The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Tribunal found Ali Mohammed Ali Al Hosani guilty of horse abuse on March 7 and has suspended him for six months after it was reported that he hit his horse twice with a water bottle during the Sheikh Mohammed Cup CEI3* 160-kilometer race in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Jan. 4. Remarkably, the case was brought to the attention of the tribunal NOT by the stewards, but by journalist Pippa Cuckson, who filed a formal complaint and provided video of the incident.
In her statement, Cuckson said:
“The incident at issue occurred during the fourth loop. The horse completed the first three loops at high average speeds—24.24, 25.72, 24.15 kph. His average speed dropped to 18.12 kph in loop 4, during which loop this incident took place, and again in loop 5 where his loop speed averaged just 14.11 kph. It is likely that the rider realized his horse was tiring, and he had fading hopes of a top-10 placing.”
Al Hosani replied:
“I would like to explain what happened exactly and as it [was] shown in the recorded video. It is clear that when I took the second water bottle from the groom, I started spraying water [off] of the horse neck. I did this twice because I felt that there still water in the bottle, so I poured it again. It is true that I poured the water vigorously due to speed, and I tried to pour as much water as possible, but I did not intend at all to hit or abuse the horse.”
You watch the video and then decide whether he was trying to cool down his horse!
The Tribunal came into the hearing considering that the rider did not intend to strike his horse but concluded that the video evidence contradicted this and also showed the rider kicking his horse, Corleone, violently. FEI endurance rules expressly disallow spurs or carrying anything that could be used as a whip. Thus, striking an endurance horse AT ALL is abuse.
Al Hosani has been competing in endurance events since the age of 13 but has a completion rate of only 50%. He has not previously been sanctioned at an event.
Cuckson is an award-winning journalist who has campaigned for endurance reform for many years. She commented,
“Naturally I am pleased Tribunal has recognized that this incident violates FEI rules and is an affront to horsemanship and the welfare of the horse. I am only sad I was reduced to lodging this protest because the ground jury did nothing – notwithstanding the incident being captured on the official livestream of the ride, and then going ‘viral’ on social media. This type of odious behaviour on the field of play is often seen in FEI Group 7.
What do you think of this video? Abuse? or not?