Police Investigating Alleged Abuse at John Byrialsen’s Viegaard Studs in Denmark

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Come Back II, one of the breeding stallions at Viergaard Stud that is being investigated by police for alleged animal abuse.
Come Back II, one of the breeding stallions at Viergaard Stud that is being investigated by police for alleged animal abuse.

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Police are investigating alleged abuse of horses at the Danish stud of John Byrialsen, a part-owner of United States Olympic dressage mount Calecto V, after a video showed horses starving to death at the breeder’s Polish farm and just a week ahead of the European Championships in Denmark.

“The pictures are in our opinion the worst kind and we do strongly distance ourselves from this abuse,” a Danish equestrian federation spokeperson told dressage-news.com.

The worst affected horses–up to 50 of the total of 300 at the farm–have been removed from the stables at Posadowo in Poland. A veterinarian told dressage-news.com that a detailed report on the number and condition of horses at the farm was expected to be completed by the end of this week.

The newspaper Gazeta Poznan first reported the abuse after an employee of the stable went to them with a video taken by a mobile phone.

Since then, employees at the Danish stud, Viegaard, at Skals sent photos to dressage-news.com of horses in poor condition and some apparently lying dead in an open field.

In Denmark, police have authority over cases of animal abuse and were at Viegaard Stud and Viegaard Sport Horses on Tuesday.

John Byrialsen had said on Monday he would answer questions about the plight of the horses but did not respond to telephone calls or text messages.

The Danish federation, asked what action was being taken over the allegations, said:

“At this moment we are not aware if Mr. Byrialsen is member of a club under our organization but we are investigating that at the moment. If this should be the case we will deal with this according to our organizational rules.”

John Byrialsen has been a long time breeder of Danish Warmblood horses.

He is listed on the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) passport as an owner of Calecto V, a stallion that was competed at both the 2010 World Equestrian Games and the 2012 Olympics for the United States.

Tina Konyot of Palm City, Florida is listed as an owner and competed Calecto V–the V stands for Viegaard–has no business relationship with John Byrialsen or his Viegaard Stud and in recent years has sought to acquire full ownership of the stallion to sever all ties to the breeder.

She has said in the past that she has been responsible for all care and costs of Calecto since acquiring the horse several years ago.

John Byrialsen is the owner of Come Back II, a breeding stallion that has produced several top dressage competition horses, inclduing Calecto V.

The European Championships for dressage, jumping and para dressage will be held in Herning, Denmark beginning Aug. 20.