Death threats made to rider banned from show for whip use

  • British showjumper Ben Talbot said he plans to take a break from the sport after receiving death threats in response to his riding at a show in Germany this week.

    The rider was barred from the four-star competition at Gros Viegeln for his reaction to his ride Everglade’s refusal at the water in a two-phase competition.

    Video of the incident shows Ben repeatedly hitting the horse with his whip, and kicking him, after the stop. A man shouts, the bell is rung and Ben can be heard asking to go to the judges’ box.

    The rider told H&H his actions were “inexcusable”.

    “It was really stupid of me to do that,” he said.

    “It was inexcusable and I’m not trying to defend myself in any way but the horse had been having a problem at water for a couple of weeks.”

    Ben said the nine-year-old KWPN gelding had been eliminated every day at the water at a show the week before and that with training, he thought he had overcome the issue.

    “I felt under an enormous amount of pressure from the people who co-owned the horse with me. I felt that if he stopped at water again, they’d take him away from me, which would be a disaster.

    “That’s happened now; he’s gone to another rider. He’s not in my stable any more.” The co-owners, when contacted by H&H, declined to comment.

    Ben said the public reaction to the incident has contributed to his decision to take a break from the sport.

    “Whether that’s for six months, a year or for ever, I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t want this any more.

    “I don’t want the death threats – I had to close my Facebook page because of the multiple death threats – it’s been absolutely horrible.

    “What I did was 100% wrong but people don’t see the back story, or what was going on around it.

    “It’s a sport I love, and I love my horses – [my 18-year-old ride] Sacramento’s co-owner’s said when he retires, which I think will be now, he can stay with me for the rest of his life, as my pet.”

    Ben Talbot riding Sacramento

    A statement from the show said Ben “punished his horse very sharply” and that the judges’ decision to disqualify him was unanimous.

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    Judge Holger Wulschner said he could not understand such behaviour and that he wanted to take a stand and set an example.

    The FEI has confirmed Ben Talbot has been suspended for two months, having given him a yellow warning card for abuse of horse and incorrect behaviour at the show.

    A spokesman said: “The athlete struck the horse Everglade with his whip a number of times and spurred him repeatedly after a refusal on course and the onsite ground jury reacted immediately, ringing the bell and calling the athlete to the jury box on the public address system. The athlete was disqualified from the entire event with all his horses and asked to leave the showground.

    “The athlete was given a yellow warning card by the ground jury. As he had received a yellow warning card for incorrect behaviour at the CSI4* Arezzo [Italy] in April this year, and in line with Article 169.7.2 of the FEI general regulations, the athlete has now been suspended for two months from the date of notification (20 June 2018).

    “The FEI general regulations and statutes state that any suspension must also be enforced by the relevant national federation, so in addition to the FEI suspension, Mr Talbot will be suspended by the British Equestrian Federation as well.”

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