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Ludger Beerbaum says RTL Extra report is demonstrably false and defamatory

Wednesday, 12 January 2022
Sport

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ “The RTL Extra report is demonstrably false, defamatory and libellous of honor in numerous points. Of course, we will take legal action against it," Ludger Beerbaum says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Olympic Champion Ludger Beerbaum has responded to the RTL Extra report, in which the German broadcaster has published video footage that allegedly shows 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]. 

Following statements from the German Equestrian Federation, as well as the FEI, Beerbaum himself has now published his response to the RTL Extra report. 

The statement from Beerbaum reads as follows:

“The RTL Extra report is demonstrably false, defamatory and libellous of honor in numerous points. Of course, we will take legal action against it. It is unacceptable that it was secretly filmed on my private property.

Regarding the accusations against me and my team:

The welfare of the horses is my and my team's top priority. Only a horse that is treated appropriately, professionally cared for and fed, trained and managed, can deliver sporting performance. The horses are our capital, which we take care of day in and day out.

The scenes in the riding arena shown in the report have nothing to do with the illegal practice of “Barren”. Instead, experienced and most routine professionals applied the permitted method of touching. The tool seen in the video met the German Equestrian Federation's specifications for permissible touching: no longer than three meters, weighing no more than two kilograms.

I lead my stable as an open stable, where groups of visitors come by every day, customers pick up the feed for their horses, and "interns" are also welcome. Here, riding and daily training is done in openly visible areas. Nothing hidden, unauthorized is done.

The fact that the alleged two-year "research" was only able to reveal four scenes showing the touching of a horse makes it clear that even the permitted training method is only very rarely used here and is not part of the daily work. 

The "polygonal poles" found in the barn by the alleged trainee are wooden poles used exclusively for the construction and repair of our pasture fences. Well visible in the film are the insulators attached to the poles for the fence bands. As far as it is claimed that these are used to “bar” horses, this is false.

The same applies to the poles with the "nubs" that are shown in the attic. All I can say about this is that these elements have been lying there for years. They come from a purchased stock of obstacles and were sorted out so that they would not be used. And hands they are also not used in training with horses. How one of these pieces, a shiny and clean one at that, ended up between the common obstacle poles all of a sudden, I can only speculate. For me it is obvious that one of these poles was put there explicitly for the TV report. We will make further investigations into this. 

Furthermore, I record:

- The disqualification of my Olympic gold medal in 2004 was not based on doping, but on medication that was forbidden at that time.

- The part on the training ground referred to as the "Styrofoam plate" is a regular show-jumping stand that is in daily use. The fact that it is shown, is also an indication that the report lacks sufficient expertise.”

 


*Editor's note: 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. 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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