Close to 1,400 people have attended a series of FEI Endurance educational courses in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (UAE) over the past four days in advance of this week’s Endurance season opener, a CEI1* 80-kilometre ride. The attendees, numbering 1,347 in total, included athletes, trainers, grooms, Veterinarians, Judges, Technical Delegates and Stewards.
The courses were an important element in the legally binding agreement signed between the Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF) and the FEI prior to the lifting of the provisional suspension at the end of July. The FEI Bureau had suspended the EEF in March of this year following an investigation into major horse welfare issues and non-compliance with FEI Rules and Regulations in the country.
Chair of the FEI Endurance Committee, Brian Sheahan, acted as Course Director alongside Dwight Hooton (USA) a member of the FEI Veterinary Committee and veterinary advisor to the EEF, and FEI Endurance Director Manuel Bandeira de Mello. The EEF Assistant Secretary General Faisal al Ali attended the first session on 10 October, and Dr Ali Al Twessi from the EEF Endurance Department was also on hand to offer translation services.
The athletes, trainers and grooms’ sessions, which attracted 1,065 attendees, 25% of which were female, covered FEI and national rules, mandatory rest periods, penalty points, the entry system, field of play and veterinary aspects, including Vet Gate procedures, anti-doping rules (human and equine) and medication procedures.
John Robertson, Deputy Chair of the FEI Endurance Committee, was in charge of the courses for FEI Judges (Levels 1, 2 and 4), Stewards and Technical Delegates. A total of 190 Stewards attended, including 160 from the police force who will be working at events, as the national rules are now fully compliant with FEI rules.
Brian Sheahan and Dwight Hooton also ran a course for Veterinarians, with 68 attendees. Both the Veterinarians and Judges were then required to sit an exam, with a 100% pass rate.
The EEF’s new entry system, delivery of results to the FEI, horse welfare issues including cars in the field of play, video cameras in the stabling area and prevention of accidents in the vet gate area were discussed at two separate meetings, one with Adnan Sultan Saif Al Nuaimi, General Manager of the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, and the other with Dubai Equestrian Club General Manager Mohammed Essa Al Adhad.
There was a general consensus that the courses and the individual meetings had all been extremely successful and effective.
“We have a fantastic sport in Endurance and it was wonderful to have had such successful courses in Group VII, particularly from an attendance perspective but also for the enthusiasm of all the delegates”, FEI Endurance Director Manuel Bandeira de Mello said at the end of the four days. “The courses were really interactive and there was a huge thirst for knowledge and a desire to increase the depth of understanding of all aspects of the discipline from everyone who attended. There has been great team work here in Dubai, and everybody is fully committed to success.”
As part of the ongoing clean-up of the discipline in Group VII, Abdul Aziz Mohd Yasin Sheikh, Head of Endurance at the United Arab Emirates Equestrian Federation (EEF), has been provisionally suspended as an FEI Official by the FEI Secretary General, Sabrina Zeender, for consistently failing to observe the FEI Rules and Regulations at a number of events from which duplicate results were submitted to the FEI.
The provisional suspension, which is in accordance with Article 156.1 of the FEI General Regulations and which comes into immediate effect, is for an indefinite period. For the duration of the suspension, Mr Sheikh may not take part or be involved in the organisation of any FEI competitions or events, or any event under the jurisdiction of a National Federation.
Mr Sheikh has 30 days to appeal the decision to the FEI Tribunal from the date of notification (13 October 2015). He is the second UAE official to have been provisionally suspended by the FEI Secretary General following the suspension of Dr Hallvard Sommerseth, Head of the EEF Veterinary Department, last month. Both suspensions have the full support of FEI President Ingmar De Vos.
The events and duplicate results in the UAE that were used specifically for qualification purposes have now been deleted by the FEI IT Department. Any horse/rider combinations that used these duplicate results as qualification for subsequent events, and were therefore ineligible to compete, have now been disqualified.