It is all the Stewards' Fault
or, The IODC Speaks Out
IODC = International Dressage Officials Club
The long awaited response from the FEI came out when once again rollkur became front page news.
FEI Statement on Horse Welfare 17/11/2009
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.
* If a rider receives two yellow warning cards within one year, he / she is automatically suspended for a period of two months immediately following the event at which the second yellow warning card was received.
Are you happy with this response?
They say they welcome public opinion.
They say they ensure the welfare of the horse.
They say this is an 'absolute' priority.
They say they condemn all training methods that are contrary to horse welfare.
Well, obviously they don't see rollkur as 'contrary to horse welfare.' Because if they did, they would be condemning it. That is what they actually said when they made the above statement . If they condemned all training methods that are contrary to horse welfare, then they would condemn those that are contrary. If they are not condemning rollkur, which they are not, then logic insists that rollkur supports the welfare of the horse. That rollkur must be good?
They also, in the statement above, say that after an 'extensive discussion.' this is all the stewards' fault. Didn't quite follow the logic? Well, they say after 'extensive discussion' on 'hyperflexion' that they 'insist' immediately that stewards use the disciplinary measures available to them. Which means obviously or logically that they didn't use the disciplinary measures available. Bad stewards.
So now what? Well, the stewards, caught in the middle of all of this, saw the faulty logic just as easily that the rest of us did. Here is what they have to say.
International Dressage Officials Club
Kerkendijk 21, bus 2
2140 Antwerp (Belgium)
Email Secretariat : email@example.com
Antwerp, December 1st, 2009
International Dressage Officials Club Statement
At its General Assembly in Stuttgart, November 20th, 2009, the International Dressage Officials Club (formerly IDJC) expressed its grave concern regarding the abusive treatment of horses during the warm-up phase at FEI competitions. The recent publicity has created a public outcry that cannot be ignored and is clearly bringing the sport of dressage into a state of disrepute.
The International Dressage Officials Club wholeheartedly supports all officials at FEI competitions in their efforts to bring this intolerable behaviour under control, in order to prevent any further perceived abuse of all horses being ridden under FEI rules. Competing at a dressage event is not limited to the short time spent in the actual competition area; it includes stable management in general, as well as the more extensive time spent in the warm-up and training arenas. The International Dressage Officials Club urges the FEI to bring clarification to the rules that FEI Stewards are expected to enforce and to provide the necessary back-up and support to their Stewards when needed.
It is in the International Dressage Officials Club’s opinion that those rules, applicable to all equestrian disciplines, should re-emphasize the fact that any type of abuse of the horse is strictly prohibited. With respect to hyper-flexion, it should be made clear that it is a tool that may only be used briefly and solely for corrective purposes, but not as a continuous training method. Further attention should be directed at observing that the horse’s chin should not touch the horse’s body as a result of a method of training. The International Dressage Officials Club recommends that judges be present in the warmup area whenever possible to support the Stewards in this difficult and delicate task. The FEI rules are based on the philosophy of the horse as a happy athlete, which implies riding in harmony avoiding negative tensions and practices harmful to the horse. In this respect, the International Dressage Officials Club will remind all the dressage judges to strictly observe such an important aspect of dressage, first and foremost to preserve the welfare of the horse but also to give a proper positive image of our sport to the public and the media.
Last but not least, the International Dressage Officials Club would also like to point out that is it clearly in the best interests of our sport that the International Dressage Trainers Club and International Dressage Riders Club take responsibility for the actions of its members and are on hand at future competitions to ensure that their members are made fully aware of how to convey a correct impression to the public by treating their horses fairly and with respect.
This statement by the stewards is nothing but impressive.
They express 'grave concern'.
They talk about 'abusive treatment of horses.' Which means they see it, acknowledge it and are willing to stand up and say they are seeing it.
They talk about and realize that this is 'clearly bringing the sport of dressage into a state of disrepute.'
They want to 'bring this intolerable behaviour under control.' They recognize and are willing to say that there is 'intolerable behaviour.'
They also quite clearly point out they cannot in any way do anything. That the words of the FEI statement are quite hollow. As how can they enforce when there are no clear cut directives or rules from the FEI on the subject of rollkur? How the heck are they to enforce rules that do not exist? Thus not only has the FEI passed the buck, but the buck they passed was a hallucination - as it didn't exist to start with. Any magician or politician would be proud of the sleight of hand so cleverly displayed by the FEI.
It is no wonder that so many have lost faith in the FEI. We don't believe the words that you say. Is it any wonder?
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