Helgstrand Dressage to record all horse training – in the ‘wake of poor riding’

  • Helgstrand Dressage will record all training at its Danish bases on camera, in “continued efforts to ensure the highest level of welfare” – in the “wake of recordings of poor riding”.

    The news follows the public backlash to the broadcast of TV2’s documentary Operation X: The Secrets of the Horse Billionaire, filmed undercover at the stud in January.

    In a statement on 1 December a Helgstrand Dressage spokesman said that from tomorrow (5 December) professional camera equipment will be installed in all riding halls at the the stud’s three locations in Denmark.

    “Henceforth, all riding and training will be recorded all hours of the day,” said the spokesman, adding that a camera was already set up in the riding hall at Helgstrand Academy.

    “This was for the purpose of safety monitoring rather than review of training and therefore not of sufficient quality. New and far more professional equipment is now being installed in all riding halls.”

    Helgstrand commercial director Anders Bjørnstrup said: “As we continue our efforts to ensure the highest level of animal welfare in riding and training, we have now set up monitoring in all riding halls, so we can use the footage if we are alerted to bad riding or unethical training methods.

    “In the future, the Danish equestrian federation and the relevant authorities can conduct random checks at any time, naturally taking into account applicable legislation.”

    Anders added that he “would like to make it clear that there is no talk of a systematic review” of Helgstrand Dressage’s training.

    “But if a situation arises, we can go back and review for clarification with the help of long-range cameras. We also see this as a security measure for our employees, horses and riders,” he said.

    “I hope that the new camera placements can help to reassure both the federation and the authorities that riding and training is done properly.”

    The statement concluded that the “measure comes in the wake of recordings of poor riding at Helgstrand Dressage, recorded in January”. The recordings the stud is referring to included horses’ being ridden and lunged in rollkur (hyperflexion).

    “Since then, we have worked intensively to introduce a wide range of measures and improvement points for our animal welfare, business conduct and conditions for our employees,” the spokesman said.

    “Among other things, we have introduced a whistleblower program and tightened the guidelines for training and treatment of horses.”

    Last week it was announced by the Danish federation Dansk Ride Forbund that Andreas Helgstrand will be excluded from the national team until at least 2025 – and will miss the Paris 2024 Olympics.

    It was also confirmed that Andreas and Helgstrand Dressage instructors Thomas Sigtenbjerggaard, Maria Anita Andersen and Ole Hummelshøj, have been excluded from the Danish riding instructor association Dansk Ride-Instruktør Forening, and that Helgstrand Dressage will no longer operate as an apprenticeship training site for the Danish master rider education as of 31 December.

    You might also be interested in:

    Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.

    You may like...