Saturday, March 31, 2007

FEI Endurance Forum: Day 1

FEI World Endurance Forum opens in Paris

Some 70 delegates representing 31 National Federations have gathered in Paris for the FEI World Endurance Forum from 31 March to 1 April 2007. Placed under the motto “Consolidation, Cooperation, Creation”, this event is the starting point of an in-depth review of this FEI discipline.

The basis of the current FEI Rules for Endurance came into being over 20 years ago; indeed, Endurance became an FEI discipline in 1982. In the last five years, the sport has undergone dramatic growth: in 2006 the total number of Endurance events was 393 which is an increase of 480% compared to 2000. In terms of numbers, the Endurance is now the third FEI discipline after Jumping and Eventing. From a leisure activity enjoyed by amateurs on weekends, it has turned into highly competitive sport where breeders, owners, trainers and riders earn their living. Countries from new regions of the world presenting unusual climatic conditions have joined. There is a significant difference between the amateur and professional levels of the sport which is all the more apparent when facing challenging conditions.

The time has therefore come to undertake a comprehensive review of the sport in order to provide it with a solid basis upon which it can continue to grow and expand.

Following the morning the morning session where regional groups presented a picture of Endurance within the various countries, the Forum separated into working groups during the afternoon to consider in detail the proposals from the regions.

The three main groups of FEI officials – judges, technical delegates and veterinarians – taking part in the Forum will provide the FEI with their informed opinion on key issues such as qualification standards, competition format and the welfare of the horse, which will serve as a basis for the new structure. An interim report will be issued in October 2007 by the task force which is to be appointed post-forum.

The key element of the opening day was the genuine sprit of cooperation and the willingness to consider change. Day two will see all of the working groups coming together in general forum to establish the task force’s main areas for review.

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