Riding | Yle’s documentary: At Ypäjän Horse College, students are taught to treat horses violently

“Foal didn’t want to go forward and the nurse didn’t know what to do. Since the foal did not react, the nurse hit it on the hind legs. Finally, the colt fell to the ground. The nurse’s friend sat on the foal’s neck and smoked a cigarette. The colt tried to get up, but the guy stopped it. When the nurse and his friend couldn’t get the foal to stand up, the friend poured water into the foal’s ear, causing it to jump up.

This is what a former student of Ypäjän Horse School tells about the situation where trotting equipment was put on the foal for the first time. Yle Svenska’s investigative journalism department published on Monday Ypäjän’s horse hell TV documentary.

For the documentary, Yle interviewed 30 former or current students of the college, who told about the situation at the college. The students told about situations where violence had been used on horses.

They also said that they had been taught to inflict violence on horses themselves. In addition to the bad treatment of the horses, the students report bullying, among other things.

Horse college is Finland’s most important training center for the horse industry. The educational institution trains, among other things, riding instructors and teachers, shoemakers, horse groomers and masseuses, and professionals in the field of horse riding.

About 200 students start every year. The college graduates equine professionals for both riding schools and trotting tracks.

The creators of the documentary had access to, among other things, a video where a foal is taught to use a bridle.

In this situation, the foal is tied to the corridor, and it gets up on its hind legs many times. Later in the video, it can be seen that the teacher has tied the foal’s front leg so that the horse would not get up on its hind legs anymore.

According to the program, animal welfare announcements have been made about the Horse University. One animal welfare report concerned an allegedly violent incident in which a foal died.

Ypäjä’s control veterinarian at the time by Anne Woival commented in the documentary that he was informed about it many days later. He did not see the colt and, according to his memory, no autopsy was performed on the animal.

“The foal doesn’t die from whiplash or stress. There has been some organic fault in the background. There has been some internal injury,” Woivalin assesses the case.

Horse college published a press release after the documentary in which comment on the allegations.

HS asked for comments from the principal of the college Päivi from Niska and from the CEO Heli from Kivimäki-Manneri. Kivimäki-Manner answered the questions by e-mail.

“We are very sorry that our activities are shown in such a bad light and that some students have such bad experiences,” says Kivimäki-Manner.

Kivimäki-Manner writes that Hevosopisto is shocked by the stories about the violent treatment of horses.

“It is clear that this matter must be resolved. It seems that the cases are scheduled for 2020-2021. At the horse college, the well-being and ethical treatment of horses are at the core of all our activities, and we have strong faith in the professionalism of our staff in this matter.”

Kivimäki-Manner says that the control veterinarian performed an extensive animal welfare inspection and a stable inspection carried out every five years in the stables of the Horse College on 27 October 2023.

“In connection with the inspection, it was found that there is nothing to point out in our operations or the well-being of our horses.”

He adds that, just to be sure, the Horse University will open an anonymous channel where you can share concerns related to the well-being of horses.

“We take the situation very seriously and will do a thorough investigation so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Particularly shocked chief executive says he is concerned about claims students were taught to be violent towards horses.

“I have had no information about this, and this is definitely against our operating principles. We take the situation very seriously and will do a thorough investigation so that this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Our important task is to teach future professionals in the horse industry to take good care of horses.”

As a result of the documentary, Hevosopisto reported on several measures. According to Kivimäki-Manneri, the Equestrian College has been systematically developing everything it does for the past couple of years. In 2022, the equine university has started a horse welfare working group.

In addition, two projects are underway to improve the well-being of students, among other things. The horse college also opens an anonymous channel where students can talk about their experiences, for example bullying.

Yäjän In recent years, the horse college has often been in the headlines due to internal problems. The college’s finances have been in crisis for ten years.

Between 2013 and 2020, the college held six collective bargaining negotiations, as a result of which one third of the employees were dismissed. The economy is also strained by the fact that Hevosopisto’s buildings are in poor condition. The company has a repair debt of over 30 million euros.

In 2020 Hevoseruhlu-lehti reports about serious work atmosphere problems at the Horse University. Atmospheric problems were investigated in public for a long time.

In addition to this the company has been involved in a legal dispute former managing director-principal Pauliina Mansikkamäki against. Mansikkamäki demanded from Hevosopist, among other things, overtime, holiday and severance pay.

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