*Note, December 2015; Anyone who feels the need to defend horses that leave the showring bleeding, please don’t bother to comment. I find no need to listen to anyone who support turning equestrian sport into a blood sport. Also, thanks to everyone who have taken this matter seriously over the years. And at last, this is an old post, I no longer reply to comments, I believe that everything that I had to say on the matter, is written quite clearly in the post. I believe too, that the Danish Equestrian Federation and the FEI have spoken. FEI allows blood in the sport, and DRF has changed their “no blood rule” by now, to match FEI’s rules, so blood it officially allowed in the showring and at the warm up. I guess that all that is left to say now, is that it must be up to your own integrity as a human being, whether you support FEI or the animals caught in the sport. I, for one, will never accept that it can be okay to make any animal bleed in the name of any sport.
It’s been two days now, since I sent my pictures from the JBK Festival to DRF (Danish Equestrian Federation) and FEI. I have had no answer so far. Maybe they are busy. Maybe they are hoping that if they ignore me, I will go away. Maybe they don’t know what to answer me. Maybe I go straight to their spam file these days…
I do know that I have emailed with DRF before, about the vaccination rules amongst other things, and they have never before failed to give me a snotty reply within 24 hours. Mostly something along the lines of “Shut up and follow the rules, or don’t leave home with your horse…” So no, I never gave much for their diplomacy skills, but then again, I am sure they say the same about me. The point is though, I have never experienced that it has taken them this long to answer me before.
I just can’t wait forever with these pictures.
As we were shooting in the show ring, my friend, who has a huge zoom, lowered her camera and said, “That horse bled from the nose,” as we watched it ride out. I couldn’t tell, the distance was too great and judging from the people who received the horse in the exit, they didn’t look surprised, or horrified, and they didn’t quickly wipe the horse’s nose off… and the judges didn’t call over the loud speaker that said horse had been disqualified.
I let it slide, not sure of what my friend had seen through her camera, and she didn’t press the matter.
Then, once we got home, and looked through our pictures, I was astounded.
(The picture is unedited in the drop dox, link below. Name 5827. I cut it out here, nothing else. See also picture number 5829, 5830, and 5831.)
That is a LOT of blood, appearing in a matter of seconds. We have quite a few pictures of the horse before the bleeding began, so we know just about when and where in the show ring, it did. That’s not a small bleeding.
(Same rider, earlier in the show ring. It was not bleeding when it entered the ring.)
That said, the rider is maybe blameless. Perhaps he didn’t notice, in the heat of the battle. I am not out to get him. But I have to ask DRF and FEI why he was not disqualified. Does our blood rule not apply to nose bleeds? Must you kick holes in the sides of your horses, with your spurs, for the blood rule to kick in? We checked the ranking online that night. Said rider ended up as number 24 in his class.
So, DRF and FEI, how can that be?
The next thing that really caught my eye, was the equipment used. Not only in the warm up, but in the show ring as well. If I thought dressage was bad, welcome to a world where torture is not only legal, it is clearly expected.
I mean, what is this? Spikes?
(Uncropped picture in dropbox, link below. Name 6392. See also picture number 6394, how innocent it looks from the out side.)
And this? A homemade leather thing, with something that looks like a brush on the inside?
(Uncropped picture in dropbox, link below. “New folder” “Ny Mappe” name 7468. See also picture number 7470, how well hidden it is from the outside.)
I asked FEI and DRF if they have a list of allowed equipment, or if anything goes? I would love to see that list, if such exists, because I saw a lot of things I still can’t wrap my mind around, but the stewards didn’t address it, so one must assume that it was legal. Or that they didn’t see it. Which is why I would love to have an official list of allowed equipment, so I could report anything off it to the stewards.
Note the horse in the upper corner, photobombing the picture. What is it wearing? A gag bit and… one of those thingies used on the race track to tie the tongue down? Are my eyes deceiving me?
So please, DRF and FEI, for the sake of our horses, can the audience please be told what to report and what is legalized abuse?
Then there was the draw rein. I am a bit surprised that it is allowed to warm up with a draw rein in jumping. It is not in dressage. Why do the jumpers need it? Are we trying to inflict as much pain on our horses as humanly possible?
Gag bits, pole bits, hackamores, chains, spikes, martingales, draw reins. Wow. Torture like in the dark ages. It is legal in the equestrian world. And clearly we no longer draw the line at a bloody nose anymore either.
I am astounded. I cannot wrap my mind around HOW they make their horses jump THAT HIGH while inflicting THAT MUCH pain on then. If what I saw at the warm up was bad, imagine the amount of force it must have taken at home, behind closed doors, to teach the horse to ignore the double bit, and the draw rein, and jump despite the pain it knows it will cause. Imagine how horses who jump off against such violence are trained.
I know that my horses get upset if I don’t manage to release the rein enough across the obstacles. I know that if I did it repeatedly, or if I forced their heads down and in, with a draw rein and a gag bit, they would quickly lose courage and refuse to jump. I know that if I should force my horse to jump anyway, I would have to have someone on the ground with a whip, beat it for me, anytime it refused. One would have to make it fear refusing more than it fears the pain it will receive for jumping.
So, teaching our horses to endure pain, is that what we want, FEI and DRF? And IS it legal to JUMP in a draw rein, even on the warm up? If it is, WHY?
These are well trained, billion dollar horses, these are supposedly the best riders in the world, why do they need this amount of force? Why do we allow it?
And lastly, where do we draw the line for barring these days?
I saw a lot of riders do this, move the bar onto the side of the holder, making it easier to tear down and making it harder for the horse to see the obstacle. I saw them deliberately move the poles so they were not in line with each other, once again making it harder for the horse to see. I even saw one of them lower the back edge of a wide obstacle, so it came below the front edge. But only on the one side. Is that what we allow as acceptable barring?
I realize that it is hardly abuse compared to the equipment used on the poor horses, but still. Do we have rules against barring or don’t we? And there can be no question about why the riders do it.
It is all about giving the horse a good fright before it enters the show ring. Make it touch the obstacles, scare it, so it won’t do it again when it counts.
So all in all, what we saw at this wonderful FEI event was abused, scared, tortured and even one bleeding, animals.
We were even told off by two of the riders, this girl amongst them. She didn’t want us to take pictures of her. Quite understandable. When I pointed out that her horse had its tongue out constantly, she replied by saying that “It always does that!”
Which is no excuse at all. It does? Well then, fix it. My horse shakes his head all the time, I am working on fixing it and I don’t mind if people take pictures of him. I got it covered. But using the “It has always done that” excuse is just unacceptable. You know what, my Legacy was lame on three legs when I got him, and his previous owner had used that excuse as well. “He has always walked like that.”
Well, okay, so he has always been lame then. Fix it. Or don’t ride the horse. Admit that there is a problem, then we can talk. If she had ridden up to me and had said, “Look, I know it looks horrible, I am mortified that I have not yet been able to figure out why my horse is sticking his tongue out, and I would very much appreciate it if you guys wouldn’t make a big deal out of it,” I wouldn’t have. Because then she would have known that there was a problem and thus, she might be able to fix it someday. But as long as you hide behind “It’s always done that,” I will not look away. That is just not good enough.
And by the way, is a horse allowed, FEI and DRF, to stick its tongue out like that, in jumping? Anything goes, really? Even this color?
I would like an answer for my questions. I am not above sending my pictures to the media. Maybe you will answer them, if not me.
I would like to know,
1) How much barring is legal?
2) How much equipment is legal?
3) Is it legal, jumping in a draw rein and if it is, why?
4) Why the horse that was bleeding as it left the show ring, was not disqualified?
Is this truly how we want our sport? Is this truly how we want to treat our horses?
Let me end with showing a few pictures of one of the few who could ride. Note the difference in how his horse is allowed to stretch forward in its neck, and use its body across the obstacle. Riders like this guy, saved my weekend. Sadly, there weren’t many of them.
The difference is subtle, I know.
And even when you tried to take a nice picture, of Søren (below), without the draw rein, some SOB would just show up in the back ground, totally photo bombing my shot…
Really, don’t get me started on the roll kur we witnessed this weekend. It was beyond my wildest imagination.
Here is a little link to our drop box, containing a few of our pictures. They don’t fit in, all 4000… not enough space. *Note December 2015, the Dropbox is no longer working, but contact me, if you want to see the original pictures.
Still, if anyone is looking for something or someone special, let me know. You never know what the camera might have picked up. It was very hard to get a good picture though.