Gender equality was one of the topics covered on the opening day of the forum ©FEI

The impact of heat and individual horse intervention were among the topics discussed by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) when assessing preparations for next year's Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. 

Climate mitigation plans and the optimisation of equine and human performance was among the key topics on the first day of the FEI Sports Forum.

A focus was placed on next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in the Japanese capital at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne. 

Weather is expected to be one of the biggest challenges faced by Tokyo 2020 next year, with concerns having been raised following a record heatwave in Japan last summer.

The FEI revealed they had established a climate mitigation working group to prepare measures for their disciplines next year.

This included air-conditioned stables, multiple cooling facilities and mobile cooling units that will be provided by Tokyo 2020.

Competition scheduling for early morning and evening sessions was also cited, while Japan’s national weather agency are expected to provide specific venue weather predictions, reports and advice on an hourly basis.

British veterinarian Rachel Murray gave a presentation on optimal warm-up techniques, where she recommended a reduced duration and intensity of training and warm-ups.

She suggested splitting up sessions into three periods of 15 minutes, rather than 45 minutes.

This would be interspersed with cooling and rehydration, while Murray recommended rest periods in shade and pre-cooling prior to exercise, in addition to ongoing monitoring and assessment of the horse.

Jenny Hall, the FEI veterinary chair, informed delegates at the Forum that an individual horse intervention would be in operation for the first-time next year.

The formal protocol is aimed at supporting post-travel recovery and training.

Climate mitigation was discussed as part of preparations for Tokyo 2020 ©FEI
Climate mitigation was discussed as part of preparations for Tokyo 2020 ©FEI

The collaborative process, working with the horse’s own team, will provide protection of horse and athlete health and welfare, it was claimed.

Hall outlined how there would be agreed triggers for intervention, which will include excessive sweating, increased respiration and general demeanour.

Any required intervention, which will include moving a horse into shade to record the rectal temperature, heart rate and respiration and cooling if indicated, will be used to gather objective data.

Tim Hadaway, FEI director of Games operations, had opened the session by providing an update on construction work at the two equestrian venues, Baji Koen and Sea Forest.

He also spoke about plans for the Tokyo 2020 test event, due to take place from August 12 to 14.

The Forum has been opened by FEI President Ingmar De Vos, with the first session focusing on gender equality from a governance perspective.

It was admitted that, while men and women compete on equal terms at all levels in equestrian events, female representation in governance-related positions can be improved.

De Vos referenced the recent update to the FEI statutes, which came into force on January 1.

"The FEI shall encourage and support the promotion of gender equality in sport at all levels and in all structures with a view to implementing the principle of equality of men and women," the stature read.

The FEI President claimed National Federations have an important role to play within their own governance structures but also through the candidates they nominate for FEI Committees.

A panel session followed featuring Sabrina Ibáñez, FEI secretary general and International Olympic Committee Gender Equality Working Group member.

Caitlin Kraft-Buchanan, founder and executive director of [email protected] Table, and British Equestrian Federation chairman Mohamed Elsarky were also panellists.

The third session of the day focused on the legal system, including a proposed way forward regarding pony measurement.

Sanctions and measures related to eventing risk management were also assessed.

This included a proposal of a table of sanctions with more guidance for athletes and officials over what sanctions might apply for particular offences.

It has been suggested that there could be four different categories of sanctions depending on seriousness of offence.

The categories would potentially be low-end, mid-range, top-end and maximum.

A proposed clarification could potentially see the FEI be able to directly impose sanctions for less serious offences up to a certain level.

It is claimed this could help ensure a more efficient way of dealing with "minor" cases.

A right to be heard before sanction is imposed and right of appeal to the FEI Tribunal would apply.

The FEI have also proposed a change to the starting date of suspensions, which could lead to sanctions starting at a later date.

This would deal with disciplines that have "off seasons", with the FEI believing it would ensure that the suspension has a real effect.

The second day of the Forum is due to focus on the endurance discipline.

The FEI announced the whole day will be dedicated to the questions, challenges and reshaping of this discipline.

A wrap-up will then be held with Ibáñez, with attendees able to take part in a question-and-answer session.