A great event with many topics and possibilities for discussions!
One of the main topics of the FEIF Conference 2023 was the ”Social license to Operate (SLO)” where Mike Weishaupt from the Veterinarian University of Zurich as keynote speaker addressed the different touch points which he further discussed with the participants of the different annual meetings of the FEIF departments. Apart from a priority list on which the Icelandic horse world will have to focus, there will be the need to create criteria and to explain what we do or won’t do in future. There is general agreement that in the ideal case, our empirical knowledge of the past can be proven by science to underline and explain what we do in the Icelandic horse sport.
The second major topic of the event was the presentation and the workshop on “Combatting sexual harassment” given by Calle Gustafsson of the Friends Foundation. The focus of Friends is on developing knowledge, applying knowledge, e.g., training in schools, counselling and advice, and spreading the knowledge by advocating and raising awareness and influencing the policy. The intention of the workshop was to raise awareness and to prevent any form of harassment.
The third overarching theme of the conference was the FEIF Strategy process which started in autumn 2022 at the FEIF Committee Meetings. All participants of the Conference had the possibility to contribute their opinions and ideas for the strategic alignment of the association for the coming years. In each annual meeting, further goals and subgoals relevant to the different areas were defined during short workshops. As part of the strategic discussions, the future of the FEIF Leisure Riding Department and how to include and better communicate to all leisure riders sharing the love to the Icelandic horses.
The Annual Chairperson Meeting had an in-depth discussion on the SLO topic and how to make sure that all countries work together on the communication of our ethic principles and show the already implemented principles and how to work on constantly improving them, among them the major statements of our mission and vision stating that the welfare of the horse is paramount for the Icelandic horse community. It was decided to set up a working group with members from several FEIF countries to emphasize the welfare of the Icelandic horse and to further improve our approaches. Further topics of the meeting were the improvement of communication, the development of the FEIF Leisure Riding department and the communication between the national associations and the leisure riders. Further topics included the WorldFengur database and the further development, the suspension of officials, which was partly discussed together the participants of the Education Meeting and the registration of bans. The Luxembourg delegation invited for the Conference 2024 which was welcome by all participants.
At the Annual Breeding Meeting, Heimir Gunnarsson and Olil Amble were re-elected to the breeding committee and Þorvaldur Kristjánsson and Lena Reiher to the breeding judge committee. Changes and improvements to the FEIF Rules and Regulations focussing on breeding were discussed and decided. The FEIF young horse evaluation system was further developed and rules to register mating when semen are sent between countries and the quality of Worldfengur data defined. There was agreement among the participants to follow a stricter approach of warnings for riders not following the rules and our codes of conduct.
The Annual Education Meeting had a constructive meeting with comprehensive exchange and discussions on educational matters. There is an increasing development of structure and cooperation between the countries visible and online CPD seminars (continuous professional development) are included in the system of education at all levels in most countries. Besides the already fully booked combined Education and Sport seminar in March in Iceland, further FEIF Seminars are in preparation, and it was decided to continue with the „Trainer/Instructor of the Year“-award also in 2023.
As part of the strategic discussions, the future of the FEIF Leisure Riding Department and how to include and better communicate to all leisure riders sharing the love to the Icelandic horses was further discussed by participants in this meeting from a variety of FEIF countries. The workshop called “Sharing Matters” with the intention to discuss how the FEIF Leisure Riding department could help to communicate better in future not only within FEIF but also to the rest of the horse world resulted in a variety of inspiring ideas. Joint meetings with the chairpersons, the education and the youth meeting on topics like social inclusion, social license to operate and possible areas of cooperation completed the programme.
The agenda of the Annual Sport Meeting contained a wide variety of subjects. Markus Karrer and Hulda Gústafdóttir were re-elected to the Sport Committee. As in the other departments, the general topics about the social license to operate and the mission and vision of FEIF were addressed. Several changes concerning the rules and regulations were discussed and among several proposals, the delegates agreed on the details of the list of permitted bits. A working group will be formed to prepare how to better facilitate disabled competition riders and also the organizers of the Mid-European and Nordic Championships as well as the Landsmót organisers will work together for a better alignment of those big tournaments. Several proposals were already formulated for a decision at the Delegates’ Assembly in 2024, among them the use of the marks of all five judges in preliminaries as well as finals, the ban of the use of communication devices in the collecting ring and competition tracks, the ban of whips in the collecting ring in the P1 and P3, the maximum loudness of the music and the addition of a third section ‘medium to fast tölt’ in the T5. The trial to show in T2 the loose rein section on two reins in finals will be extended for another year.
The annual Youthwork meeting consisted of 17 participants from 11 national associations for some fruitful discussions and inspiring ideas. As every year, listening to the wide range of different activities organised by national and regional organisations provides one the highlights of these meetings. The annual trophy “FEIF Youth Country of the Year”, which honours some of these ideas and initiatives, went to Sweden. On the other hand, the agenda also focused on the big questions: how to combat bullying and prevent sexual harassment, how to promote social inclusion, and future plans for Youthwork. The highlight for 2023 will be the FEIF Youth Camp to be held 14-19 July and hosted by Finland. Invitations for this social and educational week were sent out at the end of January and can soon be found on feif.org. The Youth Committee is hugely grateful to Kirsten Schuster who stood down after nearly 10 years of exemplary input and commitment. To take her place, Sirpa Brumpton was unanimously elected to join FEIF in the Youthwork group.