Tuesday, November 05, 2013

USA Chef d'Equipe Weighs In on FEI Endurance Controversies

November 5 2013

Even before a raid on a private Dubai Royal Air Wing plane on May 3 at Great Britain's Stansted Airport and the subsequent seizure of an illegal shipment of unlicensed veterinary goods (incorrectly labeled "horse tack") destined for Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum's Moorley endurance farm sparked a spate of growing worldwide outrage and concern over druggings, breakdowns, and fatalities of international endurance horses, the USA had already added its voice to the increasing clamor.

A June 25, 2013 letter from the AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) to USEF (United States Equestrian Federation) delineated its concerns over international endurance horse welfare.

In part, the letter stated: "We share the alarm voiced by the European federations of Belgium, France, and Switzerland in regards to profoundly disturbing evidence of deficiencies in horse welfare issues; including an increase in equine fatalities, orthopedic injuries and serious drug violations. We note that these letters have been widely circulated throughout world press, and that the reputation of the sport and all those federations involved is likely to become irreparably tainted if decisive action is not taken at once to resolve these issues."

The letter was subsequently formalized by USEF and submitted to the FEI in July.

USA Endurance Chef d'Equipe Emmett Ross released a statement to Endurance.net on October 30, 2013, concerning the controversies currently gripping the sport of endurance racing.

"What is happening in endurance is not acceptable and abhorrent to all…

"A letter sent from the AERC several months ago through our national federation, USEF, along with its own stated concerns prompted the FEI to include our Joe Mattingly to the small but fully charged review commission of 5 persons. Joe and the other few prestigious members have had several very serious meetings and must present their findings and solutions of correcting many of the problems, especially horse welfare items,  to the FEI's annual General Assembly meeting next week. 

"I know there are skeptics regarding this commission's abilities to recommend and enact changes.  But I hope and fully expect some dramatic changes will be immediately laid down to correct many of the issues.
 
"I also expect the FEI officials assigned to the rides at the Championship races to take better and full control (required) of the existing rules and be unafraid on who the sanctions are given to or they potentially could lose their licenses."

The FEI's 2013 General Assembly, which acts as a platform for discussions and voting on the major decisions of the FEI and the governance of the sport, will convene in Montreux, Switzerland, November 4-7.