FEI issues statement on Danish TV2 documentary

Organization vows to address the issue in collaboration with the Danish National Federation

You’ve probably heard about it: an undercover documentary that began airing in Denmark on November 22 and that allegedly points to equine abuse at Helgstrand Dressage, a sales and training center for elite dressage horses in northern Denmark.

The Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), the international governing body for most equestrian sport, issued the following statement about it on November 24:

legs and feet of horse in dressage arena
AdobeStock image


“The FEI is aware of the distressing images presented in Danish TV2’s documentary, ‘Operation X: Secrets of the Horse Billionaire’ that involved Andreas Helgstrand. The FEI takes all allegations of horse abuse very seriously and at all times the welfare of the horse must be paramount. 

“The welfare of horses is at the core of our values and regulations, and any action or omission which causes or is likely to cause pain or unnecessary discomfort to a horse constitutes a violation of our rules. Equestrian sport is built on a foundation of respect and welfare for our equine partners. Any deviation from these principles is unacceptable, and the FEI remains resolute in its commitment to upholding the highest standards of equine welfare, maintaining the integrity and well-being of our athletes — both equine and human. 

Ongoing situation

“As this is an ongoing situation, we are unable to provide further details at this time. The FEI will however collaborate closely with the Danish National Federation, and there is a mutual recognition of decisions and any sanctions imposed. We will continue to communicate as the situation develops, and want to assure the equestrian community, our stakeholders and the public, that we are rigorously addressing this issue. 

“It is for the governing bodies to assure that there are rules in place to sanction any welfare breaches and uphold horse welfare, and there is an onus on everyone within the equestrian community to adhere to such rules and best practices in equine care and welfare, in order to maintain equestrian sport in a strong, healthy and ethically sound way for the future. 

‘A good life for horses’

“Last year, in June 2022, the FEI created the Equine Ethics and Well-being Commission, an independent body tasked with addressing societal concerns related to the use of horses in sport, and to provide an independent evidence-based ‘framework’ to guide FEI regulations policies and practices in relation to equine welfare and well-being. 

“Their final report, “A Good life for horses. A vision for the future involvement of horses in sport,” which was delivered to the FEI Board on 18 November 2023 and presented to the FEI General Assembly on 22 November, will now form the basis of an action plan and roadmap for implementation to be discussed at the upcoming FEI Sports Forum in April 2024. 
 
“We are committed to ensuring that horses involved in sport experience positive welfare throughout their lives, and that the FEI’s regulations, policies and practices, as well as the wider community’s actions reflect these principles, and we will continue to address actions and behaviors that are in contradiction with our values.”

The Official Press Releases from the Danish National Federation can be seen here: https://rideforbund.dk/nyheder-2023 

Detailed information on the composition, aims, work, and timelines of the EEWB Commission is available here:  https://equinewellbeing.fei.org/

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