The number of horses officially listed as dead in the current UAE winter endurance season rose to 10 today (February 23rd).
Australian-bred nine-year-old Amihh PP sustained a fatal injury in the second loop of a national ladies race at Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, after leading the first loop with an average speed of 30.2 kph. He was ridden by Natasha Zakaria, 29, of Jordan, who last week was eliminated from a FEI ride at Boudhieb for “not conforming to many rules” with another horse.
The fatal race was quite a step up in pace for Amihh PP, bought by Nad al Sheba Stables in 2015. He was last ridden in the 120km CEN Jumeirah Endurance Cup in December where he retired at gate one. He also completed a CEI 80km on the October 30, 2017, also under Zakaria, at an average speed of 17.3kph.
The worst known death toll at a ride in the current desert season occurred with three catastrophic injuries in the Commemoration Day national ride at Dubai in November.
While the official UAE death toll fails to decrease, in December the FEI also acknowledged that many horses escape inclusion in its official fatality statistics if they are not euthanised till they get home https://horsesport.com/horse-news/fei-transparency-endurance-horse-deaths/
The FEI introduced the code CI – Catastrophically Injured – in 2014 in a bid to show more transparency, but studies by the Clean Endurance community have so far found 26 horses since 2014 registered dead the exact same day as their last rides but not recorded as CI in official ride results.
The failure to effect significant reform in the UAE was also raised last week by Roly Owers, CEO of World Horse Welfare, who wrote frankly to top UK magazine Horse & Hound magazine. His intervention followed a welfare seminar hosted by Endurance GB, which recently entered into controversial new funding arrangements with the UAE.
Mr Owers said: “Irresponsible horse sport directly contravenes the FEI Code of Conduct, which holds the welfare of the horse as paramount, is unethical and is abhorrent to both the wider horse world and the general public. Endurance is one sport with only one reputation, and if it is seen to tolerate horse abuse and exploitation, it will lose its social licence to exist. What hurts the horse hurts the sport and the sooner we all realise this the better.”