A day after Team Canada’s Eric Lamaze expressed his disapproval of a statement released Tuesday by Equine Canada, the association has released a “clarification.” It is unknown if it is enough to keep Lamaze on the Canadian Team in the future.
EC President, Michael Gallagher said Wednesday, “Equine Canada agrees that the FEI’s hypersensitivity protocol is in place to protect the welfare of the horse and the fairness of our sport.”
“Victor sustained a superficial cut on the front of the left front coronary band,” states Canadian Olympic Team Veterinarian for Jumping, Dr. Sylvie Surprenant. “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.”
“We feel that further discussion of the hypersensitivity protocol needs to take place in order to ensure a balance is reached between the philosophical intent and the real-world application. Canada looks forward to playing a role in those discussions along with other nations within the FEI family,” says Gallagher.
The original press release came two days after Victor, Tiffany Foster’s Olympic show jumper, was disqualified by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) due to hypersensitivity. Lamaze said after its release that he won’t be a part of Canada’s Show Jumping Team in the future, unless EC steps up its support for his team member, Foster. Lamaze is the 2008 Individual Gold Olympic Medal Winner and was part of the Silver Medal Team in Beijing.
EC’s initial statement said, “We fully support the FEI in its hypersensitivity testing protocol. This is an important testing procedure for the fairness of our sport and for the welfare of the horse which must always be paramount. Victor, our team horse, did have a small but sensitive area on the coronary band as a result of a minor lesion. This resulted in the disqualification of the horse in accordance with the FEI’s hypersensitivity protocol. The Canadian Team is disappointed with the outcome, and the impact both on our team and the Olympic dreams of our athlete Tiffany Foster,” states Gallagher. “Equine Canada appreciates that the FEI has shared with us the findings of the veterinary examinations. We also thank the FEI and its president, HRH Princess Haya Al Hussein, for making it clear that the disqualification in no way implies any wrong doing on the part of the Canadian Team, nor athlete Tiffany Foster.”
If veterinarians observe excessively sensitive limbs, a recommendation is made to the Ground Jury, which makes the decision. There is no appeal against the decision of the Ground Jury to disqualify a horse. Canada did file an appeal – it was denied. The FEI states on its website that horses with hypersensitive limbs are disqualified on the basis of horse welfare and fair play; however hypersensitive limbs are not necessarily a result of a manipulation to the legs, it can also be a sign of infection or other injury.
Lamaze initially called the disqualification “a complete miscarriage of justice” and said he was ashamed of the sport.
Team Canada placed fifth in show jumping. Lamaze did not make it to the second final round of the Individual jumping Wednesday after he had 12 faults in the first of the final rounds.
Foster’s disqualification wasn’t the only source of equestrian controversy at the London Olympics. Horse enthusiasts are calling foul and abuse after photos from the dressage warm-up hit the internet last week alleging the use of rollkur. The FEI has denied the claims saying stewards are are always monitoring, and that “photographs can be misleading.”