The British Horse Society (BHS) has announced it will be “raising its concerns” over Oliver Townend’s riding at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials with the FEI.

The BHS released a statement on Tuesday (8 May) after Oliver received an official warning on Saturday from the four-star event’s ground jury for over-use of the whip.

“The BHS works hard to promote the prevention of cruelty and harm to horses,” said a statement from the organisation, which was Badminton’s 2018 charity of the year.

“We cannot condone the behaviour of Oliver Townend over the weekend and we will be raising our concerns to the FEI.”

BHS director of welfare Gemma Stanford added the charity “supports the horse and rider in all equine disciplines under the condition that the highest welfare and safety standards are adhered to at all times”.

“The welfare of the horse should always be paramount,” she said.

“Riders at this level have an increased responsibility as they are role models and should also be setting an example for the next generation coming through our sport.

“The behaviour displayed by Oliver Townend was completely unacceptable. We strongly believe that the sanctions given to the rider by the FEI were not high enough in this particular situation.”

Ms Stanford explained to H&H why the BHS decided to act and issue a statement.

“The case surrounding Oliver Townend has received a lot of attention,” she said.

“As a charity that puts the welfare of the horse at the heart of everything we do, and also given that we were this year’s Badminton charity of the year, we felt it was only right to inform our members of our stance on the issue.”

FEI eventing and Olympic Catrin Norinder told H&H on Monday that the FEI’s eventing committee will be “looking into reviewing” the whip rules. More details on this can be found in this week’s magazine — out Thursday (10 May).

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Oliver issued a second apology for his riding on Monday morning.

“Having watched my Badminton cross-country rounds for the first time when I got home [on Sunday night], I’m so disappointed and upset about the way I rode,” he said, adding “it didn’t look good and I don’t want to look like that”.

“I fully accept the warning I received from the ground jury. My competitive instincts got the better of me and I will work hard to improve in this area.”

Oliver added he cares “enormously” about his horses’ wellbeing and welfare.

“I feel I have let my amazing team down,” he said.

“I am aware of my position in the sport and of my responsibility to be a suitable role model to younger people, and I apologise to them.

I love my horses – I live for them. I am extremely proud of all four horses – Ballaghmor Class and Cooley SRS, and the two who went so brilliantly at Kentucky, Cooley Master Class and MHS King Joules – and of every horse on my yard.”

 

In this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out on Thursday 10 May 2018, don’t miss our full report from Badminton Horse Trials, including in-depth analysis, expert comment, pictures and more.

Also check out our interview with the 2018 Grand National-winning jockey Davy Russell and we have reports from showjumping at Chepstow, racing from Cheltenham and Newmarket and much more.