Canadian jumping rider Isabelle Baer has been temporarily barred from competing in Mexico after an alleged break-in at the show offices at Club Hipico Coapexpan.
The 24-year-old from Calgary is “No Grata” ‒ not welcome ‒ according to a statement issued by the Mexican equestrian federation (FEM). FEM has temporarily suspended Baer from all competitions in Mexico; she has only recently registered to begin competing under FEI rules. FEM also urged all facility providers in Mexico not to accommodate Baer.
The bizarre tale began with a horse sales dispute between three other people ‒ Mexico City based rider-dealer Michael Kearins (who has a conviction for deception in his native Ireland), his brother Niall, and Mexico’s Ana Estrella Sepulveda Berumen.
Claiming they had defrauded her, Berumen had asked the Kearins brothers to supply a different horse from the one she had bought. During a recent CSI 3* at Mexico’s premier showground their dispute escalated into a public altercation, so the show’s security team detained them and called the police.
A video posted anonymously by someone clearly no friend of Michael Kearins shows him restrained on the ground, repeatedly calling out to Ana that he will resolve the issue and sign a contract to avoid this “hassle.”
On October 16, FEM suspended the Kearins brothers’ registrations and issued a similar “No Grata” request to facility providers, saying that FEM “energetically condemns” their behaviour towards Berumen.
HorseSport.com has seen the eventual legal agreement between Berumen and the Kearins brothers. It acknowledges that the horse they sold Berumen for 60,000 euros had an old joint injury, and that x-rays supplied by Kearins came from another horse. In settlement, Berumen agreed either to accept the money back, including a BMW car given in part-payment, or to accept another named horse said to be capable of jumping 1.40m classes.
Baer entered the saga after the brothers were taken into custody, leaving the Club Hipico to guard the Kearins’ horses. Baer claimed one of the horses was in fact hers. But her name was not on its passport, so Club Hipico could not help immediately. Baer then broke into the show offices, allegedly to find the passport and alter the details. She was caught on security cameras.
FEM states: “Unfortunately, we have been made aware of the bad practices perpetrated by Isabelle Baer (FEM registration 10391 and FEI registration 10255151), of Canadian nationality, in the facilities of the Club Hipico Coapexpan, member of this equestrian federation and in full competition, altering documentation of identity, without any reason that is justified and allowed. We strongly condemn this type of unjustified actions that violate order and respect among all members of our federation.”
In 2019, Michael Kearins was found guilty of deception by the Irish courts, fined 11,000 euros and ordered to pay 20,000 euros in compensation to the Ewing family of Majorca. He allegedly switched a pony they had tried in Ireland for an inferior lookalike. The pony, according to the Ewings, “could hardly walk” when it arrived in Majorca and was a potential danger to their child.
The alleged offence ‒ which Kearins denied ‒ took place in 2012, but the Irish police said it took them years to track Kearins down, by which time he had moved to the US. Kearins’ lawyer said that the Ewings family was very wealthy and that 20,000 euros was “small change” to them.
HorseSport.com has reached out to Baer, and also to the FEI and Equestrian Canada to find out if FEM’s suspensions of the Kearins brothers and Baer will be reciprocated. An FEI spokesperson provided this statement:
“The FEI is aware of allegations of incidents taking place in Mexico concerning the Irish athlete Michael Kearins. We are currently looking into this matter and liaising with the Mexican and Irish National Federations.
“Note also that the FEI is not involved in any horse ownership disputes as they must be dealt with by the relevant National Federations (National Federations are responsible to check the ownership of horses and horse passports) and appropriate courts.”
Equestrian Canada has confirmed that they do not have a formal reciprocal agreement in place with the Mexican Equestrian Federation (FEM).
“The FEM has made EC aware of the complaint in question and that they will be following their prescribed complaints process,” said Melanie McLearon, EC’s Director of Marketing & Communications. “EC will await the outcome and once complete, will then take into consideration any requests from the FEM.”
Baer did not responded by the time of publication.
This story was updated to include information provided by Equestrian Canada.