International Showjumper Banned For Using Spiked Boots

Germany’s Jos Verlooy and Jacobien Dwerse Hagen rode to win The Bunn Leisure Salver at the world-renowned Hickstead Showground, in West Sussex this morning.

International Showjumper Banned For Using Spiked Boots

NOTE: Images used in this article do in no way represent the type of boots used by Andre Schröder – the images are for decorative purposes only.

An international showjumper has been banned for using spiked boots, in the first case of it’s kind.

Ukrainian showjumper, Andre Schröder has been banned from FEI competition after sharp pressure points were found inside of the boots of his competing horse in May. Riding 13-year-old gelding, Allegro at the CSI* in Samorin, Slovakia, the points inside the hind boots were found after hind boot control was performed on all horses before the Grand Prix competition.

Schröder was told the boots were prohibited and may cause an abuse of horse offence due to the “dangerous” pressure points. It was explained to Schröder that the point may cause “excessive pain” and discomfort. However the rider argued that the boot were “OK” and he had been permitted to jump in them in the ranking class. He further claimed he had bought the boots with the points inside.

After more inspection, the chief steward said the sharp point within the boots caused pain to his finger when he pushed on them. When he spoke to Schroder, the rider continued to argue the  boots were “a normal type of hind boots which he used in many competitions”.

Photographs showed 11 sharp pressure points. The points would sit on the cannon bone and if the horse hit a pole the points would cause excessive pain and discomfort.

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The boots were investigated by the president of the ground jury.  They confirmed there were holes on the inside of the boots and in each of the holes were “sharp spikes”.

The boots were returned to Schröder’s groom, following which Schröder claimed they were not his.  He then explained he had found them on the way to the warm-up arena and used them “just to protect his horse”. Following his jumping round, according to the chief steward, Schröder stated the horse didn’t need the boots as he had “jumped well”.

Schröder was given a yellow warning card for abuse of the horse and on 8 June FEI disciplinary proceedings were opened against him.  In reply to the FEI, Schröder said when he had got on Allegro that day, boots had not yet been put on. He asked his grooms to get boots and put them on – but said he did not look at the boots.

The FEI told the Tribunal that by using the boots Schröder engaged in abuse of the horse, an abusive training method that caused fear, and used the horse’s equipment to inflict pain and discomfort. It was claimed the location of the sharp points were “not coincidental” and horses’ distal limbs are particularly sensitive owing to the lack of soft tissue coverage.

An expert witness statement from FEI veterinary manager, Gonçalo Paixão further explained limb sensitivity and said trauma of the skin and tissues will trigger an inflammatory response and acute pain.

The FEI added that to avoid pain caused by the boots, the horse will “over-jump”. The use of such boots presents an abusive method to make horses jump higher and more carefully with the intention of competitive advantage, and the “sole purpose” is to inflict pain on a horse in an attempt to force it to perform “abnormally”.

The FEI noted Schröder’s intentional use of the boots by his comment to the chief steward that his horse “doesn’t need these boots, he jumped well”, indicating he knew fully what effect the boots would have, and had Allegro knocked jumps down, he would have “needed” them to improve his performance.

On the day, Schröder claimed to officials he had used the boots many times “with no remorse”. It was clear to the FEI the abuse was a recurring event that should be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

In a decision issued on 29 September, the FEI Tribunal agreed it was Schröder’s decision to use the boots, but it was unclear how often he had used them. The Tribunal also agreed that Schröder’s claims he had never seen the boots, or did not know which ones the grooms put on, were false.

The Tribunal suspended Schröder for 12 months, based on the evidence. The rider left the tribunal lightly, with no disciplinary history and it being unclear how much he had used the boots. His results from the competition were disqualified, he was fined 5,000 Swiss francs (£3,971) and must pay 2,000 Swiss francs (£1,588) costs.

NOTE: Images used in this article do in no way represent the type of boots used by Andre Schröder – the images are for decorative purposes only.

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