Increasing the minimum age for Endurance Horses on the FEI agenda

Increasing the minimum age for Endurance Horses on the FEI agenda

The minimum age for horses who are enrolled in the international endurance-scène is closely evaluated by the FEI. The age of full maturity and long-term wellbeing must be kept in mind.

“Many of the Arabian horses which predominate in the sport of endurance do not reach physical maturity by the age of six,” states the FEI proposal, adding that the suggested change is “to protect younger horses from competing at excessive speed in CEI*”.

The idea was debated during the FEI Sports Forum (24–25 April). Some suggested a speed cap for younger horses instead of a change to the minimum age, others voiced concerns about the impact an extra year of care would have on breeders. An appeal was made to all federations to share their data and research with the FEI.

Equine vet and deputy chairman of the FEI endurance committee Sarah Coombs explained the reasoning behind the proposal and also agreed to consider the idea of capped speeds for horses stepping up to CEI*.

“All the time, we’re looking at our rules through the lens of what’s best for horse welfare, as of course you are as well,” said Dr Coombs.

“There’s emerging evidence across the disciplines that the excessive demands put on young horses shortens the length of their athletic careers, and possibly puts those horses at risk. As everyone in the room knows, different horses mature at different rates.

“What we were very conscious of is you have a horse going from a fixed speed national ride and then straight into his first CEI*, where we know the speeds are highest.

“We wanted to do something about that juxtaposition to protect the interests of these younger horses and hopefully mean they will go on for a long time.”

Source: Horse & Hound