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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 Plan
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


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ALL NEWS ARCHIVE - REALLY - 9 YEARS OF IT!!!

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


Perspective on Endurance Strategic Planning Group Proposal at the November 2013 FEI General Assembly By John Crandell


The reports from the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) presented at the FEI general assembly depict an earnest and hardworking effort by some to salvage FEI endurances status and reputation. This report also demonstrates the “systemic” problems, as described by Chairman Andrew Finding, that have plagued the FEI permeate the ESPG as well.

It is clear the ESPG recognizes the scope of issues is vast and must reach into many areas of the organization at once to incite real and lasting change. The very professionally developed schematic format and its “Plan on a Page” represented considerable expertise in planning. This work indicates that the ESPG wisely recognizes that we need to carefully develop consensus on schematic levels of this initiative before we can effectively develop details of a comprehensive overhaul.

I was very pleased to see some emphasis on education and reminders of the history of endurance riding as part of the program. Endurance testing could play a unique role in mankind’s relationship with animals if we define and regulate the discipline thoughtfully. It can even be an essential force in the long term health and happiness of equines as a sustainable species if we do this very well. We all need to remember both the noble and productive, as well as the cruel and destructive moments in endurance riding history and pre-history, to guide our path into the future. The modern era of equine endurance, the transformation of the practice into a socially acceptable and regulated form of equine testing, was founded on the interest of dedicated horseman. These were passionate enthusiasts looking for an academically valued way to identify great horses and horsemanship based on a natural spectrum of the species’ most definitive and historic abilities. The discipline has proven that it can be an engaging sport and economically sustainable, even in its most academic forms. The stringent preservation of this academic aspect of the discipline is essential to the nobility of the sport, its long-term net value to the equine species, and is at the core of any meaningful philosophy of respect for the horses.

Even as the schematic and gestural elements of the ESPG plan presented great promise, hints and examples of the concrete details of how this program might be implemented are very concerning.

Chairmen Andrew Finding acknowledged that there needs to be complete “rule by rule” revisiting of the FEI endurance rule book. While it’s encouraging that there is an understanding that the rule book needs to be thoroughly revisited, simple line item changes will not be enough, even if we edit almost every line. The inherent incentives and disincentives of the rules and award system are established more by the philosophies and basic constructs behind the document than by letter of the rules themselves. The fundamental errors of the rules, award philosophies and their motivations cannot be corrected by line item edits and definitely not by adding more and more regulations. We need the eloquence of wisdom, not the burden of more bureaucracy.

Concepts like extended rest periods and the growing horse qualifying hierarchies seem justifiable and necessary in the context of the current regulations. These ever expanding attempts to micro-manage training practice are only more evidence that the underlying motivations, which are established by the rules and awards structure, are misdirected. Even now, good trainer’s efforts are being compromised by the logistic wastefulness of compliance to increasingly intrusive regulation. Economic wastefulness mandated by the FEI system only amplifies the competitive advantages of wealth, and limits the number of participants that are interested in participating at the financial support level.

We cannot correct these embedded inefficiencies without going deeply into the core constructs of the system, such as the very definitions of the CEI “*” levels, and then reconstructing from there. The endurance rules and policies could be much simpler and much more effective at encouraging noble behavior we could all be proud of.

The most detailed example of the ESPG’s intentions, the proposal for a professional trainer registry, was presented by a group member from a region that has already licensed and ranked trainers within its federations for almost two decades. This is also the region that has seen the most overwhelming concentration of rule violations and subsequent animal abuse in the same time period. The entire world has seen the results of philosophies like using a professional trainer’s registry to institutionalize the limiting of accountability at the trainer level.

One of the most common quips among those that bear close witness to Dubai endurance racing is “I guess another groom will be sent back to India (Pakistan) over that one”. Fingering someone that is not only easily replaced, but is also suspected of disloyalty to the regime would be a doubled bonus, and a signal to others that might express independent thoughts. Larger scandals sometimes require more significant scapegoats, so someone of higher rank in the systems, such as a veterinarian, assistant trainer, or even a principal managing trainer must take the fall.

If the circumstances of the offense are such that even powerful media and information controls cannot deflect blame to someone haplessly innocent and powerless, then someone of loyalty or value to the regime must take the fall. These persons are likely to know too much about where the directives are really coming from, or may represent strategic political alliances, so they must be compensated to retain their loyalty. These same persons also know that overt demonstrations of extreme loyalty, taking personal risks such as throwing races, or joining in on rule violations in a “one for all and all for one” manner are seen as acts worthy of exceptional generosity in gifting.

It is in this manner that influence and incentive to cheat transcends and blurs the boundaries of stables and their ownership of record. The overt presence of cheaters driving their choice of a fleet of gifted luxury vehicles, and of banned trainers pensioned or promoted to an active role supervising assistant trainers, has been the powerful driving force of a depraved competition culture.

This environment has made the worst violators secure, wealthy, and powerful, while the honorable horsemen in their region have been ostracized. This duality of the mechanisms is the most fundamental reason the region fell to such deplorable depths so completely and so rapidly. Ethically weak and incompetent FEI stewardship simply added the credibility and cloak of that brand, sold at a relatively low political price.

Suggestion of an enforcement strategy based on the professional career sensibilities of trainers is therefore a preposterous statement that offends the intelligence of anyone with exposure to the environment that spawned the current outrage. Like so many rules and policies now embedded in the FEI system, implementation of such a program would only further institutionalize the shielding of the ultimate financial and political sources of inappropriate directives. Any measure that further inhibits tracking of these depraved incentives to their political and economic roots will only make the systemic corruption issues worse, not better.

“You can fool some of the people, some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time” – Abraham Lincoln

Trainer licensing at this time, and in the manner presented, is therefore a proposal that would be counterproductive to the purported goals of the ESPG. At best it could only result in the better concealment of the roots of moral poverty. It will eventually necessitate new cycles of rules and regulations to further address the un-remedied issues and will extend the burden of an expanding bureaucracy to the rest of the world.

The chairman of the ESPG further endorsed and applauded this proposal in the proceedings of the recent FEI general assembly. This has only raised questions about the competence of the ESPG itself, and particularly of the integrity of the selection process of its members. It’s time for us to question why the FEI needs to be so diplomatic as to publicly advance the offerings of the fox on the security of the hen house. This repeated occurrence in rule and policy development has become an open source of embarrassment and a divisive wedge in the equestrian endurance community.

The Chairman went further to suggest the future of endurance riding lies in modeling after flat racing. Traditional flat racing has been in a popular decline in much of the developed world for the last half century. The simple fact is that the new sources of wealth that might support flat racing have become wary of its marginalized record and publicity. Even those that don’t fully understand the sport have developed a visceral sense that something is fundamentally questionable about the sports economic institutions and influence on equine genetics. The obsession for genetic development toward an unnaturally narrow performance attribute is a source of inherent conflict with the principals of wholesome and sustainable well-being. At this time it is widely understood the flat racing is only supported at its present level by extreme financial commitments of an increasingly few wealthy people that are insulated from the pressures of modern morality.

It only seems apparent that endurance riding must advance in the direction of the “Sport of Kings” by the trajectory of the aforementioned rule and reward guidance. Following flat racing as a model is not a wise and sustainable long-term path. The entire world is evolving much too fast in an opposing direction. Equine endurance tests can be a leader, and not a trailing victim, of the advancing public awareness if we manage this discipline with a regard for its potential academic values. While the public has been presented with an ESPG program that is just what it wanted to hear in schematic approach and background rhetoric, the closer we look at the most detailed visions and proposals, the more utterly alarming it becomes. The devil is in the details.

It is a fact of human interaction that we most efficiently develop new concepts in relatively small groups. This however depends on the fortunate or wise assembly of the right individuals, as the contribution of each is critical to the outcome. The FEI has now put itself in a position that will eventually require it to withdraw the most detailed aspect of the ESPG proposal and restructure the personnel and visions of that group in order to retain the support of the broader endurance community worldwide. The can has only been kicked down the road. The biggest debates and conflicts still lie ahead.


Letter from John Crandell to AERC - October 30 2013


I hope that we are just beginning to climb out of the era of exceptional corruption at many levels of the FEI. It is important that we don’t allow ourselves to accept a legacy of fundamentally biased and ill-conceived rules born of this depravity.

Many of the cornerstone rules and policies that we have been forced to accept are little more than the remainder of what is left when all the most effective solutions were thrown out early in the development process due to the influence of powerful special interests. Time and time again the large remainder of the endurance community has been appeased with the opportunity to make comments and have just final stage influence on the detail of new rules, when the most intelligent concepts had been filtered out long before. No matter how obvious the ideal solution, the FEI endurance community has received a criterion that misses the mark in effectiveness, and often is one that can be over-come by simple volume.

Over the past decades we have seen a proclivity to forward superficial, quantitative rule remedies for qualitative issues. When a problem is identified, we should sensibly want to identify the simplest attributes to base a remedial rule upon. This has been exploited the extent that the resulting rule is so simplistically quantitative that it fails to perform as purported. We must endeavor to develop actual quality standards for issues of performance qualities, and accept that rules are supposed to be inconvenient for those unwilling to uphold the desired standards.

For a concrete example, consider how the FEI rider/horse qualifications and elite rider status definitions developed from their earliest constructs:

In the time these rules were developed, it was becoming all too obvious that some riders were advancing themselves into levels of performance for which they were incompetent. Under the banner of concern for the welfare of horses, and in quieter but more significant concern for public image of the discipline, a need for qualifying rules was identified.

Most of us around the world at the time inherently understood that such a qualification should be based on a history of quality performance. Many also understood that the actual safety of the horses was primarily dependent on riders judgment and ability to rate the steed within the riders skill and the horses physical limits. Most horses can safely complete endurance test at some rate, therefore any concern for the speed of the performance is an independent matter of public image, and not an actual concern of equine welfare.

If horse welfare is a truly the paramount, then the logical approach would have been to base the primary qualification criterion, those which targeted safety of the horse, on a riders ability to consistently complete events without injury to the horse, and secondly to identifying horses with (much less common) congenital risk factors. An expression of such a quality criterion might have simply been something like “Riders or horses with greater than X% successfully completion in the top Y% of the field in Z or more events may advance to the next level”. Any variation of this example criterion formed by a factor of frequency (%) of a specific outcome has a much higher correlation to a quality than any simple quantity assay. In this one simple phrase, we have a standard for risk tolerance (too reckless), limited advancements by being uncompetitive (too slow), and would be required to track data only the last “Z” events of a competitor to validate the rule. Notice that this formula identifies relative quality performance, without bias toward availability of the fastest, least technical course possible. Alternatively, a qualitative measure could be expressed in terms of relationship to fastest time on a given course. There are many ways to make more qualitative expressions that are event referenced, and thus useful comparatives across varying course performance conditions and technicality. A truly international criterion should have these features.

Adopted instead was a qualification system that is entirely focused on simple speeds (quantity of time) and quantity of completion. This system based on such simple quantities is grounded only on the very errant assumption that quantities of performances always imply quality performance. Furthermore, all of the earliest “quantifications” were entirely pinned on the horses, and all that have been added are also actually quantitative, not qualitative assessments. As this system has proven to be inadequate and ineffective at actually protecting horses, only more layers of the same philosophy have been applied to fix it. Insanity defined.

The quantitative qualification system immediately created economic and competitive bias in favor of regions with geography that supported access to the fastest and courses possible. Immediately, large regions of the world, even regions with ancestral horse heritage and culture were effectively shut out of the equal participation in the FEI endurance system. Classic endurance events that had been developing effective equine welfare policies for decades were isolated out of influence, while power and influence of a few regions was enhanced.

From early in the development of FEI rule, criterion hinged on quality of rider performance has been just too unpalatable for strong Persian Gulf influences. Riders in that zone customarily put the responsibility of the horse welfare completely on the veterinary panel, and accepted no concern themselves as the rider focuses on doing a pre-ordained pace that has more to do with previous statistics for winning than the actual current condition of his mount. Any rider criterion that would shift some of that responsibility back to the rider in a manner that cannot be overpowered simply by more financial expense has been a lead balloon in FEI rules.

This bias is particularly evident in the detail of the more recent elite rider status. The previous incorporation of qualifying criterion for horse and rider combinations momentarily represented an inconvenience to the largest stable owners as it disabled some of the advantage they could otherwise afford. Adding an incentive to become an “elite rider” is a nonetheless plausible concept that could have provide incentive to strive toward highest quality horsemanship. Instead, once again we have been handed a quantity criterion that only compounds on the inherent advantages of concentrated wealth and large stables. According to the current elite rider criterion the most callous and sadistic among us, persons that cause the destruction of an exceptionally high percentage of the horses they compete on, can attain the extra privilege of riding (consuming) a new and unfamiliar horse in major competitions if they only do more of what they do. Elite Rider status by the current FEI definition is only a matter of the willingness to expend the quantity of money and horses required meet the criterion. This quantitative elite status criterion distorts what could be a positive influence into depraved incentive. It’s ultimately a “buyable” mark with little correlation to consistent qualities that would actually protect the horses. Horses are abused BECAUSE of misguided rules like this.

The over-arching point is that the above are just examples from a rule structure that has been created in an undertone of bias and distorted logic. This issue permeates the entire endurance rule system. This has resulted in fundamental rules and qualification constructs that are only thinly veiled as protections for the horse, while the effective reality is that they only incentivize more consumption. It is becoming more publicly apparent with every new layer of rules and edits that must be added that something is deeply, and fundamentally wrong with the system, and that it’s more than a just matter of the growth of the discipline. Our current FEI rules are founded on ethical compromise, bias, and the warped sense of reality of powerful people that do not represent the perspective of the endurance community worldwide.

What is most important is not just the particularly flaws that can be pointed out, but the loss of the wiser, more effective concepts that could have, should have been applied from the beginning. Intelligence and logic is not something that fits neatly between the lines of existing irrationality. Any attempt to do so will only create an unwieldy and tangled literary mess. This will require a comprehensive re-write.

We do not need more layers and tweaks on the existing rule structure. We do need a much more comprehensive re-write of the entire endurance rules. We need to redirect editorial energies toward development of a strategic plan for the eventual obsoleting of the much of the rule book at once, to replace it with a fundamentally new version. Of course that can only come after the current issues of integrity within the FEI ranks is resolved, but we should be preparing to implement a comprehensive rules change-over as soon as possible afterward, as this is be best window of opportunity to do so.

The cancer of drug abuse cannot be purged from the system without a very comprehensive strategy.   The likelihood of success is very small if we attempt to tackle ethical compromise one aspect at a time.  The scourge will just regrow back from each tentacle we leave aside intending to treat at a later date.   A systemic problem needs to be dealt with systemically. If we attempt to improve rule enforcement without a comprehensive redevelopment of the rule system in process, we will continue a paradox of expecting to find ethically uncompromising persons to enforce a rule system that is inherently biased and of questionable ethical effect.

Too many people are aware of FEI’s endurances open history of putting image ahead of real effectiveness for the public to be satisfied with a few targeted actions, rule tweaks, and some propagandous posturing now. Core constructs of the FEI rule system were forged in a crucible of ethical poverty clouded by the smoke of bureaucracy. The current document and many related articles are fundamentally depraved, politically terminally ill, and do not warrant our investment of band-aids and aspirin at this time. We need a new birth.

If a structure is built on a flawed foundation, no matter how many coats of whitewash and layers of trim we apply, it’s still a flawed structure, and is only more difficult to visualize the repair by the layers of illusion.

We will be part of a totally new beginning, or of a continuing embarrassment to equestrians worldwide.

If the Endurance Strategic Planning Committee does not have the power or the courage to include strategic planning for transition to a fundamentally new rules paradigm as part of its charge, then who will?

This is an entrenched issue that is not going to be solved within the standard rules committee procedures. Even those on the relevant committees that are not already corrupted will have an inherent personal conflict against abandoning so much of a document they have been charged with nurturing for a long time. If voices beyond those of the regular FEI committee structure do not assert authority here, then nothing significant will change.

The worldwide equestrian community has long passed its limit of tolerance for FEI rules and enforcement policies that distort and abuse the basic principles of fair sportsmanship and the ethical regard of equines. It is beyond obvious that the FEI endurance rules are constructed under the influence of self-serving powers, and in a philosophy that is inconsistent with the much of the world.

The challenge before the FEI is more than just a matter of controlling some forms of injustice and enforcing the rules it now has. The environment of self-interest and injustice has been present for so long that it has permeated the very foundations of the rule structure as well.

The current rules are fraught with pretenses of equine welfare that have been distorted into the opposite effect by desires to generate organizational expansion and additional favor for the most financially influential. The rest of the world should not accept the FEI and its Federations in continued support of a rule structure that insidiously INCOURAGES the wasteful consumption of equines as it degrades the disciplines potential for creating valued knowledge that could benefit that species. Much of the world senses this in some manner, and is increasingly wary and tired of the bureaucratic smoke screens and shallow public image gestures.

The world endurance community needs an international organization with the integrity to uphold competitive standards, justice and elemental respects for life. Power and greed have always presented challenges to otherwise noble minded organizations and always will. The FEI has done a particularly mediocre job of resisting those forces for decades. The re-invention of the endurance rules will be an integral and essential part of any effort by the FEI to genuinely restore its integrity and respectability.

There is little enduring value in “strategic planning” anything else in FEI endurance if the discipline is to remain underpinned by such a fundamentally miss-guided rule structure.