February 24, 2023, marked one year since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces began with the support of Belarus. The Fédération Équestre Internationale observed this solemn anniversary with a statement of renewed commitment to the horses and equestrians of Ukraine.
“This has been a tragic year in which the equestrian community, and indeed the entire population of Ukraine, have suffered tremendously,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said in a news release on the FEI website.
“Almost immediately after the start of the war, the FEI set aside a CHF 1 Million Solidarity Relief Fund to aid the equestrian community in the country as well as those who have left the embattled nation. In the months that followed, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) also joined forces with the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund, establishing the USEF Ukraine Relief Fund to support Ukraine horses and equestrians, with 100% of funds raised going to the FEI Solidarity Relief Fund to be distributed by the FEI for projects approved by the USEF.
Relief and relocation
“Our general approach has been about supporting and leading initiatives to provide relief to the Ukrainian equestrian community rather than distributing money,” De Vos continued.
“A key area that required immediate action was assistance in the relocation of horses from conflict zones. We initially set up a logistical hub in Granat, located in western Ukraine between the city of Lviv and the Polish border, to prepare horses for transfer into the European Union. However, as time went on, we quickly realized we could provide greater relief to horse owners by helping them keep their horses in safer regions within Ukraine, and for this, we purchased a total of 120 boxes, which have been set up in strategic hubs around the country.
“We worked closely with various European companies to purchase 7,400 kg of veterinary supplies and equipment and transport them into Ukraine from the neighbouring countries for use by 22 local veterinarians to treat common conditions such as colic, infections, and lameness in 5,700 horses.
“We purchased and transported large quantities of premix of vitamins, minerals and nutritional additives, which were enough to prepare hundreds of tons of horse feed on the ground in Ukraine.
Jumping, dressage and vaulting beneficiaries
“The FEI Solidarity Relief Fund supplied scholarships and training support to two Jumping and two Dressage athletes, who took part in the FEI Dressage European Championships for Juniors and Young Riders 2022 held in Hartpury (GBR),” De Vos confirmed. “Assistance was also provided to five Vaulting Athletes, aged between 11 and 15, who became the first team to ever represent Ukraine in an international Vaulting Event when they participated in CVI1* in Kaposvár (HUN) from 20 to 22 May 2022. Funds covering the staff salaries were provided to the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation.
“So far, we have used half of the sum available in the Fund and we are committed to continuing our support in 2023 by providing additional athlete scholarships and training assistance, purchasing veterinary equipment and nutritional supplies, and financially supporting the Ukrainian National Federation staff,” De Vos concluded in his statement.
The FEI news release also quoted Mykhaylo Parkhomchuk, secretary general of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and founder/CEO of the Ukrainian Equestrian Charity Foundation (UECF): “We would like to thank FEI Solidarity for the financial support of the young Ukrainian riders. Unfortunately, many equestrian centers that were built with great love for our beautiful sport are standing in ruins. Equestrian sport in Ukraine will need a long-term recovery plan. Currently, we are discussing with the FEI Solidarity possibilities of support for equestrian equipment that would help boost the sports development in our country.
“The UECF is immensely grateful to the FEI for the ongoing support and remains committed to working together to support the equestrian community’s development and future recovery.”
FEI schedule update
Following the military invasion of Ukraine, no FEI events organised in Russia and Belarus can be entered in the FEI calendar for 2023, according to the FEI news release.
Any officials’ courses as well as any other FEI activities scheduled to be held in Russia and Belarus in 2023 have been cancelled or relocated, and all FEI Solidarity projects in Russia and Belarus have been frozen.
The FEI Board’s Emergency Resolution of 2 March 2022 prohibiting all Russian and Belarusian athletes, horses and officials from participating in FEI Events remains in place. This decision was taken as a measure to protect the athletes and the sport and is currently being discussed with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).