My blog posts about the incidence at Gothenburg Horse Show got world-wide attention in March, and I understand why. A horse being treated unfair and punished on live TV in Sweden is indeed shocking. The rider is now back in the saddle, and got away with it all with an apology. I don’t think the horse care so much about a Facebook post.
«As I see it today, it is okay to kick, hit and whip horses. It is okay to pull the reins, attached to a metal piece, so hard that you can feel it in your biceps the day after. It is okay to use rollkur and if you are rich and famous enough, you can even try to enter the arena on a lame horse during FEI competitions. Is this really how we want our sport to be like?»
The horses care about the immense pain they are dealing with when a rider is pulling the reins multiple times in a row while kicking its sensitive ribs with boots equipped with spurs. The horses care about not being punished with violence when they are doing everything they can to please us. Every single day, they are performing on a high level both physically and mentally, pushing themselves to the limit. Traveling thousands of miles. Airplanes. Busy warm up-arenas. Walls taller than themselves, they carry their riders safely over with pride. Over and over again. With all their heart, they help their riders achieve their goals. Being the most important part of the team, every day. Without a single complaint when they are treated unfair, they keep going on. Horses may forgive, but they never forget.
If the FEI really cares about the welfare of the horses in our sport, inhumane treatment of animals should have severe consequences. Every single time.
If the FEI is planning to continue to let horses suffer in our sport, I recommend you to stop lying to the world, claiming that “the welfare of the horse is at the heart of all our activities”, because that’s simply not true if you seriously are allowed to abuse your partner during the competition. May I suggest changing it to “the welfare of the rider’s name and reputation is at the heart of all our activites” instead? More fitting.
As I see it today, it is okay to kick, hit and whip horses. It is okay to pull the reins, attached to a metal piece, so hard that you can feel it in your biceps the day after. It is okay to use rollkur and if you are rich and famous enough, you can even try to enter the arena on a lame horse during FEI competitions. Is this really how we want our sport to be like? Because the Code of Conduct simply does not matter anymore when breaking the rules does not have consequences.
The future of horse sports is in danger if we don’t do anything about this problem. It is time to make our sport better, with being as strict as we have to every time animals is treated unfair.