Switzerland’s government has introduced a tough new welfare law against abusive training methods including rollkur and rapping.

Rollkur, the hyperflexion of a horse’s neck by force, was banned in warm-up at international competitions by the FEI in May 2010. However, the new Swiss ban refers not only to shows but also to training at home.

Article 21 of the “Ordonnance sur la protection des animaux” contains 8 new clauses banning practices that do not fall in line with “welfare principles”.

The new legalisation also prohibits the use of any “method likely to cause pain or fear in the horse so that it lifts the legs higher” when jumping over a fence. This includes the practice of rapping — lifting a pole into a horse’s legs as it jumps and the use of thin iron bars that are hard for the horse to see.

A government spokesman told H&H it had introduced the ban so that authorities could “officially control and sanction owners”, rather than leaving the matter to equestrian bodies.

The enforcement of the new regulations will be in the hands of the regional veterinary authorities. Prosecuted riders will face a fine of up to CHF20,000 (£13,325).

The Swiss Equestrian Federation — which has led efforts to highlight abuses in Middle Eastern endurance — has welcomed the move.

“We have been working with the government and we are happy that they have proposed new regulations,” the Swiss federation’s Claude Nordmann told H&H.

“Now everybody can watch and complain about bad practice.”

Article 21 also prohibits the docking of tails, clipping of whiskers and the use of electric shocks.

This story was originally published in 16 January 2014 issue of Horse & Hound