‘These training methods have no place in our sport’: British rider suspended over horse welfare concerns

  • Showjumper James Smith has been immediately suspended as a result of horse welfare concerns.

    British Showjumping (BS) announced on Saturday (16 March) that the British rider may not compete at any international or national events. The suspension relates to photos that “appear to have been taken at a recent FEI event”.

    BS said in a statement it was “liaising closely with British Equestrian [BEF] and the FEI” on the issue. It added that a block has also been put in place to prevent the groom, Nicola Park, from renewing her BS membership while the investigation is under way.

    “The training methods depicted in the images have no place in our sport, are against our regulations and will not be tolerated,” the BS statement reads. “Horse welfare is the highest priority for British Showjumping, the BEF and the FEI, and we will continue to work closely together to ensure our rules and regulations concerning equine welfare and wellbeing are both respected and enforced.”

    The FEI has also provisionally suspended James, which means he cannot enter, compete or train riders or horses at any FEI or national event “until further notice while the images and circumstances of the incident are being investigated”.

    The 31-year-old rider, who won three pony European Championships medals for Britain and has made two senior Nations Cup appearances, was competing in Valencia in February and March this year, then Oliva. His most recent result was 27th place in a 1.45m CSI3* class, on 15 March.

    James was unavailable for comment. Nicola could not be reached for comment.

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