“Far From Abuse- It’s A Sports Prop”

And there we have it. ”Far from abuse.” From Hestens Værn, (horse guard,) Danish animal welfare organization. In fact they go so far as to state that “It’s hard training and all elite sport involves that. The horse as we use it today is a sports prop, even though people don’t like the word.”


Okay, I had expected this from any elite rider. From our judges, from our federations, even from our vets… but from an animal welfare organization? Appalling.

If we can no longer count on those who SHOULD protect the horses, then who? If even our welfare organizations think of the ANIMAL as a SPORTS PROP, then where the hell are we?

The horse is never a sports prop. It is never an athlete either. The horse should never have to “be brave” and fight its way through the finals, just to win a trophy. And nothing should ever justify abusive training!

Accepting that Akeem is a sports prop, and therefore that Andreas can “train” him anyway he wants, or ride him at the European Championships without treating his asthma, is taking us down a very slippery slope and once our animal welfare organizations begin to defend this kind of abuse, in the name of the sport, then it is not only our morals, our ethics and our empathy that is lacking, it is our sport that is dying as well.

Welcome to the world of horse racing, where the horse IS a sports prop. Where horses DIE on track, before a live audience, all over the world, every single day. They break their legs, on track, they are broken in as yearlings and raced as two year olds, they die before they turn four. Those unlucky enough to survive their first races without rupturing an artery or breaking a leg, are pumped up on steroids, painkillers, you name it, injected directly into their joints, to make them able to run just one more time, before they end up in the kill pens. No one cares, everyone looks away.

Is this where we want the dressage sport to end up? Because once we stop thinking of the horse as an animal, and starts thinking of it as a motorbike, a sports prop, then this is where we are going.

Welcome to the Tennessee Walking Horse training. Just a sports prop. Is this not abuse either? Where to draw the line? If not at blood or blue tongues, then where? At gasoline wrapped in plastic, smeared on the horses legs?

natural gait

Well done, Hestens Værn. I always knew you guys were utterly useless, but at least you never before got in the way of animal welfare. For you to make a statement like that one, is horrifying. You should be the guard dogs, the sentinel, those who were the first to raise arms and call out a warning, for the sake of our animals.

What were you paid to make a statement like that, selling out the equestrian sport, and killing our horses?

Dramatic? I don’t think so. Ask the Tennessee Walking horse, or the race horse, if they disagree. I bet they wish someone would come to their rescue. I bet they wish, every time their tongue gets tied up inside their mouths, so they won’t swallow it and choke to death, on track, that someone, somewhere along the line, hand not failed to speak up for them.


As an animal welfare organization, one has a responsibility to the animal, first and foremost. Hestens Værn, you may step down now, if this is how you view our horses. As a sports prop.

It is not. It never will be. If you want a sports prop, go buy a bike, or a pair of skates. Something that doesn’t feel pain. Because a horse, does, and I bet you, Akeem was screaming when these pictures were taken. If only he had a voice, so even those ignorant could hear him.

akeem blue

Causing another living creature pain, is not abuse then?

One wonder, what is.


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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2 Responses to “Far From Abuse- It’s A Sports Prop”

  1. jen says:

    Horrible, horrible, horrible! I don’t understand how anyone who has spent any time at all around horses (or any animal for that matter) could call them a “sports prop”. Unbelievable. Some of the pics you post are so hard to look at, but keep posting them. You’re the voice those poor horses need!

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