And Now, It Can Bleed

You know that feeling, when you realize that you maybe made a difference? Should be a great feeling, shouldn’t it?

Well, remember the horse that my friend and I caught a picture off last  summer, leaving the show ring bleeding from the nose?


I do. I remember asking DRF (Danish Equestrian Federation,) why the rider wasn’t disqualified, because according to Danish rules, the horses cannot bleed, neither in the snow ring or at the warm up. I remember too, getting a very public reply from DRF, saying that since it was an international show, FEI rules were at play, and FEI allows horses to bleed in the snow ring and at the warm up, as long as it can be wiped away once.

One could argue, that what we were later told was a lung bleeding, could hardly be wiped away, but what do I know.

I asked FEI as well, how it was possible to have rules that clearly states that the horses are allowed to bleed in the show ring, as long as a steward can wipe it away? I am still waiting for an answer, by the way…

And yet, they all get so angry when us in the “carrot club” call it a blood sport… wonder why…

Anyway, I am sure it wasn’t our picture of the horse that bled from the nose alone, that did the trick, my best guess would be that the whole affair with Andreas Helgstrand and how his horse may and may not have had clear marks from the spurs at a private event at Helgstrand Dressage, would have had some impact as well, but what I do know is that I raised that question, got a public answer that FEI allows it, and now, a little less than a year later, DRF has changed their rules.


One would have hoped that DRF would have had some balls, and added to their rules that horses absolutely may not bleed in the show ring, or at  the warm up, while on Danish soil, no matter what FEI may say, but no. DRF clearly changed their rules to avoid any future issues where the rules may differ. What they did, was they simply translated FEI’s rules into Danish and added them to their own rules. Well done. I must applaud that kind of administration.

Instead of addressing the problem, taking a stand for animal rights and for the decency and seriousness of our sport, we simply change the rules to fit how our riders want to ride these days.


Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that the horse that bled from the nose, was not an accident. Hell, it happens. One could argue that a horse should never be brought to a point of excitement, strain, stress, call it what you want, where it’s lungs started to bleed, but since it did happen, I doubt that the rider did that intentionally. Once more, let it be understood that I am not out to get this rider, not at all. I am out to get a federation that allows blood in the sport. There is a very big difference.

So why do I bring it up again? Because if we allow one horse to leave the show ring bleeding, what about the next one? That was my argument last summer and it is my argument now. What then, when the next horse bleeds from the spurs, or from a lung, or what do I know, breaks a leg, like they do daily on the race track? What then?


No matter, DRF fixed it. It is allowed. Perfect. Yes, I sure feel like I made a difference here, pointing out to them, this big hole in their rules, and making sure they had a chance to correct it, so that now, when the JBK festival comes by again this summer, people like me, can just shut up, because blood is legal now. Perfectly legal.

I would like to add that I know about the change of rules from a picture on face book, print screened from their set of rules. I tried to check it myself, but their rules are currently not working, at least not on my computer. Wonder why… So, I could be wrong about this. Until I can see for myself, I will nurture a small, vain hope that I am dead wrong and that the picture on face book is a fake. Chances are though, it is not. This is really the perfect way to fix this problem once and for all, for the federations. Just update the rules, to allow blood, that ought to shut up all those animal welfare activists, right?

I guess. Except now, our only action then, will be to make police reports every time we see an animal bleeding in the name of the sport, because the federation that should care, that should protect the innocent, unwilling, animal, simply doesn’t.


Now we wait, and wonder what is next. I mean, if dressage riders are asking for a change of rules, allowing the poll to no longer be the highest point for a dressage horse, and justifying it with, “none of the international dressage horses has the poll as the highest point,” then where are we? Changing the rules to fit the riders? Or asking the international riders to make sure the poll is the highest point or leave the show ring?


And again, where are the animal welfare organisations? Because the way the sport is headed and the way the federations do not protect the animals, someone needs to speak up. Last time I checked, beating your dog until it bled was illegal. Why is it legal with a horse, in the name of the sport?

Because it is a huge and dangerous animal, compared to a dog? I don’t know, I would take a horse over a dog any time, but maybe that is just me. I am not too big a fan of dog’s teeth, really… And one could argue, again, again, again, that if you feel that a horse is a big and dangerous animal and needs to be treated so violently that it ends up bleeding, say from spurs, then you are not a good rider and have no place in the world elite. After all, those riders who ride internationally are supposed to be the best, of the best, are they not?


Why then, not ask for some standards from our very best riders? Simple decency and fair treatment of the animal involved? And wonder, what message do we send now, to all the little kids, learning to ride on their “stubborn” little pony back at the minor stalls. It can bleed. It’s okay. DRF says so. Way to raise our children right and prepare the next generation of international riders. Way to teach them to have no empathy for their horse, whatsoever.


I guess that is a word often left out of our lives these days. Empathy.


Isn’t that a shame.


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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6 Responses to And Now, It Can Bleed

  1. jen says:

    Wow – this just makes me sick….

  2. Anne says:

    Thank you for carrying on with this, regardless. Keep it up if you can bear it; I know I will, too. This is a public issue, and it should be raised hell over until a sensible reaction is got out of FEI and its sub-organizations. Reporting documented abuse situations, such as the majority of the photographs you’ve taken, straight to the police and requesting an investigation into the governing agency’s role in the alleged animal abuse can get these organizations get a move on. The police are not bound by FEI’s shitty rules, and while they may not give a damn about the issue itself, finding a licensed veterinarian to attest to the abuse documented can get a conviction from the police.

    Furthermore, repeated criminal investigations – regardless of whether the police actually investigate the matter properly, even – are always bad press for any association, and can help mount pressure for these organizations to change the way they handle the rampant abuse. Perhaps this way, the FEI too will eventually be forced to see sense (or end up being the subject of criminal investigation themselves).

  3. Bel says:

    Hi, I may be late to the party but I wanted to ask if any progress has been made on your quest to get the rules changed, and what I can do to help your cause. I love that you have worked so hard to raise awareness and I hope you didn’t – and won’t – give up.

    • Starstone says:

      Hi, I guess I did give up, I’m sorry. It is very soul-crushing to keep fighting this fight. Best of luck. I guess all we can do is keep talking about it, and let the federations know that it is not okay.

      • Bel says:

        I hope that you can find the energy to get up and keep trying. Send more emails and photos. What you did, going to shows and taking pictures and showing them to the world – it really helped. Even if all you do is tell people about it, those who will have the strength to fight for it, you are helping those animals.

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