For Immediate Release:
January 14, 2022
David Perle 202-483-7382
Surenburg, Germany – It’s called “poling,” and in the wake of a damning video investigation revealing German Olympic show jumper Ludger Beerbaum (or someone else apparently trying to help him win) engaging in this cruel and likely illegal practice of triking a horse’s legs with a heavy stick to force the animal to jump higher, PETA rushed a letter this morning to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), asking him to pull equestrian events from the Games.
PETA first urged the IOC to ban equestrian sports in August 2021 after Jet Set, a horse ridden by a Swiss competitor in the Tokyo Olympics, was injured and had to be euthanized and after an Irish competitor forced a horse named Kilkenny to finish the course even though he had blood pouring from his nostrils. Pentathlon competitor Annika Schleu was caught on camera whipping and trying to force a terrified horse onto the course. PETA feels that this latest revelation is the last straw.
“Whacking a horse’s shins with a wooden rod to force him to jump higher is abuse—and it’s apparently routine at the highest levels of this entertainment disguised as sport,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “PETA is calling on the IOC to keep all cruelty out of the Olympic Games and leave the competition to willing human participants only.”
PETA Germany has filed a criminal complaint against Beerbaum.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Bach follows.
January 14, 2022
International Olympic Committee
Dear Mr. Bach:
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters globally—to renew our request that you eliminate all equestrian events from the Olympics. In addition to the alarming events that transpired at the Tokyo Olympics, about which we’ve already contacted you, we’re deeply concerned about the recent scandal involving German Olympic showjumper Ludger Beerbaum.
Beerbaum, a four-time Olympic gold medalist, was filmed allegedly engaging in an illegal and cruel training method known as “poling” in which a horse is struck with a heavy stick on their cannon bones or lower legs over fences to force higher jumping. This is extremely painful to the horse and is banned by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) and the U.S. Equestrian Federation. He was also involved in a doping offense in the 2004 Olympics after his horse, Goldfever, tested positive for betamethasone.
While the FEI and the German Equestrian Federation continue to assess the appropriate course of action, the International Olympic Committee can act now to eliminate showjumping and all equestrian sports. The punishment of poling and the illegal use of drugs illustrate that horses are not willing participants—and clearly, many of the humans who force them to behave in ways that aren’t natural to them care little for the physical and psychological welfare of the animals they exploit.
The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne recently announced that it will remove horse riding from the sport beginning in 2024 as a result of the events at the Tokyo Olympics. In a world that increasingly refuses to accept cruelty to animals in any form, it’s time for the Olympic Games to remove all sports that exploit others and that are no longer supported by the public.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Senior Vice President
Equine Matters Department