Fédération Équestre Internationale
Last week my instructor asked us to research the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) and share our thoughts on the future of the organization. Fédération Équestre Internationale (or International Federation for Equestrian Sports in English) is the international governing body of equestrian sports. It was formed in 1921 to ensure the safety and fairness of disciplines under their oversight for both equine and human competitors. These disciplines include jumping, dressage and para, eventing, driving and para, endurance, vaulting, and reining.
The Future of FEI
In my opinion the future of the FEI looks strong. There are a few areas of concern, but for the most part the FEI seems to be achieving its mission of maintaining safety and fairness in the disciplines they oversee. One area of ongoing concern has been in the sport of endurance. Over the years, the FEI has not maintained complete safety for the horses in this sport as the emphasis has trended toward endurance racing, rather than endurance riding. Issues cropped up at Tryon 2018 FEI World Equestrian games where the endurance race was cancelled due to weather / trail conditions. The case was so extreme that, “of the 95 horses that started the endurance competition, 53 needed veterinary treatment, including 32 that required IV fluids[i].” It was a good call to stop the competition for horse welfare, but with that many horses needing veterinary treatment, should something have been done sooner? And should the emphasis on horse health and condition be prioritized over the competition?
The Future of WEG
The future of the FEI’s crowning event, the World Equestrian Games (WEG), is a little less secure. After holding separate finals for each discipline throughout history, WEG brought the eight FEI disciplines together in 1990 in a unified celebration of the sport. However, due to the immense challenges of pulling off an event of this size no one has stepped up to host a complete eight-discipline WEG for 2022. The FEI is still taking bids for the 2022 competitions – but they may be individual bids instead of the unified eight-discipline WEG.
After my experience volunteering over 60 hours at Tryon 2018 and coming to love the format (catching eventing in the morning before swinging by the covered arena for reigning at night) I would be disappointed if WEG as we know it went away. I hope another city will step up and honor this fantastic tradition, or maybe we can even get the games back in Tryon soon (fingers crossed)!
[i] Lexington Herald Leader https://www.kentucky.com/sports/horses/article218434575.html