The debate about the welfare of horses in equestrian sports has heated up since the Olympics in Tokyo, where several horses were treated badly.

An example is when the German Annika Schleu tried to get her horse Saint Boy to obey through repeated calls.

Gulliksen and Whitaker are heavily criticized

Now the debate has flared up again, after an incident in Norway.

Olympic rider Geir Gulliksen used the rod heavily after a refusal in the 1.50 class at the Norwegian Horse Festival in early December, which led to strong reactions, especially on social media.

Geir Gulliksen has declined to give a comment to SVT Sport, but announces that he showed the pictures to the international federation FEI, which chose not to give any penalty.

Another star, who however received a yellow card from the FEI this year, is Great Britain's Jack Whitaker.

The 21-year-old teen idol gave his horse a strong spur during a competition in St. Gallen in June, which was spread in a video on the Tiktok platform.

"This kind of thing makes me feel sick" is one of the many comments the video received.

"Only light pokes allowed"

Sweden has stricter rules regarding rod use, compared to the international competitions.

- In Sweden, what Gulliksen did would not have been allowed.

Hard blows are not allowed, even if they are intended as an instruction.

We will also tighten the rules from January 1, 2023. Then it is only permitted with two light pokes on the horse, still only as a guideline.

We in Sweden have among the strictest rules in the world for horse welfare, and it would be good if the rest of the world followed suit, says Robert Solin, National Jumping Coordinator at the Swedish Equestrian Association.

SVT Sports' jumping expert is on the same line.

- I would not be surprised if in the near future you are no longer allowed to ride with spurs or a stick, says Lotta Björe.

Changing the rules is discussed

The international equestrian sports federation FEI has opened up for changes in the regulations, which is welcomed by many.

A newly installed horse welfare commission has made new recommendations, one of which suggests that a jury or judge should be able to immediately stop a horse race in progress that is against horse welfare.

Then the team can be disqualified without the possibility of an appeal.

A possible introduction of these rules can, however, take place in January 2024 at the earliest.

Geir Gulliksen declined to comment to the SVT Sports team on the ground in London, but he has spoken to expert Lotta Björe and announced that he showed the pictures to Fei, who chose not to give any penalty.