Journalist Cuckson Brings Endurance Horse Abuser To Justice

Ali Mohd Ali Al Hosani has been suspended for using a waterbottle to hit his horse
Credit : Supplied

Thursday 07 March - 20h44 | Lulu Kyriacou

Journalist Cuckson Brings Endurance Horse Abuser To Justice

Ali Mohd Ali Al Hosani, an endurance rider  from the UAE, was  today suspended for six months by the Internationa Equestrian Federation (FEI) Tribunal under the horse abuse rules but the remarkable thing was that this  case was brought to their attention by journalist Pippa Cuckson rather than the offical stewards at the time.   

 - Journalist Cuckson Brings Endurance Horse Abuser To Justice

The Tribunal concluded the raised hand was too high for sloshing water
Credit : Supplied

Ali Mohd Ali Al Hosani participated with the horse LCE CORLEONE  at the Sheikh Mohammed Cup CEI 160 km in Dubai, on 4 January 2019 . He is an FEI registered rider (FEI ID 10082592). During  the ride, on the fourth loop, Cuckson noticed on the live video stream that Al Hosani appeared to strike his horse across the neck with a water bottle and lodged her protest to the FEI within 48 hours.

​As well as providing a video (below) of the incident, Cuckson, who made another succesful protest in 2014, provided a detailed report of the incident in which she said, "
The incident at issue occurred during the fourth loop. The horse completed the first three loops at high average speeds – 24.24, 25.72, 24.15kph. His average speed dropped to 18.12kph in loop 4, during which loop this incident took place, and again in loop 5 where his loop speed averaged just 14.11 kph. Looking at his vet card and recovery times, you have to wonder how he was deemed fit to continue after loop 4, notwithstanding the parameters met.
The video was captured at 14.37 hours, local time. It is likely that around now the rider realised his horse was tiring and he had fading hopes of a top 10 placing

​Cuckson, who was feted as one of equestrian sports top 100 most influential figures in GRAND PRIX' 2018  Summer Special,  went on to to supply a second by second description of what happened, which left no doubt what was happeneing on the video. "“….. one groom has just handed a slosh bottle to the rider. He can be seen pouring it over the horse’s neck with his right hand, then passing the empty bottle into his left hand while he takes a second bottle from a second groom. He passes the second bottle with his right hand behind the saddle, presumably to slosh the horse’s loins, while simultaneously giving the horses a big kick. He then swings his right arm forward and strikes the horse in an angry manner on the neck twice. This is done forcefully and from height, in an action quite different from pouring a slosh bottle. With the speed of the manoeuvre he cannot have known whether there was any water left in the bottle and thus claim he was still sloshing the horse. Some residue whooshes out of the bottle while he strikes the horse, though not in the direction of the horse’s neck.”   

Mr Al Hosani's Defence
​Mr Al Hosani  has had no previous  sanction under FEI rules and has been competing since the age of 13. However on his FEI record there are less than 50% completions of the rides he has started. That said,  the Tribunal opened by considering that the rider did not intend to strike his horse but concluded that the video evidence contradicted this  and also showed the rider kicking Corleone violently. 
The rider made a statement which said“I would like to explain what happened exactly and as it shown in the recorded video, it is clear that when I took the second water bottle from the groom I started spraying water of the horse neck, I did this twice because I felt that there still water in the bottle so I poured it again, It is true that I poured the water vigorously due to speed and I tried to pour as much water as possible, but I did not intend at all to hit or abuse the horse”.
The FEI  concluded after hearing both positiions that;
​"The Tribunal finds Mr. Al Hosani’s actions as unacceptable and merits sanctions. Mr. Al Hosani participated in his first race when he was 13 years old. He should be well informed that using a water bottle as a whip is prohibited in Endurance racing and any form of horse abuse will not be tolerated. In addition, the Tribunal noted that Mr. Al Hosani seemed to show no remorse for his actions and described as a “matter of misunderstanding”. As a result of these circumstances, the Tribunal finds a suspension six (6) months, in accordance with Article 169.6.2 of the GRs, in combination with a fine and disqualification, as provided for in Article 169.8 of the GRs, as proportionate."

​Ms Cuckson has told Grand Prix  that she may well make further protests to the FEI but was  satisfied with the result of this one. "Naturally I am pleased Tribunal has recognised that this incident violates FEI rules and is an affront to horsemanship and the welfare of the horse. I am only sad I was reduced to lodging this protest because the ground jury did nothing - notwithstanding the incident being captured on the official livestream of the ride, and then going 'viral' on social media. This type of odious behaviour on the field of play is often seen in FEI Group 7.

"As we know, the FEI endurance temporary committee is reviewing the future of this discipline and doing sterling work in a difficult political climate. To my mind, the single biggest stumbling block is the entrenched culture of weak judges that are in thrall to the wealthy paymasters in FEI Group 7. There can be no other explanation as to why incidents like this are overlooked time and again."

While the action of the Tribunal is welcome, the question must be asked why it is being left to Ms Cuckson (and endurance watchdog group Clean Endurance) to bring this and others to the attention of the FEI,  when surely it should have been noted by an official at the time?  

​The full transcript of the decision is here.

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