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Re: [RC] [RC] FEI rule changes - Maryanne Gabbani

This still does not address the immediate result that unless Malaysian riders can ship their horses overseas at considerable expense and difficulty to race at high speed to obtain the CoC, they will not be able to ride in a race in their own country where their horses are probably the best prepared for the fairly unusual environmental conditions.

Speed does not necessarily equal metabolic fitness under conditions of high heat and humidty. There seems to be some slip in the logic somewhere such that ensuring that horses are fast is the same as making them capable of withstanding other pressures.


On 4/27/07, CAROL SPROAT <lawdoc@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


The new rules applicable only to the 2008 Malaysia WEG require that the horse and rider, as a team, completed a 160 k race within 12 months of the 2008 WEG in 10 hours and 40 minutes thereby obtaining their certificate of capability or "COC".  The COC will, however, be revoked if (1) within 6 months of the close of nominated entries the horse is eliminated from any FEI or national competition for metabolic reasons that require invasive treatment, or (2) within 12 months of the close of nominated entries the rider is eliminated from any two consecutive FEI or national competitions for metabolic reasons.  While some people feel this is changing the rules in mid-stream, it is important to note that we are still 17 months away from the WEG and the qualification must be completed within 12 months of the race.  Hence, riders have 5 months to plan how and at what race they will attempt to meet this requirement and then another several months to actually achieve the requirement.  


While I think that most of those involved in international agree that the new requirements are imperfect and create some problems on their own, it is equally important to recognize that there are legitimate reasons for implementing such rules.  As I understand it, the overall goal of the FEI Endurance Committee in implementing these rule changes is to try to (1) improve completion rates at the Malaysia WEG and (2) to try to protect the welfare of those horses that compete in that competition.  It was felt that, at many prior WEG events, many countries sent horses and/or riders that had insufficient experience to compete at a world championship event.   Not only has that resulted in low completion rates, it has placed horses at risk.  For that reason, the U.S. and a few other countries have argued that a smaller and more elite field is desirable at world championships.  The U.S. has also argued that speed should not be the sole focus and that speed should be controlled through more challenging courses which are created by design, climate, and terrain or best by a combination.  Put differently, the goal was not to speed up ride times but to eliminate horses and/or riders who may try to ride at speed because they are in a "world championship" when they have no prior experience at doing so.

Malaysia will be a very challenging course, primarily because of the climate.  Consequently, the risks to poorly prepared horses and barely qualified riders will be significant.  Recognizing that the risk to metabolically challenged horses is significant, the FEI Endurance Committee decided to take a proactive approach by setting a standard that requires countries to prepare their horses and riders for a very strenuous race.  While no one expects a 7 hour winning time in the Malaysia WEG, the FEI Endurance Committee felt that horses that are not capable of doing a fairly fast 100 mile ride should not be there.  It is too risky.  Likewise, horses that have a recent history of suffering a metabolic pull that required treatment should not be raced in an environment where the climate will present a particular challenge to the horse.  It is too risky.  Similarly, riders who have two consecutive pulls for metabolic reasons do not have the skills necessary to safely take their equine partners over a 100-mile course in what may be difficult climatic conditions.  It is too risky.  
So, while reasonable minds can disagree as to whether or not these rules are good or flawed, at least the FEI is finally doing something rather than nothing and is, even if flawed, attempting to take some action to protect the welfare of the horses that will race in Malaysia.  This is just a starting point, and it will hopefully continue to be a work in progress.  


Carol Giles

AERC-I Chair


Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
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[RC] FEI rule changes, CAROL SPROAT