FEI General Assembly: New top vet aims to continue 'objective' approach to horse welfare

Credit : Scoopdyga

Tuesday 20 November - 17h38 | Ian Clayton

FEI General Assembly: New top vet aims to continue 'objective' approach to horse welfare

“I’m extremely pleased that Jenny Hall has been elected to succeed me as Chair…. I wanted to ask Jenny to stand up so you can recognize her, as this is where you take all your concerns from now on please!”

 - FEI General Assembly: New top vet aims to continue 'objective' approach to horse welfare

Jenny Hall
Credit : Lambourn Equine Vets

That was Dr. John McEwen, longtime Chair of the Veterinary Committee and Bureau Member at the Fédération Équestre Internationale – the international organization in charge of equestrian sports like show jumping, eventing and dressage – Tuesday morning as he presented his final veterinary report at the 2018 FEI General Assembly in Bahrain before his compatriot Hall takes over after her election to the position.

Describing the moment as a ‘bittersweet’ one, McEwen – part of the Grand Prix 50 list of people shaping the equestrian world today – nevertheless said the committee he has worked on for 12 years is in ‘safe hands’ with the veterinary surgeon Hall, who graduated from the University of Liverpool in 1985 and was certified as an FEI Official Veterinarian in 2009.

In his presentation in the Persian Gulf country, John McEwen characterized the period he has been at the FEI as one initially of ‘great change and modernization’, followed by a consolidation of advances made, and he touched on some of the major issues facing the committee today: bio-security, international horse movements, and the global injuries surveillance program. “It is absolutely critical that we have an evidence-based approach on horse injuries," he said. "It helps support our regulatory structures and helps protect the horses in our community. It’s very important from a welfare point of view.”

Indeed, that sentiment was echoed in Jenny Hall's candidate’s cover letter to succeed McEwen as Chair: “I believe the work carried out by the FEI Veterinary Department on injury surveillance and injury prevention programmes must continue to ensure decisions made regarding future sporting developments are underpinned by evidence and objective information.” The former Chief Veterinary Officer for the British Horseracing Authority – who has been on the FEI committee as well in the past, as well as having experience at the London Olympics – added that while in her view most equestrian sport is safer for horses than Thoroughbred racing, the Endurance discipline has been an exception. 

She has also expressed the view that, "it is essential that the high standards of welfare enjoyed by horses competing in the FEI disciplines are widely communicated" in the face of an "unprecedented level of public scrutiny."
In any case, Hall, who is a veterinary surgeon at Lambourn Equine Vets in Berkshire, England, will be taking over responsibility for what McEwen describes as a “very functional committee and a very functional department, with a very big workload…. I think Jenny’s going to recognize that as she steps into my shoes.”  Photo below of John McEwen by FEI/Anthony Demierre.

 - FEI General Assembly: New top vet aims to continue 'objective' approach to horse welfare

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