A major international show has installed cameras in its warm-up arena as a pre-emptive measure.
Organisers at Falsterbo in Sweden have put cameras in the dressage collecting ring following several high-profile cases at shows where riders have been accused of incorrect riding.
Organising committee member Johan Lenz told H&H the surveillance cameras are there as they want to have their own footage if allegations are made.
“It is to protect the riders,” he said, adding it is also to protect the sport.
He explained further that a picture can capture a moment when, for example, a horse has opened his mouth to give an unpleasant image, but no offensive riding is happening.
On the flip side, having evidence also helps with the transparency of the sport and to explain why something is — or is not — acceptable behaviour.
He added: “If there is something going on we of course want to take that away from the sport as well — there is nothing to hide.”
This is the first time cameras have been installed in the warm-up area at the show.
In 2015, photos of Danish dressage rider Andreas Helgstrand warming up at the show sparked welfare complaints online.
The Danish Equestrian Federation assessed the photos and received a statement from the head FEI steward. The statement said there was no cause for a yellow card or to protest against the riding.
The national federation agreed with Andreas that his training and warm-up at events must be recorded and this un-edited footage is available to the federation.
“With this solution, we will remove any doubt about whether there is compliance with horse welfare, which is in everyone’s interest,” said a statement from the Danish federation in October 2015.
It added that the warm-ups at the Danish Dressage Championships have been filmed every year since 2013.
“We do this to protect the riders, the horses and the sport, so we ensure that any questionable situations can subsequently be reviewed and discussed with the riders and officials,” said the statement.
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Falsterbo Horse Show runs from 8-16 July and features top international showjumping as well as a CDI3* and Sweden’s leg of the dressage and showjumping FEI Nations Cups. It also hosts numerous national dressage, showjumping, showing and driving classes.
The international dressage classes start tomorrow (Friday, 14 July) and four teams are in line to contest this leg of the CDI5* Nations Cup.
These are: Denmark, Russia, Sweden and the US.
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