FEI Solidarity Relief Fund Continues Support to War-Torn Ukraine One Year On

Lithuania’s Aistis Vitkauskas incorporates a nod to Ukraine in his trot-up presentation at Luhmühlen in 2022. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The 25th of February 2023 marks one year since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces began with the support of Belarus.

“This has been a tragic year in which the equestrian community, and indeed the entire population of Ukraine, have suffered tremendously,” says FEI President Ingmar De Vos. “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.”

“Our general approach has been about supporting and leading initiatives to provide relief to the Ukrainian equestrian community rather than distributing money. 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 realised 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.”

Sonia Shulga, 14, during training with the Ukrainian Vaulting team in Bernolákovo (SVK) on 18 May 2022. (c) FEI/Richard Juilliart.

Furthermore, he explains, “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). 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.”

The FEI’s contribution is set to continue on in 2023, as is their restriction on any FEI events taking place in Russia or Belarus in 2023. No competitions will be added to the calendar in these countries for this year; planned officials’ courses in the countries will be relocated elsewhere, and Russian and Belarusian athletes, officials, and horses will remain unable to take part in FEI events and courses indefinitely.

“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,” President De Vos concludes.

“We would like to thank FEI Solidarity for the financial support of the young Ukrainian riders,” Mykhaylo Parkhomchuk, Secretary General of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation (UEF) and Founder and CEO of the Ukrainian Equestrian Charity Foundation (UECF), says. “Unfortunately, many equestrian centres 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.”

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