Eventing Nation: Prominent sport horse owner & breeder accused of gross neglect

An undercover video filmed at John Byrialson’s Polish breeding farm has launched an investigation into the neglect of some 300 horses.

From Kate Samuels:

According to a report from a Polish newspaper, Gazeta Poznan, prominent Danish Warmblood breeder John Byrialson has been accused of gross neglect of about 300 horses on a breeding farm that he operates in Poland. Byrialson is well known for owning a tremendously influential and popular breeding operation in Denmark, as well as being a part owner of Tina Conyot’s WEG and London Olympic mount Calecto V.

[Polish Report]

Last Thursday, one of only four employees tasked with caring for the 300 horses, took matters into her own hands and secretly filmed the conditions of the starving and neglected horses. The footage is disturbing and should not be viewed lightly. Milena Wlodarczyk, the groom responsible for the video, kick-started an investigation by both police and animal welfare.

The situation was reported two years previously, but since then conditions have deteriorated and for many horses the result was dire. A Danish newspaper reports that the findings in Poland have stirred employees at Byrialson’s famous Viegaard Stud to submit photos and other evidence of similar neglect throughout the years. The submissions were enough to warrant a visit from the Danish police to the farm yesterday.

When Byrialson was approached for comment, he said, “I’m sorry” but offered no explanation for the state of affairs. He blames their malnutrition on poor hay quality from the region.

The Horse Collaborative reports that Viegaard stud was searched by police and veterinarians on Tuesday. Allegedly, 15 starving horses were found though the full report has not yet been released. Byrielsen will likely face charges of horse neglect in Denmark as well.

This is a video of the rescue efforts, as workers moved horses in pairs to local homes who have volunteered to care for them and bring them back to health. Over 50 of the 300 horses in the worst condition have been relocated and are being nursed back to health.

While there is nothing to be said about this disgusting display of human neglect and disrespect towards our fellow animals that can help, it is very disappointing to find it even at the top levels of the equine industry. There is no explanation for this type of cruelty, and I hope that this can be pursued to the furthest extent of the law. To breed and then abuse horses, to leave them lying where they fall with open sores and refuse to allow treatment is one of the most abhorrent things I can possibly imagine. It is touching to see the Polish community gather together in order to give these horses a second chance, and I wish them all the best.



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