Sunday, April 10, 2016

FEI pulls World Endurance Championships from UAE

In a statement issued on April 7, 2016, the FEI announced that it was pulling the World Endurance Championships from the UAE.

They acknowledged that efforts have been made by the UAE to guarantee horse welfare since their reinstatement in July 2015, but that they could not guarantee that horse welfare would be fully protected.

There have been horse welfare concerns in the UAE for years, phantom races, catastrophic horse injuries, races being run too fast, riders filmed beating horses, hordes of chase vehicles, and horses with very poor vet scores have all been concerns.

As a result the UAE was actually suspended last year in March.  An eventual deal was struck where the UAE would agree to abide by FEI rules, and would be carefully monitored.  It was a test of the UAE's ability and desire to abide by FEI rules, and the FEI's ability to maintain control of the races and the UAE was reinstated in July.

However, the Sheikh Zayed Bin Mansoor Al Nahyan Junior and Young Riders Endurance cup made headlines in February, where 18 out of 55 starters finished.  A video showing the last 7 minutes of the race was circulated, raising multiple animal welfare concerns.

Other disturbing pictures and videos of horses with catastrophic leg injuries, and a callous lack of care to those horses are even more telling.

Will the UAE clean up its act?  Does the UAE belong in the FEI and can the FEI and the rest of the world influence them?  Do they give endurance a bad name?

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