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Animal Cruelty: International show jumper banned for one year by the FEI

by Marie Arensmann
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During a routine inspection at an international show, stewards found pointed objects in the hind leg gaiters of André Schröder’s horse Apollo. This incident occurred in May 2021, when the 32-year-old was competing at a CSI in Slovakia. 

Use of cruel gaiters

Stewards noticed pointed objects on the inside of the hind leg gaiters of the horse Apollo (13) during an inspection. They immediately contacted the chief steward, who informed the show jumper André Schröder about the find and informed him that such gaiters were prohibited. Schröder then affirmed that the gaiters came like this when he bought them.

The chief steward also confirmed that there were pointed objects in the gaiters. He had felt the inside of the gaiters with his finger and found that the pointed objects do in fact cause pain. Schröder explained that he had used these gaiters many times at competitions before. He also claimed hat these hind leg gaiters were standard gaiters that were okay to wear for young horses. A steward told Schröder that such gaiters with pointed objects inside them are not allowed and are against the rules of the FEI. The chief steward took the gaiters and informed the chief judge of the find. He also confirmed that there were holes with pointed spikes in said gaiters. Schröder received a yellow card for mistreating a horse.

After Schröder finished the course, they checked both the horse and any other objects that could have come in contact with the gelding. However, the horse did not seem mistreated or unwell. The incident with the gaiters was documented via photos and got submitted to the FEI. The photos clearly show that there are eleven holes with sharp spikes inside the gaiters. A horse wearing such gaiters would feel terrible pain should it hit a pole while jumping. That is how riders achieve that a horse jumps particularly high; so that it does not have to suffer pain.

When the jumper received the gaiters back, he suddenly claimed that the gaiters were not his but that he had found them.

André Schröder’s statement on the find

The 32-year-old show jumper claimed that he had not put the gaiters on himself. He assured that he had forgotten them and had then instructed his groom to put them on. According to Schröder, he was not able to see what kind of gaiters his horse wore.

What the FEI says about the incident

According to the FEI, André Schröder is responsible for his horse as a rider. The use and intention to use such gaiters would be against the FEI rulebook. That is why Schröder is accused of abusing his horse. According to the FEI rulebook, no object or equipment may be used that causes excessive pain to the horse. However, this pain would occur when Apollo would touch a pole while jumping with these gaiters in question. Since the periosteum of horses’ legs is particularly sensitive, pressure can irritate the periosteum and cause inflammation or extreme pain.

Statements by Schröder contradictory

In addition, Schröder’s explanation for the gaiters is highly questionable. He told the two stewards that he had bought the gaiters as they were and had already used them at many tournaments. This contradicts his statement that he had never seen the gaiters before. Then he said that he had found the gaiters, which does not fit with the statement that his groom had put the gaiters on and that he had never seen them himself.

It was also striking that he was not shocked whatsoever when he was asked about the find. Schröder even told a steward after his ride that he had not put on gaiters because the horse was already jumping well. This statement suggests that Schröder knew what purpose the gaiters would serve.  Since Schröder still said at the beginning that he had used these gaiters in question at many tournaments before, the Schröder case is a serious violation of the rules.

One year ban & fine for Schröder

The FEI Tribunal banned André Schröder for one year. This ban is valid from the day of the decision, September 29, 2021. The ban means that Schröder will not be allowed to participate in national or international competitions during this period. Neither as a rider, nor as a trainer. He can only attend tournaments as a viewer for one year.

In addition, Schröder must pay a fine of 5000 Swiss francs and pay for the legal costs of 2000 Swiss francs. The FEI tribunal took into account in its decision that the show jumper had not yet attracted any negative attention and that it was not known how often the gaiters had been used in the past. Since the organizer of the show did not act according to the FEI rules by not disqualifying Schröder right away, he also got in trouble.

Currently, Schröder still has the right of appeal. He can lodge this with the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) within 21 days of being notified of the FEI decision.

Source: inside.fei.org

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