Neil Clarkson | May 27, 2015
Welcome news emerged today that the Emirates Equestrian Federation had come to the table to talk with the FEI about the issues surrounding endurance in the region.
The Emirates national body agreed to withdraw its legal challenge to its suspension, which was apparently an FEI requirement before round-table talks on the issues could begin.
The UAE federation’s secretary general, Taleb Al Muhairi, has set a conciliatory tone and there are naturally hopes that significant improvements will result.
The FEI Bureau imposed the provisional suspension on March 12 in response to what it described as horse welfare issues and non-compliance with the world governing body’s rules and regulations in endurance.
The fact that the Emirates federation decided to appeal the suspension was disappointing on many levels. Lawyers were never going to solve the issues in endurance in the UAE, and the fact its national federation chose to pursue this route hinted at a worrying lack of contrition.
Even putting that aside, the legal route struck me as very challenging for the Emirates. Had it succeeded, it would hardly have been welcomed back into the international fold with open arms.
The only way that was ever going to happen was if it came to the table and started dealing with the issues that gave rise to the suspension in the first place.
It now appears that the Emirates federation has come to that realisation. The first talks have been held in Switzerland and the FEI has laid out its requirements.
It would be nice to think that this was the end-game in what has been a long and sorry saga, but I believe the challenges ahead remain significant.
It will, ultimately, be a test of the rules of endurance as well as a test of the willingness of the Emirates to bring about change.