Actually, I thought I understood his letter quite well, but, I might have mixed in a few expressions I tend to over use like "foreign endurance idiots," that might have led you to believe I was clueless, as usual, on this subject.
I do understand that the organizational committee made the decisions and kind of overruled the vets on the number of vet gates and how many trot-by's were to take place. This is comparable, for me, to Ride Management at an AERC ride telling the vet how long the holds will be, how many vet checks, what type, etc. that would take place at their ride. You don't see that at many AERC rides (I don't think I've ever seen this happen at one) and this is one of the many problems I have with FEI. It's so damn political, nobody ever knows how the ride is going to turn out. Too many different groups struggling for control and all of them power happy. And, FEI (endurance) lets this happen; that truly sucks! It's quite comparable to the United Nations being so careful as to not offend any one particular country they end up becoming ineffective as an organization.
The vets should have total control of what is to occur at the ride, as far as the horse's well being is concerned, but, because of FEI and the politics involved at International endurance rides, this is not the case. And, for some reason that I can't quite fathom, this only seems to be a really big problem with endurance; the other event's don't have this difficulty. Why is that? Is it because our sport is unique in that it revolves around veterinarian approval for the horse to continue, where others do not?
Geez, I'm not even sure anymore what organization is the United State's governing body when it comes to America competing in equestrian sports overseas. They can't even agree on that! The big problem is there are way too many organizations fighting with each other and no united effort or cohesiveness whatsoever, when it comes to International endurance competition. For some reason, this seems to be more of a problem with the endurance aspect of competition than other FEI equestrian events. I have yet to read a good explanation (except for the excuse that we're relatively new when compared to the others) from anyone about why this is the case.
I don't want to argue with you, Steph, about all this, since I am aware you know far more than I do about it all. But, I strongly disagree with part of your statement "We need to start thinking about how to better protect our horses, and our sport - here at home - rather than worring about what the rest of the world is doing."
I do agree with the first part of what you said, but it's the last part of your sentence there that bugs me. I think we do need to worry about what is going on in the rest of the world, simply because it's the top International Competition of endurance that CNN is going to cover, if they ever decide to do so. It will be the top International aspects of our sport that govern how the sport is run, if and when, it ever goes to the Olympics. And once the sport gets TV network coverage, it won't really matter what we're doing at our own rides. All endurance rides, and riders, will be seen as what is described on TV. We, as endurance riders, will have to answer that question, posed by the CNN reporter asking, "Why do so many horses die in your sport?"
If our sport ever does become an Olympic event, it won't really matter whether you are an FEI International Endurance rider, or just an endurance rider who never leaves their region in the states. The label, as horse killers, will be on us all.
Howard (who should know better than to disagree with the site moderator)
----- Original Message -----
From: Steph Teeter
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2002 1:55 PM
To: Howard Bramhall; ridecamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: RE: [RC] IntNewsGroup: Jerez WEG Endurance Postride Report
Howard -I don't think you quite understand Dane's message. The decisions on loops and vetgate holds were not made by FEI (officials and veterinarians). They were made by the event organizing committee. Dane states that all members of the FEI veterinary commission were opposed to the format, but the OC - the individuals who organized the event, set the format. This is not about FEI making poor decisions, it is about a select group of individuals who made up the OC making a poor decision, for whatever reason. The Vermont PAC had many holds (maybe 8?) and the completion rate was high, the horses benefited from this format - but this decision was not made by FEI officials, it was made by the PAC organizing committee. Maybe the problem is that the FEI officials do not have enough 'power' to control the standards in an event that they (especially the veterinarians) feel is less than adequate in terms of welfare of the horse. If you're going to start firing shots, make sure you know who/what the target is.
The FEI is the international governing body for Eventing, Dressage, Vaulting, Jumping, Reining, and Endurance. The FEI grants sanctioning to Endurance rides (and other discipline events) based upon requests made by individuals or organizing committees. The FEI has a presence - stewards and veterinarians - at these FEI sanctioned rides to ensure that rules are followed. They do not define the course, they do not promote the sport, their job is to ensure that the sport is conducted in accordance with their rules.
At the International (FEI) level the awards, rewards and incentives are greater, the competition is keener, the opportunity to be swayed by power and money is greater, and the horses are being pushed harder. This I'll agree with. But this is not because of action on the part of FEI. This is because a lot of money is being poured into the sport, and new nations (w/o a history of training and competing endurance horses) are being recruited in order to make it more international, and high performance horses are demanding incredible prices, and many individuals are being swept up in the glory and excitement.
I actually think all of this anti-International sentiment is not a bad thing, certainly it's a natural reaction - the sport has become a different creature at this level. It lacks the depth that we have nurtured here in the US. But - don't forget that we also have our problems - seven? ride related horse deaths this year in the US? And this really has nothing to do with International, it's not a new thing. Endurance is a tough sport - probably the toughest horse-sport that there is. We need to start thinking about how to better protect our horses, and our sport - here at home - rather than worring about what the rest of the world is doing.
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