Thursday, February 18, 2010

FEI Update

Text from the FEI website:


The composition of the FEI working group tasked with expanding current guidelines for Stewards to facilitate clear implementation of the policy on warm-up techniques following on from last week’s round-table conference on hyperflexion/Rollkur has been finalised today.

As announced after last week’s conference in Lausanne, the working group will be chaired by Dressage Committee Chair Frank Kemperman. Group members are Richard Davison (GBR), Rider/Trainer; John P. Roche (IRL), FEI Director Jumping/Stewarding; Jacques Van Daele (BEL), FEI Honorary Dressage Steward General/Judge; Wolfram Wittig (GER), Trainer; and Trond Asmyr (NOR), FEI Dressage Director/Judge. The working group will also draw on the expertise of a number of other specialists, including but not limited to the participants of the round-table conference*. The working group aims to have the guidelines completed by the end of March 2010.

The guidelines produced by the group will be communicated directly to Stewards and also to riders and trainers. The working group is expected to put forward further proposals for the education of Stewards to ensure that FEI rules are strictly adhered to and that the welfare of the horse is maintained at all times.

Guidelines for Stewards will incorporate the use of a range of sanctions, including verbal warnings and yellow cards for riders who transgress. Stewards will also be readvised to watch out for signs of distress in the horse, which may include but are not limited to obvious fatigue, profound or inappropriate sweating, persistent rough use of aids (i.e. bits, spurs or whip) and over-repetition of exercises.

The FEI Management is also currently studying a range of additional measures, including the use of closed circuit television for warm-up arenas at selected shows so that potential abuse accusations can be more readily identified and recorded.

The FEI will ensure that all findings produced by the working group are communicated on an ongoing basis.

* Participants in the Lausanne round-table conference on hyperflexion/Rollkur (9 February 2010) were:

HRH Princess Haya, FEI President
Alex McLin, FEI Secretary General
International Dressage Riders Club, Margit Otto-Crepin
International Dressage Trainers Club, Linda Keenan
Francois Mathy, International Jumping Riders Club
David Broome, jumping representative
Sjef Janssen, dressage representative
Jonathan Chapman, Event Riders Association
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
Ian Williams, FEI Director Non-olympic sports
Carsten Couchouron, FEI Executive Director Commercial
Richard Johnson, FEI Director Communications
Jacques van Daele, FEI Honorary Steward General Dressage
John McEwen, FEI Veterinary Committee Chair
World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers and Tony Tyler
Ulf Helgstrand, President Danish NF
Dr Sue Dyson
Dr.Gerd Heuschmann
Professor René van Weeren
Frank Kemperman, FEI Dressage Committee Chair (by phone)

I personally feel the FEI's efforts to inform people on this are commendable. Richard Johnson posted this on the Blue Tongue Facebook page, which he didn't have to do, and I also feel the responses on the video to very specific concerns show the FEI as an organization are listening to what we have to say.

I realize many people are skeptical of the FEI's intentions to make meaningful change, but the first step is communication, and when they listen and respond specifically to concerns many of us have had in the past week, it is, in my opinion, a positive shift.


jme said...

i like your take on it and i have to agree that this is all small progress in the right direction. it's more than i ever would have thought could happen a year ago, so i guess we should be grateful for what has been accomplished and keep thinking positive. we're getting there!

Anonymous said...

Hi Billie,

Malina here, from FEI Communications.

Thank you for your positive feedback.

I was very humbled by the fact that you posted my previous comment in such a prominent way.

I would like to say we not only welcome but need the dialogue with all those involved in the sport, be they top riders and trainers or the millions of horse lovers who love about the horses and without whom the sport wouldn't exist.

Now thanks to social media this is possible.

Congratulations on the quality of your blog which is always interesting to read.

All the best,

billie said...

j, I agree - looking back a year helps gain some perspective on the movement that has been made.

billie said...

Malina, thank you for continuing to read and respond.

Given that I am not an upper level rider or trainer, but someone who has come back to riding at middle life and chosen dressage as a discipline to study, along with my horses, I appreciate very much that anyone in the FEI cares what I think. I do feel my opinions and those of my readers are informed and many of my readers have far more experience riding and training than do I, so I learn here every day.

If I can offer anything in this ongoing debate, it's my experience as a psychotherapist trained early on from the perspective of social work, which prides itself on the philosophy that all work begins where the client IS. Not where we want him/her to be.

We are where we are, wrt the current situation in competitive dressage, and I know from long years working on child welfare issues that polarizing and refusing to talk to one another will gain us exactly nothing.

Change begins when there is genuine communication, and I personally feel that has happened since the blue tongue video hit the internet.

Plenty of people will work hard and then quit because the FEI didn't give them exactly what they wanted.

But there are many dedicated and knowledgeable horse people who will continue advocating for the horse, while at the same time realizing that it is a longer-term endeavor, and that finding common ground and developing respectful communication is the way to move forward.

While I will never compete at the FEI level, I want to watch dressage in the Olympics and feel both pride and inspiration in what I see there. And I want to see happy, healthy horses who have freedom to move and breathe and show off their unique skills.

I don't doubt this is what the FEI wants as well. The work is how to get there in a way that honors the horse and sets clear standards for the rider.

Thank you for your part in this journey!