The 1st International Bou Thib Endurance Conference focused on improving the sport of endurance through education for officials and competitors.

Delegates from around the world gathered at the Bou Thib Endurance Village to share ideas and discuss strategies for ensuring the welfare of competition mounts.

His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, owner of the complex and a driving force behind endurance reform in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was pleased with the turn out.

Sheikh Sultan spoke about his “Bou Thib Rules,” which are designed to safeguard the welfare of endurance horses, and reward best conditioned horses over the fastest finishers.

Emmett Ross, former US Endurance Team chef d’equipe and organizer of the endurance portion of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Bromont, Quebec, told attendees that education in the UAE is vital. He suggested that UAE officials, trainers and competitors need to enhance their skill sets and come up to date with the technical aspects of the sport.

Ross said the intense pressure to win from many owners and the high levels of prize money has given rise to many of the regions problems. He also commented on the changes in the tracks which had lost any of the technical qualities of the past. He said the stables and their staff need help and education not punishment.

The conference concluded with a talk given by Dr. Sue Stover from the University of California Veterinary Department, on “The Causes and Prevention of Limb Fractures in Equine Athletes.” Dr. Stover’s work has proven that the vast majority of bone fractures in race horses was due to a pre-existing condition and she suggested that the same applied to endurance horses. She emphasized the need for necessary time in rehabilitation after injury giving the bone time to regain its strength and that over-training so often leads to unnecessary injury which in turn can lead to fractures.

Guest speakers also included Dr. Dwight Hooten, USA FEI advisor to Emirates Equestrian Federation, Dr. James Bryant (Senior) from Canada, Major Kevin Croke from Ireland, speaking from his six consecutive years’ experience in UAE World Championships as the International Disciplinary Chief Steward, Dr. Ali Tweissi, EEF Head of Veterinary Dept. and Dr. Henk Basson, South Africa Head of the Veterinary Commission. In addition, Francois Kerboul from France, FEI 4*Judge and Technical Delegate, demonstrated the concept of the points system he had devised around, which the “Bou Thib Rules” are based.

Dr. Brian Sheahan, Head of the FEI Veterinary Commission, also attended.