Pénélope Leprevost Responds to Backlash Over Warm Up Ring Incident at World Cup Finals

Leprevost and Vagabond De La Pomme. Ph. Michael Van De Velde
Leprevost and Vagabond De La Pomme in the competition arena at Gothenburg. Ph. Michael Van De Velde
Leprevost and Vagabond De La Pomme in the competition arena at Gothenburg. Ph. Michael Van De Velde

The Federation Equestre Internationale is said to be investigating the treatment of the horse Vagabond De La Pomme, ridden by Pénélope Leprevost of France, after an incident in the warm up arena at the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The incident in question was caught on camera and broadcast over the FEItv livestream during Round III of the World Cup Jumping Final on Monday, March 28th. Between jumping rounds the feed often switches to a camera panning the warmup arena, and it was during one of these breaks that the video trained on Leprevost caught Vagabond De La Pomme tripping to his knees for several strides while at the walk. The horse pressed his head into the ground and then recovered and righted himself. Leprevost was seen looking back at his hind end, and then spurring him forward before bringing him to a sharp halt.

See video here.

The incident caused an uproar on social media as the video was circulated. The FEI confirmed that the steward at the warmup arena had made a report to the Chief Steward, and commented:

“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. 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 Jérôme 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 organising 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.”

Leprevost went on to jump one clear, and one four fault round, finishing 8th overall in the World Cup Finals. On Wednesday, March 30th, she issued a statement via her official Facebook page expressing her regret for the incident (translated from French):

“In the wake of images that have been broadcast on the social networks of my horse, Vagabond De Le Pomme, who almost fell during the warmup of the final of the world cup in Gothenburg.

My horse tripped in the paddock while he was at a slow trot and very relaxed. It scared me and I really thought we were both down. I immediately checked that he was not injured. I then wanted him together, my goal was to awaken him and not rush. The Veterinarian of the French team was present and also verified that the horse had no problems.

I am deeply sorry I overreacted by being too harsh with my horse and I address my apologies to the public.

I attach great importance to have with my horses a close complicity, and a great respect for their physical and mental well being.”