Abu Dhabi is to host the FEI Endurance World Championship ©Getty Images

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has appointed Boudheib International Endurance Village (BIEV) in the United Arab Emirates to host its next Endurance World Championship.

The event is due to take place between February 20 and 26 in 2023 but will still be known as the 2022 World Championship.

Verona was scheduled to host the Endurance World Championship from October 19 to 23 but the FEI cancelled that arrangement in September, citing concerns over track readiness.

The FEI Board ratified the decision to take the event to the UAE at a meeting in Cape Town today, which precedes the South African city hosting a hybrid General Assembly.

"We are very pleased with the decision to award the FEI Endurance World Championship 2022 to Boudheib," FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

"The FEI Board was impressed with the world-class permanent infrastructure and facilities offered by the BIEV and the proven ability of the organisers to guarantee all the logistical organisation for our human and equine athletes in a short period of time.

"The safety and security of human and equine athletes is the FEI's top priority, and the organiser's track record of commitment to horse welfare was a key factor in the decision to award this championship to Boudheib."

One horse died at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and another was abused by a coach  ©Getty Images
One horse died at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and another was abused by a coach ©Getty Images

Endurance riding is a non-Olympic discipline which tests the speed and endurance of a horse and rider, typically over varied terrain.

The BIEV has hosted approximately 147 FEI endurance events since 2004, according to the global governing body, but this will be its first World Championship.

The UAE - which is frequently accused of sportswashing due to its poor record on human rights - has stood in as a replacement host for multiple sports in recent months, for reasons varying from COVID-19 restrictions to the war in Ukraine.

It staging the Endurance World Championship is a departure from 2016, when the UAE was stripped of the event over concerns about horse welfare.

Horse welfare is set to be one of the major themes of the FEI General Assembly.

Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission chair Natalie Waran, a professor at Edinburgh University, spoke to the Board today.

"As fellow equestrians, we are your critical friends, and we want to support you in not only protecting horse welfare but also ensuring the future use of the horse in sport, leisure and recreation," Waran told the Board, according to an FEI readout.

"We will provide advice and recommendations to the Board for consideration, but it is up to the Board to decide to accept these and put them into practice."

Boudheib International Endurance Village is in Abu Dhabi ©Getty Images
Boudheib International Endurance Village is in Abu Dhabi ©Getty Images

Horse welfare is a topical issue in the Olympic world after the horse-abuse scandal at Tokyo 2020 that saw German coach Kim Reisner sent home in disgrace for repeatedly punching a horse during the women's modern pentathlon.

The International Modern Pentathlon Union has dropped the sport's equestrian element as a result, and has been left off the initial programme for Los Angeles 2028.

The horse Jet Set was also killed after sustaining an injury in the cross-country eventing segment.

Groups focused on animal welfare including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have called for all equestrian disciplines to be removed from the Olympics.

It was also reported at today's Board meeting that the FEI's legal department is reviewing rules for maternity leave.

Double Tokyo 2020 gold medallist Jessica von Bredow-Werndl has criticised the existing policy's lack of flexibility, as anyone who opts to take maternity leave and retain some ranking points cannot compete for a minimum of six months.