After a recent resolution to discuss and research the current Fédération Equestre Internationale’s hypersensitivity protocol, Equine Canada has announced plans to develop a Hypersensitivity Protocol Task Force.
“We made a commitment to our athletes and our members that we would undertake a review,” said Equine Canada President Mike Gallagher in a statement. “We are honoring that commitment.”
During the London Olympic Games, Canadian rider Tiffany Foster’s mount, Victor, was disqualified after the FEI Veterinary Commission deemed him hypersensitive before the start of the first round. A few days later, Foster’s teammate and personal coach, Eric Lamaze, agreed that the disqualification was uncalled for and told Gallagher he would not compete for his country again unless Equine Canada took action.
"Victor sustained a superficial cut on the front of the left front coronet band," stated Canadian Olympic Team Veterinarian for Jumping Dr. Sylvie Surprenant, the day following Victor's disqualification. "In our opinion the horse was fit to compete as he showed no signs of lameness. However the FEI hypersensitivity protocol is such that if the horse is sensitive to the touch, regardless of the cause, the horse is disqualified. While the FEI rules for the hypersensitivity protocol were followed, we believe that there should be a review of this protocol."
The FEI website describes a hypersensitivity test as including both manual pressure by the veterinarian and the use of an infrared camera to look for abnormal heat patterns. If a horse is disqualified, there is no chance for appeal from the rider.
The new task force will review the protocol to determine if it is fair and effective from the perspective of the Canadian horse sport community. Gallagher said the task force plans to work closely with the FEI to explore the issue on a global level.
Kerri McGregor, Canadian Equestrian Team Leader and chair of Sport Council, and Mark Samuel, who is Canada’s elected representative to Group IV of the FEI and member of the Sport Council and a former chair of Jump Canada, will co-chair the task force and form the committee over the next two weeks.