Equine Canada creates task force on FEI Hypersensitivity Protocol

Ottawa, ON – Equine Canada (EC) today announced it has requested its Sport Council to strike a Hypersensitivity Protocol Task Force. The objective of the Task Force will be to review the International Equestrian Federation’s Protocol for Thermography and Clinical Examination (Hypersensitivity of legs) to ascertain, from the perspective of Canada’s equestrian sport community, if the protocol and its application are achieving the intended outcomes in an equitable and effective manner. 

“We made a commitment to our athletes and our members that we would undertake a review,” states Equine Canada President Mike Gallagher. “We are honouring that commitment.” 

During the 2012 London Games, the Canadian Olympic Show Jumping Team suffered a serious handicap when Victor, Tiffany Foster’s mount, was disqualified from competing on August 5 under the International Equestrian Federation’s (FEI) hypersensitivity protocol.  An official communication issued by the FEI read: “The Veterinary Commission have stated that the horse has an area of inflammation and sensitivity on the forelimb just above the hoof.  There is no accusation of malpractice, but the horse has been deemed unfit to compete by the Ground Jury.”

Equine Canada also firmly stated that there was no accusation of any wrongdoing on the part of Tiffany Foster nor any member of the Canadian Team, and that further discussion regarding the FEI’s Hypersensitivity Protocol was needed.

“Victor sustained a superficial cut on the front of the left front coronet band,” stated Canadian Olympic Team Veterinarian for Jumping Dr. Sylvie Surprenant, the next day following Victor’s disqualification. “In our opinion the horse was fit to compete as he showed no signs of lameness. However the FEI hypersensitivity protocol is such that if the horse is sensitive to the touch, regardless of the cause, the horse is disqualified. While the FEI rules for the hypersensitivity protocol were followed, we believe that there should be a review of this protocol.”

Since its introduction following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a number of international horses have been disqualified from competition as a result of the protocol, including McLain Ward’s Sapphire (USA) at the 2010 World Cup Finals – a decision which was further investigated by the FEI and resulted in a review of the hypersensitivity protocol.

The creation and work of the Task Force will be overseen by  Co-chairs Kerri McGregor, Canadian Equestrian Team Leader and Chair of Sport Council, and Mark Samuel, Canada’s elected representative to Group IV of the FEI, member of Equine Canada’s Sport Council and former Chair of Jump Canada.

“In the next few weeks, as the Co-chairs of the Task Force, we will be recruiting a knowledgeable, proactive committee membership and firmly establishing our goals and objectives,” states Mark Samuel, also a former member of the Canadian Equestrian Show Jumping Team, representing Canada in six Nations’ Cups.  

“Equine Canada looks forward to presenting our recommendations to the international community for consultation and discussion, and to work globally with the FEI towards improving the hypersensitivity protocol and its goals to protect horse welfare and fair play,” added Mr. Gallagher.

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