08 February 2017
The British Equestrian Federation (BEF) and Endurance GB (EGB) have jointly written to the FEI to express their profound concerns about the further catastrophic incidents to horses competing in the UAE and to call on the FEI to take firm and prompt action to address the recurrence of chronic injuries and unacceptable practices at both Dubai and Al Wathba venues.
EGB have also made it clear that they will not be submitting entries to the forthcoming HH President of the UAE Cup and the Crown Prince Cup in the light of these concerns. In addition, EGB will be writing to British riders based in the Middle East to urge them not to take part in events in Dubai and Al Wathba until confidence in the welfare procedures in place has been restored. EGB is currently considering withdrawing ‘No Objection Certificates’ from those who do intend to compete.
The BEF and EGB recognises the efforts of Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nayhan and the FEI to improve horse welfare in Endurance events through the development of the ‘Boudheib’ protocols where efforts have been made to tailor competition to the challenging natural terrain and environment, and to protect horses from the their impact by prescribing speed and recovery parameters with these in mind. We believe there is the scope for these to be adopted more broadly in the Middle East and in similarly stretching geographies. There is also a need for greater scrutiny of training practices and the degree to which these contribute to the development of pre-existing conditions which lead to chronic injuries in competition.
We recognise that the FEI is taking steps to investigate these extremely distressing events, and to develop measures to address the issues leading to them in the interests of equine welfare. With this in mind, we support their efforts to work with the UAE Federation as a force for change, rather than to separate from them. Nonetheless we believe a visible and decisive step needs to be taken in banning riders and trainers found to be involved in malpractices as a demonstration that these will not be tolerated and that equine welfare is of paramount concern in sustainable competition.