FEI Again Pledges to Step Up Horse Welfare Watch

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Patrick Kittel and Watermill Scandic HBC briefly held third place in the standings. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Patrick Kittel and Watermill Scandic HBC at the European Championships. © 2009 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

COPENHAGEN, Nov. 17–The International Equestrian Federaion (FEI) on Tuesday issue a statement to “inisist with immediate effect” that stewards in all disciplines use measures available to them to prevent breaches of horse welfare rules.

The FEI Bureau statement came after extensive discussions on the issue of hyperflexion, or Rollkur, and essentially repeated the same statement it made two years ago that the FEI “condemns all training methods and practices that are contrary to horse welfare.

“The welfare of the horse has always been and will always be at the core of every aspect of the Federation’s work as the international governing body for equestrian sport.”

But the latest announcement came after the FEI said last month it had launched a full investigation about the warm up by Sweden’s Patrik Kittel on Watermill Scandic at the Odense World Cup Event in Denmark.

The FEI said after this week’s meeting, “The FEI Bureau insists that, with immediate effect, stewards in all disciplines use the disciplinary measures available to them, such as verbal warnings and yellow warning cards, to prevent any infringement of FEI rules.

“The FEI is now engaged with World Horse Welfare, a leading international equestrian organization, in addition to continued consultation with riders, trainers, officials and veterinarians to thoroughly research the issues. The further education of stewards will also continue to ensure that welfare issues at FEI events are dealt with promptly and professionally.

“The FEI acknowledges and welcomes public opinion and will continue to ensure that the welfare of the horse, which has been central to this debate, will remain its absolute priority.”

If a rider receives two yellow warning cards within one year, the rider is automatically suspended for two months immediately following the event at which the second yellow warning card was received.