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“Discipline, stamina, fitness and patience, the supreme test of horsemanship”

ISSUE 17/2017 
Interview with Mr. Stèphane Chazel, appointed new FEI Endurance Technical Committee member

Sport Endurance Evo magazine passed the mic to Mr. Chazel just after his nomination:
The French rider, trainer and breeder, Stéphane Chazel (1968), makes his entrance in the FEI Endurance Committee. He was appointed for a four year term, following the decision taken by the FEI Bureau in Tokyo on 19 November 2016. Mr. Chazel is replacing the outgoing member Khalid Ahmed Hasan (BRN).
Mr. Chazel comes from a family of breeders and riders of Arabian horses, the new Committee member has always been passionate about endurance riding.
He was involved for 20 years in this discipline and gave an important contribution to its evolution and regulations within many organizations in France, such as CNREE, ACA, SHF and CREE. In addition, he organized FFE and FEI Endurance events in a 10 year lapse, while in the past five years he has largely contributed to the development of Endurance riding in China.

1) What is the first proposal that you would like to submit in FEI?

Work towards a new categorisation method for endurance events: let me explain. What makes for the difficulty and the level of a competition is neither the distance nor the terrain! It is the level of the contestants present and therefore the speed at which they will tackle the terrain and distance in question! I believe that the categories of our events can no longer simply be divided up on the basis of distance. We need to think up competitions involving competitors of comparable status.

2) What’s your opinion regarding speed reduction in races like Bouthieb?

I believe the” Bouthieb” protocol could be relevant for the qualifying circuit of our horses and to teach novice riders about the discipline. But it is NOT my idea of our sport. Our sport is a simple one: “Endurance riding is the competition between one horse-one rider pairs over a designated long distance course (160 km), in the SHORTEST time possible, with the emphasis on HORSE WELFARE!”

But the unlimited speed contests of less than 120 km are not instructive, they are not educational either for young or novice riders and do not contribute to the making of future endurance horses! We must maintain a speed limit on our 80- or 100-km competitions to educate both horses and riders.

3) How is it then that the least experienced riders and the youngest horses are the ones who compete over the shortest distances, at the fastest and therefore most dangerous speeds?

I don’t have problem with high speed, until its reach by horse/ rider with the experience, maturity, level to do it!

4) What’s the future of endurance riding?

The FEI and the NFs are federations of riders, of athletes!
Careful of the drift towards a more professional sport, tuned more towards training yards, like gallop racing. Such a shift is a possibility but one must accept the consequences… Like in horseracing!
Why not? But this is very far from the idea whereby endurance is considered as a test of:
Discipline, stamina, fitness and patience.
The supreme test of horsemanship……

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