The FEI, as part of its continued efforts to ensure strong measures for Endurance in the UAE are taken, has today held talks with the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) in Abu Dhabi (UAE).
FEI Endurance Director Manuel Bandeira de Mello met with EEF Vice President Mohammad Alkamali, EEF Secretary General Taleb Dhaher Al Mheiri and EEF Executive Board Member Faisal Al Ali to work through the exact measures that will be implemented at international (CEIs) and national (CENs) Endurance events in the UAE for the remainder of the current season, which runs until early April.
These talks follow recent meetings between the FEI and the EEF in both Switzerland and the UAE, after which the EEF postponed four Endurance events so that agreement could be reached on proposed measures to urgently address a number of serious issues in Endurance in the region. The CEI1* in Dubai on 8 February was postponed, along with national events on 4, 5 and 6 February. In addition, the EEF took further action, suspending five riders and five trainers for a six-month period and imposed fines following what they termed “gross offences” at the national junior and young rider 120km ride at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, on 30 January.
The FEI had set the deadline of 11 February for the EEF to come back with an agreement on the proposed measures, with the caveat that no further events would be held in the region until agreement on these measures had been reached.
The CEI 3* 160km HH The President of UAE Endurance Cup, attended by Mr De Mello, took place today in Al Wathba, following agreement with the FEI on the measures. The event, held at the Emirates International Endurance Village, was well organised with the winning combination averaging a speed of 26.3 kph and all horses crossing the line in good health.
The twelve approved measures, which will be applied for the rest of the UAE Endurance season, are:
1. Reduced number of events for the rest of the season. *Events for the rest of the international season will be confirmed on the FEI Calendar; the EEF will confirm its national events in due course
2. Limit the number of horse and rider combinations entered into each international and national event to 150.
3. Heart rate presentation times reduced to between 56 and 60 bpm for all loops in one-star competitions, and in the final loop for two- and three-star CEIs and CENs.
4. Recovery time reduced to between 10 and 15 minutes for all loops in one-star and in the final loop for two-and three-star CEIs and CENs.
*Heart rates and recovery times will be monitored closely by the FEI and EEF, with action taken where needed (if athletes exceed these limits they will be eliminated)
5. Rest periods between loops will be reviewed by Veterinary Officials to determine whether 50-minute holds will be more beneficial to the horses.
6. The last 2-5 kms of the final loop will be designated and controlled so that no cars or crews can access.
7. In the final loop, crewing in the form of offering cooling water bottles will only be allowed at designated crewing points every 2-5 kms – no other crewing will be allowed.
8. In all CEI 3* and CEI 4* events, all horses will be confined in Secure Overnight Stabling, in accordance with FEI Regulations.
9. The Official TV Broadcasters have been named; as such the film/video recordings are the official record of the event and hence legal actions may be taken against the violators of any regulation viewed on this footage.
10. Crews will be identified with numbered bibs that match the number of the horse to enable easy identification; should a horse be eliminated from the competition, the bibs will be surrendered immediately; only those people with a numbered bib matching that of the horse still in competition will be allowed to crew or to accompany the horse at any time during the event.
11. A ride briefing will be held at each event to review regulations, and to update everyone involved of any changes in regulations for the event; attendance will be compulsory; failure to attend shall result in immediate elimination from the event.
12. All officials will now be appointed by the EEF instead of Organising Committees; no non-EEF appointed officials will be able to officiate at international and national events.
“We need to change hearts as well as minds, and the solution lies in education and dialogue, as well as taking a tough line with sanctions,” explained FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez.
“The Emirates Equestrian Federation has been bold, taking stringent action as seen recently with the suspension of events and sanctioning athletes and trainers, clearly demonstrating their commitment to work together with the FEI to eradicate the incidents that have tarnished the sport. We will continue to work together to ensure progress.
“Protecting horses comes first and we are determined that this specific value is upheld at international and national level Endurance competitions. While the FEI does not have jurisdiction over national events, we will continue to do our utmost to ensure that changes at an international level are also felt nationally.
“It is clear for everyone what is at stake, and the FEI is working closely with the EEF to make sure that any challenges to run the sport within the FEI’s clearly mapped rules are overcome, and that everyone in the sport understands the importance of standing by the measures implemented for the rest of the season.
“By continuing to work together we feel we can greatly impact the sport in the region long term.”