Dr Sarah Coombs will chair a new FEI committee about the future of international Endurance riding. It has been set up following a number of high profile incidents concerning the welfare of horses and the cancellation of the Endurance events at the World Equestrian Games.
The new committee will identify the most effective way of bringing the discipline back to its original roots of Endurance riding as opposed to Endurance racing, with horse welfare and horsemanship at its core, while still maintaining the competitive aspect of the sport.
Dr Sarah Coombs (GBR) was formerly the British Endurance team vet, is a Trustee of the global equine charity World Horse Welfare and is also chair of its Veterinary Advisory Committee. She is joined by Dr Tim Parkin (GBR), who heads up the scientific research conducted at the University of Glasgow as part of the FEI’s Global Endurance injuries Study (GEIS)
“We need to bring the discipline back to the principles of the FEI where welfare of the horse and horsemanship prevail”, FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “The Temporary Committee will conduct a thorough review of the discipline with the aim of getting back to real Endurance riding with the focus on horsemanship and the partnership between horse and human. “The sport has evolved and there needs to be a recognition of that, but the essence of the sport must remain the same. What we need are rules that place greater emphasis on completion of the event, rather than the ‘win at all costs’ mentality that is more and more threatening our sport.
Other members are Tarek Taher (KSA), an international Endurance athlete and recently-elected by his peers as a member of the FEI Athletes’ Committee; Pieter Wiersinga (NED), chef d’équipe of the Dutch Endurance team, a Police Commissioner and former Head of the Mounted Police in the Netherlands; and Dr Margaret (Meg) Sleeper (USA), who has competed in FEI Endurance since 2005 and is also a trainer, official veterinarian and veterinary cardiologist. The FEI 2nd Vice President Mark Samuel (CAN) will also be involved.
Prior to the creation of the new Temporary Committee, the FEI Bureau accepted the resignation of Dr Brian Sheahan (AUS) as Chair of the Endurance Technical Committee due to ill health. It has also suspended Ignasi Casas Vaque (ESP) as Deputy Chair due to pending legal proceedings for alleged incorrect behaviour at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2018. Due to these changes the Endurance Committee is unable to function as a full committee. However, the remaining members of the Endurance Committee – Shanie Bosch-Fourie (NAM) (2014-2018), Rocio Echeverri (CRC) (2015-2019) and Stéphane Chazel (FRA) (2016-2020) – will be consulted by the new committee.
There will be an update to delegates at the FEI Sports Forum 2019.