VIDEO: Olympic Rider Cesar Parra Whips, Hits Horses

The release of videos showing former Olympic dressage rider and trainer Cesar Parra apparently abusing horses has sent shockwaves through the equestrian community, but it’s yet another graphic example of horses being harmed for the show ring.

In the video above, Parra can be seen whipping horses, including what appears to be on one horse’s head, and engaging in a practice known as “rollkur,” which is so cruel it has been banned by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). Rollkur involves aggressively forcing the necks of horses into unnatural hyperflexion just so the animals will look a certain way. It is extremely painful and can lead to airway obstruction.

The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and FEI have suspended Parra while they investigate this evidence as well as dozens of other videos and allegations. The USEF has also proposed changes to strengthen rules and expand the scope of its jurisdiction to include abuse that occurs away from competitions. These changes would also require that members report abuse to a licensed official or to the USEF at competitions and clarify that a licensed official or competition management can take swift action when abuse occurs at a competition.

Parra hasn’t just been accused of abusing horses, according to Dressage-News. The trainer is also being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for human trafficking and forced labor. Former employees have reported that Parra allegedly threatened to withdraw visas in order to keep employees working at his training centers in the U.S.

Parra’s Practices Point to a Deeper Issue in Equine Events

It’s evident that these aren’t isolated incidents and that there appears to be a pattern of abuse throughout equine events. Furthermore, history has shown that fines and suspensions clearly aren’t enough to deter other trainers or riders from hurting the animals they use. That’s why we’re calling on the International Olympic Committee to ban all equestrian events. Horses don’t care about gold medals, and unlike humans, they don’t choose to participate in dangerous events—they’re forced to. Please ask the committee to ban these events:

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