The fast desert courses favoured in endurance in the Middle East may struggle to meet rule requirements under proposed changes put before delegates at the Endurance Round Table of the FEI Sports Forum yesterday.
One proposed addition to the rulebook stipulates that loops of a course must not be specially designed and constructed for high speeds likely to subject the horses to increased risk of injury during competition.
The change is among a series of additions and amendments put to delegates as part of the ongoing review of endurance undertaken by the FEI in a bid to rein in excesses in the sport centered on several Group VII nations in the Middle East.
The rule changes will be circulated to national federations for final review before going before the FEI Bureau at its June 9-10 meeting for approval and immediate implementation.
Among other changes, courses must not contain more than 10 percent of hard-surface public roads intended for vehicle use.
Trainers are to be added to the list of those charged with ensuring the welfare of horses “through diligent application of their skill”.
The rule changes further stipulate that no screens, equipment or barriers of any kind may be used to prevent horses being observed by officials, under penalty of disqualification.
The minimum sanction for forbidden assistance becomes a yellow card, removing the option of a warning.
Being followed, preceded or accompanied on any part of the course by any bicycle, pedestrian, or an athlete not in the competition becomes a yellow card offence. Being accompanied by a vehicle in similar fashion, or on an adjoining access track, will also become a yellow card offence.
The rules also have codes of conduct added, focusing on athletes and registered trainers; and endurance officials, the latter also dealing with issues around potential conflicts of interest.
The proposed rule changes can be read here.