Quislings in the Barn
It’s official. The sport of endurance racing has been sold to an Arabian government. The deal went down in an office in Bristol, England where the horse world’s most controversial figure, Tom Morgan, met with the man the equestrian world trusted to protect endurance racing from predators and cheats, FEI endurance director, Ian Williams.
Because of what was decided there in secret, there’s no longer any further need for hundreds of thousands of endurance riders to pretend that they have to follow the rules. They can toss away those log books they’ve spent years filling with carefully documented miles on their beloved horses. Dope ‘em, ride ‘em hard, cheat, laugh at the rules instead. Go ahead, because the so-called “leaders” of your sport have betrayed every mile, every act of sacrifice, every labour of love you ever rode or enacted.
Today the endurance racing world stands with its head bowed in shame. No mountain defeated it. No desert stopped it. No river balked it. Endurance racing met its Waterloo in Bristol when a deal was made that set aside the principles of an entire sport.
If you ask how the Long Riders’ Guild can state this, allow us to use the old adage, it comes straight from the horse’s mouth – FEI headquarters in Switzerland. For earlier today the Long Riders’ Guild received confirmation that the FEI’s endurance racing director, following orders from his boss, Princess Haya, journeyed to Bristol, England so as to assist an equestrian event which undermines the very sport the organization was entrusted to protect.
On Friday, July 22nd, the Long Riders’ Guild issued a warning to the horse world that FEI endurance director, Ian Williams, was intent on holding a private meeting with Tom Morgan, the organizer of the Mongol Derby horse race. Prior to this meeting the Guild asked Williams to explain how the FEI could stand by, mute and passive for two months, all the while the largest exploitation of endurance racing rules ever perpetrated was being organized by tour operator turned horse racer, Morgan?
Williams never responded to those questions, which documented how FEI rules were joyfully violated by Morgan’s company, the Adventurists.
(Click here to read a comparison between FEI Rules and the Mongol Derby.)
The FEI official answered that instead of denouncing the Mongol Derby, his organization was an active participant in offering Morgan a financial, medical and logistical reward. He was journeying to Bristol, he said by phone and via email, so as to broker an alliance between Morgan and the government of the UAE. That was our worry on Friday. This is our confirmation on Monday.
Earlier today, 27th July, the Long Riders’ Guild received a message from Williams which validated our worst fears.
I refer to my email of the 22nd July 2009 and as promised I can now provide you with a further update.
I confirm that the FEI’s position remains unchanged and the FEI does not ‘support the event’ but is supportive of any actions that might be taken to support the welfare of those horses that may be involved with this particular event.
The FEI’s position is as follows:
The FEI confirms that we have held a meeting with the organising company of the Mongol Derby to obtain specific detailed information, at the request of the UAE, with regard to the horses being used and the equine support being provided for the event from within Mongolia.
That information has now been passed to the UAE who have expressed the wish to provide elite level Veterinary Support, both in terms of equipment and experienced personnel, to the organisers through the Mongolian Government both pre, during and post event.
As confirmed already by the FEI , the Mongol Derby is not an FEI recognised event and does not come under the remit or control of the FEI as the Governing body for International Equestrian sport.
The FEI continues to work with organisations towards achieving the highest welfare support for all horses.’
Fédération Equestre Internationale
Av de Rumine 37
t +41 21 310 47 47
f +41 21 310 47 60
The message begs the fundamental question, if the FEI has nothing to do with this wretched race then why is Ian Williams issuing a statement? If the FEI is not involved, then why is the organization’s endurance cop acting like a messenger boy for a foreign power? If the FEI knew two months ago that Morgan’s race put 800 horses at risk and violated every major rule of the organization, why did its President authorize her endurance director to play the part of bag man to this ignoble scheme?
While the Guild welcomes any news that horses may be provided with professional medical care, no amount of money can wash away the fact that these 800 horses are neither up to size, or condition, to carry large foreigners at speed for “only” twenty-five miles across the Mongolian steppes.
Being equestrian explorers,
not endurance riders, we at the Long Riders’ Guild were woefully ignorant of any
sheik who was famous for riding in endurance races. We didn’t know that his name
had been involved in scandals where endurance horses were suspected of being
doped. Nor were we aware that international endurance riders were already
worried about the growing influence exerted by the sheik and his government over
the international sport of endurance racing.
The day after the Guild issued its warning about Williams’ meeting with Morgan, endurance riders around the world began emailing the Guild so as to express private concerns. Names were asked not to be mentioned for fear of retribution. Here is one such observation.
“The Guild is correct so far in what you have written. The UAE is virtually running the whole of the FEI as they are sponsoring just about everything, including the new building in Switzerland. Keep up the pressure as there is nothing being allowed to be said in the UAE. Any discredit HAS to come from the outside, “ reported this confidential source, who went on to question the amount of influence Princess Haya’s husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, the ruler of the UAE to which Williams refers in his email, had on the running of the FEI.
With the news from Williams that the UAE government and Morgan have struck a deal, it’s all over now except the crowing. Expect Morgan, Mercy Corps and the Mongols to issue a press release announcing how they have subverted the rules of the international endurance community, with the help of the UAE. Expect them to ignore the fact that Mongolia had been suspended for non-payment of FEI national dues. Don’t think they will acknowledge the letter sent to FEI headquarters asking that organization to explain its involvement in an event which delights in trampling on international rules designed to protect the horse.
Instead we will probably be asked to believe that this decision was done in favour of the 800 little horses being drafted into Morgan’s mad plan.
This is all the more ironic because horse owners everywhere are feeling the economic pinch. When the family home is in danger of foreclosure, then the family horse is one of the first things to be sacrificed. Average horse owners have been pushed into a corner and run of the mill horses are falling victim to previously unbelievable horrors, as was documented in this article from New Zealand’s Horse Talk news service.
“A further $US2500 has
been added to the reward for information leading to those responsible for
cutting the brand from a two-year-old filly and abandoning her…In an effort to
make sure the filly could not be traced, her former owner cut a 15cm by 20cm
section of flesh from her rump to remove the brand.”
Nor is it only economics that is affecting horse owners. Today’s press is reporting that things are going to get hotter – and tougher – for horse owners everywhere.
“MSNBC has an
alarming report about the extreme weather conditions happening across the
country. In Texas, half the corn crop is dried up, lakes have disappeared,
cattle ranchers are selling cows early because there is no grass to graze on,
and 77 counties are designated as having exceptional or extreme drought
conditions. Historians say this drought is virtually unprecedented, and there is
no relief in sight.”
Thus, in the midst of a global equestrian crisis, when average people are struggling to keep their horses, and play by the rules, what are we to think about an international organization which subverts its own laws so as to play footsy under the table with a foreign ruler?
In his historic editorial, available in this month’s issue of Horse Connection magazine, publisher Geoff Young cites how equestrian sport is riddled with corruption. Precious horses are being doped to the eyeballs so as to gain an unfair advantage. Entire national equestrian teams stand exposed as cheats. All the while, Young pointed out, the FEI under the direction of its president, HRH Princess Haya, has issued edicts, organized committees – and allowed the culture of corruption which has invaded the international equestrian community to carry on. (http://www.horseconnection.com/site/pdf_docs/breaches.pdf)
Yet Morgan’s race, and the FEI’s involvement, is not an act of any one person, or even one nation, bending the rules. By aiding Princess Haya’s husband’s government in assisting Morgan, the FEI leaders in Switzerland have shown the horse world what really matters to them. No one, except those blinded by self-interest, will buy the pretence that the FEI did not approve, orchestrate, condone, or encourage this alliance between Morgan and the Arabs.
Thus the FEI is no longer merely inept. Now it’s ethically suspect.
Some endurance riders have raised the question, why would the leaders of this organization do this, unless it is to assist Arab contestants to ride in Morgan’s race? Given recent events, that’s a fair question. For mark our words, as the Guild predicted, once Morgan has established a beach head in Mongolia, with Mercy Corps proving the pretence of charity to cloak the mercenary nature of the event, and with UAE money to buy vets and other help to offset criticism, it won’t be long before we see unregulated races being held in any under-developed country with horses and a money-hungry government.
Publisher Young concluded his editorial by reminding the horse world that "According to their rules, there is a provision for disbanding the FEI if two thirds of the members vote on it. I think it's a vote that is long overdue."
The Long Riders’ Guild believes the member nations of the FEI need to heed Young and disband the organization without delay.
In closing, the Long Riders’ Guild has been warned not to publish anything critical of Arab rulers who ride in endurance races. We were told this is an open secret, known to many in this sport. Editors we trust spoke off the record about their fears. This is the Long Riders’ Guild, not your mummy’s pony club. We won’t be bullied or silenced.
We urge the endurance riders of the world to protect their sport. We urge your leaders to voice your collective outrage at the subversion by Quislings in your barn of rules designed, and upheld for generations, to protect the horses we all love.
We urge everyone in the horse world to visit HRH Princess Haya’s website and ask her to provide answers to these questions. What has the FEI done, who ordered it, and who’s paying for it ? Have the rules of international endurance racing vanished thanks to a secret decision? Will the international equestrian community, especially endurance leaders, blithely hand over control to a foreign power? What’s to stop Morgan, Mercy Corps and the UAE from organizing races in other countries? What happens when contestants don’t ride with rules but for personal recognition? http://www.princesshaya.net/
The Guild urges everyone who ever swung their leg over a horse, who ever sat in saddle, who ever stroked a horse, or loved one from afar, to sign the international petition protesting this blight of a race.
"Sign the Petition - or Share the Shame."
Finally, even in the midst of this dreadful discovery, we urge you to read a heart-felt letter written by one of North America’s leading endurance racing experts, Kate Riordan. Addressed to the President of Mongolia, it not only explains the dangers involved in this wicked race, it highlights what every endurance rider in the world needs to protect and protest.