A video released on social media on March 30 shows French rider Penelope Leprevost’s mount, Vagabond de la Pomme, stumbling badly during warm-up for the second-to-last round of the Longines FEI World Cup Show Jumping Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, on March 29. After his stumble, Leprevost stops him and appears to look down at his legs before booting him sharply forward.
Leprevost and the gelding went on to jump in both rounds on the last day of the final, where they finished eighth overall.
Following the outcry of concern on social media, the Fédération Equestre Internationale has announced they are investigating the incident.
“The FEI is looking into the full circumstances of the incident in which the French horse Vagabond de la Pomme stumbled very badly prior to the first round of Monday’s competition and the rider, Penelope Leprevost, reacted very roughly,” stated an FEI spokesperson. “The FEI Steward on duty in the warm-up reported the incident to the FEI and also to the FEI Chief Steward.
“The French team vet Jérôme Thévenot also saw the horse stumbling but felt that the horse was fine to go into the arena. Vagabond de la Pomme was clear in the first round and was given a thorough check over in the stables afterwards by Thévenot, who reported that the horse was perfectly fine.
“Horse welfare is central to everything the FEI does, and is also a priority for both the Swedish National Federation and the organizing committee of the Gothenburg Horse Show. The FEI’s Code of Conduct for the Welfare of the Horse is in place to ensure that horse welfare is protected at all FEI events.”
The video of the warm-up was initially aired on a local television station.
UPDATED: Leprevost responded to the incident on her official Facebook page.
“My horse was trotting, very relaxed and with his head down, when he stumbled,” she wrote. “It was actually quite frightening, and I really thought that both of us were going to fall down. I immediately checked that he was not injured. I then wanted him to pull himself together. My goal was to wake him up but not to push him too hard. The French team’s vet also checked that he was fine and had no problems.
“I am deeply sorry that I over-reacted and was too strong with my horse, and I want to express my sincere apologies,” she continued. “I place great importance on the trust and cooperation between myself and my horses. I also have the greatest respect for their state of mind and their physical well-being.”
UPDATED: On April 25, the FEI released a statement that they had concluded their investigation and determined that no disciplinary action was needed. “The FEI has investigated the full circumstances of the incident with Penelope LePrevost and her horse Vagabond de la Pomme in the warm-up arena at Gothenburg.
“Reports have been received from the chief steward, who had been briefed about the incident by the steward on duty at the time. The rider has also been spoken to. Penelope Leprevost has stated publicly that she regrets her actions and expressed her remorse for over-reacting in the heat of the moment. She has said that this sort of incident will not happen again and that the welfare of her horses is extremely important to her.
“After the incident, Vagabond de la Pomme was given a thorough check-over in the stables by the French team vet Jérôme Thévenot who reported that the horse was fit to compete. The FEI is assured that such an incident will not occur again and, in light of this, no further action will be taken.”