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Showjumper suspended from competing over horse welfare concerns

A Scottish showjumper has been suspended from competing amid an allegation he used an outlawed training method at a European event.

James Smith has been barred from national and international competitions after being accused of jumping a horse that was allegedly being “rapped”.

Welfare concerns were raised over photographs reportedly taken in Valencia, Spain, which appear to show a cane being used to make the horse lift its legs higher over a practice jump.

British Showjumping, the sport’s governing body, said: “The training methods depicted in the images have no place in our sport, are against our regulations and will not be tolerated.”

Mr Smith, from Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, was suspended on Saturday and appears to have deleted his social media accounts.

The 31-year-old’s groom, Nicola Park, has also been blocked from renewing her membership with British Showjumping while the investigation is taking place.

“Rapping” or “poling” is the practice of hitting a horse on its legs as it goes over a jump to condition it to lift its legs higher next time.

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The painful method is banned under Federation Equestre International (FEI) rules – and the photographs were allegedly taken at a recent event.

British Showjumping said it is liaising with the British Equestrian Federation and the FEI.

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The FEI – which is the international governing body of equestrian sports – has also provisionally suspended Mr Smith while the probe continues.

The suspension prohibits Mr Smith from entering, competing or training athletes or horses at any FEI or national events until further notice while the alleged images and circumstances of the reported incident are being investigated.

In its statement, British Showjumping added: “Horse welfare is the highest priority for British Showjumping, the BEF and the FEI, and we will continue to work closely together to ensure our rules and regulations concerning equine welfare and wellbeing are both respected and enforced.”

The FEI has been contacted for comment.

Sky News Source