Andreas Helgstrand Back in the Hot Seat after Publication Falsterbo Training Photos

Thu, 08/27/2015 - 18:25
Danish Dressage News

Danish equestrian website has published a complete photo report featuring Andreas Helgstrand warming up Grand Prix mare Torveslettens Stamina at the 2015 CDI Falsterbo at the beginning July. This is the second time that Epona releases training photos of Helgstrand on his horse in a series of disturbing positions.

Epona published the photo series on their website here, which prompted a huge uproar on social media as Helgstrand has now appeared as a repeat offender of what appears poor riding in public against the welfare of the horse.

Helgstrand issued a statement following the public outcry on social media:

”During the warm-up at the Falsterbo show this summer, we once again experienced photographers standing and leaning over the fence with whirring cameras very close to Stamina and me. They shot many, many pictures each second, resulting in noise from the cameras.

Due to the photographers' conduct and the noise from the cameras, Stamina and I both got tense. I stopped in front of one of the most persistent photographers and asked politely whether it was necessary to take that many photos of us. His answer was that I should focus on my riding and mind my own business!

With modern photo equipment, it is very easy to take so many pictures in a second that you get still photographs where a horse, a rider or an equipage looks either fantastic or hopeless, simply because the photograph only shows a tiny part of a continuing movement; which, especially during warm-up, might be influenced by many factors.

However, still photographs are not a suitable factor to evaluate the quality of riding.

At Helgstrand Dressage, we strive to educate and ride all our horses in a way that enables each individual horse to reach the highest possible level. We are athletes and our horses are athletes. Force, violence or other types of abuse are contra-productive to our goal and against our fundamental values. We train and compete according to the rules and assessments of the judges in our sport.

I am very sad that some medias apparently wish to keep harassing my team and me, and it makes me sad that some people publicly support these actions; however, this does not change our values, objectives and work with the many talented horses, which we are entrusted to ride, educate and develop.

A response from FEI Secretary General Sabrina Zeender regarding the photos of Tørveslettens Stamina at Falsterbo was sent to Epona:

“The FEI finds these images extremely disturbing. We are very concerned about this incident and we are investigating it thoroughly. We have already contacted the Chief Steward at Falsterbo to ask for a full report specifically on this issue, in addition to the normal event report that has already been sent to the FEI."

“The Danish National Federation has also informed us that they will be investigating the matter and will ask for a report from the rider Andreas Helgstrand and the FEI Steward."

“The FEI Dressage Committee is also looking at ways to ensure that the rules work more effectively to protect horse welfare and that they are enforced more strenuously by our officials."

“The issue will be discussed at the Dressage Committee meeting next week and will also be raised at the meeting with our stakeholders’ group, which includes representatives from the riders, trainers, officials and organisers clubs. It will be the main discussion point at the next meeting in the coming weeks."

“The FEI has horse welfare at the core of everything we do, and we cannot allow misinterpretation of the rules – whether deliberate or inadvertent – by any member of our community.”

Photo © Crispin Johanssen - Astrid Appels

Crispin Johannessen
Photo: Crispin Johannessen
Photo: Crispin Johannessen
Photo: Crispin Johannessen

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