FEI General Assembly Meets In San Francisco

At the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) 2001 General Assembly meeting on April 24-27, officials and delegates supported the FEI's focus on equine welfare. The FEI assumes responsibility for the position of horse sports in the world. At this meeting, 82 national equestrian federations were represented, with more than 350 participants.

At international competitions, horses compete in the seven FEI disciplines: eventing, dressage, show jumping, endurance, driving, vaulting, and reining. FEI rules govern each discipline, and FEI veterinary officials monitor horses at competitions, oversee treatment and any possible abuse, and conduct testing for prohibited substances.

Leo Jeffcott, BVetMed, PhD, FRCVS, DVSc, MA, DSc, Chairman of the Veterinary Committee, emphasized the importance of two issues: Standard protocol for inspections applying to each FEI discipline and medication control.

The horse inspection protocol defines a common use of terms, which was proven effective at the Sydney Olympics. Each equine athlete must be approved for competition. Horses are examined prior to entering the barn and inspected for their ability to meet the requirements of their discipline.

"We are emphasizing the fitness to compete," said Jeffcott, "not eventing-type inspections for every discipline."

He also pointed out the question of the direction of medication control in competitions. Equestrian sports have followed racing's restrictions, but are now expanding in certain allowances. "We wished to be more flexible so we should allow horses to have gastric ulcer medication for their welfare," he said. "We cause gastric ulcers because of the way we look after horses. Now we can diagnose it with the right endoscopes, and treat it safely. The treatment only affects the digestive system, not the performance."

The Committee now allows the gastric ulcer medication omeprazole as well as ranitidine. Jeffcott noted that other drugs might be allowed, such as medications not on the list of prohibited substances. "I hope that from the veterinary point of view in the FEI, we will review the way the scheme of medication overall will happen. We want to improve the efficiency of the system and reduce the level of positives by improving communication and education."

The General Assembly accepted the ninth edition of FEI Veterinary Regulations. Changes also include how officials monitor alternative treatment along with changes in bandage control, and using thermography to determine degree of skin sensitivity.

The International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) has been the FEI's officially recognized welfare branch since November 2000. The organizations have a joint equine welfare work group that is studying transport stress and reviewing the FEI Code of Conduct. "We educate and rigorously control any abuse," said Jonny McIntire, Acting Chief Executive. "The ILPH is a purely equine welfare organization, to protect the future and integrity of horses. We show how seriously equestrian sports take the welfare issues."

The open forum on eventing prompted discussion of reducing the stress on horses in the four phases of Speed and Endurance. Catherine Kohn, VMD, of The Ohio State University, was elected to the Veterinary Committee for 2001-2005. Kent Allen, DVM, rotated off the committee.

About the Author

Charlene Strickland

Award-winning writer Charlene Strickland lives in Bosque Farms, N.M. She has published 8 books and over 600 magazine articles, and is a member of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners