Dujardin Eliminated From European Championships Due to Blood

The disqualification of Great Britain’s top dressage rider dropped the team’s placing from silver to fourth.
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Dujardin Eliminated From European Championships Due to Blood
Charlotte Dujardin GBR on Mount St John Freestyle. | Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg
When it comes to even the slightest drop of blood on a horse in Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) sport, there are no exceptions. So when triple Olympic gold medalist Charlotte Dujardin (Great Britain) completed a dressage test on Mount St. John Freestyle with blood on the mare’s flank at this week’s European Championships, show officials eliminated her immediately and definitively.

“I’m obviously absolutely devastated,” Dujardin said in a statement from the championships, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. “Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. The health and welfare of my horses is always my No. 1 priority, but of course I accept the decision.”

Roly Owers, MRCVS, CEO of World Horse Welfare, in Norfolk, U.K, supports the FEI in eliminating Dujardin. “This is unfortunate for the British team, but that’s the reality of the sport,” he told The Horse. “Responsible horse sport requires regulation, and it requires regulation being enforced. I haven’t seen the horse, but even if it’s only a superficial wound, blood is blood, and damage has been done. What’s important is that the FEI have taken clear, quick, and appropriate action and that Charlotte has accepted that.”

The presence of blood doesn’t necessarily suggest the horse was intentionally mistreated and is more likely to be the result of an accident, said Natalie Waran, PhD, equitation science fellow and professor of One Welfare at Eastern Institute of Technology, in Napier, New Zealand. But this kind of injury could also indicate that the leg aids were not as light as they should have been

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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