FEI Launches Investigation of Sweden’s Patrik Kittel Warming Up Horse at Odense World Cup

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Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic. © 2009 JBK Wiegaarden
Patrik Kittel and Watermill Scandic at the Odense World Cup event. © 2009 JBK Wiegaarden

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Oct. 27–The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) announced Tuesday it has launched an investigation into the warmup by Patrik Kittel of Sweden on his horse Watermill Scandic at the recent FEI World Cup event in Odense, Denmark.

The FEI launched the investigation after a video filmed in the warm up arena on Oct. 16 was posted on YouTube.com. Click HERE to see the video.

The video had been viewed more than 51,000 times as of Tuesday night U.S. Eastern time. It has sparked a flood of complaints on social sites around the world, many referring to the controversial training technique called Rollkur, now officially known as “hyperflexion of the neck.”

The Swedish pair finished third in the Odense World Cup Grand Prix Freestyle, the first of nine qualifiers in the World Cup West European League.

Kittel rode Floresco as a member of the Swedish team at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong and rode Watermill Scandic at the European Championships at Windsor, England, in August, 2009. He is trained by Sjef Janssen, coach of the Dutch team and husband of Anky van Grunsven.

Clip of the YouTube.com video
Clip of the YouTube.com video

The complete FEI statement:

“The FEI is aware of the video filmed at the FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier at Odense (DEN) and posted on YouTube. FEI’s main concern has always been and will always be the welfare of the horse. We are taking the issues raised in the video and in the comments made by members of the public on social media and by email very seriously and have opened a full investigation. The conclusions of this investigation will be made public in due course”

An article posted on the Danish Internet site, Epona.tv, reported:

“A quick glance at the warm up arena at the World Cup dressage qualifier of the season in Odense, Denmark, revealed hyperflexed horses and blue tongues.

“For a minimum of two hours, Swedish Olympic rider Patrik Kittel trained his stallion, Watermill Scandic, in various degrees of hyperflexion, on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Grand Prix Special. EPONA.tv was passing by the warm up at 3.45 pm, and at this time, the rider was well into his session. At circa 5.45, the session ended.

“During the first part of the training session, the horse’s tongue was briefly showing. The tongue was clearly blue, and flopped limply from the horse’s mouth. However, Patrik Kittel was quick to notice, and halted the horse before reaching for the muzzle with the hand furthest away from the camera. Afterwards, the tongue did not reappear. EPONA.tv’s caught the revealing moment on film.

“During the training session, EPONA.tv spoke to a spectator who claimed to have notified one of the show’s officials of the prolonged hyperflexion. Odense’s Chief Steward confirms to EPONA.tv that a complaint was lodged against Patrik Kittel’s riding, but it was not deemed necessary to comment or take action, because Kittel was no worse than other riders using the same method.

“EPONA.tv has spoken to Patrik Kittel, and asked him if he thinks he is riding in accordance with the FEI Code of Conduct.

” ‘I think you should send the questions in an email along with the footage, so I can give it to my lawyers,'” EPONA.tv quoted Kittel.

The reporters said they asked Kittel whether he was riding in accordance with the FEI Code of Conduct.

“Of course I do,” EPONA quoted him. “Otherwise a steward would do something about it. But I don’t want to discuss it with you now. Have a good day.”