The Boudheib Initiative (BI), now entering its third year since creation, has gained momentum far exceeding initial expectations.
When His Highness Sheikh Sultan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi first introduced the BI rules, he foresaw only changes for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but the international endurance world have embraced Sheikh Sultan's unerring efforts with open arms in order to put the 'welfare of the endurance horse' at its heart and help return the sport of endurance back to its ethical roots.
The Boudheib Initiative protocol has come a long way. Sheikh Sultan and his BI Committee have invested much time in an effort to understand the needs of different terrains both home and away, whilst considering rider ability and age and fitness of participating horses. The BECA (Boudheib Endurance Challenge Award) rules, implemented to reward good horsemanship and sportsmanship, are now cast in stone with less emphasis on speed reduction, as this has naturally occurred thanks to the stringent rule of 56bpm heart rate (variable in some international locations) with a presentation time of ten minutes. In most well thought out trails in the majority of environments, the 20km per hour rule is difficult to surpass, thus keeping competition competitive whilst ensuring horse wellbeing.
Last month at Boudheib's International Endurance Villages (BIEV) first endurance rides of the UAE 2017/18 season, a new awareness came into force with a notable shift in perception from local trainers, including some of the top UAE endurance stables, who are impressed to see the benefits from training their horses using Boudheib's natural forestry tracks, allowing them to gain a greater understanding of the fitness and potential of their horses using the BECA protocol, which in turn aids their training for different terrains at both local and international competitions. Riders are enjoying the open spaces with no cars or trainers to be seen, allowing them to efficiently partner and enjoy their horses whilst appreciating nature's desert at its most glorious. We are also delighted to note that in the last two years a rise in the standards of riding and the care and quality of horses competing.
This all adds up to one thing: Boudheib Initiative is making its mark and it's here to stay!
Unique to Boudheib's International Endurance Village (BIEV), Abu Dhabi
• Natural tracks have been introduced, slowing the speed whilst keeping rides competitive and so much more enjoyable for both horse and rider.
• No cars or trainers are allowed on the natural tracks, allowing the riders to partner their horses in the manner for which endurance is intended.
• Cameras have been placed at the Vet inspection areas to ensure no lame horses are passed, illuminating possible pressure put on vets by insistent riders and trainers to pass their horses and also preventing vets from favoring horses if they are not fit to continue. (The camera film is kept for one month in case of any later recourse).
• Cameras mounted in the rest areas to discourage untoward treatments being given to horses in quiet corners.
• There have been no leg fractures recorded in the last two years.
• The clinic is always virtually empty during BIEV rides, and those who enter are quickly treated and sent home the same day fully recovered.
• 10km and 20km rides dedicated to young riders entering the world of endurance - ensuring, through education, the future wellbeing of the horse.
Press release and photograph by Leigh Young
BOUDHEIB INITIATIVE - DRIVING THE FUTURE OF ENDURANCE
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