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Who is Dr. Sarah Coombs?


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As we wrote previously, members of Endurance Temporary Committee are in charge of reshaping the Endurance and proposing the new Endurance rules 2020.

Endurance Temporary Committee Members:
• Dr. Sarah Coombs BSc.Bvet.Med.MRCVS (GBR)
• Mrs. Valerie Kanavy (USA)
• Professor Tim Parkin BSc, BVSc, PhD, DipECVPH, FHEA, FRCVS (GBR)
• Mr. Tarek Taher (KSA)
• Mr. Pieter Wiersinga (NED)
Representing FEI Board:
• Mr. Mark Samuel (CAN)

Endurance Temporary Committee Chair Sarah Coombs presented the timeline for next steps with the proposed rules amendments:

8 July 2019: Final draft rules proposals from the Endurance Temporary Committee to be sent to National Federations and stakeholders;
30 August 2019: deadline for National Federations and stakeholders to revert to the FEI with feedback;
22 October 2019: Final draft rules published;
17–19 November 2019: FEI General Assembly, Moscow (RUS).

Photo FEI

Committee Chair Dr Sarah Coombs spoke about the mission of the Committee with the goal of taking the discipline forward based on the true concept of horsemanship. She also spoke about the necessity of changing the ethos within the sport.

“We need a change of ethos”, she said. “We need to test the stamina and fitness of the horse without compromising welfare, which will require good horsemanship, more strategic riding and more emphasis on recovery. Make no mistake about it, Endurance is a competition against the clock, but winning requires completion and without any emphasis on completion you are not going to win.”

Prior to presenting the Committee’s 16 far-reaching proposals, Chair Dr Sarah Coombs referenced the fact that the Committee is also proposing more effective drug sanctions to include extending suspension on horses and to include owners, stating that there is never an excuse for horse abuse.

“Everyone in this room has to agree that the level of drug abuse is unacceptable”, she said. “For me it is the underlying factor in a lot of the issues that we see and we have to all agree that it has to be stamped out.”

Let’s look further into the equestrian background of all the members of Endurance Temporary Committee.


First in line is the ETC Chair – Dr Sarah Coombs from Great Britain.

Sarah Coombs is an equine vet in a mixed practice based in Dorset. She works as an FEI Endurance 4* and Eventing Veterinarian and was formerly a team vet for the British Endurance team.

She earned a degree in Animal Science from Nottingham University before graduating from the Royal Veterinary College and is a member of various veterinary bodies. Coombs is a trustee of the global equine charity World Horse Welfare and is chair of its Veterinary Advisory Committee.

There is a very little amount of public information about her professional achievements before she joined ETC in order to produce new Endurance rules.

What we know so far:

Photo Endurance GB

Qualified: University of Nottingham and Royal Veterinary College.

Institution/Practice: Milton Equine Veterinary Clinic, Matravers Stables, Uploders, Bridport, Dorset DT64PH, UK.

Career: RVC Internship followed by equine practice in New Zealand before returning to equine practice in Somerset and Dorset. FEI Endurance 4* and Eventing Veterinarian. Former Team Vet for GB Endurance Team and currently for Heavy Horse Driving Trials. Treatment Vet at Championship level. Veterinary Consultant to 2 equine welfare charities (SPANA and World Horse Welfare) for many years.

Interests: Equine sports medicine and physiology. In nominal free time, serves as Chair of Governors at local primary school, rides, sea kayaks and walks dogs.

Photo Bouthib Initiative

Earlier, Sarah Coombs had also received rousing applause for her call for support for the Endurance Temporary Committee recommendations: “The FEI works as a collaboration of National Federations which is based on respect and trust for each other and, above all, built on a shared respect for the horse. Without mutual respect between the Endurance community and the FEI our sport has no future.

“If we are to take our discipline forward within the FEI we have to rebuild trust and respect on both sides. This will require strong leadership, respect for Endurance as a rapidly evolving discipline, respect and integrity from all the competitors, trainers and owners. Above all of this, respect for the horse, who can only give of his best if his well-being is respected.

As we have already heard, there is no future for international Endurance within the FEI if everything stays the same. We have no automatic right to practice equestrian sport on an international stage, especially in these days of social media and instant news around the world. We have to bring about positive change if Endurance is to survive within the FEI.”

So, Dr Sarah Coombs has good experience in Endurance discipline as a veterinarian for more than 10 years.
But, we have a question: is this enough for the radical changes in the endurance rules?