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Telegraph.co.uk/sport - Pippa Cuckson

Swiss letter to FEI:
March 26 2012

Belgian letter to FEI:
October 2 2012

French letter to FEI:
October 12 2012

AERC letter to USEF
June 25 2013

Dutch letters to FEI:
June 19 2013
August 13 2013

Jamaica's letters to FEI:
October 23 2013 - page 1
Oct 23 - Page 2
October 25 2013
October 29 2013 - page 1
Oct 29 - Page 2
October 31 2013

John Crandell's letter to AERC:
October 30 2013

Endurance Strategic Planning Group:
November 2013
ESPG Script
ESPG Vision

John Crandell's Perspective on ESPG Proposal:
November 21 2013

AERC's Recommendations to ESPG Plans:
December 9 2013

January 2014

AERC Proposes Temporary Suspension of Concurrent FEI Events:

AERC-I's Response to AERC Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal (Revised):
January 2014

French Vets' Open Letter to Endurance after 2014 Compiegne
June 2014

French Vets' Open Letter to Endurance after 2014 Compiegne mare's death case is closed without transparancy
September 2014

May 2015

FEI Denies UAE Appeal of Suspension

May 2015

FEI Sports Forum Endurance WEG Change Proposal

John Crandell's Rebirth of Endurance Tests/ Roadmap to the Future/ Part 1: Endurance Testing Conceptual Chart
March 2016

Francois Kerboul's Bouthieb 2015 - 2016: The unbelievable season
March 2016

2016 WEC Removed from UAE
April 2016

AERC President and AERC International Committee Chair Pen Letter Regarding Slovakia WEC - Sept 2016
September 2016

Australia's Letter to FEI Re: Slovakia WEC - Oct 2016
October 2016

AERC's Letter to USEF Re: More Dubai horse deaths
January 2017

AERA's Letter to AE Re: More Dubai horse deaths
January 2017

Germany's Letter to FEI regarding Int'l Horse Welfare
February 2017

Australia's Letter to FEI regarding UAE Horse Welfare
February 2017

AERC letter of concern to USEF Regarding UAE
January 2018

USEF Letter of Response to AERC's Letter of Concern Regarding UAE
January 2018

USA Letter to USEF Regarding Upcoming WEG
August 2018


OR, if the whole shebang is just too much, here it is by the years:
2013 || 2014 || 2015 || 2016 || 2017 || 2018 || 2019 || 2020 || 2021

HUMOR, if there is any in the situation || More HUMOR


December 31 2014

Spot-the-Marmoog – the new Christmas party game for all the family!

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

Blogs Cuckson Report | December 31, 2014
by Pippa Cuckson

A couple of posts ago http://www.horse-canada.com/cuckson-report/hiding-in-plain-sight/, I remarked that anyone who searched randomly through the FEI database was likely, within 20 minutes, to chance upon a horse whose provenance did not stack up. This followed revelations about the failed FEI investigation into whether dressage horse Wily Earl and the three-years-younger Golden Coin were one and the same, a case drawn to my attention after the collapse of the Marmoog horse-swap enquiry on a legal technicality.

Quite a few of you took my 20-minute challenge seriously, and have referred me to horses who seem to have started their careers rather late in life. Others who have caught Marmoog fever tell me they’ve scoured endurance pictures on the internet in search of mid-ride horse swaps. There’s certainly a buzz when you think you’ve spotted a ringer. (This new-found party game has quickly gained popularity thanks, no doubt, to Christmas TV schedules rarely living up to expectations, or running out of things to say to your elderly aunt. It’s fun for all the family, with no prior horse knowledge required – all you need is normal eyesight).

Following the Marmoog affair, the FEI acknowledged “loopholes” in its horse ID systems. During the London International Horse Show (Olympia) I found myself in the same hospitality box as John McEwen, the FEI’s ex-vice president. He talked me through many new measures to thwart passport fraud and horse-swappers that are in the rules for 2015. We were not alerted to these revisions in missives from the FEI General Assembly the previous weekend. Having now read them online, I am not surprised the FEI was reluctant to spotlight them. The relationship between microchip and passport was not so much of a loophole as a sink-hole!...

Read more here:

World Horse Welfare to take part in Endurance GB panel



World Horse Welfare, the international horse charity and independent welfare advisor to sport regulators, has agreed to take part in a Review Panel for the proposed sponsorship contract for Endurance GB with the Dubai-based group Meydan.

The sponsorship is a sensitive issue given the controversy that the international sport of endurance has experienced in recent years, following the excessive rate of injuries and fatalities of horses in some parts of the sport.

Roly Owers, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We fully support the responsible use of horses in sport which means placing the welfare of the horse above all other considerations. We want to see the sport of Endurance continue to thrive in the UK with the welfare of the horse at its heart. We are entering this process with an open mind on the agreement, which we understand will include clauses on both equine welfare and fair play. I have been assured that World Horse Welfare will have the ability to act as it sees fit to fulfil a monitoring function, which I look forward to carrying out with my fellow panel members.”

- See more at: http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/Article/World-Horse-Welfare-takes-part-in-Endurance-GB-panel#sthash.WU5zB9xk.dpuf

December 28 2014

Great Britain: Meydan Sponsorship Deal Criticized

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

Horse Sport December 23, 2014

by: Horse-Canada.com

At the beginning of December, Endurance Great Britain (EGB) approached members with proposed sponsorship package from Meydan, a company owned by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The package proposed providing EGM with a large but undisclosed sum of money to support EGB while also providing new ride opportunities in Great Britain. However, given the terrible troubles facing Endurance as a result of serious rule infractions committed by riders in Group 7, including members of the Maktoum family, many EGM members have voiced serious concerns about accepting sponsorship proposal. Herewith is an open letter written to the board of EGB:...

Read more here:

Great Britain: Intrepid Reporter Gets More Accolades

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

Horse Sport December 19, 2014
by: Horse-Canada.com

Equestrian journalist Pippa Cuckson has received the Liz Dudden Memorial Trophy in recognition of her tireless quest to expose horse welfare issues at the highest level of sport. Her ongoing coverage of the Middle East endurance scandals in international media outlets, including her blog at horse-canada.com/cuckson-report, has shone a light on these issues, and demanded improvements.

Presented by the British Equestrian Writers Association (BEWA), the Liz Dudden Memorial Trophy recognizes outstanding contributions to equestrian sport. Cuckson accepted the award at the BEWA annual awards ceremony, held December 18th at the Olympia Hilton, at a special luncheon during the London International Horse Show at Olympia.

BEWA president, Alan Smith, explained that the Liz Dudden award was started in 1993 in honour of accomplished journalist Liz Dudden. “She died, all too early, of cancer,” said Smith. “So, we decided to give an award in her honour to someone other than a competitor: e.g. a team trainer or manager, a show organiser or official. Generally speaking, we prefer to give it to someone outside our profession, but felt that Pippa’s work, especially on endurance and associated horse welfare, warranted it this year.”

Cuckson is only the second journalist to receive the award...

Read more here:

December 18 2014

Belgium’s Ingmar De Vos elected as FEI President


14 Dec 2014

Ingmar De Vos (BEL) was today elected as President of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) by an overwhelming majority in the first round of voting, earning 98 votes out of a possible 131.

De Vos, 51, Secretary General of the FEI since May 2011, was elected to take charge of the world governing body of equestrian sport during this morning’s session of the FEI General Assembly in Baku (AZE).

The result was announced by HRH Princess Haya, the outgoing President, with the simple words, “I am pleased to announce we have a new FEI President, Ingmar De Vos”. Her words were met with prolonged applause from close to 350 delegates representing 91 National Federations, stakeholders, sponsors and international media.

“I’m really very honoured and overwhelmed by this enormous support,” a clearly emotional De Vos said, “and I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your confidence. Baku will be in my memory forever.

“Elections are always difficult, as it splits a little bit the family, but I guarantee that I will be the president of all of you, I will serve all the members of our community and I will work very hard to keep this unity.”

He went on to thank his great friend and mentor Jacky Buchmann, who has recently been re-elected as President of the Belgian Equestrian Federation. And finally, with great emotion, he thanked outgoing President Princess Haya.

“Words cannot explain what she has done for our organisation. She has shown leadership, she has guided us through difficult waters, she has innovated us, she has modernised us. She has left us with a great legacy and I believe, together with many of you, that it is our responsibility to preserve the legacy and go on with the roadmap she has shown us. Words are not enough to thank her. Over the years we have become good friends, and I am thankful and grateful for your support. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Congratulations from IOC President

Shortly after his election, De Vos received a letter of congratulations from IOC President Thomas Bach. “Please accept my congratulations on your election as President of the International Equestrian Federation. The IOC enjoys a long-standing relationship with FEI, its elected members and administration. We are sure that FEI will continue its growth under your leadership. Your previous experience in different positions of the Equestrian sports will be invaluable for you in this new office. On behalf of the IOC and the entire Olympic Movement, I wish you every success in the new role you are undertaking.”

De Vos takes over the reins as FEI President at the conclusion of today’s FEI General Assembly for a four-year term, and is eligible for re-election for up to three consecutive terms. He has stated that he will resign as Secretary General as soon as he takes over the Presidency this afternoon and will appoint an interim Secretary General to take over the role until a permanent replacement is found.

The other candidates standing for election were Pierre Durand (FRA), Pierre Genecand (SUI), John McEwen (GBR), and Ulf Helgstrand (DEN). Helgstrand withdrew his candidacy before the vote, and a sixth candidate, Javier Revuelta del Peral (ESP) withdrew from the election process in November.

Notes to Editors

FEI General Assembly 2014 – how the votes were cast:

Ingmar De Vos (BEL) 98
Pierre Durand (FRA) 21
Pierre Genecand (SUI) 6
John McEwen (GBR) 6

A total of 131 voting boxes were distributed to National Federation delegates, with 131 valid ballots cast. A total of 91 National Federations present for the vote and there were 40 proxies.

Ingmar De Vos (BEL)

Ingmar De Vos (51) holds degrees in political science, business administration and international and European law, and started his career as an advisor to the Belgian Senate. He joined the Belgian Equestrian Federation as managing director in 1990, and held the additional role of Secretary General from 1997 to 2011.

During his time at the Belgian National Federation, De Vos was chef de mission for the Belgian Equestrian Team at all FEI World Equestrian Games™ from 1990 to 2010 and at several Olympic Games. He was also Secretary General of the European Equestrian Federation from 2010, the year the organisation was formed, until 2011, when he joined the FEI.

December 17 2014

FEI: Is Welfare ‘Paramount’ – or Just a Pain in the Neck?

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

Cuckson Report | December 15, 2014
by Pippa Cuckson

On Saturday, I went National Hunt racing to support a friend’s horse. He was caught on the line for third place, but connections were thrilled as he has come back from a couple of niggles last year and runs and jumps better every time. At 15-1, it was also a profitable each-way bet. This prodded to me ponder that no bookmaker would have offered odds on the dead-certainty that Ingmar de Vos would be voted new president of the FEI. The only wager you might have considered was the extent of Ingmar’s landslide.

Thanks to modern technology, I was able to follow the “meet the presidential candidates session” in Baku from the racecourse’s owners and trainers bar. What a futile session that must have seemed for the four other candidates, who already realized they were going to be hammered at the polls (De Vos, 98 votes; Durand, 21; Genecand, 6, McEwen, 6; Helgstrand – dropped out before ballot). Even the FEI’s press release about that session was brief, containing as much information about the marvelousness of Princess Haya as it did about the vision of the quintet vying to be her successor. Maybe profitable bets can be placed on how many times the FEI can magic-up a reason to mention Princess Haya in its future press releases, even though she is longer in office.

You can read about General Assembly decisions on the FEI website or click here. These include positive innovations and other revenue achievements. What you won’t find flagged-up is the day’s most articulate and thought-provoking address, given by Roly Owers of World Horse Welfare.

On Sunday, I followed the GA throughout by livestream, from 5:00 a.m., UK time. The mantra “welfare is paramount” was dropped into several discussions, but there was not much actual discussion about what this means...

Read more here:

December 16 2014

FEI: ‘Systemic Ineptitude’ Has Put All Sports Horses at Risk

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

by Pippa Cuckson

One of my all-time favourite films is All The President’s Men, about the Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, who unravelled the Watergate scandal and ultimately forced the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Woodward had a source known as “Deep Throat,” whom he met in a basement garage.* Deep Throat never gave away solid information; instead, he offered cryptic clues. About 18 months into the investigation, Woodward tells Deep Throat that he and Bernstein are still baffled why the Nixon entourage’s covert operations were thought necessary in the first place. Deep Throat replies: “Forget the myths the media has created about the White House. The truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand.”

It reminds me so much of the FEI. For sure, it’s appalling that the Marmoog horse swap enquiry dragged on and on. But when they’d already left it eight months why announce the non-result just a week before the General Assembly and presidential election, digging two of the candidates into a bigger hole than they are already in as representatives of the current regime, by highlighting that horse ID, biosecurity and legal processes are not fit for purpose?

And why has the FEI chosen this week to virtually concede that these oversights are being addressed, years overdue, only because the public finally found out about a scandal the FEI knew of NINETEEN months before?...

Read more here:

December 11 2014

Dubai chosen to host 2016 World Endurance Championship by FEI

Insidethegames.biz - Full Article

Thursday, 11 December 2014
By Emily Goddard

Dubai will host the 2016 World Endurance Championship ©Getty ImagesThe International Equestrian Federation (FEI) today revealed that Dubai will stage the 2016 World Endurance Championship as it allocated its Championships and finals for the next two years.

The FEI Bureau, currently meeting in Baku, announced that the United Arab Emirates city will host the discipline's flagship event in the December, with the exact date yet to confirmed.

It also named Sithonia in Greece as the host of next year's Balkan Jumping Championship for Seniors, Young Riders, Juniors and Children, which is scheduled to take place on September 3 until 6 and the Turkish city of Istanbul as the stage for the Balkan Dressage Championship for Seniors, Young Riders, Juniors and Children due to take place July 29 to August 2, with Ruse in Bulgaria hosting next year's Balkan Endurance Championship on October 2 until4.

Meanwhile, the European Dressage Championship for Young Riders, Juniors and Children is due to take place in Madrid, Spain on July 6 until 10, 2016, the World Jumping Challenge Final heads to Zhitnica, Bulgaria, on July 2 until 6 next year and the World Cup Vaulting Final will be staged in the Austrian city of Graz on February 19 to 22 also next year...

Read more here:

December 2 2014

Marmoog Watch: The Final Insult

Horse-canada.com - Full Article


Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai, will face no action over the “Marmoog” horse swap allegations after the FEI announced today that “no legal action can be taken for procedural reasons and due to a lack of conclusive evidence.”

However, the FEI has simultaneously announced that as a result of “loopholes” found by the investigation, it is reviewing horse identification processes and undertaking a “full review of its legal system.” This can at least be regarded as a result – assuming, of course, the new procedures are actually enforced, about which I am not holding my breath.

I was, of course, disappointed that Sheikh Hamdan’s cronies will get away with not having to provide a public explanation as to why “Marmoog” sprouted a white face during the 2012 Endurance World Championships. But I am not entirely surprised, due to the futility of the very tight deadlines – a mere 30-minutes after the event – set by FEI regulations for members of the public to report suspected violations to the ground jury. Sheikh Hamdan would not have needed to hire a very expensive lawyer to point out that get-out.

So while incriminating pictures of the two Marmoogs were handed to the FEI by myself on behalf of London’s Daily Telegraph on March 7th were 18 months, 16 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes too late, I am pleased at least to learn from the FEI today that the nonsense of the 30-minute rule will be included in the legal review...

Read more here:

FEI Elections: "A Shadow of Doubt"

Chevalarabenews.com - Full Article Special FEI Election Issue
“A shadow of doubt”

by Annaïk Le Floc'h
December 9 2014

Six days from now, the FEI will have a new President – there is no female candidate since Princess Haya decided not to stand for a third term in spite of having prompted a change in the Statutes for that purpose last spring. The number of candidates competing for this position is unprecedented: there are still five people in the running since the Spaniard Javier Revuelta Del Peral withdrew. In alphabetical order: Ingmar De Vos (BEL), Pierre Durand (FRA), Pierre Genecand (SWTZ), Ulf Helgstrand (DEN) et John McEwen (GBR).

But these elections are a cause of concern, distrust and suspicion, including among some of the candidates for the presidency. The Spaniard Javier Revuelta announced he was withdrawing his candidacy on November 12, one month ahead of the election. He accuses Ingmar De Vos of “conflict of interest” as a result of being the current Secretary General and as such able to make use of the whole FEI apparatus to campaign, and of blatantly trying to influence a number of decisions during the election period. In his letter withdrawing his candidacy he says “I think Mr. De Voss should have resigned from his position as Secretary General the day he announced he was a candidate: being both Secretary General and Candidate flies in the face of all the principles of impartiality and equality during the election process...”

Read more here:

September 8 2014

Compiegne Horse Death Case Closed; Transparency in Question

September 8 2014
by Merri Melde-Endurance.net

Following the Open Letter to Endurance by French veterinarians, Doctors Pelissier, Seguin, Benamou-Smith, Romantzoff, and Leclerc, concerning high speeds, "tired over-run horses in the vetgates", high number of treatments required, attempts to "cheat systematically" by some competitors, and in particular the death of one mare at the May 2014 Compiegne endurance races, this group of veterinarians has responded to the FEI's investigation into the horse's death.

Of the mare Elmerita di Gallura's death FEI concluded, "results from the anti-doping test are negative and the post-mortem examination did not explain the cause of death."

Veterinarians Benamou-Smith, Pelissier, Romantzoff, and Sequin express strong objection to this apparent dismissal of the incident, and do not accept that the FEI, "whose self-professed mission is to lead an enquiry into the death of a competing horse, produces such a statement. In order to show a real transparency (the key factor in 'clean sport') in ethics and sports, the complete scientific results of these tests, which are known to the FEI since June, should to [sic] be published."

The veterinarians can't help but draw a parallel to another horse in the 2012 Florac race, which "died in very strange clinical circumstances. The horse was sampled post-mortem at the venue. No less than 21 controlled substances were identified by the french MCP (medication control program) laboratory LCH." However, the veterinarians are still waiting for the FEI to release the results of these samples from 2 years ago.

Another mare from the same stables as Elmerita di Gallura was also treated at the May Compiegne ride and received invasive treatment because she was metabolically compromised. In such cases, FEI has instituted mandatory rest periods for the safety and well-being of the horses; and in this case, the mare was entered to race in Italy 17 days later, without being blocked by FEI, "which defies official mandatory rest periods and common sense."

While FEI has publicly expressed their intention and campaign to fight doping, and to have a "clean sport," these incidences continue to show the great distance between expressed intent and execution, and the reputation of the sport of endurance suffers while the horses continue to pay the price.

The French veterinarians insist that the FEI live up to their "transparency" goals. "Although the intention expressed by the FEI to fight doping has never seemed stronger, we still have the feeling that actions are not yet sufficient to attain the declared objectives."

See the complete letter here:

June 22 2014

5 Top French Endurance Veterinarians Present Open Letter to Endurance After Compiegne Controversies

June 22 2014

After a long weekend of endurance at Compiegne, France on May 23-25, five officiating endurance vets were left "tired, puzzled and bitter" after several unfavorable events occurred, among which were a photo of a "skeletal horse" that was allowed to compete that went viral, and a mare that died during the race.

While the event looked good on paper and appeared organized, late entries led to understaffing of officials, and the ground jury "had to cope with constant intense pressure from some competitors who constantly aim to appeal against judgments and try to cheat systematically." Treatment veterinarians also had to struggle with too many metabolic eliminations which required treatment.

"Our analysis of the reasons for this situation," the veterinarians wrote, "is that current practices of endurance in some group 7 countries is very far removed from the original spirit of our sport. These riders no longer follow the principle of making the most of the horse's performance on the day by listening to their mount, but push their horse beyond its capacity, which only a few of the best manage to tolerate the harmful effects. This kind of dangerous attitude goes beyond what actualy experienced vetgates and their team can cope with, and thus safety of the competing horses cannot be guaranteed anymore."

A large number of the treated horses recovered well, but a few who "were pushed too far" required further treatment. One of those horses, a mare who "developed a neurologic syndrome at the third vetgate" could not be saved by treatment and died.

These veterinarians have seen the progression of endurance racing in Europe from poorly ridden and managed horses, to "numerous elaborate and constantly evolving veterinary examinations at regular vetgates" which have improved the safety of the horses and awareness of the riders who have learned to take responsibility of their mounts, to a degradation of the sport where "jockeys" ride horses which they know nothing about, and doping agents "markedly mask typical symptoms of fatigue."

"At present, we are unfortunately faced with some riders who barely know their horses, do not respect them, and who are in the habit of cheating, lying and concealing information. In these conditions, 'modern' endurance cannot ensure the safety of horses and as practicing veterinarians we are faced with a situation we disapprove of, as well as the ineffectiveness or lack of real commitment from the FEI to solve this problem.

"These horses are put in grave danger by what we consider to be unethical and anti-sportive practices. Other riders and teams also disapprove of this situation which makes them cynical about the ethics of this competitive sport, and needs to be fought with great force."

These veterinarians recommend witness from outside endurance provide hindsight and objectivity to situations of abuse, and they call upon riders "to exert a respectful and ethical care upon riding their horses," and national and international organizations to implement strong measures to prevent abuse, particularly regarding doping.

The original letter went out in French on June 11, and has been officially translated. You can read the entire English version here:

June 20 2014

New FEI rules in endurance a 'great step foward'

Horseandcountry.tv - Full Article

By Charlotte Ricca-Smith on 20th-Jun-2014

New endurance rules, which address “horse welfare and fair play”, have been approved by the FEI in time for the World Equestrian Games.

Step forward

The “fundamental" rule changes are in line with the recommendations of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) and will be implemented on 1 August 2014.

The ESPG was set up by the FEI last year to develop a 10-year plan to address the current problems in endurance riding. “The new rules for endurance are a great step forward for horse welfare and fair play, and we strongly believe they address the key issues that the discipline has been facing,” said Brian Sheahan, chair of the FEI endurance committee and member of the ESPG...

Read more here:

June 19 2014

Second Yellow Card Suspends Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa

Chronical of the Horse
By: Taylor Joyce

The Fédération Equestre Internationale has suspended Bahrainian endurance rider Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa beginning June 12 after he received his second yellow warning card in four months, this time during his ride at the Compiegne CEI** (France), May 23-25. He was charged with “abuse of horse.”

Compiegne marked Mubarak's first ride back at an FEI competition since the Sakhir CEI** (Bahrain) on Feb. 8, where he received a yellow warning card and a fine of $560 after a video brought to light maltreatment of his horse by people on foot as they neared the finish line in the lead. They chased Tarabic Carl and even possibly hit him to encourage him to keep going. Mubarak was charged with “abuse of horse” and “non-compliance with applicable endurance rules” at Sakhir after the video went viral, causing an Internet uproar. At that point, the Bahrainian National Federation suspended both the rider and the groom involved in the incident until the end of the endurance season.

Because Mubarak’s two offenses took place within a 12-month period, he’s banned from FEI competition for two months. His suspension will end on Aug. 11.

Five riders in total received yellow cards at Compiegne. Three of those were horse-related abuses. In addition to Sheikh Mohammed, Faleh Nasser S.S. Bughenaim of Quatar and Sheikh Hasher bin Mhod Thani Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates received yellow cards for "maltreatment of a horse."

Compiegne was also the event where an extremely thin horse was allowed to start the 160-kilometer CEI. Bahrainian rider Raed Mahmood rode Shakla's Sudden Impact. The horse did vet out at the second gate for lameness. Another horse, L Emerita di Gallura, died after being vetted out for metabolic reasons at gate 2 in the CEI.

Full article, Chronicle of the Horse

New measures against horse doping a step closer in UAE

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Jun 19, 2014 in Focus

The United Arab Emirates is a step closer to enshrining new measures against horse doping in law, after an advisory council approved draft legislation that outlines fines and bans for breaches.

The draft law passed by the government advisory council outlines fines ranging from Dhs20,000 ($US5400) to Dhs500,000 (US$136,100).

The proposed law covers all equestrian sports, including racing, endurance, and polo.

Bans on individuals range up to three years, with life bans possible for repeat offenders...

Read more here:

June 17 2014

Horse racing-UAE govt advisory council passes draft law to combat horse doping


By Maha El Dahan and Martin Dokoupil

ABU DHABI/DUBAI, June 17 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) government advisory council passed a draft law against horse doping on Tuesday, aiming to clear a reputation tarnished by doping scandals in flat and endurance races.

The bill, which covers all equestrian disciplines from racing to polo, outlines financial penalties from 20,000 to 500,000 dirhams ($5,400-$136,100) for various doping offences.

A supervisory authority can also ban individuals from the sport for three years. In case of repeated offences a lifetime ban is an option.

"This is the first legislation on the level of law. Before there were just some regulations governing it," Rashid al-Shuraiki, the head of a Federal National Council (FNC) committee in charge of drafting the bill, told Reuters.

"We tried ... to have everything in it and not leave any loopholes, to give confidence to all participants in races in the UAE and to the UAE when it participates in races abroad," he said on the sidelines of a six-hour discussion about the draft.

Angered by doping in his Godolphin stables last year, UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum initiated last May a decree that made the import, sale, purchase or use of anabolic steroids in horse sports a criminal offence under the UAE penal laws.

Godolphin's reputation suffered a serious blow when the British Horseracing Authority banned former trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni for administering anabolic steroids to horses at his Moulton Paddock stables in Newmarket.

U.K. border authorities last year also seized a shipment of unlicensed veterinary goods from a Dubai government jet.

The incidents caused serious embarrassment to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed, Britain's leading racehorse owner and the world champion in endurance, who closed Zarooni's stables with around 200 horses and ordered internal investigation.


Zarooni won the 2012 Dubai World Cup - the world's richest horse race - for Godolphin with Monterosso, as well as English Classics the St Leger and 1,000 Guineas.

In September, Sheikh Mohammed's wife Princess Haya, who may run for re-election as a president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), appointed former London police chief Lord Stevens to oversee an internal inquiry into the sheikh's global equine interests.

Lord Stevens's report cleared Sheikh Mohammed of any wrongdoing and concluded that Zarooni had acted alone.

In a document to the 40-member FNC explaining reasons behind drafting the law, the committee noted "a lack of consistency in test results from laboratories" which led to credibility doubts, adding international certification would be required.

The government is expected to send the draft to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan for signing into law.

The draft law also forbids trading in banned substances and the purchase of such a substance is only allowed with special permission from the government. Controlled substances used for treating horses for ailments do not require such a permission but they are banned during the competition season.

The use of a number of mechanical and electrical devices used to massage horse muscles will also be banned, the FNC voted despite objections by a government minister that their use cannot be tested.

Endurance racing in the UAE, where both horses and riders often battle gruelling heat and desert dust in races as long as 160 km (99 miles) in one day, has been also mired in doping and horse welfare controversy.

The draft spelled out several doping cases where UAE riders were suspended as a result over the last two years. The FEI revised the discipline's rules earlier this month, saying its task force is looking at ways that new technology can be used to ensure horse welfare and provide a level playing field globally. (Writing by Martin Dokoupil; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

June 12 2014

New rules for endurance to be operational on August 1

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Jun 11, 2014

New endurance rules, sparked by concerns over excesses in the sport centered on the Middle East, have been approved by the FEI Bureau.

The rules will become operational on August 1, meaning they will be in place for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

The rule revisions are the end of a process that began last year, after several national equestrian federations in Europe raised concerns over what they viewed as excessive fracture rates and worrying numbers of doping infractions centered on the Group VII nations of Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain...

Read more here:

June 11 2014

FEI Bureau approves Endurance rules revisions

10 Jun 2014

The FEI Bureau has today approved the revised Endurance rules during the second day of its in-person meeting in the FEI Headquarters in Lausanne (SUI). The revised rules, which are in line with the recommendations of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) and which received widespread support at the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne (SUI) in April 2014, will be implemented on 1 August 2014.

Additionally, and in order to more formally recognise the HRH Princess Haya’s previously stated conflict of interest with regard to the discipline, the Bureau voted unanimously to officially mandate the 1st Vice President John McEwen to take over full responsibility for the entire Endurance discipline during Princess Haya’s term of office.

The FEI and the National Federations have consistently stressed the importance of putting the new rules in place as soon as possible rather than waiting for a vote at the FEI General Assembly in December, which would mean delaying implementation until 1 January 2015. Under Article 20.3 of the FEI Statutes, the Bureau can, in emergency situations, pass resolutions that are normally voted on at the General Assembly.

Brian Sheahan, Chair of the FEI Endurance Committee and a member of the ESPG, welcomed the rapid implementation of the new rules. “The new rules for Endurance are a great step forward for horse welfare and fair play, and we strongly believe they address the key issues that the discipline has been facing,” he said.

“We are all aware that the discipline has faced a number of difficult challenges recently, but the combination of the ESPG, the consultation process with the National Federations and other stakeholders, and the determination of the Endurance Committee and the team at FEI Headquarters to address the issues within the discipline has resulted in some fundamental rule changes specifically aimed at improving horse welfare protocols and ensuring a level playing field globally.

“Now we can go forward with confidence to the World Equestrian Games, knowing that we have the right regulations and the right officials in place to ensure horse welfare and fair play, and also knowing that the athletes and their teams are confident in the rules and their implementation. While we will of course continually monitor the effectiveness of the new rules to make sure they are fit for purpose, this is definitely a major breakthrough for Endurance that means that we can now turn the focus back onto the sport.”

In addition to the new rules and in response to one of the ESPG recommendations, the Endurance Task Force is looking at ways that new technology can also be used to ensure horse welfare and provide a level playing field for Endurance events around the world.

Following on from the strong support for the far-reaching initiatives outlined at the special Endurance session at the Sports Forum, a large number of the leading Endurance National Federations have expressed their further support in writing.

Notes to Editors:

Under Article 20.3 of the FEI Statutes, National Federations have 30 days to object to the amendments to the Endurance rules, but further changes can only be made if a majority of National Federations register their objections within the specified timeframe.

The new Rules for Endurance to be implemented on 1 August 2014 will be published shortly on the FEI website here. Any media requiring a copy of the rules should contact the FEI Press Team at press@fei.org.

May 30 2014

France: Thin endurance horse passed fit to race ‘horrifies’ riders

Horseandhound.co.uk - Full Article

30 May 2014

Horse sport’s governing body has defended the inclusion of an exceptionally thin horse in the 160CEI at Compiègne, France, last week (23 May).

A photograph of the horse — described as “disturbing” by a leading equine welfare charity — was widely circulated on social media.

The FEI has not confirmed the horse’s identity, but it is understood to represent one of the Middle Eastern teams based in Europe for the summer.

The main outcry centred on a Facebook group for endurance specialists, who are familiar with the sport’s tough demands, but were “horrified” and “ashamed” by the horse’s appearance at the initial inspection.

Read more at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/thin-endurance-horse-passed-fit-race-horrifies-riders/#pfb1PXuOdkmo6CUM.99

May 29 2014

France: Skeletal images of endurance horse Shakla’s Sudden Impact sparks outrage in equestrian community

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

International Equestrian Federation told to tighten rules after pictures emerge of emaciated horse who was passed fit to compete at World Equestrian Games

By Pippa Cuckson
9:51PM BST 28 May 2014

The International Equestrian Federation is under increasing pressure to tighten its rules on endurance racing after controversial images emerged of a “skeletal” horse competing in a 100-mile race in France.

Vets have described the picture of Shakla’s Sudden Impact, from Bahrain, as “disgusting” while a leading horse welfare group called for a more rigorous enforcement of safety rules.

Shakla’s Sudden Impact was passed fit to race at Compiègne by the same judges who will officiate at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Normandy in August.

The horse ran 46 miles before being withdrawn by vets, but the pictures which sparked the furore were taken before the start of the race...

Read more here:

May 26 2014

France: Enduring Abuse

Equinerescuefrance.org - Full Article

Posted by Jenny on May 26, 2014

There’s yet more disturbing news coming out of the world of International Endurance.

On May 23, an emaciated horse was passed fit to compete at the initial vet check.

SHAKLA’S SUDDEN IMPACT, ridden by RAED MAHMOOD, was competing from the stables of the ROYAL ENDURANCE TEAM of BAHRAIN.

This photo understandably began to go viral across the internet, including into the inbox of the President of Compiegne endurance, Christian Depuille.

The Courrier Picard wrote an article, I’ve put the translation of his response here;

“This is the first time we’ve had to address this type of criticism ,” he says. « The photo is taken in backlight. The light brings out the hips and the withers. But if you look at an Ethiopian marathon runner, you will find them equally thin! The horse in question is certainly not fat, but perhaps is naturally like that, and it has been prepared for the competition. In any case, I was at the veterinary control and did not noticed it.”

And Depuille insisted:
“All the horses are inspected before, during and after endurance races. If a veterinarian determines that an animal can no longer continue, he stops it...”

Read more here:

May 5 2014

Switzerland's Pierre Genecand Confirms Candidacy for FEI President

In a letter released May 5th, 2014, Pierre Genecand of Switzerland confirmed his candidacy for FEI President. He originally announced his bid on February 17th, when it was officially registered by the FEI. Genecand will run against Princess Haya, who will be running for an unprecedented third term of 4 years, after all but 3 member nations opposed changing the statute on April 29th to allow Haya to run again.

See Genecand's letter here:

Endurance Horse Welfare Initiatives Introduced


Yesterday the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) announced bold steps designed to improve endurance horse welfare, proposing unprecedented athlete penalties for equine injuries, extended rest periods, and increased accountability. The moves were fully supported by delegates attending the endurance round table on the second day of the FEI Sports Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The welfare of the horse is not just a veterinary issue, it’s an issue for all those who work in the sport,” said John McEwen, FEI first vice president and chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee.

Proposed rule changes relating to officials’ accountability and responsibility, increased protection of horses through athlete penalty points and extended rest periods, appointment of independent governance advisors, and improved conflict of interest regulations received wide support from attendees.

There was also wide support for the new FEI Endurance Codex, which the endurance committee has produced to cover endurance officials, and separately endurance athletes and registered trainers. The codex—which defines responsibility, accountability, and sanctions for those in breach of the rules—already exists for FEI veterinarians.

The rule changes will be circulated to national federations for final review prior to going before the FEI bureau at its in-person meeting on June 9-10 for approval and immediate implementation.

During the debate session that followed, there was a call for information about injuries at national events to be included in the Global Endurance Injuries Study (GEIS); this was backed by Tim Parkin, BSc, BVSc, PhD, DECVPH, MRCVS, whom the FEI commissioned to set up the study.

“The FEI has done a great job of demonstrating what can be done with data that is currently available from FEI events and it is clearly going in the right direction,” Parkin said. “Adding in data from national events is only going to improve that situation. The new regulations have an impact that is really beneficial to the welfare of the horse.”

Roly Owers, chief executive of World Horse Welfare, also voiced his support for the GEIS and improved monitoring: “The need to make evidence based decisions is so important for equine welfare and I fully support the FEI’s injury surveillance program. Notwithstanding the limitations on data from national competitions, I would urge national federations to provide data to the GEIS and for the FEI to use all its influence to make that happen.”

Andrew Finding, chair of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG)—which was tasked with producing a long-term plan for the discipline—expressed his appreciation for the support of the group’s recommendations.

“I would like to express on behalf of myself and my colleagues on the ESPG our gratitude for the support and the determined effort made by the FEI to put in place our recommendations,” he said. “You should be applauded for that work, and we are grateful for the diligence you have applied.”

Brian Sheahan, chair of the endurance committee, added, “To protect the welfare of the horse, we need to know that we’re doing the right thing. I would like to see increased completion rates, reduced injuries and illness in the horse, and better course design.

“To maintain the integrity of our sport, we need a reduction in doping, improved compliance by athletes and trainers and improved rule enforcement by officials,” he continued. “This sport should demonstrate the highest standards of sportsmanship in a fair and equal competition. And may the best combination of horse and athlete win.”

An online discussion platform to continue the debate on all topics discussed at the 2014 FEI Sports Forum is available online. http://sportsforum.fei.org/

Full article, TheHorse.com

April 30 2014

Fast desert endurance courses out of favour under proposed new rules?

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Apr 30, 2014

The fast desert courses favoured in endurance in the Middle East may struggle to meet rule requirements under proposed changes put before delegates at the Endurance Round Table of the FEI Sports Forum yesterday.

One proposed addition to the rulebook stipulates that loops of a course must not be specially designed and constructed for high speeds likely to subject the horses to increased risk of injury during competition...

Read more here:

Princess Haya wins landslide vote to be allowed to stand for third term as president of the FEI

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

Equestrianism asks Sheikh Mohammed's wife to lead fight for Olympic future despite scandals engulfing endurance racing

By Pippa Cuckson
7:39PM BST 29 Apr 2014

Princess Haya looks likely to lead the fight for equestrianism within the Olympic movement, following a landslide vote at the International Equestrian Federation extraordinary general assembly in Lausanne.

The horse-welfare crisis centred around the Dubai endurance stables of her husband, Sheikh Mohammed, has heightened concerns about International Olympic Committee scrutiny of equestrianism, but that did not convince delegates to oppose a change of statute permitting Haya to stand for a third term as FEI president. The vote was 103 to three.

Princess Haya has previously insisted that she will retire this December, and will not confirm her further candidacy till June. But she said: “I’m very honoured for the opportunity to be available as a future president of the FEI for a third term. I don’t want to go further than that because there’s the possibility there’ll be other candidates. But you have my commitment to you...”

Read more here:

Tougher injury penalties, longer rests for endurance

Unprecedented penalties for equine injuries, extended rest periods and increased accountability received the backing of national delegates at the FEI Sports Forum yesterday as the world governing body pressed on with reforms.

The FEI described the initiatives as far-reaching, following the endurance round table on the second day of the third annual sports forum.

The latest moves in the FEI’s bid to rein in excess fracture rates and other welfare concerns in the sport centred around the more aggressive flat desert form of endurance racing seen in some Group VII nations had the full support of delegates in the session in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The welfare of the horse is not just a veterinary issue, it’s an issue for all those who work in the sport,” said FEI 1st vice-president John McEwen, who also chairs the FEI Veterinary Committee.

[Read more ...]

April 29 2014

Princess Haya clear for 3rd term as FEI president

Bradenton.com - Full Article

AP Sports WriterApril 29, 2014

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND — Princess Haya of Jordan will seek four more years as president of the International Equestrian Federation after overcoming critics of the body's links to her husband's operations.

FEI member countries voted 103-3 to abolish a two-term limit she introduced, clearing their president to serve three consecutive terms.

"I am very honored for the opportunity that you have given me to be available as a future president of the FEI," said Princess Haya, who did not take part in the debate or vote.

The three "no" votes followed recent criticism of apparent conflicts of interest for the princess, who was elected in 2006 as a reformer to clean up the sport.

Thoroughbred and endurance racing operations of her husband, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, have been implicated in doping and welfare allegations...

Read more here:

April 18 2014

Sheikh Mohammed's plan to fund endurance task force ended by International Equestrian Federation

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

Dubai ruler's controlling role in clean up of endurance racing is ended following a shock about-turn by the International Equestrian Federation

By Pippa Cuckson
10:32PM BST 15 Apr 2014

Sheikh Mohammed will no longer fund the clean-up of endurance racing and two of his senior employees have been dropped from the newly-announced task force in a sensational about-turn by the International Equestrian Federation.

News that an apparent controlling role had been offered to Sheikh Mohammed – first revealed by Telegraph Sport last Friday – caused shock waves around the equestrian world as his Dubai stables are at the centre of the horse welfare crisis engulfing the sport.

On Tuesday, the Dutch and Swiss equestrian federations strongly criticised what they called “collaboration” between the Sheikh and the governing body.

Their joint statement said: “Even if His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is the current world endurance champion, his six-month suspension for using prohibited substances [in 2009] cannot be denied, not mentioning more than 24 positive cases concerning horses from his stables in past years...”

Read more here:

FEI confirms that Sheikh Mohammed is funding the task force responsible for cleaning up endurance racing

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

Sheikh Mohammed's funding of clear-up operation not perceived as a conflict of interest despite his Dubai stables being at centre of a doping and injury crisis

By Pippa Cuckson
5:32PM BST 11 Apr 2014

Sheikh Mohammed, whose Dubai stables are at the centre of the doping and injuries crisis engulfing endurance racing, is funding the task force responsible for cleaning up the sport, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has confirmed. Two of the six task force members – lawyer Andrew Holmes and Mohammed Essa Al Adhab – are close to the Sheikh.

This follows media pressure on the FEI to clarify its statement earlier this week that Sheikh Mohammed – whose family’s stables have provided more than 24 doping cases – had offered “full support” for the drastic new measures, after meeting FEI personnel on March 30.

Other observers have inferred the FEI had no jurisdiction over Dubai equestrian sport without the Sheikh’s permission. He is the world endurance champion and husband of FEI president Princess Haya...

Read more here:

April 16 2014

Changes to endurance task force following criticism

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Apr 16, 2014

The FEI Bureau has changed the make-up of the task force charged with finding practical solutions to the problems within endurance, following criticism of its composition. It has also changed its position on accepting funding for the task force from Dubai.

The FEI said the bureau decided during its monthly telephone conference on Tuesday to review the membership following what it said were comments from several national federations.

The two United Arab Emirates representatives, Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, who is general manager of the Dubai Equestrian Club, and lawyer Andrew Holmes, will be removed.

The first replacement is Sheikh Khalid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, of Bahrain, who chairs the FEI Regional Group VII, which has been at the centre of a year-long storm over welfare concerns and what some national federations view as a cavalier approach to the rules by some riders and some officials. Federations have also been angered by the level of doping infractions in the region in recent years.

The FEI said Al Khalifa had a full understanding of the situation in the Middle East...

Read more here:

April 15 2014

Sheikh Mohammed's plan to fund endurance task force ended by International Equestrian Federation

Dubai ruler's controlling role in clean up of endurance racing is ended following a shock about-turn by the International Equestrian Federation

By Pippa Cuckson
10:32PM BST 15 Apr 2014

Sheikh Mohammed will no longer fund the clean-up of endurance racing and two of his senior employees have been dropped from the newly-announced task force in a sensational about-turn by the International Equestrian Federation.

News that an apparent controlling role had been offered to Sheikh Mohammed – first revealed by Telegraph Sport last Friday – caused shock waves around the equestrian world as his Dubai stables are at the centre of the horse welfare crisis engulfing the sport.

On Tuesday, the Dutch and Swiss equestrian federations strongly criticised what they called “collaboration” between the Sheikh and the governing body.

Their joint statement said: “Even if His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is the current world endurance champion, his six-month suspension for using prohibited substances [in 2009] cannot be denied, not mentioning more than 24 positive cases concerning horses from his stables in past years.”...

Read more here:

April 14 2014

Official Swiss Statement

Horsesportinternational.com - Full Article

I received an email from Claude Nordmann at the Swiss Federation this morning, with a press release attached and a request that I share it with readers. As Pippa’s guest blog of today has revealed, things have gone from bad to worse to insanely awful this past week. At least the Swiss and Dutch federations are standing up as the members to which the FEI is ultimately accountable. They are almost alone among their fellow member nations, all of whom have apparently drunk the Royal Kool-Aid.

Here is the official statement issued by the Swiss and Dutch federations today (it has tomorrow’s date on it – that’s how fresh it is):

Media release

Bern, 15th of April 2014

The Dutch and the Swiss Federations regret the FEI collaboration with HH Sheikh Mohammed and the composition of the FEI new task force on endurance

The Dutch and the Swiss Federations are satisfied, that the FEI is still and further on taking the issues in Endurance very seriously as related in recent press releases. But both Federations are questioning the choice of HH Sheikh Mohammed as a sort of consultant in doping prevention, the composition of this new task force and the on going evolution in endurance.

The Dutch and the Swiss Federations are pleased to notice that the FEI endorses the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) recommendations and pushes ahead with its implementation as stated in the press releases from the FEI dated 8th and the 11th April 2014.

Nonetheless, they express their regrets concerning the superficial attendance of formation of the riders, the trainers and the officials, as well as the selection of HH Sheikh Mohammed for an essential role on the way of finding solutions concerning the issues in endurance.

Even if HH Sheikh Mohammed is the current World Endurance champion, his 6 months suspension for using prohibited substances* cannot be denied (Not mentioning more than 24 positive cases concerning horses from the stables of HH Sheikh Mohammed the past years (all equine anti-doping decisions here).

Further, the Dutch and the Swiss Federations are extremely concerned about the choice of the participants in the new Task Force consisting of six persons: Two are very close to HH Sheikh Mohammed, one is specialist in racing. No Europeans or Americans have been selected, although the movement against the issues in endurance started in Europe and the Americans were the initiators of the discipline. During the Round Table and the presentations at the General Assembly and the Endurance Conference, it was clearly requested not to split the discipline of Endurance in “flat racing” and “classical Endurance” and to keep it in the spirit of its original definition for the welfare of the horse.

The mission of this new Task Force is to look for deployment of “modern technology” but the basic as education of all the parties involved, the transparency in the reporting etc. are not part of its objectives. For the Dutch and Swiss federations there are evident conflicts of interest.

Both federations are still extremely worried about the evolution in endurance. The development is more and more going in the direction of “flat endurance-racing”. This should not in any case be supported by the FEI, because of severe horse welfare concerns.

Even if the issues in Endurance are discussed for more than one year, almost nothing has changed. It is not the creation of new bodies, committees, commissions which will cure the situation in Endurance but the full implementation of the existing rules in all part of the world by incorruptible officials for the sake of horse welfare and sport equity.

* (Guanabenz, 16-b Hydroxy-Stanozolol) in two different events on the horse Tahhan – as described in the decision of the FEI tribunal dated 31st July 2009 which can be found here)

For further information:

- Dr Charles F. Trolliet, President of the Swiss Equestrian Federation, Tel. +41 79 205 32 91, E-mail: trolliet@swissonline.ch

- Dr. Claude Nordmann, International Relations, Swiss Equestrian Federation, Tel. +41 79 353 75 54, E-mail: claude.nordmann@bluewin.ch

April 13 2014

Task Force Conflicts Cause Shockwaves

Horsesportinternational.com - Full Article

Horse Sport International’s “Insider,” Pippa Cuckson provides a special report on the Endurance Strategic Planning Group:

Colleagues often preface emails with the phrase “you couldn’t make it up” when discussing the latest surreal missives from FEI press office. These words are inadequate to describe the emanations of the past few days. If anyone still needed written confirmation that the FEI is owned by the Maktoums, this was it.

News that the task force that will apply (ha!) the proposals of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) is not only being funded by Sheikh Mohammed, but that the six task-ees include three people close to the Maktoums, has sent shock waves around the world. Worldwide, that is, apart from the countries of Group 7, and also amongst FEI senior staffers whose capabilities to assess the perceptions of the wider horse community are surely “zapped” the second they first set foot in the King Hussein building in Lausanne – presumably by the same sort of device used to disable a horse identity microchip.

How do I know this? Well, at the time of writing, my short report about the task force had knocked the Oscar Pistorius trial and Mo Farah’s London Marathon bid off the top of the “most-read” articles on Daily Telegraph Sport online. And also I’ve had to cancel my entire weekend plans to cope with the deluge of messages, many from vets, judges, chefs and former champions in the (non-desert) endurance about the enormity of this latest crisis-in-the-crisis.

How ironic that the final recommendations offered by ESPG put further weight on measures to quash conflict-of-interest by endurance officials and to deter financial bribes...

Read more here:

April 11 2014

FEI announces mission and structure of Endurance Task Force

FEI PRESS RELEASE Lausanne (SUI), 11 April 2014

FEI announces mission and structure of Endurance Task Force

The composition and remit of the FEI Endurance Task Force, announced by the FEI Executive Board on 8 April, have been finalised.

The mission of the Task Force is to develop practical solutions to ensure horse welfare and a level playing field at Endurance events globally, and to look at deploying modern technology to achieve the goals of equality and integrity in all Endurance competitions.

As part of its remit, the Task Force will review a number of initiatives that can offer a workable solution for varying terrains and climatic conditions to ensure that they can be implemented globally.

The Task Force will be chaired by FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos, and its members are Brian Sheahan, FEI Endurance Committee chair; Jim Ellis, Equestrian Sports New Zealand Chief Executive; Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, Deputy General Manager Dubai Equestrian Club; Andrew Holmes, legal advisor; and Alain Storme, racing and equestrian sports expert.

Experts from IMG will also be included amongst the core members of the Task Force. IMG is a global leader in sports management with extensive experience in reviewing and modernising competition structures in other sports.

The Task Force has a wide range of experience in Endurance and racing, as well as operations roll out and technology. In addition, FEI 1st Vice President John McEwen and members of the FEI Veterinary Committee will be on hand in an advisory capacity and the Task Force also has the mandate to call in, on an ad hoc basis, any other experts that may be required to facilitate its work.

“The Endurance Task Force will be looking at systems that will ensure horse welfare and a level playing field, and the use of modern technology is a key component of that,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said.

“While it is of course important that we consider the financial systems of our National Federations, we cannot compromise on quality. We have to find the formula to ensure that this technology is financially available to all our NFs, including the developing nations, but it is vital that we have the best technological solutions available to ensure enforcement of and compliance with our rules.”

It is intended that some of the solutions offered by the Task Force will be ready for implementation in time for the Endurance competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014. The FEI will work closely with the Organising Committee in Normandy, and any new systems used at the Games will have been fully trialled in a test environment prior to the event.

The Endurance Task Force will hold its first meeting in Lausanne (SUI) on 27 April, the day before the start of the two-day FEI Sports Forum on 28-29 April.

Media Contacts:
Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
‪‪+ 41 78 750 61 42‬‬

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Press Relations
‪‪+41 78 750 61 33‬‬

April 11 2014

FEI announces further concrete steps to implement ESPG recommendations

FEI PRESS RELEASE Lausanne (SUI), 11 April 2014

FEI announces further concrete steps to implement ESPG recommendations

During the meeting on 30 March held between the FEI and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, where the FEI was represented by its two Vice Presidents, John McEwen and Pablo Mayorga, and FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos, some additional but significant points were discussed to create a more equitable field of play and enhance the integrity of the Endurance discipline.

During these discussions, HH Sheikh Mohammed pointed out to the FEI that Meydan is the regulator in Dubai for various equine related matters and that so long as it remains a regulator it would be prudent for it to withdraw its sponsorship of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian™ Games. Consequently Meydan will withdraw its sponsorship from the 2014 Alltech World Equestrian™ Games.

Separately, and in order not to disadvantage the Organising Committee of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ and ensure all financial obligations are met, the FEI Commercial Department has worked with the office of HH Sheikh Mohammed to secure a new sponsor to replace Meydan at the 2014 Games. SOBHA Group, a multinational, multiproduct group headquartered in Bangalore, India with significant developments and investments in India, UAE, Sultanate of Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Brunei and Tanzania has offered to take over the sponsorship, which matches its global marketing objectives, and assume all of the obligations of Meydan. 

The acceptance of SOBHA as a replacement for Meydan will be considered for formal approval by the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ Board next week on Thursday 17 April 2014.

Meydan will however sponsor the work of the FEI Endurance Task Force to enable it to create and implement the technical solutions necessary to ensure fairness on the field of play at the 2014 Games in Normandy and beyond. This sponsorship complements its current role as an equine regulator. HH Sheikh Mohammed has also confirmed that he will facilitate through the FEI Commercial Department the provision of onsite hospitality facilities during the Endurance competition day in Normandy so that all athletes can benefit from equal facilities.

On a related matter, during the Endurance Conference in Lausanne in February chaired by FEI 1st Vice President John McEwen, it was also highlighted that commercial activities and sport need to be clearly and formally separated. For this reason, the Technical Committee and the Endurance Sports Department cannot be involved in any commercial activities and transactions and this will now be the sole responsibility of the FEI Commercial Department led by Lisa Lazarus.

With regard to the officials, the FEI Secretary General has already made it clear to the organisers of Endurance Events that the officials need to be informed about the conditions such as accommodation, transport, per diems and reimbursement of costs prior to the competition and that payments can only be made by the Organising Committee. Additionally, the FEI will look at the possibility of centralising these payments made by the Organising Committee of reimbursement of expenses and per diems in order to guarantee equal treatment of officials and to preserve their integrity.

Media Contacts:
Grania Willis
Director Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 45‪‪+41 78 750 61 45‬‬

Malina Gueorguiev
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 33‪‪+41 78 750 61 33‬‬

April 3 2014

A Tale of Two Horses…and Three Names…and Two Microchips

Horsesportinternational - Full Article

This is not an endurance story. It’s a story of cheating and corruption. And it’s far from over.

The characters include what we could now consider ‘the usual suspects’:

1. The Maktoum family, in the form of Sheikh Hamdan, Sheikh Mohammed’s second son (one of Sheikh M’s 23 offspring). The son of Sheikh M’s senior wife, Hamdan is the Crown Prince of Dubai. In 2008 he was chosen by his father to be the hereditary prince. ’Step mother’ is not quite the right term for what HRH is to Hamdan, since the term refers to a situation in which a man has children with a wife, then divorces and remarries – whereas Sheikh M is concurrently married to both women (among others). Sheikh Hamdan fell close to the tree in that he really digs endurance racing.

2. The horse Marmoog, aka Prince de la Sabliere, aka JSAS, a horse that has more results on the FEI database than actual miles under his girth, and whose microchip number recently changed on an event’s entries list.

3. Lord Stevens’ company Quest, which has of late been buttering its bread on both sides, working for both Sheikh Mohammed AND the FEI in investigations into alleged cheating by the Sheikhs’ own family.

4. The FEI, that cozy little corner where all the players converge...

Read more here:

Is global unity still possible in the world of endurance?

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Neil Clarkson on Apr 03, 2014 in Comment, Featured, News

The endurance juggernaut grinds on, with only optimists still believing a solution is within reach at this month’s FEI Sports Forum in Switzerland.

The much-publicised issues centre on several Middle Eastern nations within the FEI’s Group VII.

The wider endurance community has grown increasingly vocal over the number of doping infractions, excessive fracture rates, wider horse welfare issues, and what many consider to be some Middle Eastern competitors’ cavalier attitude to the rules...

Read more here:

More rule breaking in Middle East endurance

Horseandhound.co.uk - Full Article

3 April 2014

Riders from stables owned by members of the ruling Maktoum family of Dubai received 3 of the 4 yellow warning cards handed out in Dubai (21-22 March). This comes as the FEI clamps down on rule-breaking in Middle East endurance.

2 broke multiple rules and administered unauthorised fluids and were also disqualified. 2 others showed “incorrect behaviour” towards officials...

Read more at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/maktoum-family-riders-receive-3-yellow-cards-endurance/#iyrbyXwQQOfUKPHV.99

April 2 2014

Proposed rule changes spelled out for endurance

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Apr 02, 2014 in News

Proposed changes to the rules of endurance spell out more clearly the responsibilities of riders and trainers, and explains potential conflicts of interest for event officials.

The proposals will be put to FEI member nations at the endurance roundtable talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, late in April on the second day of the world governing body’s Sports Forum.

The proposed rule changes are the result of a months-long consultation process, sparked by growing concern among some FEI nations centred on welfare issues in endurance in the Middle East...

Read more here:

April 1 2014

Great Britain: Timeform lambast BHA over handling of Godolphin steroids scandal

Theguardian.com - Full Article

British Horseracing Authority urged to widen drug testing and seek greater control over vets

Tony Paley - theguardian.com
Tuesday 1 April 2014

British racing's rulers have come in for stinging criticism from the respected Timeform organisation over their handling of the Godolphin steroids scandal last year.

The comments are made in the latest edition of Timeform's Racehorses annual covering the 2013 Flat racing season and will make for uncomfortable reading for the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

Timeform argue that the damage caused by the Mahmood al-Zarooni case will take "years to repair" and call on the BHA to widen the scope of its drug testing and seek greater control over vets involved with racing stables. "Any sport that fails to police its doping problems with the utmost rigour pays a heavy price," they conclude...

Read more here:

March 29 2014

AERC Takes Action As International Endurance Abuses Continue


Original article appeared in The Chronicle of the Horse

As the sport of endurance has grown more popular, so have the cheating and welfare issues, and the American riders want to protect the sport they helped create.


This is a story of international intrigue, of power and influence, of drugs, cheating and preferential treatment. It involves sheikhs, princesses and cowboys, viral Internet videos and lumbering bureaucracy.

It’s also the story of how the participants and enthusiasts of perhaps the most organic of all the international equestrian sports—the pursuit of riding a horse as fast as you safely can from point A to point B across natural terrain—are trying to save the sport from its own success. This story begins in the deserts of the Middle East and ends in a conference room in Atlanta where people who share a common interest in endurance all agree there is a problem and are having a healthy debate about how to fix it.

Are you intrigued yet?

To follow this story, let’s start at the beginning...

Read full article:

March 20 2014

UAE: Marmoog's second name change adds fuel to 'ringer' endurance racing allegations

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

Horse previously known as Prince de la Sabliere had his name officially changed to JSAS which has wiped the name Marmoog from archived results on the FEI database

By Pippa Cuckson
10:00PM GMT 19 Mar 2014

Allegations that there was a 'ringer' in the United Arab Emirates' 2012 world champion endurance team have been complicated by the unexplained decision to change the horse’s name a second time, and the discovery that he has a dual microchip identity.

Last week new evidence provided by The Telegraph prompted the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to reopen its previously inconclusive investigation into Marmoog, the championship ride of HH Sheikh Hamdan, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Sheikh Hamdan rode a markedly dissimilar horse using the same identity in the 100-mile qualifier at Numana, Italy, two months earlier.

It has now emerged that Marmoog – also previously known as Prince de la Sabliere – had his name officially changed to JSAS on Sunday by the UAE federation five days after the Telegraph broke the story. This has the effect of wiping 'Marmoog' from archived results on the FEI database...

Read more here:

March 19 2014

FEI approves revised agenda for the Extraordinary General Assembly

Horsereporter.com - Full Article

March 19, 2014

The FEI Bureau held its monthly teleconference on Thursday, 13 February, and approved a revised agenda for the Extraordinary General Assembly which will take place on 29 April in Lausanne (SUI).

The agenda includes two proposed changes to the FEI Statutes: the extension of the term in office of the FEI President and the creation of a new FEI body, the FEI Olympic Council. The main goal of the new Council will be to create a permanent liaison between the FEI and the members of the Olympic Family with an equestrian background.

The FEI Bureau also decided to postpone the ordinary FEI General Assembly 2014 until after the Extraordinary Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which will be held in Monaco on 8 and 9 December. Key decisions concerning the Olympic Programme are expected to be taken by the IOC Session. As a result, the FEI General Assembly, which was originally scheduled to take place from 3 to 6 November 2014, will now be organised from 11 to 14 December 2014. The venue for the General Assembly remains unchanged (Dubai, UAE)...

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March 18 2014

Could a breakaway endurance body succeed?

The world is littered with the rotting carcasses of breakaway sporting groups.

Some, in high profile sports, have had millions of dollars in backing, yet still failed to prosper. Think Australian media mogul Kerry Packer’s rebel cricket league of the late 1970s and the Australian Super League war of the 1990s.

In the ranks of professional sport, breakaway groups have been formed for a variety of reasons, primary among them being player dissatisfaction over money or conditions, and television rights.

They struggle for much the same reasons that any business venture struggles. These alternative sporting leagues are invariably expensive to set up and face the task of luring fans (and players) from the established version of the sport. If they don’t get the fans at the grounds or in front of television sets, they don’t get the revenue.

So, with this in mind, is there any realistic prospect of success for a breakaway group in the world of endurance?

[Read more ...]

March 14 2014

AERC Presses for Horse Welfare Reforms


By Edited Press Release
Mar 13, 2014

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) has negotiated the final details in a motion designed to make clear the organization’s condemnation of abuses in international endurance riding competitions. Fatalities, drug violations, and fractures in international competition have been an increasing concern among riders worldwide, the group says.

Over the past several months, the AERC board has received input from members across the United States and Canada, who felt strongly that AERC should take a stand against horse abuses while supporting the American riders who wish to compete in international endurance events.

“The board received more than 600 comments from AERC members,” noted AERC vice president Lisa Schneider. “The directors spent quite a bit of time considering all aspects of this very complex issue, and worked very hard to find a solution that would communicate our strong commitment to horse welfare as well as support our AERC International riders. All the committees weighed in with their concerns and it was a true group effort to hammer out this solution.”

The board members gathered at AERC’s annual convention, held March 7-8 in Atlanta, Ga. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the U.S. governing body for international endurance riding, shared AERC’s concerns and has been working diligently with the Fédération Equestre International (FEI) to address those concerns, the group said.

USEF CEO John Long “provided helpful information to the board and forthrightly answered direct and blunt questions from the board members in an open and honest exchange,” said newly installed AERC president Michael Campbell, PhD. “The AERC board is determined to work with USEF to correct abuses of FEI rules to ensure fair enforcement of rules for our athletes and the safe treatment of horses in FEI competition.”

The organization's directors ultimately came to an agreement March 9 on a motion that gives the FEI until Jan. 1, 2015, to make measurable progress in addressing the group's concerns, including “greater transparency in public reporting of fatalities and fractures occurring at or associated with FEI endurance rides.”

The wording of the final motion reads:

In order to address the growing alarm among AERC members that mounting drug violations and fatalities and fractures in international endurance riding conducted in some Region VII countries by the FEI are injuring the reputation of our sport worldwide, the AERC shall immediately notify the FEI, through USEF, in writing of:

1. The AERC’s grave concerns that drug violations and horse fatalities and fractures are excessive in FEI endurance events by some participants from Region VII countries, that the flat courses and high speeds characteristic of FEI international rides contribute to horse injuries increasingly similar in severity and frequency to those occurring in flat track racing, that some FEI officials inadequately enforce the FEI’s own rules, and that the administration of FEI events favors certain competitors and member countries over others.

2. The AERC’s intention to consider joining the exploration with like-minded endurance groups in other countries of the formation of a new international organization to conduct international endurance riding events if the FEI does not demonstrate measurable progress towards addressing the AERC’s concerns by Jan. 1, 2015. Measurable progress would include, but not be limited to, greater transparency in public reporting of fatalities and fractures occurring at or associated with FEI endurance rides.

The AERC looks forward to working with the USEF to prepare a joint response to the ESPG Report that meets both organizations’ interests. The AERC’s International Committee is directed to monitor and evaluate the FEI’s progress towards meeting the AERC’s concerns. The AERC’s International Committee is also directed to prepare periodic reports to the AERC board who will determine yearly if meaningful and measurable progress is being made. The AERC shall continue to support the efforts of the USEF to improve the FEI’s conduct of international endurance riding and shall remain affiliated with USEF.

“AERC will continue to work closely with USEF to achieve the goal of fair and safe endurance competition throughout the world,” said Campbell.

American endurance body talks of breakaway international group

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Mar 14, 2014 in News

The American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) has signaled the possibility of a breakaway international endurance body if the FEI fails to rein in controversial practices in the sport in the Middle East.

The AERC has given the FEI until January 1 to make “measurable progress” in addressing its concerns...

Read more here:

March 12 2014

New inquiry into Sheikh Hamdan's world championship 'ringer’

By Pippa Cuckson
10:30PM GMT 11 Mar 2014

The International Equestrian Federation is to reopen an investigation into allegations that HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, rode a “ringer” in the winning UAE team at the 2012 World Endurance Championships. The IEF is acting on fresh evidence given to it by The Daily Telegraph.

The FEI’s Equine Community Integrity Unit was passed the material after rumours about the true identity of Sheikh Hamdan’s team gold medallist, Marmoog, resurfaced last week.

The FEI revealed that Marmoog had been investigated soon after the 100-mile world-title ride at Euston Park, Suffolk, but the ECIU reported that “available evidence was not considered sufficient for further action”.

[More ...]

AERC presses for horse welfare reforms in international riding

Just hours after swearing in six new board members, the American Endurance Ride Conference negotiated final details in a motion designed to make clear the organization’s condemnation of abuses in international endurance riding competitions. Fatalities, drug violations and fractures have been an increasing concern among riders worldwide, and center on some riders within the Federation Equestre International (FEI) Region VII, which encompasses much of the Middle East.

The board members gathered at AERC’s annual convention, held March 7 and 8 in Atlanta, Georgia, knowing they had to come to a final agreement on the motion. The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), the U.S. governing body for international endurance riding, shared AERC’s concerns and has been working diligently with the FEI to halt the abuses now coming to light.

USEF CEO John Long addressed the board at their first convention meeting. “Mr. Long provided helpful information to the board and forthrightly answered direct and blunt questions from the board members in an open and honest exchange,” said newly-installed AERC President Michael Campbell, PhD. “The AERC board is determined to work with USEF to correct abuses of FEI rules to ensure fair enforcement of rules for our athletes and the safe treatment of horses in FEI competition.”

Over the past several months, the board has taken input from AERC’s members across the U.S. and Canada, who felt strongly that AERC should take a stand against horse abuses while supporting the American riders who wish to compete in international endurance events.

“The board received more than 600 comments from AERC members,” noted AERC Vice President Lisa Schneider. “The directors spent quite a bit of time considering all aspects of this very complex issue, and worked very hard to find a solution that would communicate our strong commitment to horse welfare as well as support our AERC International riders. All the committees weighed in with their concerns and it was a true group effort to hammer out this solution."

As the Sunday, March 9, board meeting opened, it was not clear that the organization’s directors could come to an agreement, as original wording on the motion included the possibility of AERC endurance rides not allowing co-sanctioning with FEI, depriving members the opportunity to earn FEI-recognized ranking points at AERC rides. After much discussion and deliberation, a consensus was reached and the vote on the final motion was unanimous.

The motion gives the FEI until January 1, 2015, to make measurable progress, including “greater transparency in public reporting of fatalities and fractures occurring at or associated with FEI endurance rides.”

“AERC will continue to work closely with USEF to achieve the goal of fair and safe endurance competition throughout the world,” said Dr. Campbell, of Salado, Texas.

The motion’s author, Southwest Region Director Randy Eiland, said, “The AERC board deserves a big thanks for protecting our own AERC members who enjoy and pursue international competition while condemning the guilty parties.”

The wording of the final motion reads: “In order to address the growing alarm among AERC members that mounting drug violations and fatalities and fractures in international endurance riding conducted in some Region VII countries by the FEI are injuring the reputation of our sport worldwide, the AERC shall immediately notify the FEI, through USEF, in writing of:

“1. The AERC’s grave concerns that drug violations and horse fatalities and fractures are excessive in FEI endurance events by some participants from Region VII countries, that the flat courses and high speeds characteristic of FEI international rides contribute to horse injuries increasingly similar in severity and frequency to those occurring in flat track racing, that some FEI officials inadequately enforce the FEI’s own rules, and that the administration of FEI events favors certain competitors and member countries over others.

“2. The AERC’s intention to consider joining the exploration with like-minded endurance groups in other countries of the formation of a new international organization to conduct international endurance riding events if the FEI does not demonstrate measurable progress towards addressing the AERC’s concerns by January 1, 2015. Measurable progress would include, but not be limited to, greater transparency in public reporting of fatalities and fractures occurring at or associated with FEI endurance rides.

“The AERC looks forward to working with the USEF to prepare a joint response to the ESPG Report that meets both organizations’ interests. The AERC’s International Committee is directed to monitor and evaluate the FEI’s progress towards meeting the AERC’s concerns. The AERC’s International Committee is also directed to prepare periodic reports to the AERC Board who will determine yearly if meaningful and measurable progress is being made. The AERC shall continue to support the efforts of the USEF to improve the FEI’s conduct of international endurance riding and shall remain affiliated with USEF.”

AERC’s commitment to horse welfare has been a vital part of the organization since its founding in 1972. The organizations’ Veterinary, Research and Welfare of the Horse committees work together to ensure AERC does all it can to protect equines who participate in the sports events, which range from 25 to 100 miles per day.

American Endurance Riding Conference

March 10 2014

United States threatens breakaway in row over endurance horse racing

Sunday March 9 2014

After much lively discussion at the AERC Convention in Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend, the AERC Notice to FEI Motion passed unanimously by the Board of Directors.

According to Director at Large Randy Eiland, "The Motion establishes AERC's official statement on the abuses of equines, rules, and also the lack of transparency in reports on fatalities and catastrophic injuries. It removes the threat to our own innocent AERC members (AERC-I) but does include a strong consideration to investigate the formation of a new international competition association with like minded federations if FEI doesn't show measurable progress in resolving the issues in some Region VII countries and with some FEI Officials.

"I believe this statement will be well received by the international community in Europe and other continents - it will help shore up and supports their condemnations of the wrongdoing and it gives our membership a moment to be proud of AERC for taking an official stand on the issue (the first time in memory)."

Proposing Committee: SPONSORSHIP

Motion: In order to address the growing alarm among AERC members that mounting drug violations and fatalities and fractures in international endurance riding conducted in some Region VII Countries by the FEI are injuring the reputation of our sport worldwide, the AERC shall immediately notify the FEI, through USEF, in writing of:

1) The AERC’s grave concerns that drug violations and horse fatalities and fractures are excessive in FEI endurance events by some participants from Region VII countries, that the flat courses and high speeds characteristic of FEI international rides contribute to horse injuries increasingly similar in severity and frequency to those occurring in flat track racing, that some FEI officials inadequately enforce the FEI’s own rules, and that the administration of FEI events favors certain competitors and member countries over others.

2) The AERC’s intention to consider joining the exploration with like-minded endurance groups in other countries of the formation of a new international organization to conduct international endurance riding events if the FEI does not demonstrate measurable progress towards addressing the AERC’s concerns by January 1, 2015. Measurable progress would include, but not be limited to, greater transparency in public reporting of fatalities and fractures occurring at or associated with FEI endurance rides.

The AERC looks forward to working with the USEF to prepare a joint response to the ESPG Report that meets both organizations’ interests. The AERC’s International Committee is directed to monitor and evaluate the FEI’s progress towards meeting the AERC’s concerns. The AERC’s International Committee is also directed to prepare periodic reports to the AERC Board who will determine yearly if meaningful and measurable progress is being made. The AERC shall continue to support the efforts of the USEF to improve the FEI’s conduct of international endurance riding and shall remain affiliated with USEF.

March 9 2014

United States threatens breakaway in row over endurance horse racing

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

The United States governing body has voted to attempt to withdraw from the International Equestrian Federation if a clean-up of the sport does not prove successful this year.

By Pippa Cuckson
Mar 2014

The United States, who can claim to have invented equestrian endurance, have unanimously voted to form a breakaway global governing body if the International Equestrian Federation cannot prove its clean-up in the Middle East is effective this year.

This damning indictment of the FEI’s handling of the endurance crisis comes just seven weeks before the FEI votes on whether Princess Haya, whose husband Sheikh Mohammed’s stables are at the centre of the controversy, should have the option of a third term as FEI president.

The American Endurance Ride Conference resolved to invite other major players to form an alternative international body “if the FEI does not demonstrate measurable progress towards addressing the AERC’s concerns by January 1, 2015”...

Read more here:

March 8 2014

FEI clarifies procedures in anti-doping cases

Lausanne (SUI), 7 March 2014

In response to recent discussions in the equestrian community about the length of time that FEI anti-doping cases may take to prosecute, the FEI is keen to clarify its procedures.

“It is the FEI’s role to ensure the full integrity of competition and fair play, while at the same time ensuring that the rights of the athlete are fully protected,” FEI Secretary General Ingmar De Vos said.

“As an international governing body, the FEI cannot allow that athletes would ever be condemned or sanctioned without having the proper opportunities to defend themselves. It is of course regrettable, on every level, whenever there is a positive finding, but the FEI has to follow due process in the interest of all parties involved.”

Following the confirmation of a positive sample, it is the FEI’s duty to prove to the Tribunal that there has been a violation of the Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations (EADCMR). A positive finding is simply the start of the process.

In the event of a provisional suspension being imposed following a positive finding, the Person Responsible (PR) can apply at any time for a preliminary hearing to request lifting of the provisional suspension.

The PR has the right to contest the positive finding, including challenging the sample collection and analysis procedures to the Tribunal. The PR also has the right to provide an explanation for the presence of the prohibited substance in order to reduce or eliminate the applicable sanction.

The finding whether there has been a rule violation can only be made once the case has been heard by the Tribunal. It is only when the Tribunal confirms in its Final Decision that there is a rule violation that the automatic disqualification from the competition can be applied. Other sanctions may also be imposed by the Tribunal.

The FEI is a signatory to the WADA Code and has to respect the WADA principles, which include the right to a fair hearing. All parties involved have to be given time to prepare their submissions in order to properly defend themselves. Signatories to the WADA Code apply the same principles, and sports involving animals have to be consistent with the WADA Code.

March 6 2014

Key Defra body ignored in Lord Stevens’ drugs raids investigation for Sheikh Mohammed

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

Veterinary Medicines Directorate was not asked to supply input for report and disputes claim that seized products were not intended for use in UK

By Pippa Cuckson
9:05PM GMT 05 Mar 2014

Defra’s Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the body that seized 124 unlicensed drugs from Sheikh Mohammed’s Newmarket stables in August, has revealed it had no input into Lord Stevens’s subsequent investigation for racing’s most powerful owner.

Further, the VMD disputes a claim recorded in the report that the seized drugs were not intended for use in the United Kingdom...

Read more here:

UAE: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Horsesportinternational.com - Full Article

Karen Robinson
March 1 2014

"...even the most basic rules of horse welfare are so far from being enforced at middle eastern endurance races that they are a complete farce, an absolute joke, and an insult to the principles that supposedly govern the FEI."

Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain permission from the photographer to publish the photo that I wanted to share with you, so instead I will use the proverbial thousand of these one dimensional little things to describe it.

It was snapped during the recent President World Cup Endurance race in Abu Dhabi, and the person who sent it to me sent it with the subject line ‘spot the horse’. The photo could also have been titled ‘where’s Waldo’ – if Waldo were a horse.

See, the horses are not the most prominent feature in this shot of the endurance race. The cars are. Roughly 100 cars, pick-ups, SUVs and those silly little Japanoid van/pick-ups are crowded so thickly along the white racetrack fencing that keeps them off the track that you can barely see that there are actually horses in the frame. Also obscuring a clear view of the horses is a pink haze caused by a combination of churned up sand and exhaust from what are surely hundreds of vehicles – if we make the reasonable assumption that all the cars chasing the race did not miraculously squeeze into this one photo. If you didn’t notice the horses you would think it was a traffic jam in the desert...

Read more here:

March 3 2014

Cuckson lodges formal protest over endurance race in Bahrain

Horsetalk.c.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Mar 03, 2014 in News

British equestrian journalist Pippa Cuckson has been joined by the editor of Horse & Hound magazine in lodging a formal protest with the FEI over the treatment of the winning horse in the February 8 running of the King’s Cup 120km endurance race in Bahrain.

The letter, under the Horse & Hound letterhead, is co-signed by Cuckson, who is a freelance contributor to the magazine, and its editor, Lucy Higginson...

Read more here:

February 28 2014

Great Britain: Racing authorities "lack conviction" on drugs


David Walsh on C4's Morning Line

Published on Feb 22, 2014

David Walsh, the award-winning journalist from the Sunday Times who uncovered much of the Lance Armstrong saga, says "it's a big worry when officials outside of racing unearth a drugs problem." He says the Mahmood Al Zarooni case and the ongoing Philip Fenton issue reveal that "Authorities are ambivalent... I don't sense true conviction..."

See the video interview here:

or link:

February 27 2014

Meydan Group to Sponsor 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games

Horse-canada.com - Full Article


The Meydan Group has signed on to sponsor the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, which will be held August 23- September 7 in Normandy, France.

Malih Lahej Al Basti, vice-chairman of Meydan Group, said statement: “We are pleased to demonstrate [our passion for equestrian sports] through our role as an official sponsor of the Games. This is a prestigious competition that is truly international in its reach. The event provides Meydan with an excellent means to communicate our role in equine sports and highlights our exciting commercial ventures here in Dubai...”

Read more here:

February 26 2014

Changes in saddle at Godolphin to ensure Dubai operation’s firm hold on operations

Thenational.ae - Full Article

Geoffrey Riddle
February 25, 2014

A Godolphin restructure was inevitable. From a small, elite band of equine talent when it started in 1992 under the guidance of Simon Crisford and Saeed bin Suroor, the international stable has mushroomed into an enterprise that spans the world.

The equine empire of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, goes beyond the Royal Blue silks of Godolphin, which have raced in more than 16 countries.

The huge Darley Australia operation and a blossoming presence in Japan is a growing aspect to Sheikh Mohammed’s global outlook.

The racing and breeding operation is without comparison and has moved to address the shortcomings exposed by last year’s Mahmoud Al Zarooni doping scandal...

Read more here:

February 24 2014

"One of the Greatest Scandals of Modern Horse Sport"

February 23 2014

In a comment column in Great Britain's Horse & Hound, editor Lucy Higginson blasted the equine doping violations and injuries involving the Middle Eastern nations and plaguing FEI endurance racing, calling it "…one of the greatest scandals of modern horse sport. It is a convoluted saga that has involved drugs, ghastly injury rates and inadequate reporting systems."

Great Britain's The Telegraph and Horse & Hound (primarily with freelance reporter Pippa Cuckson) have led the way in bringing to the world's attention the atrocious doping incidents and high fracture rates in endurance racing in the group 7 Middle Eastern countries, and FEI's responses to the worldwide uproars these have caused.

A new article by Pippa Cuckson, "Progress made - but key nations stay away" can be obtained by subscription to Horse and Hound here:

February 22 2014

It’s not all black and white when it comes to FEI yellow cards

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

The yellow-carding of a rugby or football player is, in my view, a sporting spectacle in itself.

It’s the sense of anticipation that draws me. One can sense 30,000 bottoms sliding forward on their stadium seats as the referee summons a player after some egregious sin.

It is clear what’s coming. The referee is strutting and looking especially officious by this stage.

The player receives a brief dressing down and the referee, in a grand flourish, reaches for his pocket and pulls out the yellow card, or possibly even a red card.

Dramatic stuff.

The FEI has a yellow-card system, too. However, their use does not generate anything like the same drama and spectacle.

In equestrian sport, the yellow card is essentially a small yellow form which is printed out and given to the offending rider by the president of the ground jury at an event. No drama. No theatrics. That, my friends, is the FEI way.

[More ...]

February 19 2014

Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour steps into endurance racing row

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, owner of Manchester City, is understood to have intervened in the clean-up of endurance racing at the President's Cup ride in Abu Dhabi

By Pippa Cuckson

Six yellow warning cards were handed out, with two riders disqualified, at the 100-mile President's Cup ride in Abu Dhabi on Saturday as organisers finally reacted to global pressure to punish rule-breaking and horse abuse in Middle East endurance racing.

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi and owner of Manchester City, is understood to have intervened in the clean-up, and been instrumental in the installation of security cameras at vet-gates (vet check) areas and on the “crew” cars following the horses.

Representatives of Lord Stevens’ intelligence services company Quest, and International Equestrian Federation (FEI) endurance director Ian Williams were on hand to support officials.

The unprecedented move came days after Telegraph Sport’s exposure of horse-beating by a running groom, caught on video at a ride in Sakhir, Bahrain, on Feb 8.

The FEI later announced that the rider, winner Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, received a yellow card and was suspended.

The Telegraph

February 16, 2014

How to Piss off the Swiss

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

February 15 2014
Karen Robinson

When you refer to someone as ‘being Switzerland’, you aren’t likely to be accusing that person of being full of holes like Swiss Emmental, or delicious like Toblerone, or tall and slim like the Matterhorn. Chances are what you mean is that the person is refusing to take sides in a dispute, instead remaining neutral – much to the immense frustration of everyone on both sides. Switzerland is where the world’s great warring factions go to try and talk things out, such as the recent Syrian Peace Talks which took place in Montreux, the very same Montreux where the 2013 FEI GA was held. There is no doubt about it. The Swiss are world leaders at sitting on the fence.

So what does it take to get the Swiss riled up? I’m heartened to report a very worthy cause: the situation with FEI endurance that has completely exhausted my vocabulary for negative adjectives. Of all the national equestrian federations around the world, Switzerland is sticking to its guns more than anyone. My first exposure to Swiss backbone was at the GA in November, where I had the opportunity to meet the Swiss Fed’s Chef de Mission, Claude Nordmann. In spite of the fact that his federation played host to the 2013 GA (and ironically, hosted the cocktail party that followed the endurance presentation), Claude clearly identified much more with the shocked media than with the ecstatic majority who leapt to their feet to show their undying adoration for HRH and all that she does.

Since the GA, ground level realities continue to deteriorate at endurance races, and the Swiss federation has made no bones about its escalating disgust. On February 4th it issued a statement titled “Unsatisfactory starting point for the forthcoming endurance conference”, which you can read here. On February 12th, this piece appeared in The Guardian: “Swiss equestrian federation questions neutrality of Godolphin inquiry”. Yes indeedy. The Swiss are pissed...

Read more here:

Pippa Cuckson: Guest Blog from the FEI Endurance Conference

Horsesportinternational.com - Full Article

February 15 2014

When the editor kindly offered me a guest blog about the FEI endurance conference in Lausanne on February 9, I decided to wait a day or so. I had already written five different news reports about it and wanted to crystallise some thoughts.

I also wanted a few hours off to play my viola and hug my horse. If you had just sat through an intense debate which included a serious discussion about the desirability of honouring horses that are still living five years after retiring from endurance, you’d be craving some normality, too.

Other stuff then happened to push the conference onto the back-burner. So here is my take on yet another you-couldn’t-make-it-up week of the unvarnished awfulness that defines endurance in the Middle East.

First – the decidedly unrevelatory Quest report into wrong-doings at Sheikh Mohammed’s various UK properties last year. Quest has provided the FEI’s integrity unit since 2010 yet accepted a commission direct from the FEI president’s husband to investigate the background to the Al Zarooni racehorse doping incidents, plus the drugs raids on Sheikh Mohammed’s Moorley Farm East stables, Newmarket – where he bases his endurance horses for the European season – and his private plane. Lord Stevens has stressed Quest’s impartiality and insisted that his investigating teams remain separate...

Read more here:

February 14, 2014

DubaiGate: Go... the Mass is ended

www.endurance-belgium.com - Full Report

13 February 2013
Leonard Liesens - Endurance-belgium.com

    According to chats after the conference, it appears that several chef d’equipe fear the backslash for their team at upcoming championships. Are they suffering from acute paranoia or will the course of events prove they were right?

The ESPG showed self-satisfaction, more exactly relieve to have completed its mission without too shootout of the federations .

Yet its most active and most clear in his statements, namely Jean- Louis Leclerc, did not seem to be lulling into complacency during and after the conference.

Most European federations were represented. Yeah, but some showed a passivity and extreme shyness. We did not hear the UK or Italy , Sweden, Portugal, Czech Republic. Spain intervened but in a minor key and swinging raw truths.

France has expressed clearly and politely , by the voice of Christophe Pélissier . It is not obviously useful to raise your voice to be heard and Pelissier has nevertheless not failed to come back especially on the subject of veterinary reports ( 2012 Florac presumably) sent by France to the FEI and which did not land on the right FEI desk (or maybe better land directly in the bin) .

While the FEI had just told the organisation hardly received damning reports from official bodies. But once again, Ian Williams was able to maneuver to claim not to have received / seen these reports. And no one in the assembly dared intervene to push and dig more about this particular subject. We therefore remained the polite exchange of good intentions, it was congratulated , we even made hugs in front of the stage. There was no ' selfies ' (maybe the non French readers will not understand but the recent visit of President Hollande to Obama was a good occasion for journalist to picture themselves inside the White House) but we were not far away.

The two representatives of Italy did not say a word, they just came to listen, make an appearance and enjoy the lunch buffet - BTW delicious and flavorful. Bravo to the FEI for that. It must be said that Italy is entangled with a league judicial review and intergovernmental cooperation agreements with Emirates. Must not offend the patron.

According to chats after the conference, it appears that several chef d’equipe fear the backslash for their team at upcoming championships. Are they suffering from acute paranoia or will the course of events prove they were right?

It is once again Pierre Arnould (which is still part of the FEI Endurance Committee, but was "impeachment" in relation to ESPG and therefore could speak freely on behalf of the Belgian Federation) was the most incisive. He was also the first to intervene in the afternoon, after everyone fell asleep during presentations of self-satisfaction orchestrated by ESPG .

It was right before that, at the start of the conference, that we had to listen to a guy from ESPG reading a strong statement responding to the open letter sent by the Swiss Federation, concerning the lack of professionalism of the compilation of the responses of the federations. A sudden cold wind was then blowing thru the assistance, like someone opened the door overlooking the nice Lausanne Lake Leman…. oddly the Swiss did not respond .

Arnould began the debate by asking the killing question (La Question qui tue) :

"We are here to discuss a problem that affects 10% of federations who practice endurance , namely the Middle East, while they have not deign to come.As long as there is no clear answer to the question of whether you prefer the economic and financial aspects of our sport ethics and respect for our horses , all the debates and change regulations will be useless. "

Clip-Video-Arnould ici

He has obviously not received a response from the FEI or the ESPG . He was even retorted that his thinking did not advance the debate. When is the next "Verbal Warning" ?

He was unequivocally supported by the Team Leader of USA, Emmett Ross , convinced that sport has lost its identity , all because of the Middle East. As might be expected, all federations have all voted for a return to classic endurance, technical, tactical. Endurance that allows horses to have a long career, riders express their riding skills and horsemanship. But does money not command?...

For more, including video clips click here:

February 13, 2014

Swiss equestrian federation questions neutrality of Godolphin inquiry

Theguardian.com - Full Article

Lord Stevens' report, as commissioned by Sheikh Mohammed, demonstrated a 'clear conflict of interests' and the 'findings are nothing special', a leading international equestrian body said

James Riach
The Guardian, Wednesday 12 February 2014 15.50 EST

A leading international equestrian federation has heavily criticised a report exonerating Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UK's leading racehorse owner, of having any knowledge of three drug-related scandals involving his organisation last year, lamenting the inquiry's "conflict of interests" after being commissioned by the Sheikh himself.

Lord Stevens, the former chief of the Metropolitan police, was employed by Sheikh Mohammed and his wife Princess Haya to investigate three separate incidents involving his equine operations, including the doping of Godolphin racehorses with anabolic steroids by the disgraced trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni and two seizures of "potentially toxic and dangerous" veterinary goods at Stansted airport and Moorley Farm, owned by the Sheikh's Darley Stud, in Newmarket...

Read more here:

FEI Endurance Conference in Switzerland Feb 9

The FEI held an Endurance Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland on February 9, 2014. Representatives from 20 member nations attended, though noticeably absent were members from region VII (Middle East), the nations in the focus of the doping scandals and horse abuses addressed by this conference.

The information from the conference, including the Conference Presentation, Plan on a Page, and Participant List, can be seen here:

Sheikh Mohammed exonerated by Lord Stevens' report into doping scandal

Theguardian.com - Full Article

• Investigation clears head of world's largest equine operation
• Management failings and complacency highlighted by review

James Riach
theguardian.com, Wednesday 12 February 2014 07.00 EST

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the UK's leading racehorse owner, has been cleared of having any knowledge of three drug-related incidents involving his organisation last year, according to a report commissioned by the Sheikh himself.

Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police chief commissioner, was employed to investigate a series of damaging incidents and interview a series of key figures. The report concluded that the seizures of unlicensed veterinary goods by British authorities resulted from "a sense of complacency" within the Sheikh's management structure.

Stevens interviewed several figures within Sheikh Mohammed's equine operations, including the disgraced former trainer Mahmood al-Zarooni who was banned by eight years by the British Horseracing Association in April 2013 for injecting thoroughbreds at the Godolphin stable with performance-enhancing anabolic steroids.

As revealed by the Guardian in September, the thoroughbred scandal was followed by later incidents within Sheikh Mohammed's endurance set-up, with veterinary goods described as "potentially toxic and dangerous to horses" seized from a Dubai Royal Air Wing flight at Stansted airport by the UK Border Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate in May...

Read more here:

Operation Desert Storm: A test of endurance or patience?

The legendary equestrian explorer, Aimé Tschiffely, who rode 10,000 miles from Buenos Aires to Washington DC in the late 1920s, faced a myriad of challenges, but perhaps none more so than the prospect of crossing a stretch of Peruvian coastal desert called Matacaballo – the Horse Killer.

The Swiss-born Argentine professor knew it was a high-stakes undertaking and planned carefully. He decided against carrying water for his magnificent Criollo mounts, Mancha and Gato, rightly believing it was a race against time in the scorching heat, and they needed to travel light.

Read More ...

February 12, 2014

Bahrain endurance incident was handled by authorities – FEI

The Bahrain incident in which an endurance horse was struck across the rump by support crew as it neared victory in a prestigious 120km desert race resulted in a formal warning to the rider and a ban, the FEI confirmed early today (NZ time).

However, equestrian journalist Pippa Cuckson, who brought the matter to wide attention in a piece in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, questioned why the incident resulted in the winner of the event receiving only a warning, despite what appeared to be multiple breaches of endurance rules.


Cuckson to complain to FEI over contents of endurance video footage

Horsetalk.co.nz - Full Article

By Horsetalk.co.nz on Feb 12, 2014 in News

British equestrian journalist Pippa Cuckson confirms she is sharpening her pencil to lodge a formal complaint to the FEI over horse welfare concerns arising from video footage of a recent endurance race in Bahrain.

The footage shows a person who was presumably a member of the rider’s support crew appearing to strike a horse in the rump area near the end of a 120-kilometre endurance race...

Read more here:

Middle East Absent From FEI Endurance Conference

Chronofhorse.com - Full Article

February 9, 2014
By: Pippa Cuckson

Delegates largely backed proposals to clean up endurance at the one-day Fédération Equestre Internationale conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Feb. 9, but the Middle Eastern federations at the center of the doping and fractures scandals were absent.

FEI vice president John McEwen urged delegates to generalize when speaking, rebuffing Belgian national coach Pierre Arnould for not being “helpful” when he claimed that “90 percent of the problems are caused by the federations who are not here.”

But Arnould was backed by U.S. Chef d’Equipe Emmett Ross.

“What Pierre says is correct,” said Ross. “Most countries do the right thing. I spent 10 years in Group 7 [Middle East] and am proud of that. I have good friends there. We were teaching and learning. But we can’t avoid what’s going on there now. Where has our leadership been?

“The American Endurance Ride Conference is the largest organization in the world, with 973 races last year and 19,000 riders, and they are about the kick us [FEI endurance] out,” Ross continued. “We cannot afford to stage our own races.”

Ross also expressed fears about the sport’s apparent inability to control the four-star races. “When I spend thousands of dollars to shift six horses [to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France)] this summer I want to know there is more than one steward in a car supervising the field of play. That is not adequate...”

Read more here:

February 10, 2014

FEI Conference delegates give positive response to Endurance strategic plan


9 Feb 2014

Delegates from 23 countries reached a broad consensus on the strategic plan for Endurance sport at the one-day Endurance conference in Lausanne (SUI) today.

The conference was attended by more than 70 delegates, with a total of 20 National Federations represented. Other bodies attending the conference were the European Equestrian Federation, World Horse Welfare, American Endurance Ride Conference and the Equine Community Integrity Unit (ECIU), as well as members of the media. FEI President HRH Princess Haya attended as an observer, along with members of the FEI Executive Board.

The morning session focused on feedback from the National Federations on the proposals outlined at the 2013 General Assembly in November 2013 by the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG).

Of the 47 National Federations involved in the sport, of which 33 run elite Endurance events, 20 Federations returned responses via the electronic survey, a further six sent additional comments. A team of veterinary surgeons also held its own scientifically based review and shared its views with the ESPG.

ESPG Chair Andrew Finding summarised the results from the survey, in which 32 of the Group’s 37 recommendations received an approval rating of over 80%.

“The consultation was never intended to be a referendum, it was designed to add value to the work we have been doing and vitally to give every National Federation an opportunity to comment,” he said. “Some decided to comment, many did not but every National Federation had an opportunity to do so.”

Andrew Finding pledged that every comment received would be addressed by the Group and, where appropriate, covered at the operational planning level. He also stated that the Group had recommended that members of the Endurance Committee should be tasked with a specific area of responsibility to cover each of the critical success factors outlined by the ESPG – culture and behaviour; structure and governance; foundation for growth, and communications and marketing.

His presentation then focused on the five recommendations that had a lower approval rating, but still in excess of 50%. These were the designation of Persons Responsible, and whether trainers should be included alongside riders, ride qualification standards, a trainers ranking list, awards for completions, and awards for officials. He also covered five other areas that National Federations had raised in their responses to the survey and which the ESPG felt had not been covered fully in its recommendations.

Debate during the day focused on the key areas of horse welfare; clean sport and the rules, which were widely accepted as fit for purpose; support for officials on enforcement of those rules; transparent and consistent reporting; the use of technology; rider competence and horsemanship; cost implications; sponsorship; the technicality of courses to help resolve speed-related issues; technical criteria during competitions; individual and team performance; and ensuring the long-term development of the sport.

There was also considerable discussion on the traditional Endurance rides, which are now being referred to as Classic Endurance riding, and Endurance Racing. There were mixed views on whether a different set of rules should be used, but it was generally agreed that the rules cover both elements.

Part of the afternoon’s session was devoted to establishing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which will be used to evaluate the success of the strategic plan.

During his summing up of the day’s proceedings, moderator John McEwen thanked Andrew Finding and the ESPG members for all their work. “This conference was to complete the work of the ESPG,” he said. “I want to thank them all individually and personally and Andrew for leading them.”

“Endurance sport has expanded thanks to the expansion in Group VII; we mustn’t lose sight of that expansion,” he continued. “How we handle the expansion of the sport is down to you and it’s important we handle that right for the future of the sport.

“You’ve all said that actually the structure and governance is in place. Yes we need to implement it in slightly different ways in certain aspects. We have the guidelines from the ESPG, which are extremely helpful in helping us to do that. I think the feeling in general is that we want this to remain one sport. I am passionate about this and I believe that we need to stay as one sport and that is only possible if people are open-minded and have wide vision.”

The ESPG will now use the input from today’s conference to finalise its report, which will be presented to the FEI Bureau for further consideration. The FEI Bureau and the Endurance Committee will report at a special session on Endurance at the FEI Sports Forum (28-29 April 2014) about the follow-up on the conclusions of the ESPG.

Notes to Editors:
The 20 National Federations represented at today’s conference were from Belgium, Botswana, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, United States of America.

The FEI Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG), set up last year following the Endurance round table on 24 July, was tasked with creating a long-term plan for the discipline to tackle the issues currently being faced in Endurance. The ESPG is chaired by Andrew Finding, European Equestrian Federation Board Member and CEO of the British Equestrian Federation.

The members of the Group are veterinarian Brian Sheahan (AUS), chair of the FEI Endurance Committee; Joe Mattingley (USA), international Endurance rider; Saeed H Al Tayer (UAE), Vice President of the Dubai Equestrian Club and organiser of FEI World Endurance Championships; and veterinarian Jean-Louis Leclerc (FRA), an internationally respected and very successful chef d’équipe and team manager within the discipline.

Middle Eastern countries boycott International Equestrian Federation conference on endurance racing

Footage of multiple rule breaches in a 120km ride in Bahrain has provoked outrage and renewed concerns that Middle Eastern countries are not embracing the clean-up of endurance racing.

The footage was revealed on social media as stakeholders from the region boycotted the global conference called to debate the crisis in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The conference was the latest stage of the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) strategy to address doping and horse injuries in the high speed version of endurance practised by Middle Eastern countries, where stables owned by Sheikh Mohammed have been at the centre of scandals highlighted in the past 12 months.

But none of their member federations was present to hear about drastic proposals primarily aimed at them.


February 9, 2014

Endurance: “I believe that we need to stay as one sport”

The FEI says there is a broad consensus among endurance nations on the future direction for the sport, but views are mixed are whether there should be different rules for the more aggressive distance racing which finds favour in the Middle East.

Delegates from 23 countries have met in Lausanne, Switzerland, for a one-day endurance conference, where they showed strong support for most of the recommendations for reform proposed by the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG), formed after several FEI member nations voiced concern about welfare issues and the worrying number of drug infractions in horses centred on Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain – all members of FEI regional group 7.


January 14, 2014

FEI Plan To Clean Up Endurance Won’t Include A Change In Person Responsible

Chronofhorse.com - Full Article

January 14 2014
By: Pippa Cuckson

Andrew Finding, chairman of the Endurance Strategic Planning Group, has said there’s no intention to change the status of rider as the principal “person responsible” in doping and other disciplinary matters, as confusion has emerged ahead of the endurance conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Feb. 9.

Concern that trainers could be slated in preference to the rider is a strong theme of responses, circulated last week, to the ESPG’s drastic proposals to clean up endurance in the Middle East. Most consultees would oppose any such move, which was favored by ESPG member Saeed Al Tayer, a senior employee of Sheikh Mohammed, during his presentation at the Fédération Equestre Internationale Generaly Assembly in Montreux, Switzerland, in November.

Many feel that making the trainer the PR would disadvantage the amateur sport in the rest of the world while reflecting circumstances that are unique to the Middle East. There, horses are trained out of large professional barns and mostly allocated to riders “on the day” who could hypothetically then be excused from doping violations...

Read more here:

Pressure mounts on FEI over endurance racing abuses in Middle East

Telegraph.co.uk - Full Article

Leading equestrian nations increase pressure on the International Equestrian Federation to act over the abuse of horses in endurance racing in the Middle East

By Pippa Cuckson
14 Jan 2014

Leading equestrian nations have increased pressure on the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to act over the abuse of horses in endurance racing in the Middle East.

One senior figure has even called for endurance racing in the Middle East to be disowned by the FEI, while the national governing body of the sport in America is considering banning FEI competitions being hosted alongside national events – a common practice worldwide – if the crisis is not addressed this season.

Last summer, Princess Haya, president of the FEI, convened the Endurance Strategic Planning Group in response to mounting global outrage about doping and the number of horses suffering fatal or serious injuries. Endurance stables in the Middle East, particularly those owned by the world’s most powerful racehorse owner Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, were at the centre of horse-doping and injury scandals...

Read more here:

January 11, 2014

AERC-I Responds to AERC Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal

January 11 2014

AERC-I is the AERC liaison in the USA for FEI International Equine Endurance Rides. The group has responded to the AERC Sponsorship Committee's motion which proposes temporary suspension of concurrent FEI events with AERC rides.

This is continued fallout from the FEI Endurance Controversy and doping scandal that began last summer with the illegal seizure of "thousands of pounds" of illegal equine drugs seized from a private plane, and a subsequent raid of illegal veterinary drugs from Shaikh Mohammed's endurance Moorley Farm East in Newmarket, and the consequent exposure of endurance horse doping positives and deaths, particularly in the FEI Group VII are (which includes the Middle East and North Africa).

A complete history of the scandal can be reviewed here:

Following is AERC-I's response to the AERC Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal: (link here; letter is printed below)

AERC-I Response to Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal

The International Committee of AERC vehemently opposes the Sponsorship Committee Motion Proposal to temporarily suspend sanctioning of FEI events, effective July 1, 2014.

Approval of this motion proposal would be a counter-productive method to effect the changes desired by AERC. A much better solution is for AERC to remain in its current active and positive role and thus retain its voice and strength to help direct the changes that will be made within FEI.

Approval of the motion would, in the first place, not effect the desired changes, and in the second place, have unintended negative consequences for AERC, all the while doing absolutely nothing to promote global horse welfare.

1. Approval of this motion would in no way effect changes desired within FEI.

• The US does not hold leverage over FEI, and US withdrawal from the FEI Endurance arena will not have the effect of coercing any action for positive change

• Withdrawal of the US from FEI will in fact destroy our credibility and our voice within International endurance. We currently have some of the most experienced and respected individuals we have ever had within our FEI framework, and we are poised to be able to have some actual, very positive, influence within the organization. Our current committee members, leaders, and our Chef d’Equipe will work with those representatives from other countries with similar opinions to our own, and our united voices will be heard within FEI. Withdrawal will take away our right to have a voice, our ability to be heard within the FEI arena, and will completely strip us of any ability to effect positive changes. It will also cause us to abandon our allies from other countries, thus weakening all of our collective voices.

• There is much concern over public perception and a negative image for the sport of endurance. This seems to be the major impetus driving the current controversy and motion proposal to separate AERC from FEI. The fact is that such a separation will NOT change any public perception. The supposed bad name of endurance will be out there, and the public will not make any distinction between AERC Endurance and FEI Endurance. The public will only see a negative perception. Therefore, and this is a very important point, the best way out of this maze for AERC is not to abandon the cause, but to stay in the fight, and to be a part of making the change from negative to positive public image! The same is true for actual horse welfare, above and beyond the public perception issue. Only by retaining a right to be heard and a right to shape the future of all Endurance around the world, can we genuinely say that we are horse welfare advocates.

• Radical activist groups will attack at their own whim, regardless of whether or not AERC is affiliated with FEI. If we divide ourselves, we stand ready to fall. United, we will prevail.

2. Approval of this motion would have unintended detrimental consequences for AERC.

• 100 mile rides: International member may only be 7% of the AERC membership population, but they are directly responsible for 42% of the 100 mile rides. At one time in AERC history, any ride shorter than 100 miles was not considered to be “endurance.” In this day and age, we are long removed from that sentiment, but there are some who still hold the opinion that the 100 mile ride is the Crown Jewel of our sport, and should be regarded as something worth preserving. Of the 14 100 mile rides on the US AERC calendar at the time of this writing, seven are dual-sanctioned with FEI. Of those seven rides, only one would exist without the dual-sanctioning. Most of these seven rides would never have been started without FEI, in the first place, and most of them would be in jeopardy without the FEI sanctioning, increased numbers of entries, and personnel support system that comes with FEI sanctioning. Of the ones in jeopardy, two are so dependent upon FEI riders for numbers of entries, the entire ride, all distances, would likely cease to exist. These two rides are the historic Biltmore ride, as well as the Pioneer ride FITS. Riders of all levels, not just those interested in International, will be negatively affected by the loss of FEI sanctioning. LD riders, 50 mile riders, and pioneer riders need to recognize how unalterably interwoven are all of our interests in this issue. Loss of FEI sanctioning would not just do away with half of our 100 mile rides, but would cause the loss of other distances available for everyone, as well.

• Financial impact: see above for loss of ride entries/per-rider fees/ride sanctioning fees. In addition, there would be a reduction of 75 mile rides, as the FEI star rating system has necessitated a resurgence of this intermediate distance.

• Unknown impact for insurance and drug testing programs, associated with USEF.

• Legal impact: AERC would not be upholding its affiliate responsibilities for USEF. In addition, AERC may be on rather murky legal grounds if they attempt to rescind ride sanctioning without good cause.

• Junior/Young Riders: International is a huge supporter of our youth riders. There is unprecedented financial and educational support and encouragement available for AERC youth riders within the FEI arena. Our Juniors and Young Riders have had opportunities to travel and compete in foreign countries, as well as to experience a higher level of championship competition on our own turf. FEI supports competitions exclusively for Juniors and Young Riders, and gives them their own level playing field, thus encouraging them to rise to better levels of global humanitarian perspectives, overall horsemanship and sportsmanship, and insightful personal achievement.

The AERC International Committee agrees that action must be taken to clean up the FEI house. This is not the issue in question. The contention lies with the method to be employed. Attempting to strong-arm the FEI by threatening our withdrawal if our criteria are not met is NOT the answer. Educating our membership as to the actual issues and supporting our very fine members who are in the debate representing us IS the answer. The Committee has much confidence in our representatives and in their abilities to work with representatives from other nations with similar strong ethics and beliefs to effect definite, positive, and timely change within FEI. Furthermore, USEF has such high regard for our representatives and their credentials, that Valerie Kanavy was just elected to the USEF Board of Directors representing the Non-Olympic disciplines, and Joe Mattingley was elected as the Chairperson of the International Disciplines Council.

The AERC International Committee feels very strongly that any careful consideration of the true issues at hand cannot lead to any conclusion other than that we and the horses and the sport we wish to honor and protect will be best served by putting forth a united voice. The consequences of division would be far-reaching, unforeseeable in totality, and potentially extremely damaging. The impetus for change within the FEI governing structure has reached a point of inevitability, and the opportunity for AERC to be an integral part of that change should be enthusiastically cultivated.

January 10, 2014

FEI Endurance Rules Changes in Effect in 9th Edition, 2014

A few changes were made to the FEI Endurance Rules, which took effect January 1 2014. The changes are as follows:

801 THE COURSE/*Field of Play:
The finish must be long and wide enough to enable several horses to finish at speed without interfering with each other , and must provide sufficient run - out to allow Athletes to safely come to a stop after crossing the finishing line in any potential sprint or gallop. It must be situated as close to the Vet Gate as possible.

1. The ‘field of play’ is defined as; the defined course (loops or phases), the defined crewing areas on course or within the vet gate, the vet examination area and the hold area at or within the vet gate. For Championships, there will be restricted access to the field of play as defined in the schedule.

2. The maximum number of grooms allowed within the vet gate will be 5 per horse to take into account availability of space or too ensure that the horse is allowed sufficient space to rest. A ccess to the vet gate and the vet gate examination area may be restricted by the Organiser under advice from the FEI Technical Delegate. Such restrictions must be clearly shown in the FEI approved schedule.

3. All horses must remain at all times clearly under observation of FEI Veterinary Officials, Ground Jury and Stewards.

815.3 Mandatory Rest for Horses:
After competing in a CEI events, a horse must be given a mandatory minimum rest period, as defined, before it is again eligible to participate in a National or FEI competition (Rest Period commences at Midnight on the day that the ride finishes as denoted by the maximum ride time allowed and finishes at Midnight, the day before published ride start time):
Distance completed
start – 40 km - 5 days (retirement only)
start – 80 km - 12 days
Over 80 – 120 km - 19 days
Over 120 km-140 km - 26 days
Over 140 Km - 33 days

817.4 Teams and Individuals
Teams: If an NF starts three or more combinations all results are available to establish their Team result and are also eligible for individual classification and placing/awards. Only the highest placed three members shall count as the Team for classification and to receive a team medal. Should any combination whose result was available to count towards Team Classification, subsequently fail an FEI sampling procedure which results in the loss of that individual’s result(s) within the event, the classification of that entire team will become null and void. Such loss of Team classification will not affect the individual classification of the other members of that team. 825,4 CEI 1 & 2 Star Endurance Events
Where a Foreign FEI Official is required within the terms of Art. 825, such Foreign Official cannot be resident in the same country or time zone in which the event is taking place. See the complete 2014 9th Edition FEI Endurance Rules here:
Clean version: http://www.horsesport.org/sites/default/files/Endurance_Rules-2014-clean_11Nov2013.pdf
Mark-up version:

A Program for Welfare of the Endurance Horse

by Stagg Newman

A Program for Welfare of the Horse
An Open letter to the AERC BoD and Members

AERC in the past took the initial lead in establishing standards for endurance riding that promoted the welfare of the horse but has lost that leadership position as discussed below. AERC should reclaim the global leadership role for welfare of the horse in the sport of endurance. To do so AERC should undertake a comprehensive program to protect our horses that includes
-research, and
-rule changes

AERC is to be commended for past actions to protect the welfare of the horse. AERC was formed in the 1970s to provide protection for horses competing in endurance at a time when horse fatalities in endurance racing were common and there were no or minimal rules. AERC brought veterinary controls to the sport. The initial AERC rules fit on one piece of paper. Underlying those rules was an assumption that endurance riders were knowledgeable, experienced and responsible equestrians. Most endurance riders had grown up with horses. In the ‘80s as a result of a still unacceptable fatality rate, particularly experiences at the Tevis ride, some leaders in AERC started advocating for more stringent rules. Around 1990, AERC developed the current Fit to Continue criteria that became the global standard for vet checks in endurance competitions. In the 2000s AERC led the way in investigation and publication of horse fatalities, i.e. transparency. That is an admirable foundation.

However, we have not successfully reduced the fatality rate in the past 15 years. Moreover, the reality is AERC is no longer regarded globally as a leader in the sport, particularly with respect to protecting the welfare of the horse. Many other national and local organizations have taken stronger actions recently than AERC to protect our horses (see Appendix A).
Therefore, we need to ask – and demand an honest answer -- whether the original assumption that all AERC riders are knowledgeable, experienced and responsible equestrians is really valid. In fact, many endurance riders like this author did not grow up riding horses. Rather many of us started riding horses after we were well into our adult years and have learned to be equestrians as we did endurance rides.
The articles by Dr. Jerry Gillespie, Chair of the Research Committee, and Dr. Jay Mero, Chair of the Veterinary Committee, in the January EN make a strong case for why AERC needs to do more to protect the welfare of our horses.

So we now need to ask what more AERC needs to do. I would like to engage the membership in discussing this issue leading up to the AERC convention in Atlanta which appropriately this year has the theme “Horses First”.

First we need to acknowledge that endurance riding does bring increased risk to our horses. Olin Balch on the Research Committee has done an excellent job of analyzing the fatality record for the period of 2002 to 2012. I would recommend reading his one page report on the AERC web site. The following table from his report indicates the risk inherent in our sport.

Table 2 - Effect of ride length on fatalities: '02 – '12
All ridesLD's50 milers75 milers100 milers
All fatalities801142120
Starts per fatality2,9268,0333,0384,358488
Exercise-related Fatalities*58934114
Starts per endurance related fatality4,0369,8183,7804,358697

*Exercise-related deaths are those associated with the exercise demands of the sport such as with metabolic disease induced by the demands of endurance riding. Non-exercise-related deaths include but were not limited to falls off trails, vehicle collisions, nighttime corral escapes, coincidental colics, sudden exsanguinations, and an enterolith obstruction of the colon.

As two reference points to compare to this table use the following:
1. for horses in the general equine population, in the 5 to 20 age category over a two day period the data available indicates an expectation of about 1 fatality per 14,000 horses.
2. for horses entered in flat track dirt racing in the U.S., the data available indicates an expectation of about 1 fatality per 588 starts.

An oversimplification of the statistical implications of this is that a horse incurs about a 5 fold increase in risk as a result of entering an endurance competition compared to staying at home. Horses entering a 100-mile competition are at similar risk of dying as a result of going to and entering the event as a horse entering a flat track race in the U.S. For this author who has focused on and completed well over 50 100-mile competitions, this was a sobering statistic.

So we need to ask what we can do to mitigate this risk.
We should analyze steps that our sport can take to improve the welfare of the horse and mitigate risks in three areas:
I. Horse and Rider Qualification
II. Ride Design
III. Veterinary Control

Appendix A provides examples from either local organizations (e.g. the Western States Trail Ride, aka Tevis) or national organizations of other countries (their equivalent of AERC) of controls that have been implemented to improve the welfare of the horses. These examples are given to initiate discussion and not necessarily to advocate for these ideas. Each idea needs to be analyzed on its merits and applicability for AERC.

We in AERC should compile a far more complete list of ideas from
-the ideas of our membership
-the practices of other local and national organizations
-a survey of the research literature including the work of the AERC Research Committee

These ideas can form the basic input for developing a long term program of education, research, and improved rules for the welfare of the horse. The author understands that a set of near term actions is being considered by the Vet Committee and the Research Committee and commends that effort. This effort is intended to complement that effort to create an on-going program that improves the welfare of our horses.

Stagg Newman
AERC Member 6477
Past President of AERC

Appendix A – Early Draft
Local and National Endurance Organization Rules to Promote the Welfare of the Horse
Examples – not a complete list
The following list is intended to stimulate discussion. The author is not advocating for these ideas per se nor against them.
I. Horse and Ride Qualification Rules
A. Australia
From http://www.aera.asn.au/

R3 Novice Rider
3.1 A person is deemed to be a novice rider until the requirements of the following sub-rules have been complied with:
a) The person must successfully complete two affiliated training rides before entering an affiliated endurance ride as a novice rider. Logbook(s) or vet cards must be presented to prove completion.
b) The novice rider must then enter a sufficient number of affiliated endurance rides as a novice rider to successfully complete 240 kilometres at any time and in any riding section (excluding training rides). Logbook(s) must be presented to substantiate the distance completed.
3.1 When the requirements of the above rule have been complied with, the person will be issued with a standard Membership Card by the State Management Committee.
3.2 Pending receipt of the standard Membership Card the person may enter any affiliated endurance ride and is not required to enter as a novice rider, provided they show sufficient proof by presenting Logbooks as referred to above with their novice rider endorsed Membership Card.
3.3 A novice rider must not be entered in an affiliated endurance ride when the total distance of the ride is more than 120 kilometres to be ridden in one day.
3.4 Novice riders must attend the pre-ride briefing and will not be permitted to participate in the ride if they have not attended.
3.5 The minimum riding time for all novice riders in each leg of an endurance ride shall comply with one of the following:
a) shall comply with a minimum riding time determined by the ride committee in consultation with the Chief Steward and Head Veterinarian. The minimum riding time shall be calculated by dividing the distance of the ride or leg by 14 km/h or less;
b) shall ride behind a pace rider as defined in the TRAINING RIDE RULES. The pace rider shall not complete the distance of any riding leg in a time less than that as determined in R.3.6a) above.
Endurance Rider
4.1 An endurance rider is a member who has successfully completed 240 kilometres as a novice rider and been issued a standard Membership Card and who has not been reduced to novice status by any provision of a rule.

B. Brazil
Brazil now requires several novice (LD level) competitions before a horse can compete in an open level competition (details to be supplied later)

C. Great Britain
Endurance Great Britain (EGB) requires horses and riders to compete at a novice (30-50 km) before they can move to the open level (equivalent to endurance riders of 50 miles or more in the U.S.)
From http://www.endurancegb.co.uk/html/novice.html

Novice Level Riders and Ride Rules
The minimum age for any horse to take part in a Graded Endurance Ride (GER) is 5 years. The age of a horse is deemed to change on 1st January of the current year irrespective of the actual birth date during that year A Novice horse aged 5 and in its first season may only compete at Novice Level. All Novice horses in their first season may not start in more than ten Graded Endurance Rides (GERs) and must only start rides to a maximum distance of 450km whether or not the rides are completed successfully. A horse presented to the pre-ride veterinary inspection is considered to have started the ride.
Rides available to Novice Horse/Rider combinations are from 30-50km and are to be completed at between 8-15kph.
A Novice Level horse aged 6 yrs or over in its first season may complete Open qualification ready to compete at Advanced level from the start of its second season - providing the maximum distance is not exceeded.
A horse and rider must compete at the lowest qualification for the combination. For example, an Open Level rider riding a Novice Level horse can only compete at Novice Level.
First season horses may complete their novice and open qualifications, providing age requirements are satisfied. They must not upgrade or compete at advanced level within one season.
However riders may progress to Advanced Level within one season.

Minimum Requirements for Novice Horse or Rider to Progress to Open Level

Minimum age of horseRide TypesMinimum No of Successful CompletionsDistance km +/-5%Conditions
5GER (Graded Endurance Rides)330-50None (rides may be completed in any order of distance)

Horses may not compete in Open GERs until they are 6years old.
Furthermore EGB has additional requirement to compete at open rides of 65-80 km before horses or riders can advance to the advanced level.
From http://www.endurancegb.co.uk/html/open.html
A first season horse, which has completed qualification to Open, may not start GERs exceeding a total distance of 450km during that season.
Rides available to Open Horse/Rider combinations are GERs of up to 90km in one day or a maximum of 130km over two consecutive days. The rides should be ridden at speeds between 10-18kph.
However, an Open Level horse/rider combination may, if they wish enter a Novice class. When an Open level horse and rider enter a Novice class this must be indicated clearly at the top of the vet sheet prior to presenting for vetting. Failure to do so may result in the horse being classified as Open/Advanced. If an Open level horse enters a novice class then it will not receive grading points – only distance points will be awarded.
The speed parameters in a Novice class are 8-15kph. If entering a Pleasure Ride (PR) the speed parameters are 8-12kph.

Minimum Requirements for Open Level Horse or Rider to Progress to Advanced

Minimum age of horseRide TypesMinimum No f Successful CompletionsDistance mms (+/-5%)Conditions
6GER265-80kmAt least one must be 80 km in one day

D. Tevis
The Western States 100 mile ride, the foundation ride of our sport now has explicit rider qualifications and strong recommendations on horse qualifications.
From http://www.teviscup.org/

“Riders must be qualified by having completed a minimum number of sanctioned distance riding miles. You are qualified if, at the time of application, you have completed at least 300 cumulative lifetime miles of competition in AERC, NATRC, or competitive rides of 50 miles or longer approved as equivalent by WSTF ride management, or you have completed the Tevis Cup Ride. Riders fully completing the Tevis Educational Ride and Seminars will be given credit for 150 miles for a two day ride and 75 miles for a one day ride toward the 300 mile requirement. The Veterinary Committee of the Western States Trail Ride strongly recommends that horses entered in the Ride have at least 300 miles of completed distance competition in events of 50 miles or longer.

II. Ride Design
A. Australia
12.1 The heart rate is to be set no higher than a maximum of 60 beats per minute, unless run in conjunction with an FEI ride as per Rule V9.
12.2 Rides of 119 kilometres or less should have a minimum of 3 legs if vet-gate-into-hold procedures are to be used. The last leg should be shorter in distance and of lesser intensity where possible.
12.3 Rides of 120 kilometres to less than 160kilometres should have a minimum of 4 legs if vet-gate-into-hold procedures are to be used. The last two legs should be shorter in distance and of lesser intensity, where possible.
12.4 Rides of 160 kilometres are to have a minimum of 5 legs if vet-gate-into-hold procedures are to be used. The last two legs should be shorter in distance and of lesser intensity, where possible.

From http://www.aera.asn.au/

B. Brazil
Brazil now has a standard that all holds must be a minimum of 40 minutes so horses can rehydrate and get nourishment.
C. Biltmore Challenge
The Biltmore Challenge has the ride finish line 1.2 miles away from camp in large field for safe area for race at finish away from all dirt roads that could have car traffic.
D. Vermont
The Vermont rides now frequently require a 10 to 15 minute mandatory hold between 10 and 15 miles out for horses to have an opportunity to rehydrate. This also breaks the early race brain mentality for excitable horses.
E. Research from Canada by Drs. Lindinger and Ecker (need to get more precise details and references)
-the sweat loss early in a ride has a much heavier concentration of electrolytes and thus is far more detrimental to a horse
-horses need to have an opportunity to rehydrate within the first 16 miles or so of the start of the ride to avoid getting into a substantive hydration deficit situations. Moreover horses should as the ride goes beyond the 30 miles mark or so accumulate at least 2 minutes of hold time for each mile of trail covered.

III. Veterinary Control
A. Australia -
From http://www.aera.asn.au/
13.1 The following guidelines are to ensure horse welfare issues can always be dealt with, especially where horses are required to be treated during a ride.
13.2 For all rides with a standard 30 minute veterinary check there should be a minimum of two veterinarians for up to 60 horses. For each additional 30 horses, another veterinarian should be provided.
13.3 For vet-gate-into-hold rides, the recommended ratio is one veterinarian per 15 horses.
13.4 For rides of 120 kilometres or more, a separate additional treatment veterinarian is required, present at the ride base. Note that these ratios do not necessarily apply to the pre-ride vet check.

January 7, 2014

IAEJ Announce Winner Of 2013 Bureau Award: Pippa Cuckson (GBR) for Outstanding Contribution to Journalism


The International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists (IAEJ) has announced today that British journalist Pippa Cuckson has been awarded the 2013 Bureau Award, which is decided by members of the IAEJ Bureau. Cuckson has long been a credit to her profession but it is her intrepid reporting of the scandal surrounding the endurance sport in the Middle East for which the Bureau wishes to recognize her with the award for 2013.

Established in 2012, the award was created to honor members of the equestrian community for outstanding contributions to the industry. George H Morris was the inaugural recipient.

Cuckson has boundless enthusiasm for getting to the heart of the matter while always adhering to the principles of journalism. Having started out in newspapers, she spent 20 years on the editorial team at Horse & Hound, latterly as deputy editor. Following a seven year break working in the racing industry, Cuckson resumed journalism as a freelance in 2009, contributing regularly to The Daily Telegraph, H&H, Horse Sport International and Chronicle of the Horse. She is also a frequent contributor to Country Life writing on a range of topics, notably classical music and renewable energy, the latter for which she was recently presented with a journalism award by leading UK political weekly, The Spectator.

Cuckson’s concern about the high rate of horse fatalities, injuries and doping cases in Middle East Endurance, goes back to the late 1990s, when she was deputy editor of Horse & Hound. In April 2012 she attended the endurance debate at the FEI open forum and made the salutary discovery that things had become significantly worse in the last decade. She reported the debate in a number of publications but then began to dig deeper. “Largely though, I was unable to interest anyone in stories about it, firstly because of the distraction of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and also the reluctance, fear even, of critics to go on the record,” says Cuckson. “This is still a factor now. A number of key stories circulating on the internet still have not had the proper scrutiny they deserve in mainstream publications.”

Finally, a window of opportunity came in April 2013 with the doping scandal at Godolphin.

“A number of racing media were looking for connections between Sheikh Mohammed’s racing and endurance operations, because his disgraced Godolphin trainer, Al Zarooni, had previously worked in an endurance stable run by trainer Mubarak Bin Shafya who is well known to the FEI Tribunal,” explains Cuckson. “I then spent four solid days reading every single FEI Tribunal report involving the UAE, and tortuously tracking who owned the horses through the FEI database and national federation website. The sheer weight of doping cases from stables owned by Sheikh Mohammed or other members of his immediate family was astonishing.”

Timing is everything. Just as Cuckson was coming to grips with the enormity of the problem and the implications for horse welfare, the Belgian and Swiss Federations were intensifying their lobbying of the FEI. “I wrote a piece for the Daily Telegraph pulling the various strands together and it has snowballed from there.”

Cuckson does not view her commitment to this issue as a crusade.

“I am just doing what any news reporter ought to be doing, because this issue provides a snapshot of the two issues that will ultimately destroy equestrian sport as we know it – our responsibilities to horses when we use them as a piece of sporting machinery; and how the moral compass of stakeholders seizes up when they get a sniff of big money.”

Cuckson will be presented with the award at the IAEJ General Meeting during 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

January 4, 2014

US National Endurance Organization Feels the Heat

by Merri Melde - Endurance.net

The FEI Endurance Controversy regarding positive horse dopings and deaths which caused a world-wide uproar beginning in the summer of 2013, is trickling down to the foundations of the sport, which originated in the USA in 1955 with the birth of the 100-mile Tevis Cup in California.

The raging international controversy has inspired much consternation and reform demands by many nations outside the FEI Group VII area (which includes the Middle East and North Africa), from where most of the violations have originated.

Due to the public outcry, an Endurance Strategic Planning Group was formed to meet during the November 2013 FEI General Assembly in Montreux, Switzerland. This group set forth proposals designed to address the contentious issues in international Endurance, particularly the incidences of doping and injuries, and misconduct of officials.

While it is a step in the right direction, many feel the FEI is moving far too slowly in dealing with the crises, and repercussions may spill out into non-FEI-related endurance riding.

In the USA, the AERC - American Endurance Ride Conference - is currently recognized as the "affiliated endurance organization" by USEF - United States Equestrian Federation, the USA Federation member of FEI. AERC is to encourage and promote the direction of growth of the endurance discipline.

AERC and its members have been swept up into the FEI debate, worrying that the current state of the FEI sport of endurance racing has tainted the original idea of the sport of endurance riding, and will negatively affect its existence in the USA.

AERC was founded in 1972 "as the national governing body for long distance riding. Over the years it has developed a set of rules and guidelines designed to provide a standardized format and strict veterinary controls." Part of AERC's mission statement is to "attract and reward members who act to insure the highest priority for their horses' immediate and long-term physical and emotional health and well-being." Many feel FEI endurance racing has become the antithesis of this mission statement.

While all of AERC members who have voiced opinions agree that the FEI rule infractions are wrong and unacceptable, they are divided on whether or not AERC should completely divorce itself from FEI, or to try to use its influence and its reputation as promoting endurance horse welfare to improve the situation. Only about 6.3% of the AERC membership are also FEI members.

While members on one side of the debate insist that AERC can have a good influence on FEI, members on the other end of the spectrum argue that AERC never has and never will have any influence on FEI, and that the bad press, the breaking of and blatant disregard for FEI rules in Middle Eastern countries, and the drugging and deaths of endurance horses will blanket the AERC organization in America and paint them with the same brush.

AERC originally responded to the FEI Endurance controversy with a letter to USEF in June of 2012, voicing strong alarm "in regard to profoundly disturbing evidence of deficiencies in horse welfare issues, including an increase in equine fatalities, orthopedic injuries and serious drug violations." The letter urged USEF to submit a letter to FEI regarding these concerns.

AERC followed up with recommendations to ESPG's proposals on December 19, 2013, including demanding FEI's commitment to change, transparency of equine fatalities, major penalties for rule-breakers, extensive drug testing at major competitions, limited competitors per team, and disciplinary action for rule infractions.

The AERC Sponsorship Committee, chaired by AERC Board Member Randy Eiland, has now offered a motion for discussion, which proposes temporary suspension of concurrent FEI events with AERC rides. In part, it states: "If FEI has not incorporated enforcement of the policies approved by AERC in its December, 2013 Letter to FEI, on or before June 30, 2014 then on July 1, 2014 AERC will decline sanctioning of rides that intend to hold an FEI event concurrently with the AERC event. This action by AERC will be rescinded when either 1) FEI accepts and begins enforcement of the policies found in Exhibit “A”; or 2) FEI begins enforcement of policies that are acceptable to AERC. "

The complete proposal can be seen here:

A complete recap of the news regarding the FEI Endurance Controversy over the last year can be seen here: