Interview with FEI’s Igmar De Vos Sheds Light on Future of Equestrian Sport
Inside the Games posted this article entitled “De Vos says riding in modern pentathlon must align with FEI standards” on June 6, 2022. In it, the author, Patrick Burke, shares an exclusive interview with the Fédération Équestre Internationale’s (FEI) President, Ingmar De Vos, on the current state of elite equestrian sport and the growing concern over horse welfare. Following the controversy surrounding footage of the German trainer, Kim Raisner hitting a distressed horse, Saint Boy, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) has decided to remove and replace the equestrian element with a proposed obstacle course after the 2024 Paris Olympics. While not commenting directly on the removal, De Vos promises the FEI would provide support to UIPM to ensure that the equestrian element of modern pentathlon is in line with the FEI’s standards and principles at the 2024 games. Since the FEI and the UIPM will share the equestrian facility at Chateau de Versailles, the UIPM will benefit from the horse welfare procedures that the FEI will have in place. Further, De Vos assures that, “Modern pentathlon created a working group to improve [horse welfare] rules, and we have provided two experts, one in the field of jumping and one in veterinary, to ensure that the competitions will be completely up to our standards.”
Olympic participation in equestrian sport has come under similar scrutiny as of late. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cite the case of Jet Set, a horse put down because of injuries sustained during the cross-country section of the Olympic eventing contest at the 2020 Games. In response, De Vos confirms that riding’s place in the Olympics is secure, asserting that “in a changing society, we need to proactively explain why we can practice our sport and why it’s important for not only the human but also for the horse.” He then adds, “So I think this is what we have to do for ourselves, instead of always reactively having to make statements every time there is an incident or a would-be incident, so we want to create this framework so that we can address it in a proactive way, and so that we can also have a broader discussion about what we need to review in our rules and regulations, what we need to improve, and also how can we better educate our community.”
Positioned to be elected for a third and final four-year term, De Vos’ FEI presidency provides decisive and comprehensive guidance for international elite equestrian competition. On behalf of Thauli Sports Law, we look forward to his continued leadership in the coming years.