The German broadcaster RTL ran an article on January 11th which appears to depict German show jumping star Ludger Beerbaum engaging in the illegal and cruel training method known as “rapping”, where the horse is struck in the lower legs over fences to encourage better jumping form.

Investigative journalist Günter Wallraff conducted almost two years of research into unauthorized training methods in equestrian sports and violations of the Animal Welfare Act. RTL-Extra reporter Sina Meyer went undercover at Beerbaum’s Riesenbeck facility, posing as an intern. In addition to polygonal wooden poles traditionally used for ‘rapping’, she also discovered poles embedded with sharp points.

“The pain inflicted on the animal by parallel bars is unbearable,” she commented. “The players in show jumping sometimes earn millions with these horses. I hope that our research increases the pressure on those responsible and that the animals are better protected in the future.”

The article and video can be viewed here.

The FEI has released the following statement on the allegations raised of unauthorised training methods in RTL News report:

The FEI is aware of the allegations made in the documentary broadcast on RTL in Germany on 11 January 2022 and is making enquiries regarding the matter. We are already in touch with the German National Federation and will continue to liaise closely with them in order to assess the appropriate course of action.

The welfare of the horse is central to everything that the FEI stands for and we strongly condemn all training methods and practices that are contrary to horse welfare. The FEI has stringent rules in place to protect horse welfare which allow action to be taken both at FEI Events and elsewhere. The FEI absolutely condemns any form of horse abuse and the training methods shown in RTL’s video footage are totally unacceptable from a horse welfare perspective and against FEI Regulations.

The FEI General Regulations (GRs) Article 142 state: No person may abuse a Horse during an Event or at any other time. “Abuse” means an action or omission which causes or is likely to cause pain or unnecessary discomfort to a Horse, including, but not limited to: (vi) To “rap” a Horse.

Article 243.1 of the FEI Jumping rules states: All forms of cruel, inhumane or abusive treatment of Horses, which include, but are not limited to various forms of rapping, are strictly forbidden. Article 243.2.1 goes on to give a non-exhaustive description of what the FEI considers as “rapping”.

The FEI will provide an update as soon as further information is available.

Update: A statement from Beerbaum about the RTL report can be read at this link.