The TV broadcaster RTL broadcast a special tonight that focused on show jumper Ludger Beerbaum. The TV station has created video material on which a rider, who is supposed to be Beerbaum, lets a helper bar his horses while training.
RTL had already put a teaser film with excerpts from the program tonight online. The film shows training images with a rider on a fox and a rider on a bay horse. The rider is difficult to see, according to RTL Ludger Beerbaum. The rider heads for a steep jump of a good one meter height. A helper behind him knocks a square bar several centimeters thick on the front legs of the horse.
RTL says they researched the story for two years. Among other things, a reporter sneaked into the Beerbaum Stables as a marketing intern and did some research. You have filmed poles that have a prickly surface. The recordings that are said to have been made can be seen in the teaser film.
RTL and the equine veterinarian and author Dr. Maximilian Pick and showed him the pictures. During the assessment, Pick had come to the conclusion that it was “clearly” a matter of bars and not of touching the legs as permitted by the FN, according to RTL.
In parallel bars, the bar is actively hit against the horse’s legs to encourage it to jump more carefully. That is forbidden. Touching, however, is allowed, also according to the FN. It is, however, quite unclear where one ends and the other begins. It is only clear that a rod for touching can be a maximum of two meters long and two kilograms in weight.
What touching is is defined in the guidelines as follows:
Touching is a professional sensitization of the horse through targeted touching of the horse’s legs during the jump process.
Guidelines for Riding and Driving, Volume 2, Advanced Training, FN-Verlag
It also reads:
If the touch rod is held, this may only be carried out by very experienced, experienced horse specialists who have sufficient feeling, sensitivity and experience.
What exactly is meant by “professional” and what qualifications the “very experienced, experienced horse specialists” must have, is not specified.
Statements from the FN can be found here:
Same case as 2021?
RTL had already contacted the German Equestrian Association (FN) in May of last year and announced that there would be a TV report on the topic of bars. The FN then demanded that the material be sent to them for viewing and that the names of the people involved should be named. RTL did not comply with both requests. Thereupon the FN filed a complaint against unknown persons in order to be able to fulfill “its responsibility for animal welfare in equestrian sport”. It was hoped that the authorities would start investigations and possibly uncover behavior contrary to animal welfare. After that, the matter was never heard from again.
The FN is unable to say whether the material that has now been published is the same as the recordings that were made in 2021.
Statement by Ludger Beerbaum
We asked Ludger Beerbaum’s press officer for a statement from the four-time Olympic champion. But Ludger Beerbaum is currently in Florida. There he and his partner in the Global Equestrian Group, Andreas Helgstrand, which was founded at the beginning of last year, are organizing an open day this evening (local time), at which both give a lesson.
Ludger Beerbaum stated that he would first look at the report and then make a statement as soon as possible after a legal examination.
You can find the RTL report and a video with excerpts here. The entire program can be seen this evening on RTL Extra at 10:35 p.m.
UPDATE 1/12/2021, 00.00 a.m.
RTL extra has broadcast a 30-minute report. The pictures shown in the teaser film were shown in more detail. The ingredients: a lot of archival material by Ludger Beerbaum from the past 20 years of his career, plus film recordings that are said to have been made on Beerbaum’s facility in Riesenbeck. Not only can several horses be barred with wooden poles, but also pictures of poles that are coated with small plastic spikes are shown. According to the RTL reporter, who works as a marketing intern in the Beerbaum Stables, these poles and hardwood square timbers were stored in a shed near the training ground. It was impossible to say whether they were used. An anonymous witness who wanted RTL to have pointed out the alleged practice in the Beerbaum Stables is reported by investigative journalist Günter Wallraff (“The lead story. The man who was interviewed by “Bild” Hans Esser “). She shows a splintered square timber that the witness said she found on the jumping arena after training.
And what else?
In addition, parallel narrative strands are shown: A black horse who is said to be “angry” because he has allegedly been mistreated and therefore no longer approached a pole. In addition, veterinarian Kirsten Tönnies will be accompanied when she visits an amateur jumping tournament. She attests to stress. Refusals from several horses are cut one after the other. Some of the alienated riders then hit the horses, some of which were beginning to climb, with their whips. The footage from Paul Schockemöhle’s barracks is also shown several times, as well as the scenes from the modern pentathlon from Tokyo 2021. In addition, the office buildings of the German Equestrian Association (FN) are filmed. The FN was asked for an interview, it says in the comment. The request was not granted.
We have turned to some of the places that are directly or indirectly mentioned in the RTL article. We have not yet received any statements about the above Statements go out. As soon as we have reactions, we will publish them in another article.