Tuesday, February 09, 2010

FEI posts account of meeting

FEI Round-Table Conference Resolves Rollkur Controversy 09/02/2010

Following constructive debate at the FEI round-table conference at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne today (9 February), the consensus of the group was that any head and neck position of the horse achieved through aggressive force is not acceptable. The group redefined hyperflexion/Rollkur as flexion of the horse’s neck achieved through aggressive force, which is therefore unacceptable. The technique known as Low, Deep and Round (LDR), which achieves flexion without undue force, is acceptable.

The group unanimously agreed that any form of aggressive riding must be sanctioned. The FEI will establish a working group, headed by Dressage Committee Chair Frank Kemperman, to expand the current guidelines for stewards to facilitate the implementation of this policy. The group agreed that no changes are required to the current FEI Rules.

The FEI Management is currently studying a range of additional measures, including the use of closed circuit television for warm-up arenas at selected shows.

The group also emphasised that the main responsibility for the welfare of the horse rests with the rider.

The FEI President HRH Princess Haya accepted a petition of 41,000 signatories against Rollkur presented by Dr Gerd Heuschman.

The participants in the FEI round-table conference were:

HRH Princess Haya, FEI President
Alex McLin, FEI Secretary General
Margit Otto-Crépin, International Dressage Riders Club Representative
Linda Keenan, International Dressage Trainers Club Representative
Sjef Janssen, Dressage Representative
Frank Kemperman, Chairman, FEI Dressage Committee (by conference call)
François Mathy, International Jumping Riders Club Representative
David Broome, Jumping Representative
Jonathan Chapman, Eventing Representative
Roly Owers, World Horse Welfare Representative
Tony Tyler, World Horse Welfare Representative
Ulf Helgstrand, President, Danish Equestrian Federation
John McEwen, Chairman, FEI Veterinary Committee
Dr Sue Dyson, Veterinary Representative
Dr Gerd Heuschman, Veterinary Representative
Prof. René van Weeren, Veterinary Representative
Jacques van Daele, FEI Honorary Steward General Dressage
Graeme Cooke, FEI Veterinary Director
Trond Asmyr, FEI Director Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage
John Roche, FEI Director Jumping and Stewarding
Catrin Norinder, FEI Director Eventing
Carsten Couchouron, FEI Executive Director Commercial
Richard Johnson, FEI Communications Director

The Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and includes 133 National Federations. Equestrian sport has been on the Olympic programme since 1912 with three disciplines - Jumping, Dressage and Eventing. It is one of the very few sports in which men and women compete on equal terms. It is also the only sport which involves two athletes - horse and rider. The FEI has relentlessly concerned itself with the welfare of the horse, which is paramount and must never be subordinated to competitive or commercial influences.

It appears to me we have inched forward just a little with this, but I am disappointed with the title of the article - the FEI has resolved nothing, and I think it's pompous for them to assume they have the power to do so.

Secondly, they have now flung yet another term into the mix, and the acceptance of Low, Deep, and Round is clearly there to appease Sjef and company.

HOWEVER, we must take the positive and turn it to our favor in continuing efforts.

This is not the kind of issue that is going to change in a 180 decision - but even a few degrees of change can, imo, lead to the next few degrees of change. Eventually we will get there. It all has to have time to ripple out. Meanwhile we keep watching and speaking out.

41,000 signatures is HUGE imo.

I'd love to hear thoughts from readers on how this can play in our favor - those of us who don't want rollkur or any of its offshoot methods used AT ALL.


Jan said...

This is a complete farce! Nothing will change. They just gave the rollkur method a other name. Still riders are allowed to pull their horses with the nose to the chest. Therefore I urge everybody to continue taking picture's and video's of this horrible way of riding. That is the strongest force we have to continue fighting against this system. The FEI hopes now that the greater public will believe that something have changed, but we are not stupid. Keep on writing to the sponsors of the riders and shows where you see this method happening. At the end that is what will make the difference. I hope that you all will see what the FEI is giving us here. A ugly present wrapped in a beautiful paper!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Hmm, Low, Deep and Round-LDR? I might be a little skeptical about that particular wording. Does it mean that it will be yet another form of Rollkur. For example when they decided to use hyperflexion as opposed to the word Rollkur because it sounded a little less torturous. I guess LDR will be up to the interpretation of the trainers, riders and judges.

I do think there were some positive notes. I do like the fact that they are considering putting closed circuit television in the warm-ups at selected shows. And 41,000 signatures had to make them take notice that we have had enough of this abusive practice towards our horses. However, I'm a little disappointed that it was emphasized that the main responsibility for the welfare of the horse rests with the rider. Sort of gives me a What? moment (sometimes I do wish I could really curse on a blog). If the riders aren't made to stop their use of rollkur they will continue doing what they have always done and continue to defend themselves by saying they are acting responsibly towards their horses.

I do hope that these small steps will eventually snowball into an avalanche and ALL the practices that harm horses are deemed unacceptable under any circumstances. As you say we've still got to keep working towards that day.

billie said...

Thanks, Jan and Arlene - I appreciate reading others' takes on this situation. So much info is coming down the pike today I feel like every time I form a thought, there's something new to factor in.