerseth) through senior FEI officials to accept 4 vetgates with a trot-by
(within the FEI rules) instead of the 5 vetgates that was preferred. (Not a
single member of the veterinary commission was in favor of 4 vetgates and all
felt that the trot by examination was next to worthless for metabolic
assessment). It was the members of the Toulouse Group that pressured the
imposition of this control without input from the rest of the world out side
of Europe. The USA, the Australians, the Malaysians, etc. were not asked their
opinion. We should strenuously object to these kinds of decisions, which
affect the sport being made for us all, when "us " are not even aware that the
topic is under deliberation.
The Veterinary Commission took
a lot of criticism from Chef dEquipes and team veterinarians for its decision
to eliminate high profile riders on marginal horses. I will not elaborate
further on this matter.
One of the competitors summed it all up for the dead horses by saying, "We
rode them too hard on too difficult a terrain with too little rest. We found
them too sick too late and had too little to offer to keep them alive."
The FEI has a Code of Conduct containing 10 points that is required in the
schedule of all FEI endurance rides.
- In all equestrian events, the horse must be considered paramount.
- The well being of the horse shall be above the demands of breeders,
trainers, riders, owners, dealers, organizers, sponsors, or
If the two dead horses could speak, how would they rate our concern for the
standards that this code requires? Who speaks for the horse?
I am most proud of the USA team. I think they upheld the highest ideals for
endurance riding under extremely difficult and trying circumstances. They not
only talk the talk ? they walk the walk. Only a few can make this claim from
the 2002 Jerez Endurance WEG.
If any of you have any comments or questions, I would be glad to provide
any information that I have.