A Christmas Carol

30 Dec


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

mixing Dickens metaphors, beg pardon, but that is because we are between the magic of Christmas—and the stress and end of the year blues and depression—and the joy of the unsullied New Year, all shiny with promises.

As usual, FEI has provided ups and downs all on its own.

Recent examples:

17 year old endurance rider only given formal warning and 500 CHF fine after her horse found to have banned substances in drug test.

The breeder—also listed as owner and trainer—was held as PR when it turned out the rider had merely “rented”  the horse for this FEI-sanctioned ride.

Fortunately for the hyphenate person, HIS daily stable manager finally stepped forth and said it was his fault—he  had meant to give the injection to a horse that was lame and laid up—but mixed up the horses because they looked so similar.


So now we have a rider who knows nothing about the horse they will ride that day in a competition that used to be the epitome of a close partnership requiring knowledge of horse care, conditioning,management, etc; A trainer who ‘forgot’ to tell the stable manager that FEI has a strict anti-doping policy; and a stable manager so fearful of losing his job he did not come forth until the last minute.

FEI’s punishments: the rider gets a formal warning and 500 CHF.

The hyphenate gets 24 month ban and fines totaling 3000 CHF

The stable manager—who knows? All he did was take the fall.

Of course, even as this is written, the  ‘failure-is-not-an-option’ ESPG (Endurance Strategic Planning Group) is working on how to make the trainer and not the rider the PR (Person Responsible) in a sport that is fast coming to resemble a car race where the drivers have never before seen their vehicles.


And of course the Case of the Missing Helmet:

Spanish rider unbelievably wins Puissance at Mechelen on  young horse he has had only a few weeks, the crowd goes crazy. He tosses his helmet into the thrilled spectator crowd and gallops around waving and smiling.

The FEI immediately eliminates him for being in the ring without his helmet—and forfeit his winnings.

Unaware of this, however, the rider continues to thrill the crowd by galloping around and then jumps a fence, much to their collective gaiety.

FEI then suspends him for jumping in the arena without a helmet.The rider, in his public statement, says he thought he helped the sport by getting the audience involved….


I give up.

What does FEI want for horse sport?
What child at that competition looks up and says—yes! I want to be a horse rider!

What message is being sent?



And finally– Cloning.

American Quarter Horse Association currently appealing a decision handed down by jury/judge that finds antitrust laws have been affected by the refusal of AQHA to register clones,  and therefore allow cloned horses to compete, breed,etc.

At the same time, in Australia, the TB industry (2nd in no of foals each year after the US) found that antitrust laws NOT affected by the refusal to allow artificial insemination, let alone cloning, in the TB industry.

The FEI, as of 2012 Olympics, has decided to allow cloned horses to compete.

What the future holds, no one can truly say, but it is a good bet that horse welfare will be at the bottom of the list of significant priorities to consider.

Happy 2014!


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