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November 17, 2009

FEI Issues Statement Concerning Horse Welfare

Fédération Equestre Internationale officials issued a statement concerning hyperflexion in response to the outrage over Patrik Kittel’s warm-up for a World Cup qualifier in Denmark. (See “Patrik Kittel’s World Cup Warm-Up Sparks Debate And FEI Investigation.”)

Following a discussion during the FEI’s meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Nov. 15, officials confirmed that horse welfare is the core of their purpose as a governing body for equestrian sport and will remain their top priority.

“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,” said the statement.

However, the FEI did not release any further statement on the practice of hyperflexion. "The FEI does not permit excessive or prolonged Hyperflexion in any equestrian sport, and has a strict stewarding program to protect the performance horse in all disciplines,” is part of the language in their most current statement on hyperflexion.

If a rider receives two yellow warning cards within one year, he or she is automatically suspended for two months immediately following the receipt of the second yellow card.

The FEI formed a new partnership with World Horse Welfare to continue researching horse welfare issues, consulting with riders, riders, trainers, officials and veterinarians, and educating stewards to address welfare issues at FEI events.
The FEI acknowledges and welcomes public opinion about hyperflexion and horse welfare.