European Conference of Arab Horse Organisations

What is ECAHO?

ECAHO stands for “European Conference of Arab Horse Organizations” and was constituted in order to prevent the dubious and unsavoury show practices that had started to become evident in European international shows in the early 1980’s. Ten European breed societies and registries met in 1983 to compile a set of rules and this framework is now used in 17 European countries as well as a few Middle East and North African countries.

Initially the organization concentrated on three main topics: the rule book; the show “pyramid” in which C- and B-shows act as qualifiers for major international shows (A-shows); and disciplinary matters, such as rules for Disciplinary Committee’s and methods of enforcement. Due to the legal requirements for the enforcement of these rules, the establishment of the Show Commission as a legal entity resulted in Switzerland where it is registered as a “Verein” (voluntary society).

Rules to prevent beating and cheating:
The most important achievement of ECAHO is the establishment of a horse show rulebook, which is officially accepted by 24 national associations in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. This rulebook is of benefit to organizers, judges, exhibitors and spectators, as well as the horses themselves. The broad objectives of the ‘Rules for Conduct of Shows’ are: to prevent beating and to prevent cheating.

Beating means the ill-treatment of horses in order to make them “show”. Results can and often are achieved by excessive whipping, instruments such as rack, hobbles and weights, prolonged tying up, and the misuse of drugs.

Cheating covers two different sets of misdemeanours, one concerning the conduct of judges and judging (e.g. conflicts of interest when judging a horse bred by him/her), and the other concerning the presentation of horses (e.g. cosmetic surgery such as skin grafts, hoof varnish). In the case of the misuse of drugs, the ECAHO position is one of zero-tolerance. This means that if a horse tests positive to ‘any substance not a normal nutrient’ (including gingered and similar irritants) is automatically disqualified and the person who signed the entry from is held responsible.

To improve objectivity in judging ECAHO has consistently supported (outside the rule book) non-comparative methods using juries of at last three judges and regards the English single-judge comparative system as unacceptable, although this is not ruled out, especially for in-hand shows which form a part of a larger, due to its cost effectiveness.

Enforcement of the Rules:
After establishing the rules, the difficult task was to ensure that they could be legally enforced. Thus it was necessary to establish a legal entity in a member country and Switzerland was chosen because of its simple and cheap legal system, its political neutrality, its hard currency and the helpfulness of its breed society.

Under most civilised countries’ laws, voluntary societies (Verein) are entitled to make and enforce their own ‘house rules’ subject to certain conditions in accordance with the principles of natural justice. This requires the establishment of tribunals and procedural rules covering investigation, evidence, trial at which an accused may defend himself or be represented, penalties and appeals. Failure to establish such procedures lays the organization open to civil suits, but more importantly individuals can also suffer.

Who is behind ECAHO?:
ECAHO is an group of organisations, that is to say it does not have individual people as members, and the full voting members are all European Arab horse registries or breeder’s associations. General Meetings are held annually in different host countries and decisions are taken by majority vote.

The governing body is the Council which consists of 17 nationally appointed members plus an Executive Committee of three voted by the Council for a three-year period. Once elected, the EC members do not represent their countries anymore, they are replaced by a new national appointee.

Other Commissions within ECAHO:
Although the European Arab Horse Show Commission (EAHSC) is the strongest and most active commission within ECAHO, there are two other commissions, the Studbook Commission and the Sport Commission, to deal with the other aspects in the world of Arabian horses.

Click here to link directly to the ECAHO website.