Two journalists have won their protest against the FEI for failing to apply an appropriate sanction in a case of horse abuse.
IAEJ Bureau Award winner Pippa Cuckson, and former Horse & Hound editor Lucy Higginson sought harsher penalties for an endurance rider who was seen kicking and hitting his horse in the closing stages of a 120km ride and encouraging his groom to strike the horse from the ground. The protesters cited all manner of rule infringements, including a horn-blasting vehicular entourage, and provided video evidence in their case against Sheikh Mohammed Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa.
Cuckson and Higginson, who were joined in their protest by Pamela Young, president of the International Alliance of Equestrian Journalists and Horse Canadaâ??s Jennifer Anstey, felt the FEIâ??s issuing of a yellow warning card was not sufficient punishment for the crimes committed during Februaryâ??s event in Sakhir, Bahrain.
In its decision on September 15, the FEI Tribunal found in favor of the protestersâ?? argument that the Ground Jury should have penalized the abuse with disqualification, a wrong they have now put right.Â Â The FEI has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“We brought the protest because, apart from the obvious leniency of the yellow card, FEI rules are quite clear about what the penalty for horse abuse has to be, and the FEI needed to be seen to apply its existing rules before introducing any more,â? commented Cuckson.
“Of course, we canâ??t be sure the FEI won’t appeal the decision. But I hope our experience will encourage others to make bona fide protests when they see clear evidence of rule-breaking in any equestrian sport.
“I also hope this ruling also means video evidence can be used more readily, and in hindsight, in future. When the field of play is 100-miles long, the ground jury can hardly expect to be on the scene of an offence at the moment it is committed. Existing rules about what can be protested are fine for arena sports, but hardly for endurance,” Cuckson concluded.
To read the case in its entirety please click here.