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FEI Tribunal imposes twelve-month suspension on Andre Schröder for horse abuse

Tuesday, 05 October 2021
FEI Tribunal

Photo © www.sportfotos-lafrentz.de/Stefan Lafrentz. Andre Schröder. Photo © www.sportfotos-lafrentz.de/Stefan Lafrentz.

Ukrainian show jumper Andre Schröder has been suspended for twelve months by the FEI Tribunal, in a case regarding horse abuse. The Tribunal found that Schröder had violated article 142 and 164.12(b) of the FEI General Regulations, and that his actions were also a breach of the FEI Code of Conduct on the Welfare of the Horse.

It was at a boot and bandage control prior to the CSI1* Grand Prix in Samorin, Slovakia, in May this year, that a FEI official noticed sharp pressure points in the hind boots used on Schröder’s horse Allegro. According to the FEI Chief Steward, the boots had clear, sharp objects inside, that caused pain when pressing a finger against them. The President of the Ground Jury also inspected the boots and confirmed that there were holes on the inside of the boots with sharp spikes. A decision was made to issue a yellow warning card to Schröder for horse abuse. 

In June this year, the FEI notified Schröder that disciplinary proceedings were opened against him for an alleged offence of horse abuse in accordance with article 142 (ix) and 164.12 (b) of the General Regulations as well as a breach of the FEI Code of Conduct on the Welfare of the Horse in accordance with article 164.12 (i). 

To the Tribunal, the FEI submitted photographs of the boots taken by the Assistant Chief Steward and the Chief Steward, which corresponded with the officials’ testimonies. These photographs illustrated visible holes with sharp pressure points on the inside of the boots. In total, eleven sharp pressure points were identified on the inner side of the boots – which would sit on the front of the cannon bone where the horse would hit the pole if not clearing the fence. 

The FEI requested the Tribunal to impose a minimum suspension of two years on Schröder, a minimum fine of 5,000 CHF as wells a contribution towards the legal costs. 

In his reply to the FEI, Schröder claimed that the boots were put on his horse by the two grooms of his partner and that he did not check them. Furthermore, he claimed that he had never seen the boots before, and that they were not part of the utensils of his stables. 

However, when confronted by the officials at the venue, Schröder had said that the boots in question were “okay”, that he was allowed to participate in ranking classes with these boots and that they had been purchased with the pressure points in them. 

For the Tribunal, the sanction imposed hereby sends a clear message to the equestrian community that the use of Boots or other methods that cause unnecessary pain to horses, in an attempt to gain advantage of horses fear to jump higher, cannot be tolerated by the FEI nor by the FEI Tribunal.

With respect to the circumstances surrounding the incident, the Tribunal stated it was convinced that Schröder gave various contradictory and inconsistent explanations and also presented different versions of events to the FEI Officials during the competition and through his reply to the Notification Letter from the Legal Department. 

In this regard, the Tribunal noted that Schröder to the FEI officials had admitted to the use of the boots on several occasions – which was verified by the documentary evidence. Consequently, the Tribunal agreed with the FEI that it was Schröder’s decision to use the boots in question and that his assertions that he had never seen the boots before, or did not know what the grooms put on the horse, were false. 

While the FEI Tribunal agreed with the FEI’s reasoning, they said: “(…) whilst the Tribunal applauds the Ground Jury for the prompt sanctioning measures imposed at the Event, the Tribunal wishes to highlight that additional appropriate action could have taken place at the time the offence was discovered. Furthermore, the Tribunal considers it regrettable that the matter was not dealt with more severely on the Ground, taking into account the seriousness of the violation and the sanctions available to the GJ pursuant to Article 158 of the GRs – “Ground Jury – Duties under the Legal System”. The Tribunal believes that as a matter of principle such matters should be dealt with more appropriately under the wide ambit of sanctioning measures available to the FEI Officials under the FEI regulations, since they are best placed to take the immediate necessary action to deter such practices occurring on the ground and bearing in mind the seriousness of the abuse.” 

The Tribunal found that Schröder’s actions amounted to specific and separate breaches of the FEI rules and regulations, and stated that his behaviour constituted an act of “(…) clear Abuse of Horse as well as the maltreatment of Horses.” 

The FEI Tribunal imposed a 12-month suspension on Schröder, disqualified his results from the competition in question and issued a fine of 5,000 CHF. Schröder was also ordered to pay 2,000 CHF for costs related to the legal proceedings. 

When considering the sanctions against Schröder, the FEI Tribunal stated that: “(…) the sanction imposed hereby sends a clear message to the equestrian community that the use of Boots or other methods that cause unnecessary pain to horses, in an attempt to gain advantage of horses fear to jump higher, cannot be tolerated by the FEI nor by the FEI Tribunal.”

The FEI Tribunal’s decision can be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days.

 

Click here for the full decision from the FEI Tribunal.



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