Cracking down on cruelty

2009-01-22 00:00

Making sure that there is no cruelty to the horse while it is competing has become of utmost importance with equine authorities worldwide. To this end, the South African National Equestrian Federation (Sanef) wishes to implement the following rules for showjumping.

Excessive use of the whip: The whip cannot be used to vent a rider’s temper. Such use is always excessive. The whip is not to be used after elimination or after a horse has jumped the last fence on a course. The whip is never to be used overhand (for example a whip in the right hand being used on the left flank). The use of a whip on a horse’s head is always excessive. A horse should never be hit more than three times for any one incident. If a horse’s skin is broken, it is considered excessive use of the whip.

An athlete identified as misusing or excessively using the whip will be disqualified and may be fined at the discretion of the ground jury.

It is anticipated that these rules will be incorporated into the Sanef rules, following the Sanef showjumping annual general meeting held in February. If any abuse of horses is noticed at a show, the correct procedure is to speak to a member of the organising committee of the show, the president of the ground jury or the chief steward. If no satisfaction is obtained, then the matter should be brought to the attention of either the provincial body or Sanef, or both.

The following is extracted from The FEI Code of Conduct for the Welfare of the Horse and applies to all competitive horses. It is important that all those involved in competitive sport, including show holders, are aware of these rules and that these rules are upheld.

• The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) requires all those involved in international equestrian sport to adhere to the FEI Code of Conduct and to acknowledge and accept that at all times the welfare of the horse must be paramount and must never be subordinated to competitive or commercial influences.

• At all stages during the preparation and training of competition horses, welfare must take precedence over all other demands. This includes good horse management, training methods, farriery and tack, and transportation.

• Horses and competitors must be fit, competent and in good health before they are allowed to compete. This encompasses medication use, surgical procedures that threaten welfare or safety, pregnancy in mares and the misuse of aids.

• Events must not prejudice horse welfare. This involves paying careful attention to the competition areas, ground surfaces, weather conditions, stabling, site safety and fitness of the horse for onward travel after the event.

• Every effort must be made to ensure that horses receive proper attention after they have competed and that they are treated humanely when their competition careers are over. This covers proper veterinary care, competition injuries, euthanasia and retirement.

* * *

This weekend there is a two-day affiliated showjumping show at Canterbury Equestrian Centre in Pietermaritzburg. Inquiries: Rob Martin at 082 905 4912.

On Sunday, Martin Minett is holding a training showjumping show at Burren Junction in Alverstone. Enter on the day. Inquiries: Minett at 082 307 1318.

On March 1, Yvette Scot Taylor is holding her popular training cross-country day in aid of Riding for the Disabled. This is a great opportunity to give competitive horses a run before the affiliated eventing shows start, and also for newcomers to try out cross-country riding in an unpressured environment. Schedules and entry forms are available via download at

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