Following further incidents during the endurance season in Group VII of the FEI in the Middle East, the Swiss Equestrian Federation (SEF) is strongly opposed to the intended venue for the Elite Endurance World Championships in December 2016, namely Dubai (UAE).
Since the beginning of the season in October 2015, 10 Catastrophic Injuries have been reported to the FEI, with seven horses confirmed dead.
After persistent criticism from around the globe, the FEI amended the regulations for endurance competitions in 2014, with the protection and welfare of horses as well as equal treatment for all competitors as the main objectives.
The SEF, who welcomed and supported these measures, has been closely following the situation since the start of the season including endurance raids organized in the UAE. Unfortunately, it notes that the massive abuses are on-going and that only small improvements have been made, these being mainly observed on the well-known competition site Bou Thieb, where the owner of the facilities, Sheikh Sultan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has introduced tougher rules through his own initiative, including a speed limit and a maximum heart rate of 56 beats per minute at the vet gates.
The FEI lifted the suspension it imposed on the UAE in 2015 after negotiations and promises made by the UAE that all agreed measures would be applied. Now the SEF considers that the trust between the international equestrian world, FEI and officials of UAE has been broken because the agreed arrangements have not been met after the lifting of the suspension.
The SEF states that an alternative host venue for the organization of the world championships in Dubai is, therefore, required, and expects the FEI to suggest a new venue.
Other national federations and organizations such as the Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS), the American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) and Endurance Great Britain (EGB) expressed their thoughts on the matter by requiring that the FEI offers an acceptable alternative. The SEF encourages the FEI to take specific and lasting measures for the welfare of horses and for a fair sport.