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Cruelty to animals in Denmark and the United States of America shakes the dressage scene |  More sports

Cruelty to animals in Denmark and the United States of America shakes the dressage scene | More sports

The sometimes shaky images from the USA have shocked the dressage world. A man repeatedly hits a horse in the back with a wrench during a training session. The videos from the facility of the American jockey Cesar Parra constitute the second shock after a television report from the hall of the Danish dressage rider and horse dealer Andreas Helgstrand.

National team coach Monica Teodorescu told the German news agency that there were rumours: “But the pictures are worse than we feared.” “What can be seen in the videos and photos is disgusting,” Swinke Lauterbach, secretary general of the German association FN, said of the recordings from the USA. Olympic event champion Ingrid Klimke, who also rides dressage, commented on the NDR: “I'm stunned. It's just brutal and cruel.”

Aggressive and rough riding

Recordings from the Helgestrand commercial dressage stable, broadcast by Danish broadcaster TV2, initially sparked outrage in November. Among other things, horses develop open wounds from the use of spurs and whip bruises as well as aggressive riding. “When I watched the videos, I was shocked. “It was very sad to see that,” Helgstrand said in a video on his website. “I will do everything to ensure this does not happen again.”

The two-time Olympian cannot be seen in the TV2 photos, as they are employees of his stable. However, the Danish FA excluded the 47-year-old from the national team. The horse trade continues, it's big business. According to its own information, Helgstrand generated around 50 million euros in sales and an operating profit of 2.28 million in the period from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

Dramatic images from the United States of America

Helgestrand is not allowed to ride in the Paris Olympics, but his horses may be first. Jovian is now ridden by Swedish champion Patrick Kittel, who lives in Dolmen, and Windy is ridden by German record rider Isabelle Wirth from Rheinberg. “Both horses are at the peak of their careers, so it stands to reason that they will have ideal conditions to develop their athletic potential as Andreas Helgestrand retires from competition in 2024,” the Dane's website says.

The footage from the USA is considered more extreme than the TV2 images from Denmark. “The German Equestrian Association FN has obtained a collection of videos and photos from various sources showing shocking treatment of horses,” the German Equestrian Federation said in a statement. American dressage rider Cesar Parra was banned by the World Equestrian Federation (FEI) on February 2.

The association finds “criminal significance”

Two weeks ago, the National Front filed a complaint against two Germans identified in the Parra case for animal cruelty in the USA. “We will do everything in our power to take action against this,” Secretary General Lauterbach said. “It is of criminal importance, which is why we are turning to state authorities, who have a much greater capacity to investigate and impose sanctions.” On the internal level, the National Front began exclusion procedures against the two individuals.

National dressage coach Theodorescu is still shocked by these events. “I completely reject that,” she commented. Regarding the training video from the USA, Theodorescu said on behalf of the FN training team: “We strongly condemn such treatment with the horse’s partner. We welcome the Federation's strict approach and clearly distance ourselves from training methods of this kind. It stands for “correct dressage training of riders and horses according to classical riding theory.”

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