Medal-winning rider denies allegations of horse abuse after being reported to police

  • Swedish European medal-winning showjumper Douglas Lindelöw has denied allegations of mistreating horses, as he has been suspended from national team activities and international competition – and reported to the police.

    On Monday (11 March) Swedish publication Aftonbladet reported that an elite showjumper “abuses and punishes horses after poor results”, and that five grooms had come forward with allegations of mistreatment.

    At the time the rider had not been publicly named, and on Tuesday in a statement a spokesman for the Swedish equestrian federation stated that “a rider belonging to one of the jumping squads will take a break from all national team-related activities” – and that the federation were taking the information “extremely seriously”. The spokesman, who added that the rider “does not belong to the championship squad”, said the decision was “not currently a disciplinary measure, but a pause during further review”.

    In a further statement on Wednesday the spokesman said the federation had been in contact with “several people who testify to an action that could indicate a crime” – and that the rider in question had been reported to the police.

    “In the last 24 hours, we have been in contact with a number of people who have experience with the rider. What they tell us means that we cannot rule out crime in the handling of horses and that means we choose to report it to the police. If a crime is suspected, it is always important to let the police investigate,” said Johan Fyrberg, the Swedish equestrian federation’s secretary general.

    Mr Fyrberg added that as of Wednesday (13 March) the federation will not sanction international competition for the rider “for the time being”.

    “Our sport must be characterised by joy and love for the horses. Therefore, there are many of us in equestrian Sweden who today are extremely sad, angry and frustrated by the stories and pictures we have been exposed to. There is nothing that belongs in equestrian sports,” he said.

    Today (Friday 15 March) Douglas Lindelöw issued a statement denying the allegations.

    “I wish to address the serious allegations that have been made against me and the operations I oversee, as reported in the media. I fully recognise the gravity of the situation but firmly refute the accusations of horse mismanagement. While I am certainly not infallible, I maintain that our care and training of horses are conducted with utmost respect and in compliance with established norms and regulations,” he said.

    “In light of the recent allegations, we are of course prepared to fully cooperate with any potential investigations or inquiries – which we welcome. We are open to implementing further measures to ensure and enhance the welfare of our animals if necessary. This has been confirmed by inspections by authorities over the years. Just this week, I initiated an independent veterinary examination of all the horses. The result: No remarks.”

    Douglas added that he “urges the Swedish equestrian federation to initiate a broader review of the industry in Sweden as concerns are occasionally raised about horses being pushed too hard and improper methods being used”.

    “It is in everyone’s interest to thoroughly investigate these concerns,” he said.

    Douglas made his senior team debut at the 2015 European Championships, having won medals at youth level. He was on the team that took silver at the 2017 Europeans on Zacramento. He has ridden at three World Cup finals. In 2021 he was part of the Swedish team that placed fourth at the Europeans.

    Today the spokesman for the Swedish Equestrian Federation told H&H that “the fact that the rider says he wants to participate in any investigation is good and we welcome that”.

    “For us however, it does not change anything. The ongoing process continues according to plan.”

    An FEI spokesman said the allegations are “very disturbing” and that the alleged behaviour has “no place in equestrian sport”.

    “The FEI is in close contact with the Swedish national federation and the federation has undertaken to the FEI that it will not enter the athlete in FEI competitions while the matter is under investigation,” he said.

    “Further to that undertaking, the FEI has not deemed it necessary to issue a provisional suspension at this stage but we are monitoring the situation closely.”

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