Call to Action: Ask the IOC to put pressure on the FEI concerning Horse Welfare

Published on 11 April 2024 at 12:45

Let us not stand idly by this time and help bring change for our horses, with just a few minutes of your time.
 Ask the IOC to put pressure on the FEI, to take actual steps to end abuse of horses, the likes of which we have seen in the list below.

 Someone, who wants to remain anonymous, has graciously lend us the following letter, that can be send to the IOC, via the link right here:

Send letter to IOC


How to do this in a few minutes

Click on the link that says 'send letter to IOC' and a new page should open.

Fill out the form.

Copy the text from the letter below (you can adjust or write your own letter too, of course).

Paste the text in the box that says 'Your Question'. 

Select with your left mouse button, then choose copy with your right mouse button, then click your left button in the box that says 'Your Question',

Another option is to select the text, hold control while typing 'c', then go to box 'Your question' and hold control and type 'v'.

Share this post via social media, email, whatsapp, etc. Or copy the text and the link to the IOC contact form on your own platform.


The Letter text:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Equestrian sports are part of the Olympic Games and a lot goes wrong, especially at the top level. Of course, things go wrong in almost every sport, but equestrian sports involve animals and that is especially sensitive for the large group of animal lovers including animal rights organizations.

I would like to emphasize that I do not want to put an end to equestrian sports at the Olympic Games, because it must be possible to combine this sport with horse welfare, including during training and riding. However, improvements are desperately needed and must come quickly.

The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) is responsible for much of the organisation of equestrian sport at the Olympic Games.

After the images and the sad news of Tokyo 2021, to which many animal lovers reacted with shock, the image of equestrian sports is certainly not improving.
- cross-country: Jet Set euthanized after sustaining injury;
- modern pentathlon: the video footage of the horse Saint Boy with Annika Schleu and national coach Kim Raisner were certainly not advertisements for the sport;
- show jumping: Cian O'Connor's Kilkenny suffered a very bad nosebleed.

The FEI has the option to suspend riders who abuse horses outside the competition area. This gives the affiliated national federations, insofar as they have not drawn up rules for this themselves, the opportunity to adopt such a punishment.
The possibility that the punished riders hire accomplices and/or enter into partnerships so that they can continue their business and therefore also the abuse of horses is obvious. The FEI has, to the best of my knowledge, no plan to investigate the accomplices and business partners unless they are also caught by third parties who make a video of abuse.

Abuses that have become known to the public in recent years:
- Leandro Aparecido da Silva: In 2021 this dressage rider has been suspended for three years for abusing his daughter's pony;
- Andy Kocher: 10 Years suspended for using electric spurs on horses (2021);
- Andre Schröder: FEI Tribunal Decision in a case of Abuse of Horse: One year suspension (2021);
- Mark Todd: In February 2022, a two-year-old video emerged of Todd hitting a horse with a tree branch. The horse had refused to enter a water hazard and Todd hit him ten times;
- Ludger Beerbaum: Accused of barring horses in the German TV Exposé (2022);
- Essam Zbibi: In 2022 this showjumper, who used hind boots with nails inside on a horse then tried to cover it up, and his trainer Hicham Gharib have been banned from the sport;
- Paul Estermann: Suspended after being found guilty of animal cruelty charges (2017 - 2023);
- The Danish Equestrian Federation has banned the international dressage pony Nørlunds Vincente for life from participating in national competitions. The reason is a partial amputation of the tongue. In the past, the pony sometimes ran with its tongue out (cause: pain because the rider pulls the pony too hard in the mouth), which cost points when a judge sees this during the competition test (2023);
- Andreas Helgstrand: Images of abuse presented in the Danish TV2 documentary, "Operation X: Secrets of the Horse Billionaire" (2023);
- Cesar Parra: Now the terrible abuse of horses (plus the FBI investigation into other forms of misery) by Cesar Parra is topical (2023).
- An investigation is currently (2024) underway in Canada. Evi and Tanya Strasser are Provisionally Suspended due to Allegations of Misconduct.
- A top Swedish rider, now (March 2024) accused of mistreating his horses, has been provisionally suspended from participating in team-related activities by the Swedish federation (Svenska Ridsportförbundet) pending the investigation.
Two of the companies the rider works with has now chosen to terminate the cooperation agreement immediately until further notice;
- James Smith: this showjumper has been suspended for barring his horse during an FEI event (16-03-2024);
- On 21 March 2024, Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published an article about Patrik Kittel's horses with a blue tongue, also mentioning the names of Charlotte Fry and Isabell Werth.
The reaction: People began to cast doubt by indicating, that the colour of the tongues could have been obtained using photo editing programmes.

Most of the aforementioned riders have participated in the Olympic Games.

The world federation FEI is also failing on other issues:
- the former FEI Dressage Rules ARTICLE 401 to 418 (in fact, the only true rules of dressage) have been downgraded to 'guidelines' in January 2023. These old rules have returned this year in a supplement (FEI DRESSAGE JUDGING MANUAL) for the jury members. These 95-year-old rules have not been enforced for almost 30 years and are still not enforced to this day;
- hyperflexion (even the ‘Rollkür’ banned by the FEI itself) is, despite the aforementioned guidelines, turned a blind eye during the warm-up and is therefore not punished;
- the FEI, in my opinion, has very weak Equine Anti-Doping & Controlled Medication Regulations + enforcement. Fewer horses have been found in recent years where their rider (including his vet and groom - the rider is always held responsible) has broken these rules. That seems nice, but it is possible that more substances now exist and are used that are not found in the test (also aforementioned Andreas Helgstrand was recently punished this, costing him a bronze medal at the Danish championships);
- injecting horses into the joints has become normal. People can choose to use all kinds of supplements, medicines and doping to maintain or even improve their performance. Horses don't have that choice;
- important advice from the FEI Equine Ethics and Wellbeing Commission, such as on double bridles and tight nosebands (a new rule will in any case not be introduced until January 1, 2025), is not adopted by the FEI. In addition to the discussion about double bridles, in show jumping all possible bits, including very hard bits on the mouth and ways of steering a horse via the nose, plus all possible combinations thereof, are permitted. At too many major competitions a rider is disqualified because the horse has blood on the mouth or blood from excessive use of spurs (and sometimes more than one). The well-known equestrian magazines are usually 'silent' about this;
- the FEI has issued new rules for media this year. The FEI cites matters such as copyright, their own rights and the rights of rights holders to whom they have sold the rights for broadcasting the video material as reasons. To those who expect the FEI to follow its own guidelines regarding horse welfare during riding and training, this looks very much like an attempt to hide problems. Among other things, the ban on sharing videos of the warm-up is strange and closely resembles censorship, because there are virtually no rights holders who broadcast this. People, who have been suspicious for almost 30 years, because the FEI does little or nothing with complaints by letter or e-mail, with dozens of petitions and with the conclusions of many scientific studies, are finding a confirmation of their negative opinion with the new FEI rules for (social) media.

In show jumping and eventing, the course should be laid out and the obstacles should be constructed in such a way that the risk of accidents is greatly reduced. This time it should be taken into account that there will be participants from certain countries in Paris who have little experience with the level required at the previous Olympics.

The FEI is too conservative and responds too late to the now rapidly changing public opinion. In this way, equestrian sports is quickly losing its Social License to Operate.

All the accidents and scandals associated with equestrian sports are not advertising for the Olympic Games either.
The IOC has a major influence on the various sports (for example the replacement of the jumping component of the pentathlon after 2024 and recently the demand for a change with a deadline to the FEI with regard to eventing). That is why I would like to ask you as FUNCTIE to exert your influence to ensure, that at the Olympic Games in Paris also during warm-up (many horse lovers are interested in the images of the warm-up), dressage, show jumping and cross-country, horses are handled properly.

I hope to have word from you and relevant action upon this soon,

Kind regards,

Your name


After you copy the text, again here is the link to which you can copy the text and send

The photo above is also graciously donated to me by an anonymous Equine Photographer.

Add comment


2 months ago

Please do. For the horses welfare

Viva Dartigue
2 months ago

For our horses, for their future with respect

isabelle bathias
2 months ago

I'd like the horses to be considered as conscious and loveable animals and their well being is essential. I am a rider, so I am FOR riding horses but I want them happy when performing. We need to respect all aspects of them

a month ago

Pour le respect et par amour du cheval, il faut changer…