Penelope Leprevost has offered her “sincere apologies” for the way she rode her horse in the Gothenburg warm-up ring.
The French showjumper published a statement on her Facebook page accepting that she “over-reacted” to Monday’s (28 March) incident.
H&H reported that Penelope’s horse, her World Cup final ride Vagabond De La Pomme, was caught on film stumbling badly, nose touching the ground, while trotting on a long rein in the collecting ring.
His rider’s reaction attracted widespread criticism as the video was shared online.
The FEI has since announced it will be investigating the incident, describing Penelope’s reaction as “very rough”.
Penelope’s statement, published today, reads: “People have been upset by images broadcast via social networks of my horse Vagabond De La Pomme who nearly fell during the warm-up before the World Cup Final in Gothenburg.
“My horse was trotting, very relaxed and with his head down, when he stumbled. It was actually quite frightening and I really thought that both of us were going to fall down.
“I immediately checked that he was not injured. I then wanted him to pull himself together. My goal was to wake him up but not to push him too hard. The French team’s vet also checked that he was fine and had no problems.
“I am deeply sorry that I over-reacted and was too strong with my horse and I want to express my sincere apologies.
“I place great importance on the trust and cooperation between myself and my horses. I also have the greatest respect for their state of mind and their physical well-being.”
An FEI spokesman said: “The FEI is looking into the full circumstances of the incident in which the French horse Vagabond de la Pomme stumbled very badly prior to the first round of Monday’s competition and the rider, Penelope Leprevost, reacted very roughly. The FEI steward on duty in the warm-up reported the incident to the FEI and also to the FEI chief steward.
“The French team vet Jérôme Thévenot also saw the horse stumbling, but felt that the horse was fine to go into the arena. Vagabond de la Pomme was clear in the first round, and was given a thorough check over in the stables afterwards by Jérôme Thévenot, who reported that the horse was perfectly fine.
“Horse welfare is central to everything the FEI does, and is also a priority for both the Swedish National Federation and the organising committee of the Gothenburg Horse Show. The FEI’s Code of Conduct for the Welfare of the Horse is in place to ensure that horse welfare is protected at all FEI events.”