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FEI states that training methods shown in RTL video footage are totally unacceptable from a horse welfare perspective

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

The FEI has released a statement after the German broadcaster RTL yesterday published video footage that allegedly shows Olympic Champion Ludger Beerbaum training horses while they are being subject to what the RTL in their reporting has defined as the illegal method of “rapping” [also known as poling, or “Barren” in German]. 

The FEI states that it condemns any form of horse abuse, and that "(...) the training methods shown in RTL’s video footage are totally unacceptable from a horse welfare perspective (...)". 

Under the FEI General Regulations art. 142, rapping is prohibited during an FEI event and at “any other time” – and is defined as horse abuse. 

The full statement from the FEI reads as follows:

“The FEI is aware of the allegations made in the documentary broadcast on RTL in Germany on 11 January 2022 and is making enquiries regarding the matter. We are already in touch with the German National Federation and will continue to liaise closely with them in order to assess the appropriate course of action.

The welfare of the horse is central to everything that the FEI stands for and we strongly condemn all training methods and practices that are contrary to horse welfare. The FEI has stringent rules in place to protect horse welfare which allow action to be taken both at FEI Events and elsewhere. The FEI absolutely condemns any form of horse abuse and the training methods shown in RTL’s video footage are totally unacceptable from a horse welfare perspective and against FEI Regulations.

The FEI General Regulations (GRs) Article 142 state: No person may abuse a Horse during an Event or at any other time. “Abuse” means an action or omission which causes or is likely to cause pain or unnecessary discomfort to a Horse, including, but not limited to:
(vi) To "rap" a Horse.

Article 243.1 of the FEI Jumping rules states: All forms of cruel, inhumane or abusive treatment of Horses, which include, but are not limited to various forms of rapping, are strictly forbidden. Article 243.2.1 goes on to give a non-exhaustive description of what the FEI considers as “rapping”.

The FEI will provide an update as soon as further information is available.”

The German Equestrian Federation has also released a statement concerning the video footage, stating that it takes the allegations very seriously and that it will carefully analyse the footage broadcasted before drawing appropriate conclusions on how to proceed.


*Editor's note: In the FEI Jumping Rules, rapping is described as follows: 

"The term "rapping" is construed to include all of the artificial techniques intended to induce the Horse to jump higher or more carefully in Competitions. It is not practical to list every possible means of rapping, but in general it consists of the Athlete and/or dismounted assistants, for whose behaviour the Athlete is responsible, either hitting the Horse's legs manually with something (no matter with what or by whom) or deliberately causing the Horse to hit something itself, whether by building obstacles too large and/or too wide, setting false ground lines, placing trotting poles or the elements of a combination at a false distance, intentionally pulling or pushing the Horse into an obstacle or otherwise making it difficult or impossible for the Horse to negotiate the practice obstacle without hitting it."

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