Endurance GB (EGB) and the British Equestrian Federation (BEF) have announced plans to develop a new British protocol for all future international endurance rides held in Great Britain, aimed at maximising horse welfare in the sport.
Acknowledging the major challenges facing the discipline of endurance, EGB and the BEF will be working together to develop a long-term UK strategy, with horse welfare at its heart, with the first step in this process being the creation of a new British protocol. The protocol will be established by a working group, led by BEF Board Director, Dr Tim Watson, and will consist of key stakeholders including veterinarians, the National Federation, event organisers and technical delegates.
The British protocol will be implemented as a pilot study at British events in 2017, and will be refined after the season based on the experience gained from the events. It is hoped that it will be ready for the first FEI rides of the year, at Kings Forest (14-16 April), Haywood Oaks (28-30 April), Royal Windsor (12 May), and Euston Park (20-21 May).
Horse welfare has long been at the forefront of the endurance agenda, and the British protocol will, amongst other areas, look to set parameters around optimum speed, heart rate and recovery times, appropriate to the competition environment here in the UK. The new protocol will also seek to go a lot further this year and will include policies on the appointment of officials, the event calendar and how to increase British participation rates.
Whilst steps to improve horse welfare in endurance events have been initiated by others on the international stage, including the FEI, the ambition is that the British protocol will create rules specifically tailored to British climate and terrain.
Clare Salmon, Chief Executive of the BEF said; “Horse welfare is an ongoing priority for the BEF and EGB and by initiating this new British protocol, we hope this will ensure a safe sport in which the wellbeing of the horses is paramount. The aim of the protocol is to implement modifications that will ultimately reform the sport by changing the mind-set of trainers and riders competing in this country.”