Crisis in Endurance Sport – how did the FEI come to this?


To remind our readers the background of Tryon fiasco, read our previous articles:

Inside the FEI, Endurance discipline has always been isolated from the main Olympic disciplines. A separate approach has always been applied to it.

And now it is clear that FEI is not able to cope with problems in this discipline.


The first troubled symptom occurred in 2013, when the FEI established so-called the Endurance Strategic Planning Group (ESPG) in response to growing concern about horse welfare.

The ESPG’s mission was to develop a strategic plan for Endurance discipline over the decade 2013-2023.

In FEI Sports Forum 2014 this group presented its final report and recommendations for consideration by FEI Bureau.

You can find this document on the FEI website:

And now what?

5 years have passed, half the planned period by ESPG – and what did we end up with?

No improvement in Endurance sport has been made.

Even supporters of the FEI are expressing their dismay that the FEI had done nothing during these 5 years.


The notorious WEG in Tryon became the last straw – the Rubicon, passing through which, FEI lost all respect from athletes around the world.

Absolutely all Endurance riders unanimously agree that they felt in Tryon as unwanted guests, without any support from the FEI.

And this is not surprising!

FEI has always treated Endurance sport as an unloved stepchild.

The Endurance competition in Tryon exposed all the monstrous depth of incompetence of the FEI executives, who with their illegal actions during event destroyed the main tournament of the year.
And they don’t even think to apologize to the riders for all the moral and financial damage caused.

ESPG 2.0

And now they have come up with a new committee – the FEI Bureau has set up a Temporary Committee “with a remit to urgently assess the issues currently affecting the sport of Endurance.”

Instead of publicly admitting their incompetence and lack of professionalism in the management of equestrian sports, the FEI executives decided to calm public indignation by setting up another temporary endurance committee, which also will not solve any problems.

The Temporary Committee will be chaired by Dr Sarah Coombs (GBR), a FEI Endurance veterinarian, with members: Tarek Taher (KSA), an Endurance athlete and recently-elected as a member of the FEI Athletes’ Committee; Pieter Wiersinga (NED), chef d’équipe of the Dutch Endurance team; Dr Margaret (Meg) Sleeper (USA), official veterinarian; and Dr Tim Parkin (GBR) from University of Glasgow.

“We need to bring the discipline back to the principles of the FEI where welfare of the horse and horsemanship prevail. The Temporary Committee will conduct a thorough review of the discipline with the aim of getting back to real Endurance riding with the focus on horsemanship and the partnership between horse and human,” – the press release states.

New faces and the same old promises as 5 years ago.

Reading the press release on the FEI website, a feeling of deja vu arises, as if we see again the Endurance Strategic Planning Group back from 2013, now version 2.0.

Behind the facade of beautiful words lies the absolute helplessness of the FEI executives to solve the problems of Endurance sport for many years.

Sabrina Ibanez, the FEI Secretary General, for all the years in office, was unable to do anything useful for the development of Endurance sport, and vice versa, only constantly worsened the situation.

She decided to ban an entire national federation for the wrongdoings committed by individual riders and trainers. It was a completely wrong decision.

She decided to move the World Endurance championship to another venue, allegedly over the concerns for the welfare of the horse.

But we know perfectly well that the horse welfare is an empty sound for Sabrina Ibanez – after what she did in Tryon.

All her actions are based on politics, not the horse welfare?

And now Sabrina Ibanez is trying with all her strength to keep her position on the eve of re-election of the FEI President at the General Assembly?

By creating new Temporary Committee, Sabrina Ibanez is splurging to hush up her illegal actions in Tryon, which led to the most shameful finale in the history of Endurance sport.

Sabrina Ibanez is responsible for the fact that under her administration, the Endurance sport is now at risk of being removed from the FEI?

Do we really need such a Secretary General?