2011 FEI General Assembly Discusses 'Hot' Topics

Microchipping, controversial tack equipment, medication fines, obligatory postmortem exams, breakaway eventing fences, and even improved training education were among the hot topics on the table this year at the General Assembly of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) held Nov. 11-14 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other discussions of the international governing body for equestrian sports included the rotation of veterinary officials at events, ways to facilitate international horse transport, and smartphone apps that will help equestrians and veterinarians verify medications with the Clean Sport rules, according to the FEI report on the assembly's main decisions.

Approved modifications to the 12th edition of the FEI Veterinary Regulations called for obligatory microchipping of all horses being registered with the FEI for the first time, according to the FEI report. The microchip must be associated with a specifically standardized 15-digit number in accordance with FEI regulations.

Concerning tack equipment, bit buddies were determined likely to "encourage rough handling of the bit," the report stated. Cornell collars were recognized as contributing to a displaced soft palate, a respiratory disorder. Free-standing tongue guards were declared more severe than guards that are fixed to the bit. The aforementioned devices will be "examined over the year at the request of the disciplines," according to the FEI report.

A 500-Swiss franc (US$545) fine will now be given to anyone providing medical treatment to horses outside designated veterinary areas and without approval at FEI events. And whereas an autopsy of a horse that dies at an FEI event was not necessarily obligatory in previous years, the new rules now require that all equine deaths at FEI events be examined through a postmortem examination.

Eventing competitions received special focus from the assembly with regard to the safety of fences and the training of horses and riders, according to the report. The FEI Eventing committee will make an effort to "ensure increased dissemination of education, horsemanship, and correct cross-country training" as the number of participants increases, the report read. Breakaway fences--or "deformable structures"--are currently being finalized by an FEI working group and the Transport Research Laboratory in order to "reduce the risk of a rotational horse fall."

As of January 2013, FEI Veterinary Delegates may only officiate an event for three consecutive years and must take a year's break before returning to that event, the report continued. Improvements to help reduce governmental "barriers" to international horse transportation are in discussion, although actual change could take five to 10 years.

Clean Sport rules will now be more conveniently verified with a smartphone thanks to a new "Quiz App" that will be launched by the end of the year, the report stated. And in addition to the five Clean Sport seminars held in Europe in 2011, an "education toolkit" is currently in production and will be available in early 2012 to help make sure riders are clear about how to compete "clean."

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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