Thursday, August 23, 2018

Global Petition for FEI Horse Welfare Reform

August 23 2018

Galvanized by the latest in a string of years of endurance racing debacles abroad, and concerned that the upcoming World Equestrian Games Endurance event in Tryon, North Carolina, on September 12th may be negatively affected by the controversies, 25 AERC (American Endurance Ride Conference) Board Members have posted a Global Petition for FEI Horse Welfare on Change.org.

"The purpose of this petition," AERC Board member Connie Caudill-Burns posted, "is to clarify for FEI that the endurance riders and supporters worldwide demand a return to the traditions of our sport with emphasis on the proper care for endurance horses everywhere by allowing the horses to compete on their own natural abilities without performance enhancing drugs. The petition also requires increased rest periods for excessive speed and stiffer penalties for those who would abuse these animals. This petition has the support of 25 American Endurance Ride Conference Board members and we expect the public support of relevant committees and organizations from endurance organizations all around the world.

"FEI must take a stand for endurance horse welfare reform worldwide before equestrians lose the privilege of competing in equestrian sports. We request that FEI accept and enforce the following 9 rules that will punish the cheaters and abusers of horses that believe in “winning at all cost”. Enough is enough, endurance athletes and horse enthusiast globally demand change in the FEI organization.

"1. Increase penalties for positive drug tested horses- Higher fines as well as stiffer suspensions on the horses. At least a year suspension (not the current 2 months). (May depend on the type of drug))

"2. Strong penalties on Trainers/Athletes/Owners who have 3 positive drug violations within a 5 year period. (5 year suspension)

"3. Positive drug violations for anabolic steroids, (such as testosterone) the horse will be banned for life. Possible life ban on –Athlete/Owner/Trainer

"4. Have mandated drug test on all 4* and 5* and Championship rides. Increase the drug testing fees in this type of race to help pay for the extra testing. Take a blood draw on ALL at check in (hair follicle possibly in future drug testing programs). At the finish always drug test top 10-20 horses in these types of races, then others at random. (4* is a 160K with prize money of $10,000-$50,000, 5* prize money greater than $50,000)

"5. Check for sensitivity of the horses' lower legs at initial vetting, during the ride at the vet checks and upon completion. Strong penalty for violation.

"6. Athletes/horses must maintain a completion rate of 66%. If either fall below a 66% completion rate (Retired/Rider Option will not count against them) they will immediately go back to restricted or controlled speed (which currently is no greater than 16kmh or 10 mph). They will stay at this rate for at least 6 months and if their completion rate has improved above the 66% they can go back into open speed, if it has not improved they will remain in the controlled speed category another 6 months until they can improve their completion rate.

"7. Remove elite athlete status. (Elite status only comes into play at championship rides). All athletes must qualify on the horse that is to be ridden in the championship ride, no special status for elite athletes.

"8. Eliminate current COC timing. (This promotes fast flat courses only.)

"9. Increase rest periods for all horses that exceed average speeds of 16kmh (10mph). Reduce rest period by 50% when average speed is less than 16kmh (10 mph)."

This world-wide petition has garnered over 2400 signatures in just over 24 hours.

Additionally, an AERC members-only petition, drafted by Randy Eiland, is also making the rounds for signatures. This petition is also aimed at improving endurance horse welfare, by making "a statement to the world that AERC Members support our Purposes, Principles, and EQUINE WELFARE."

While Eland's petition is only available only for AERC members to sign, the Change.org petition can be read and signed by anyone worldwide, and can be viewed here:

https://www.change.org/p/connie-caudill-fei-horse-welfare-reform-global-petition?signed=true

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