Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Endurance Wastage: Even Worse Than You Probably Thought - Full Article

Cuckson Report | May 30, 2017

I was sorry to miss the FEI’s endurance forum at Vic in Spain. I went to the 2014 version in Lausanne, the first specialist endurance open forum staged after the extent of the cheating, doping and attrition in FEI Group 7 and the UAE in particular came to wider attention.

Not much seems to have changed, other than officialdom now being less uncomfortable about openly naming the problem countries. And it would be difficult now not to name the UAE when they were suspended (2015) and stripped of running a world championship (2016) because of horse welfare concerns. Even three years ago it was taboo to mention a Group 7 federation by name in an open FEI endurance debate.

Given that weeny increase in transparency, I was disappointed to be told in February that the 2017 renewal was limited to national federations. By the time the FEI changed its mind in April and invited general observers, I had arranged to do something else, which could not be rescheduled without inconveniencing other people and causing me irrecoverable expense.
I am thus indebted to attendees who kept me posted and provided context to the presentations now available on the FEI website, and for amplifying the topics excluded from the FEI’s media round-up.

Much was made at both the main FEI sports forum in Lausanne in April and at Vic about extensive veterinary studies into bone fatigue and metabolic failures, and how they might be mitigated by extending rest periods. Another proposal that has got as far as a draft rule is adding an extra seven days’ rest where speed has exceeded an average 20kph. But why not actively cap high speeds, as successfully already trialled at Boudhieb? All the evidence is that Group 7 horses continue to train hard during compulsory “rests,” and turn up at national rides – over which the FEI is always keen to tell us it has no jurisdiction or knowledge. A half-way house measure will merely encourage Group 7 to buy even more horses...

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