The Chair of the Dutch Endurance team, Marc van den Dungen, has resigned his position and explained his decision in an open letter to the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation.
For the benefit of: concerned and interested parties and the press.
Concerning the resignation of Marc van de Dungen as independant chairman of the Endurance Technical Commission of the KNHS (Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation).
Today, 14th of July 2014, I have announced my resignation as independant chairman of the Technical Committee Endurance of the KNHS. The reason for discontinuing my function is the fact that I do not wish to be associated with an organisation that pays lip service to horse welfare by putting success at the World Equestrian Games 2014 (WEG) at the top of its agenda instead of the welfare of the horse.
Several weeks ago it was made clear that two horses, under ownership of a stable in the Emirates (UAE), would be taking part in the selection for the WEG. A few days later it became clear to me that a third horse would also take part in the selection. In the meantime all three horses have been nominated for the WEG.
With reference to the first two, it is clear that these horses:
– By competing at the WEG will have been ridden in 5 tough CEI competitions within a period of 8 months.
– Have been ridden by Dutch riders at two demanding competitions with a gap of just three weeks between the said competitions.
– Are being ridden by jockeys, by riders who usually ride the horses just once at a competition and then never again. Therefore these riders have little or no bond with the horses.
These circumstances, at least in The Netherlands, are not judged desirable. Not by experienced riders, veterinarians or trainers. These conditions are also contrary to the guidelines that are issued by the coaching team of the Dutch Senior Equestrian Squad to top riders. Finally, it is precisely these circumstances that led to veterinarians present at Compiegne to send a letter of indignation to the FEI, in order to bring to attention the abuse of horses in the sport of endurance, and the role that riders and trainers have in this abuse.
I have raised this issue with the KNHS within my capacity as chairman of the Technical Committee for Endurance. I have also indicated that from a political viewpoint it should be unthinkable for the KNHS, as a federation, to send horses under ownership of the UAE to an international championship. Especially now that they have written and spoken out internationally, denouncing the abhorrent practices in the Middle East concerning horse welfare within the sport of endurance. I have advised the KNHS not to send these horses to the WEG.
In the meantime the KNHS has still chosen to send these horses to the WEG 2014. As already stated, I do not wish to hold a function within an organisation that puts success and prizes above the welfare of horses. For this reason I have resigned as chairman of the Technical Committee for Endurance.
Marc van den Dungen