Equestrian abuse – Swiss animal protection wants horses better protected – News


The eyelashes at Olympia were ugly. In Germany too, animal welfare still sees gaps, especially in the sport of polo.

Damien Muller, president of the Swiss Equestrian Federation, said events at the Olympics would have caused concern: “The images are unacceptable, especially in the pentathlon, where the German rider and her coach took unacceptable measures.” However, in Switzerland, a zero-tolerance applies to equestrian events, according to the Lucerne State Council FDP.


An equestrian drama with German gold nominee Annika Schleu in the modern pentathlon in Tokyo has spread around the world. The horse “Saint Boy” refused to work. Then the national team coach Kai Reisner asked the athlete to use the whip: “Hit it right.” Raisner has been banned from the games.

imago pictures

Sandra Scheffler of the Swiss Animal Welfare Organization (STS) says the errors have already occurred in Tokyo: “The pictures clearly showed the suffering of some horses. One of the horses was also bleeding from his nose.”

The pictures clearly showed the suffering of some horses.

It is true that fewer people today have a relationship with horses, but those with horses often have a close emotional bond. With the abolition of the cavalry, the horse transformed from a farm animal into a pet: “This also means treating the horse differently.”

This is an approach that animal welfare has looked at over and over again over the past six years. Much has improved, for example in dressage and jumping, according to Scheffler. In dressage tournaments, there is always one person on the field who takes care of the animal.

Privet also for polo players?

However, according to a new STS report, there are still rules with incidents related to animal welfare, such as polo, as Scheffler says: “Horses move at very high speeds, with rapid changes in direction and stops. The jockeys are literally tearing the horses’ mouths off.” There are also no “sometimes good, trained riders” in the saddle. Licensing is not mandatory and is not acceptable.

We have found that some of them are not very good, trained riders. Licensing is not mandatory, which is unacceptable from the point of view of the STS.

Polo Association rejects criticism

The Swiss Polo Association writes upon request that players are trained by their clubs and are not accepted into tournaments unless they have the required ability. The association refers to the current training platform for riders and coaches. The safety of the horse is essential, because a stressed or injured animal cannot play polo.

Fast running and quick changes in direction are in the nature of a horse, both when playing and in the face of predators. The number of injuries in polo is very low, thanks to proper training and long rest periods with only six months of playing time.

The well-being of a polo horse is essential because a stressed or injured animal cannot play.

Muller stresses that the Swiss Polo Federation has its own regulations, but the Equestrian Sports Federation is open to discussing brevity for polo players as well.

Muller says the Equestrian Federation has regular contact with other animal and animal welfare associations. At the moment, the rider’s body weight is an important issue – both in amateur sports and in leisure riding: so that people are not too heavy for the horse.

Equestrian sports must address the issue of animal welfare in order to remain socially acceptable.

Equestrian sport expert at SRF Michele Schönbachler is also convinced that the equestrian sport must deal with the issue of animal welfare in order to remain socially acceptable: “Society has changed. If animal welfare is violated, it becomes difficult to justify the sport.”

The discussion of animal care certainly made its way into the equestrian sport – at the Olympic Games and also in the riding arenas in Switzerland. Politicians also noticed. There was already progress from the green side, which wanted to ban certain aids in equestrian sports, such as metal nose clips or tongue stretchers. So Parliament will have to deal with that.

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