Warning: Video contains graphic content
Olympic dressage horse owner and breeder John Byrialsen has spoken for the first time since footage emerged of neglected and injured horses purportedly on his Polish stud.
The anonymous release of the video to dressage websites resulted in authorities visiting his stud operations in Poland and Denmark, according to media reports. At least 50 horses were removed from among 300 at the Polish operation.
The contents of the video sparked anger on social media.
Authorities reportedly inspected his Danish stud on August 13.
Byrialsen, in an interview with tvmidtvest.dk, appeared to acknowledge the state of the animals in Poland.
“It is reprehensible,” he said. “It should not happen, and it happened.”
Byrialsen said he took responsibility for it, as the owner of the company.
“I blame myself. It’s my own fault,” Byrialsen said. “I should have been down here more. I’ve been busy with all sorts of other things … they are insignificant in relation to what has happened here.”
Byrialsen has suffered financial problems and has averted three bankruptcy applications in the last two years, according to media reports.
It had been three months since he last visited his Polish stud, he said, which is understood to be on a rented property.
“This should not be an excuse,” he said, adding that he did not blame any employees.
“It is my responsibility when I have a company and I have some horses. If I were in Poland or Denmark, then it is my responsibility.”
He said he had faced other tasks and challenges, and should have paid the stud more attention.
He should have been at the stud more often, he said.
“I’ve been busy with all sorts of things that are insignificant in relation to the things that have happened here.”
Reports suggest the video of the horses was filmed in May, which would be a month before his last visit.
The Danish evening paper Ekstrabladet and morning paper Berlingske Tidende quoted Danish Warmblood Association president Jan Pedersen as saying: “It is appalling, shocking and I cannot underline distinctly enough how far out this is. It is so horrible that you feel physically ill watching it. I have never ever seen anything like it.”
The YouTube video is entitled “Starved horses in Posadowo”.
The person who uploaded the video said horses were in poor conditions and lacked veterinary care.
“This film documents the condition of horses at the turn of 2012 and 2013 …[we] are publishing it because the official action has not been successful,” the accompanying material said.