26 June 2020
Clean Endurance is reassured that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has decided that Mr al Ghailani did indeed engage in horse abuse and that it upheld the main part of the sanctions pronounced by the FEI Tribunal in June 2019.
This is the first time CAS has issued a decision on an appeal in an Endurance horse abuse case, and another landmark in the battle to improve horse welfare in the Gulf countries.
Mr al Ghailani appealed the decision by the FEI Tribunal by which he was sanctioned for horse abuse with a 12 month suspension and a fine after his exhausted horse Sarab (Radja d’Altus) was kicked and harassed by the rider and his grooms at a 160 km Endurance competition in Abu Dhabi last year.
At the time Clean Endurance lodged the abuse protest, Mr al Ghailani who rides for al Wathba Stables was the number 1 ranking endurance rider in the UAE and Clean Endurance believes he should have set a particularly good example of horsemanship to those who aspire to emulate his results as well as to the general public.
Instead, Mr Al Ghailani repeatedly and violently kicked his exhausted horse to the finish line and used the reins to harass and strike it, while crew members chased the horse to make it go faster.
Mr Al Ghailani responded that such actions are commonplace and accepted practices in Endurance racing. The Court however, strongly disagreed and found that Mr al Ghailani’s behaviour constituted horse abuse, causing pain and/or unnecessary discomfort to the horse both physically and mentally. The Court also concluded without doubt that the horse was clearly exhausted.
Mr al Ghailani denied kicking the horse, pushing it beyond its limits, or pulling the reins with high hands. He also pointed out that none of the Officials (including 15 Ground Jury members and 30 veterinarians) raised any concerns about his riding style or him abusing the horse which was therefore not sufficiently obvious to be noticed by the Officials at the event. The President of the Ground Jury submitted a statement in which he explained that after watching the video of the event https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xD2EJdeWfLI he did not see any cruelty or abuse of the horse and that the horse was not exhausted.
The Court noted that the FEI did not initiate any disciplinary proceedings against members of the Ground Jury for not observing and sanctioning Mr Al Ghailani’s horse abuse during the event. The FEI Tribunal had encouraged the FEI to investigate and sanction the Officials present at the event if appropriate.
The FEI Tribunal had initially punished Mr al Ghailani with a 12-month suspension which was twice the length recommended by the FEI. The Court decided to reduce this suspension to 8 months and added that Mr al Ghailani must pay an additional 3000 CHF to the FEI as a contribution to expenses.
The initial FEI Tribunal decision can be found here:
The CAS decision can be found here:
The video evidence used for both the FEI Tribunal and CAS can be found here:
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