Lausanne, Switzerland – April 24, 2023 – The first day of the FEI Sports Forum 2023, which opened yesterday in Lausanne, was one of lively debate and energetic exchanges.
FEI President Ingmar De Vos opened the FEI Sports Forum, setting the tone for the day and reiterating the purpose and scope of the discussions ahead. “It is hard to quantify just how much influence the Sports Forum has had since it was launched in 2012, but there is no doubt that community consultation has become the norm. We have had a lot of important discussions in this room here in IMD that have gone on to become important decisions,” he said. To illustrate this point, the FEI President itemised an extensive list of consultative forums, seminars and meetings held so far in 2023 with the different stakeholders groups, referring to a “constant state of consultation” and how this was integral to the way the FEI operated and the community’s ability to overcome challenges.
The President emphasised that there was always more that could be done, and encouraged all the delegates predominantly made up of National Federation and Stakeholder Association representatives to acknowledge the concerns of the community, and to work together to further improve the representation of our organisations, by ensuring “there is an honest, open and constructive dialogue” with all stakeholders. He reminded the delegates that this was a process, and that, “we need to accept and support the outcomes from the different consultations, because it is ultimately our collective ability to join forces and to adapt to changing environments that will help secure a successful and sustainable future for our sport.”
In his final opening remarks, he highlighted the importance of the interim report to be delivered by the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission. “The future of our sport and the success of the equine industry depends on all of us individually and collectively taking our responsibilities and demonstrating in everything that we do that we value this relationship above all and will always prioritise the health and happiness of our horses – above all.”
The FEI President then went on to introduce and welcome Professor Cairns-Lee, an Affiliate Professor of Leadership and Communication at IMD known for her award winning research on learning and leadership including the development of self-awareness, authenticity and sense making.
Professor Cairns-Lee focused her speech around two key themes, namely the evolution of society, changing expectations and what this means for an industry or a community, as well as how language reflects values and its importance in establishing partnerships based on dialogue.
“The key to optimal stakeholder engagement is transparent and collaborative consultation and communication. This starts with openhearted conversations that require a willingness to be curious about differences, the courage to embrace different perspectives and a commitment to an intentional use of language to frame effective dialogue and shift societal narratives.”
In Session 1, the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing (EEWB) Commission put forward 24 draft recommendations to ensure a good life for horses in equestrian sport. The recommendations – which include measures that the FEI and the wider equestrian community can take to achieve higher standards of horse welfare through individual and collective responsibility, trust, transparency, reactiveness and independent evaluation – generated an enthusiastic level of discussion and feedback in the discussions that followed. This was the first time the EEWB Commission have held in-person consultations with the wider equestrian community on its work and findings, since it was created by the FEI in June 2022.
“The Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission’s proposal for a welfare-centric FEI vision for sustaining equine participation in sport now and into the future, aims to address ethical concerns related to equine involvement in sport as well as during a horse’s lifetime,” Chair of the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission Professor Natalie Waran said.
“We hope that the vision of a Good Life for Horses, and the associated draft recommendations, which have been informed through research and engagement with the equestrian community and the public, will help inform and inspire a positive direction, and we look forward to engaging further at the FEI Sports Forum. Through accepting this vision for the future, we believe the FEI will have a solid starting point to effect real change in equestrian sports’ mindset and practices.
“This vision and these draft recommendations, as well as the FEI Charter, are just a starting point to affect change across equestrianism. They have been created primarily around the concept of providing our horses with a good life and the responsibility we all have to deliver on that. This will require the long-term commitment of not just the FEI, but all who want horse sports to have a bright future.”
In Monday’s second session, entitled ‘TechQuestrian – Going for Gold’, the FEI’s Technology and Sports Services (TSS) department presented a wealth of technology enhancements across 10 of the FEI’s 36 digital platforms. Highlights included the announcement of the highly anticipated launch in May of the Online Schedules for Jumping; the progressive roll-out of Equine Influenza vaccination recording for all FEI horses using the FEI HorseApp; and lastly the newly developed TackApp which recently went live, and is projected to become the destination for all pieces of tack and equipment related to horses and athletes for all FEI disciplines.
And finally, the TSS team revealed a final development, a new FEI Hub where fans and stakeholders could access all of the FEI’s 36 online platforms in one location. .
The third and final session of the day provided delegates with a comprehensive update on Paris 2024 followed by a Q & A. Sports Cluster Manager from the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, Anne Murac, alongside GL Events Equestrian Sport President, Sylvie Robert and Equestrian and Para Equestrian Sport Manager for Paris 2024, Jean Morel updated the delegates on various elements of the planning process. Detailed venue maps outlining all the key functional areas, athlete and grooms accommodation, stabling and access points as well as dates and details for the next operational test event in Versailles, the forthcoming test event in Fontainebleau where all sports infrastructures will be replicated, were among the themes covered. A detailed wrap up is available in the FEI Sports Forum Hub.
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez wrapped up the day with a brief summary from all the sessions, as well as the key topics and themes covered.
Key links for Day 1:
Opening by the FEI President and IMD representative (contains summary of speeches, full texts of the FEI President’s speech, presentation by Dr Cairs-Lee, speakers’ biographies)
Session 1: Interim Report from the Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission (contains session summary and documents library)
Session 2: TechQuestrian: going for gold (contains session summary and documents library)
Session 3: Paris 2024 Update Report
Press release: A ‘Good Life for Horses’ opens first day of FEI Sports Forum discussions
Press release: FEI Tech Goes for Gold at FEI Sports Forum
For all the information on the FEI Sports Forum 2023, please visit the dedicated online hub.
Photographs can be downloaded from the FEI’s Flickr account.The FEI Sports Forum 2023 continues on Tuesday, 25 April.
Source: Federation Équestre Internationale
Photo: © FEI / Richard Juilliart