"Reform or stop, no compromise," said HH Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan
11 March, 2016, Abu Dhabi ~ The 1st International Boudhieb Endurance Conference was held on 10 March 2016 outside Abu Dhabi at the Boudhieb Endurance Village. Disrupted by extraordinary storms and a deluge of rain, the 1st International Endurance Seminar had to be postponed for a day, but this did not stop participants and guests from enjoying a most interesting and thought provoking event which set out to discuss and expand on what has become to be known as the Boudhieb Rules.
His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, the moving spirit for not only the Conference but also for the Boudhieb Rules, was present throughout and he was delighted by the attendance and appreciated the strong support his ideas received from the speakers and guests.
The Boudhieb Rules have sparked an intense debate both nationally and internationally about the meaning of endurance, whether the long distance flat races run against the clock as seen in the UAE can legitimately be called endurance or whether other criteria which ensure the welfare of the horse are not more relevant to the spirit of the sport. For His Highness there is no doubt and the Boudhieb Rules reflect his ideals. He issued an ultimatum, “Reform or stop – no compromise.”
The exciting thing for all who care about the sport and its future is that the rules work, the results have exceeded all expectations and whilst there are some aspects that need to be refined there is no doubt that taken as a package the welfare of all horses taking part in endurance rides in Boudhieb has dramatically improved.
Amongst those who attended the Conference and congratulated His Highness on his work were Dr Brian Sheahan, Head of the FEI Veterinary Commission. Distinguished guest speakers included Dr. Dwight Hooten, USA FEI advisor to Emirates Equestrian Federation; Mr Emmett Ross (USA), past Chef D’Equipe to USA Endurance Team and shortly to take on the organization of the endurance section of the WEG in Bromont Canada; Dr James Bryant (Senior) from Canada; Major Kevin Croke from Ireland speaking from his 6 consecutive years experience in UAE World Championships as the International Disciplinary Chief Steward; Dr Ali Tweissi, EEF Head of the Veterinary Dept; and Dr. Henk Basson, South Africa Head of the Veterinary Commission. Francois Kerboul from France, FEI 4*Judge and Technical Delegate, demonstrated the concept of the points system he had devised around which the Boudheib Rules are based.
Emmett Ross, who had trained in the UAE in the mid 90’s spoke of need for education as the sport in the region had grown more rapidly than the skills of trainers and riders. The intense pressure to win from many owners and the high levels of prize money has given rise to many of the regions problems. He also commented on the changes in the tracks which had lost any of the technical qualities of the past. He suggested that the stables and their staff need help and education, not punishment.
The afternoon of discussion and debate was rounded off with a fascinating talk given by Dr. Sue Stover from the University of California Veterinary Department, on The causes and prevention of limb fractures in Equine Athletes. Her work has proven that the vast majority of bone fractures in race horses was due to a pre-existing condition and she suggested that the same applied to endurance horses. She emphasized the need for necessary time in rehabilitation after injury giving the bone time to regain its strength and that over-training so often leads to unnecessary injury which in turn can lead to fractures.
Finally HH Sheikh Sultan was warmly thanked for his vision in promoting the welfare of the horse.
The horse is brave, it is our responsibility to protect him!