FEI Consulting with German Federation on Alleged Unauthorized Training Methods of Jumper Horses

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Ludger Beerbaum competing for Germany. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Jan. 12, 2021

The FEI, the International Equestrian Federation, said Wednesday it is consulting with the German federation on how to deal with allegations of “unauthorized training methods” that were displayed in a television documentary involving Ludger Beerbaum, a partner in the new ownership group of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

The trainer was not identified by the FEI but German media reports named the four-time Olympian in  the documentary broadcast by German television RTL Tuesday. The documentary was aired the same night as Ludger four-time and business partner Andreas Helgstrand were hosting an open house at Windsome Farm, a horse training and sales center neighboring PBIEC in Wellington, Florida. A demonstration of jumper and dressage horses for sale was part of the event.

“The FEI is aware of the allegations made in the documentary broadcast on RTL in Germany on 11 January 2022 and is making enquiries regarding the matter,” the FEI said in a statement. “We are already in touch with the German National Federation and will continue to liaise closely with them in order to assess the appropriate course of action.

“The welfare of the horse is central to everything that the FEI stands for and we strongly condemn all training methods and practices that are contrary to horse welfare. The FEI has stringent rules in place to protect horse welfare which allow action to be taken both at FEI Events and elsewhere. The FEI absolutely condemns any form of horse abuse and the training methods shown in RTL’s video footage are totally unacceptable from a horse welfare perspective and against FEI Regulations.”

Soenke Lauterbach, the German federation secretary general, said the TV documentary would be referred to the public prosecutor’s office and, “at the same time, we will check whether regulatory proceedings can be initiated.”

RTL showed video of what it alleged were training methods at the Beerbaum facility in Riesenbeck using poles to “touch” horses legs as they jumped, a widespread practice that has been increasingly criticized and is being studied by the German federation.