Brazilian dressage team member Leandro Aparecido da Silva has been reported to the police, as criticism rages on over a video showing him manhandling a small pony.
The clip has stoked social media for several weeks, with both the Brazilian Equestrian Federation and separate Sao Paulo Equestrian Federation stating they will investigate. The FEI has also been informed.
Now, according to specialist dressage website Adestramentobrasil (Dressage Brazil) ,a formal complaint has been made to the police, and is being supported by Bruno Lima, a deputy in the Sao Paulo legislative assembly with special interest in animal protection.
Aparecido da Silva was team bronze medallist at the Pan Ams last year, and third individually in the Grand Prix freestyle. He also competed at the Beijing Olympics.
The incident occurred earlier this year but only surfaced on social media in July. It has interested the wider sporting press in Brazil.
The rider can be seen, bareback, turning the pony in sharp circles, jabbing him in the mouth at least six times, and striking him with the reins. In a separate video also circulating on social media, another man rides the pony at a jump, causing both to fall. There is laughter on the accompanying audio.
Aparecido da Silva said the pony bit his two-year-old daughter, leaving her raw, so he felt indignant. He wanted to teach the pony a better attitude, and rode without whip, boots or spurs, just a bridle. The pony is well and unhurt. The pony was an entire when purchased, but has since been gelded.
“It was a correction for my daughter’s pony, because I had bitten my daughter. I did it once, to correct it. Something badly told and poorly done has caused all this.”
His membership has been cancelled by the Sociedade Hípica Paulista, where he is a service provider. The Sociedade Hípica Paulista said it “does not agree and repudiates any and all practices that violate the well-being and physical integrity of horses.”
Another case which involved alleged abuse by an adult man riding a pony has recently been resolved at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS,) who agreed the suspension originally imposed by the FEI should be reduced from nine months to six.
In the original decision, well-known Belgian event rider Joris Vanspringel was found to have committed abuse during a clinic in South Africa. The pony repeatedly refused a jump with his 14-year-old rider, so Vanspringel mounted the pony, hit him eight times on the shoulder leaving visible marks, and was rough with his hands.
Vanspringel appealed to CAS, though meanwhile came to a negotiated settlement with the FEI, which was recently ratified by CAS. The original fine of 3,000 Swiss francs was maintained.