Main equestrians name for key horse sport sponsor to assist drive ‘new period for equestrian sport’


  • Main riders, coaches and veterinary professionals have joined forces to marketing campaign for one of many trade’s largest sponsors to assist result in “a brand new period for equestrian sport”.

    A petition, to Longines CEO Matthias Breschan states: “Equestrian sports activities have a number of extreme welfare points. Query is, do their sponsors know what they’re paying for?”

    The petition, began by Norwegian writer and podcaster Stay Bonnevie, was signed at creation by FEI vet Svein H Bakke and former three-star FEI dressage decide Hege Trulsen, in addition to different vets, musculoskeletal practitioners, riders and trainers.

    It cites the truth that in 2012, Longines signed a long-term cope with the FEI, because the federation’s “prime associate”.

    “This was a second that was described as the start of a brand new period for each equestrian sports activities and the FEI,” it states. “However what the equestrian sports activities actually wanted 10 years in the past, and nonetheless want at the moment, is a brand new period with a considerably stronger give attention to horse welfare, not solely written on paperwork however practised and carried out in actual life.”

    The textual content cites the undercover documentary filmed on the base of prime Danish dressage rider Andreas Helgstrand, throughout which “extremely questionable” situations triggered “international outrage” (information, 30 November), “primarily as a result of it’s considered a symptom, not a novel case”.

    “The issues should not distinctive to dressage, however embrace the opposite sports activities as properly, and we concern the horse trade itself is on the tipping level of dropping its social licence to function,” the petition states.

    The signatories say they begin with worldwide occasions and grand prix dressage, asking Longines to query the FEI on points together with why double bridles are necessary at grand prix, why “a horse displaying clear indicators of discomfort and stress” may be scored extremely, and why 20 seconds of equine resistance is appropriate earlier than elimination.

    In addition they urge Longines to “query what we educate future generations of riders, if their position fashions fail to make sure the general public that they’ll shield their horses from hurt”.

    Sue Dyson, former head of scientific orthopaedics on the Animal Well being Belief, was additionally among the many named, founder signatories.

    She informed H&H most of her co-signers are from Scandinavian nations, the place the Helgstrand documentary was extra broadly considered.

    “I used to be at a gathering in Germany the place everybody was speaking about it,” she mentioned. “It was very clear individuals have been upset the FEI hadn’t been extra proactive in displaying they’ve a job in defending equine welfare; their assertion was fairly low-key.”

    Dr Dyson added that she believes the petition is a good suggestion to boost consciousness of the problems, and hopes Longines will put stress on the FEI.

    She cited the actual fact the FEI has not adopted suggestions, corresponding to one to make double bridles optionally available in top-level dressage, made by the equine ethics and wellbeing fee.

    “Why appoint the fee if you happen to’re not going to take heed to it?” she requested. “They labored arduous to supply suggestions, which the FEI has chosen to disregard.”

    Dr Dyson mentioned she believes “not dissimilar” practices to these proven within the Helgstrand documentary might be discovered at many yards.

    “Which was why the British Dressage conference final month was so refreshing,” she mentioned. “What was on show was pretty, which reveals it may be carried out properly, and ought to be. If the FEI mentioned ‘That is the way it have to be carried out’, and what judges should reward, it might encourage significantly better coaching, throughout the board.”

    An FEI spokesman informed H&H the FEI is “unwavering in its dedication to safeguarding the well being and wellbeing of all horses taking part in FEI occasions, and we method this duty with the utmost seriousness”.

    “We acknowledge the frustration, notably when distressing pictures come to mild,” he mentioned. “Regardless of this, we stay steadfast in our dedication, actively addressing perceived or real welfare considerations throughout the scope of our legislative authority. Moreover, we’re proactive in group training initiatives to make sure horses obtain optimum care even past our jurisdiction. We recognise the significance of transparency and regularly attempt to reinforce our efforts in selling the welfare of all horses concerned in FEI occasions.”

    The spokesman added that horse welfare is “on the core of our values and laws”, and that “any motion or omission which causes or is prone to trigger ache or pointless discomfort to a horse constitutes a violation of our guidelines”.

    “We’re dedicated to making sure horses concerned in sport expertise optimistic welfare all through their lives, and that the FEI’s laws, insurance policies and practices, in addition to the broader group’s actions, replicate these rules, and we are going to proceed to handle actions and behaviours which might be in contradiction with our values,” he mentioned.

    The spokesman mentioned all of the assets and measures utilized by the FEI to “proactively handle and mitigate welfare dangers for horses” should not at all times broadly identified, however “you will need to stress that that is the driving issue behind the FEI’s decision-making course of and planning”.

    “The equine ethics and wellbeing fee delivered their remaining report back to the FEI board in Mexico final month; the ultimate suggestions are being fastidiously reviewed to ascertain actionable objects and an implementation plan,” he mentioned. “These are excessive on the FEI’s agenda, with a roadmap for dialogue and implementation to be introduced on the FEI sports activities discussion board 2024. It is very important spotlight that a number of the suggestions have already been put into play.

    “As for the FEI place on the usage of the double bridle in grand prix dressage, the FEI is dedicated to fact-based decision-making and stays open to future rule modifications based on significant scientific proof that may point out any welfare shortcomings based mostly on its use.

    “The FEI encourages all acts of free speech, and particularly the chance for people to precise their views and considerations in relation to horse welfare, and stays dedicated to addressing the considerations raised, and optimising the methods in place to proactively promote equine welfare, mitigate any dangers to welfare and lift consciousness across the group’s position and the prevailing processes, mechanisms and methods already in place to safeguard the wellbeing of horses in our sport.”

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