A Torturous Practice among Jumpers Ends in 2022
It is with great sadness that I read how some of the really bad news around equestrian sports come from my country of origin: Germany. The widely read ‘Suddeutsche Zeitung‘ had the following headline: ‘The End of Torterous Horse Practice‘.
Right Under the Spectator’s Nose
The practice in question: Bandages and brushing boots – meant as protective gear – are spiked with pressure points and tightened to the point of pain. The purpose: The horse will now lift his legs higher and be sure to avoid any type of contact with the jump. The unsuspecting spectator simply sees a spectacular performance.
A ‘Lame’ Decision?
The FEI’s General Assembly in Montevideo recently decided to prohibit the practice (in German called ‘Zuckis‘) – starting in 2022. So a little over 4 more years left to torture horses legally. For many horses, it will come too late. They will end their torturous career in the service of an overly ambitious prize money hunter.
Wraps Getting a Bad (W)Rap
‘Zuckis’ are now in the public eye – it’s a good thing. The flip side: Wraps and other leg protection are getting a ‘Bad Rap’, much like nose bands. Important to remember: It’s not the piece of equipment per se that is at fault. Real protective gear for horse legs like wraps and brushing boots are a blessing and protect the fetlock joint from injury. It’s the abuse of the gear that makes it ‘verboten’. If we ask our horses to maximize their athletic potential in jumping, we do need to protect the horse’s legs.
Just like a hammer…
….can become a murder weapon – so can a wrap or leg protection become a torture instrument.
Let Common Sense (& Compassion) Pervail!
It’s once again up to the spectators to raise the flag. Become aware, speak up, don’t applaud when you witness such practice (especially not on easily-shared social media) and DO THE RIGHT THING yourself – modeling this to kids and younger riders.
Commons sense tells us to differentiate between those, who protect their horses with brushing boots and those, who abuse gear to realize their own ambitions in equestrian sports. Compassion mandates us to speak up for the horse – no matter where and when.
Spot the Offender
When visiting or participating in an event, here some things to look out for:
- A helper runs into the warmup ring before the horse enters the arena and quickly tightens the horse boots (there is a term in German for very quickly: ‘Ruck Zuck’ – therefore the boots are called ‘Zuckis’ when used for this torturous practice).
- The horse lifts his legs unnaturally high and overjumps.
- The horse seems tense and in a rush to get things over with.
- During the ride, the horse kicks out repeatedly with the hind legs, as if to get rid of something (the ‘Zuckis’…).
I am grateful for you, the reader, who is undoubtedly NOT in the ‘Zucki’ camp!
Enjoy your horse!