Former Olympic rider suspended as ‘appalling’ training video investigated

  • The FEI has provisionally suspended a former Olympic rider as it investigates an “appalling and abhorrent training video”.

    The footage shows a horse being hit twice on the neck or head while in ridden training, and a long whip being used with another horse on long lines.

    The videos have since been shared to YouTube and a United States Equestrian USEF spokesman told H&H it is aware of the situation.

    “We are aware of the appalling and abhorrent training video posted yesterday. We have notified the FEI and are working with them to initiate the investigation of this serious matter,” the spokesman said.

    “USEF stands strongly against training methods which are abusive to horses. For more information on reporting equine abuse, and the role of USEF in preventing equine abuse [visit the USEF website].”

    An FEI spokesman told H&H dressage rider Cesar Parra has been “immediately provisionally suspended while the FEI investigates the disturbing and abhorrent images and videos in relation to his training techniques that have recently emerged”.

    “Equestrian sport is built on a foundation of respect for our equine partners, with a duty of care to ensure their mental and physical wellbeing comes first, ahead of all competition and/or training ambitions,” the spokesman said.

    “Through the FEI’s rules and regulations, the welfare of the horse, and any action or omission which causes or is likely to cause pain or unnecessary discomfort to a horse constitutes a violation of our rules and will be sanctioned. The FEI remains resolute in its commitment to upholding the highest standards of equine welfare and sanctioning behaviour which deviates from these principles, and will be actively investigating this case as a matter of urgency.

    “As this is an open investigation, no further comment will be provided in relation to the alleged offences while the investigation is ongoing. The FEI is also collaborating and liaising with US Equestrian and the FEI’s provisional suspension and any subsequent sanctions will be recognised at the national level.”

    Cesar Parra is originally from Colombia, but was given US citizenship in 2009. He was on the US team that won gold at the 2011 Pan American Games, represented the US at the 2006 World Equestrian Games and has competed at World Cup finals. Before he took US citizenship, he competed at the 2004 Olympics.

    H&H has approached Cesar for comment.

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