Hypersensitivity in Equestrian Competition

Lausanne (SUI), 19 April 2010 – All horses show normal nerve sensation or sensitivity. Where that sensation is increased beyond normal limits it is called hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity can be produced by a range of normal occurrences, such as an insect sting or accidental self-inflicted injury.

Hypersensitisation is the term used to define the artificial production of hypersensitivity and is contrary to horse welfare and fair play.

At FEI competitions, the determination of hypersensitivity in the horse is made by a combination of thermographic and clinical examinations, carried out by at least two experienced equine veterinarians.

Thermography is a means of detecting abnormal heat patterns of the skin through the use of an imaging camera. The clinical examination is carried out by observation and palpation (applying manual pressure).

Both examinations are made on the front of all four limbs of the horse, particularly from the fetlock to the hoof.

In the event that hypersensitivity is found, a further examination will be made at a later time to confirm the persistence of the hypersensitivity.

Video evidence is taken of both clinical examinations for presentation to the Ground Jury, who will make a decision on disqualification on horse welfare grounds. There is no appeal against the decision of the Ground Jury.

All such cases are subject to follow-up Medication Control Programme (MCP) testing for the detection of any Prohibited Substances.

A short video in which Paul Farrington, FEI-appointed veterinarian and member of the thermography team at the FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Geneva, explains the concept of hypersensitivity in a horse further to the disqualification of the horse Sapphire ridden by McLain Ward of the USA at the FEI World Cup Final in Geneva, is now available on YouTube.

The press conference held by the FEI on this subject can be viewed free of charge at FEI TV.

Media contact:

Malina Gueorguiev

FEI Press Manager


+ 41 78 750 61 33

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