Cosmo €8/US$8.9 Million Vet Dispute Gets First Court Hearing

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Sönke Rothenberger on Cosmo at the European Championships in August 2019, the last competition for the horse. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

FRANKFURT, Germany, Mar. 14, 2020–The €8/US$8.9 million dispute over veterinary treatment of the German Olympic dressage gold medal team horse Cosmo has had its first court hearing.

At the center of possibly the highest value in a legal dispute in the history of Olympic equestrian sport is the 13-year-old KWPN gelding that Sönke Rothenberger rode on gold medal teams at the 2016 Olympics, the 2018 World Equestrian Games as well as the 2017 and 2019 European Championships.

The last competition for Cosmo was the Europeans in Rotterdam last August.

The Rothenberger family is seeking payment for what it argues was incorrect treatment by veterinarians that damaged Cosmo’s health. The plaintiffs sought €10 while an expert came up with an estimate of €4 to €5 million so the court settled on €8 million.

There were also arguments before the single judge in regional court over ownership of Cosmo.

Ralph-Uwe Westhoff is listed as a co-owner with the Rothenbergers, but an attorney for the defendants stated that another investor had paid €3 million for a stake. The Rothenberger family disputed the claim.

Not in dispute was that Cosmo received more than 80 veterinary treatments over 3 1/2 years, as reported by dressage-news.com last July.

When the case was reported, the German Olympic Committee for equestrian sport was concerned over whether the record required to detail treatments of all competition horses was properly maintained by the Rothenbergers.

The court decided to seek expert advice and the hearing was held over until the beginning of April.