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UAE plays key role in getting Endurance rule amended

The UAE delegation successfully spearheaded a revote on the rest period for endurance horses between competitions in the revision of Rules for Endurance which have been ratified by the FEI's General Assembly and will be introduced from January 2009.
The FEI's General Assembly was held at the Sociedad Rural in Buenos Aires, Argentina between November 17 to 21, 2008 and some new endurance rule changes were adopted following suggestions from a Task Force in co-operation with the National Federations. Eighty-three National Federations gathered in that town for the Assembly.

Her Excellency Princess Haya bint Hussein, FEI President and wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, attended the meeting and presented awards to winners in competitions on the concluding day.

The UAE and other endurance countries in the region were not in favour of the proposed increase in the rest period for competition horses from 27 days to 41 days for events between 120-km to 160 km.
The UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation was represented at this historic meeting by the Secretary General Taleb Dhaher Al Muhairi. He was accompanied by Mr. Vijay Moorthy, Head of the Endurance Department and Dr. Hallvard Sommerseth, Head of the Veterinary Department at the Federation. Also attending the meeting was Ali Moosa Al Khamiri, General Manager, Dubai Equestrian Club.
The UAE, which is part of the Group VII, first raised its objection at the group meeting and placed it before the Bureau. But Ian Williams, Director for non-Olympic equestrian sport said it was too late and it should have been suggested earlier. But the UAE along with other countries in the region and in Asia argued their case saying that the recent World Endurance Championship had kept the National Federations of endurance nations busy.
Williams suggested that the rules regarding rest periods be adopted from 2010 but in the General Assembly, the number of red cards raised (vote against) ensured the changes were included and the UAE which is one of the leading endurance nations got the rest periods to 20 days instead of 47 days.
The guiding principle behind the UAE's insistence for shorter rest periods is the short endurance season in the UAE and the region due to the climate whereas in other parts of the world rides can be held almost through the year. Further the UAE' has proved that despite the high speeds registered by their horses, the welfare has never been compromised and this to a large extent tilted the argument in their favour.
The rest periods as amended following a revote by the General Assembly after a failure to approve the original timings is as follows: 0- 80 km 13 days rest and 81 km and above 20 days rest.

Another significant development at the Assembly was the introduction of a pre-FEI national system (Novice Qualifying) for riders and horses, though not necessarily as a combination. It has been decided that all horses and riders must have successfully completed Novice Qualifying to be eligible for CEI Star Qualifying. This in effect means a progress from one FEI star level to the next, riders and horses must have graduated from the qualifying process.

The amendments in rules were the result of a major review which began in January 2007. The review was the largest and most in-depth consultation process ever undertaken in this discipline. It was done by a Task Force in cooperation with the National Federations involved in the sport.

All the equestrian disciplines coming under the umbrella of the FEI were discussed and several major decisions were taken. The topics apart from endurance, included show jumping, eventing, driving, vaulting, reining, dressage and other administrative related issues apart from electing new office-bearers to several committees.

It was decided that the FEI Education Programme, for which sponsorship has been secured for the next two years from the UAE-based realtors Hydra Properties, will work on the revision and formatting of all of the Courses for Endurance Judges (Levels I and II), Technical Delegates and Stewards to reflect the new rules.

Two new members, Elizabeth Van Schelle from Brazil and Dr Brian Sheahan from Australia, were appointed to the Endurance Committee for a period of four years from 2008-2012.

The FEI, also announced the creation of a commission on medication and doping chaired by Dr. Arne Ljungqvist, Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission and Vice President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA.

The FEI stated that the Commission will offer a robust examination of the way the equine anti-doping policies can be further harmonized to WADA norms in order to ensure that horse welfare remains at the heart of the system and is fully protected. The commission represents a united effort by all concerned athletes, National Federations, veterinarians and representatives of the judicial process to overcome the grey areas that lie between therapeutic medication and doping and to simplify and distinguish for equestrian athletes the practices that are acceptable from those that are not.

The FEI further stated that the commission will also seek to clarify all due processes and procedures relating to the analysis of samples in order to lead to a consensus on a simple definition that gives the IOC, WADA and all stakeholders a clear and unequivocal definition of parallel protocols to those used for human athletes in a code that is agreed by all members of the family who seek Clean Sport. “We are honoured to have the support and guidance of the IOC in our ongoing commitment to a clean sport for current and future equestrian athletes,” said Cayetano Martinez de Irujo, the jumping representative on the FEI Athletes’ Committee. The FEI is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Code.

The Chairman of the Veterinary Committee presented a detailed report on the Committee's activities. The Olympic Games 2008 Hong Kong were recognised as a great success and it was felt very importantly they have left a legacy from the work done on the welfare of competition horses in hot and humid climates. The FEI climate monitoring project at the test event produced critical information. Special thanks were offered to the Olympic Games Organising Committee and especially to the veterinary surgeons who gave up much of their time to contribute.

Some of the other veterinary points discussed are as follows:

•2007 Medication Control Report: Testing increased. The number of positives tests showed a decrease since 2004 from 4% to 1% in 2007; the rate has been running at 0.7% in 2008.
•Capsaicin may have legitimate as well as illegitimate usage, but it will be considered in future, if it is detected in medication control samples, to be a doping offence due to its possible usage in abuse.
•A Horse Movement Group was created and has been recognised as essential for the development of the sport. Its objectives are, among others, the facilitation in testing and certification protocol; and increased acceptance of a model Health Certificate. The Group will also work on strategy for Emerging Diseases which is a priority with the changing climates and global competition.

The allocation period for the FEI World CupTM Jumping Final was modified from two to three years by a decision of the FEI Bureau. Given that there are already three strong bidders for the organisation of the 2013 event: Gothenburg (SWE), xxx (FRA) and xxx (USA), it is anticipated that a decision on the allocation of 2013 will be taken by the FEI Bureau in the spring of 2009.

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