Wednesday, 18 November 2009

An update on Rollkur

The FEI have now held their meeting, at which they discussed Rollkur. This is their statement:

"The FEI condemns all training methods and practices that are contrary to horse welfare. The welfare of the horse has always been and will always be at the core
of every aspect of the Federation’s work as the international governing body for equestrian sport.

During its meeting in Copenhagen (DEN) on 15 November, the FEI Bureau had extensive discussion on the issue of hyperflexion. The FEI Bureau insists that, with immediate effect, stewards in all disciplines use the disciplinary measures available to them, such as verbal warnings and yellow warning cards *, to prevent any infringement of FEI rules.

The FEI is now engaged with World Horse Welfare, a leading international equestrian organisation, in addition to continued consultation with riders, trainers,
officials and veterinarians to thoroughly research the issues. The further education of stewards will also continue to ensure that welfare issues at FEI events are dealt with promptly and professionally.

The FEI acknowledges and welcomes public opinion and will continue to ensure that the welfare of the horse, which has been central to this debate, will remain its absolute priority. "

I had to read this a few times before I worked out whether it was saying anything or not. It isn't coming out and condemning Rollkur outright, which isn't a surprise, as it's not clear whether or not it's against FEI rules. They are going to research the issue further, which is good. As I said in a previous blog, what is needed is definitive research on the impact of rollkur on the horse's mental and physical wellbeing.
The statement reads to me as if they do consider there were welfare issues at Odensee, and that the stewards should have acted: why insist on using disciplinary measures if they're already in place and working fine?
There's a little more elaboration on the Horse and Hound website. FEI veterinary director Graeme Cooke said: "Clearly, anything inappropriately done to excess is something we have concerns about. And there needs to be more clarity about rollkur — whether it is acceptable and to what level." World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers told H&H: "There are issues with rollkur (hyperflexion) and the incident in Odense last month has brought this sharply into focus. We are happy to work with the FEI on this."
I think it's a pity the FEI didn't put a moratorium on the use of Rollkur until they have reached a decision on whether or not the process is acceptable. If no one uses it, no one is at a competitive disadvantage. At least there seems to be some progress, but I'd like to know exactly what form the consultation and research will take, and how long will elapse before a decision is reached.

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