Wednesday 09 January - 21h04 | Lulu Kyriacou
Endurance watchdogs Clean Endurance have once again had to ask the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to clarify the results of a ride after another horse was confirmed dead in the United Arab Emirates last weekend. Clean Endurance announced on their Facebook page that the FEI has uploaded the results from the CEI 3* in Dubai on the 4th January 2019 and, not for the first time, there was a discrepancy between the FEI database and the original results.
Clean Endurance have once spotted the anomaly in the results of the race after the timing system results showed over 10% of the horses that started did not manage to return to the compulsory veterinary check at the end of the loop they were on.The FEI has since confirmed one horse suffered a Catastrophic Injury (CI) and was euthanised. On January 9th Clean Endurance announced on their Facebook page that the FEI had uploaded the results from the CEI 3* in Dubai on January 4th 2019 and that, not for the first time, there was a discrepancy between the FEI database and the preliminary timing system results. Their post states that, "Clean Endurance can confirm that there has been one CI (Catastrophic Injury) confirmed at this ride so far, despite not being recorded on the provisional timing results of the ride which were provided by Tawqeet and shown on Yamamah. Viking FEI number 105LL11 was recorded as CI on loop 4 of this ride, he was being ridden by 10102303 Bernarda GONZALEZ (ECU). Viking was 12 years old."The group has also asked the FEI to investigate both this incident and the fate of a further 34 other horses. A response from the FEI confirmed the death of Viking and indicated they would follow up on the other horses listed by Clean Endurance. Less than 25% of the starters finished at all, in a 160 km race where speeds were in excess of 30kph on the last loop.
The newly created FEI Temporary Committee for Endurance met recently and passed new emergency measures to help address welfare concerns within the sport, particularly the practice of removing severely injured horses off-site before they are euthanised so that riders avoid incurring penalty points. A new score code has been created, SI (Severely Injured) which will carry the same penalty as a CI code. However, this will only come into force from February. The committee’s resolve was tested and they were almost forced when, only a matter of days before their first formal meeting, absolutely horrific footage was published of a race at Al Wathba, Dubai on December 8th, in which a horse can clearly be seen breaking down in one, if not both, front legs. The horse, Castlebar Nato, was NOT listed as CI on the results but as “ Lame”. Also on this video is another horse, Bib 75, who is seen being ridden hard but who subsequently passed at a vet gate as fit to continue, despite being conspicuously lame behind.Although the formation of the Temporary Committee is to be applauded as is the relatively swift application of the emergency powers given to them, the question really must be asked AND ANSWERED, why it is that a group of endurance lovers with no official standing in the sport, are the ones who continue to bring these issues to the attention of the authorities? And why, on most occasions, the riders and trainers concerned with the many documented equine deaths as well as other rule breaches, seem to escape sanction until after Clean Endurance provide proof of their transgressions? In other FEI disciplines, horses and riders are eliminated almost instantly at the slightest appearance of blood or suspicion of horse abuse. Bluntly, how many dead horses will it take before action is taken?
If the death toll and lack of punitive action was not enough to sicken the stomachs of most horse lovers, another worrying trend seems to be emerging. An increasing number of Junior or Young Riders are breaking or killing horses due to the high speeds they ride at,combined with a lack of experience and horsemanship. Castlebar Nato was ridden by a Junior, as were Viking and Ma Tamh who died late last year. Since 2010, at least 40 horses have been registered as dead subsequent to being competed by a junior or young rider.
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