Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bouthieb (Abu Dhabi – UAE): The Revolution Goes On - Full Article

Text and photos: François Kerboul - FEI 4*

The new rules introduced in Bouthieb under the leadership of HH Sh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Representative of the President and Chairman of the Emirates Heritage Club (EHC), have, so far, been implemented on three events totaling eight competitions -from December 31, 2015 to January 23, 2016, i.e. over a period of 3 weeks and two days – involving 1077 horses.

Of that number only 5 horses, whose neither life nor athletic future were in danger, required significant care. These horses all left the clinic in the afternoon.

We can only welcome such a result both because it is exceptional and also because it's simply unprecedented.

This dramatic decline in the number of horses requiring unavoidable clinical care, this disappearance of horses who died of exhaustion or were put down because of fractures, is certainly the most important and most visible consequence of the revolution taking place in Bouthieb.

But do not forget that this is part of an ongoing broad programme of education / rehabilitation which has several other aspects.

Here are a few of them.

On the Track

What can I say except that it's just as different as night and day from what went on before?

The cars have access only if they have the badge (authorization) that was given to them. Their number is limited to one vehicle for 5 horses per trainer. In order to ensure effective control, the badge is not a small discreet label that gets stuck in a corner of the windshield and that the stewards or the police will have no time to read, but a big sticker (30 cm x 30 cm) which does not allow fraud.

The riders' track is lined with linear mounds prohibiting crew vehicles to mix with horses and cross their path. Cars drive on the right or the left track, in principle, depending on the wind so as not to disturb the horses with dust. It is the third year that this provision has been introduced in Bouthieb, but it is only a first step because they are thinking of improving the tracks by making them more technical and by separating them from the vehicle assistance for the next season. The contact points (crew points) would then only be water points as in the rest of the world. Riders would be even more responsible, being no longer practically guided by their trainers. This can only be beneficial for the horses as by becoming more independent, riders will be more responsible and will certainly be more attentive to their horses.

The prohibition of continuous watering and the creation of water points has put an end to the dangerous and unreasonable 4WD race cutting and intersecting the trajectory of the horses at the mercy of the crews fantasies. We no longer see ten 4WD for one horse slaloming 5 or 6 abreast and watering continuously throughout the track...

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