Several incidents in the equestrian disciplines at the Tokyo Olympics resulted in a call for a ban of all equestrian competitions from the Olympic Games and with this in mind, a study group from the French National Assembly has produced a report titled “Equine Welfare Recommendations for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, April 2022”, which includes 46 recommendations for making Paris 2024 the Olympic Games of Equine Welfare.
For the full report, translated into English by HorsesandPeople.com, click here: https://horsesandpeople.com.au/full-report-english-horse-welfare-overhaul-for-paris-2024/?fbclid=IwAR1zdz14jM7FrFaP6MySMf_S1NRrHRmlOptWpdTT8BXcTMflYnRXoKlukio
These recommendations include:
RECOMMENDATION #12: Prohibit the use of running reins (draw reins) throughout the entire Olympic Games precinct.
They state “At this level, riders should be able to make do without them, and they are a bad model for all the lower level riders who do not understand the potential danger these reins pose to horses.”
And RECOMMENDATION #31: Enforce the prohibition of intentional or unintentional infliction of unnecessary suffering or discomfort, and of an overly constrained posture or frame.
From the report: "Hyperflexion is a head and neck posture that is imposed by the hands of the rider via the reins, where the horse curls the neck placing the nose line behind the vertical.
"The negative effects of hyperflexion are documented: restriction of the field of vision, contraction of the head-neck balance, consequent reduction in the diameter of the pharynx, significant difficulty in breathing and swallowing, obstructed jaw, lack of relaxation, signs of discomfort and conflict behaviour, post-inhibitory rebound, hyper submission, learned helplessness, reduction in the horse’s ability to learn, trauma (in particular to the nuchal region and the nuchal ligament), increased mobility in the lumbar region, compression of the vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs, increased cortisol (stress), restriction of breathing, change in back mechanics and pathologies of the forelimb and feet, blood circulation of the tongue impeded by the pressure of the bit (blue tongue).
"In addition, horses whose training is based on hyperflexion, show a denaturation of gaits, in particular a loss of diagonalization in the trot, passage and piaffe. The walk becomes lateral. They are unable to maintain a halt correctly, nor keep the poll as the highest point of the neck; the neck ‘breaks’, the 2nd or 3rd vertebra becomes the highest point in collected gaits and movements. Often, these horses struggle to maintain the nose in front of the vertical during the dressage test."