Social Media Uproar over Alleged Horse Abuse and Neglect at John Byrialsen's Viegaard Stud farm

Thu, 07/06/2023 - 20:20
Although Tyrell Cotant had his phone taken from him by John Byrialsen, he managed to take pictures of the horses earlier this year. This is a horse with a urinary tract infection. John Byrialsen told TV MIDVEST that the horse is undergoing treatment :: Photo: Tyrell Cotant

The past few days social media have been in an uproar over new photos that surfaced of alleged, continued horse abuse and neglect at John Byrialsen's horse farm, Stutteri Viegaard, in Skals, Denmark.

Byrialsen, who two decades ago ran a successful breeding and sales business with stallions Come Back II and Lobster, has regularly been in contact with the police and animal welfare concerning neglected horses


First reports of abuse were were discovered at John Byrialsen's stud farm in Posadowo, Poland, in 2011 and 2013 when one of the employees at the stud published a video of the conditions of the horses on the Internet.

Polish animal welfare organization "Pogotowie dla Zwierzat" got involved and seized 64 horses.

At that time Danish police and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration examined 500 horses spread out over four properties at John Byrialsen's Viegaard stud in Denmark. On one of the properties, 15 horses were found to be underweight and 10 had hooves that needed trimming. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration assessed that there had been a violation of the Animal Welfare Act, but that it was not a serious animal welfare case.

Danish magazine BT reported in 2013 that Chinese business man Yong Yun Zhang rescued Byrialsen from financial ruin by paying off his mortgage of 6 million DKK for Viegaard farm, his property which the Danish bank  Jyske Sparekasse had seized.


In 2018 the police was again sent to Viegaard farm to inspect skinny horses. TV station TV MIDVEST showed disturbing images of very thin horses to vet Inger Lund Overgaard, who finds the condition of the horses completely unacceptable. The case was handed over to Viborg police but they dropped the case

Emaciated horse at Viegaard in 2023
Photo © Tyrell Cotant)
Viborg Folkeblad posted that according to Dyrenes Beskyttelse (Danish Animal welfare), the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration inspects the yard from time to time, but according to anonymous sources the neglected horses are simply relocated before their visits.

According to Landbrugsavisen, Byrialsen was again reported for neglect in 2020.


The past week a huge uproar arose on social media when whistleblower Tyrell Cotant posted new photos of emaciated and sick horses. The young American man took those during his three-week stay at Viegaard from 16 February till 3 March 2023, as he was hired to train the unbroken youngsters there. 

Cotant wrote on his Facebook page, "They feed moldy silage to these horses only and don’t clean the stalls. There are horses with open wounds and no vet around in sight. He lets them die and doesn’t help them."

Cotant told TV Midvest that, "if he (Byrialsen) gets indications of a visit from the authorities, he spends the whole night moving horses in his little red trailer. It is his salvation every time. He also wanted us to move horses constantly."

Both the association Stop Abuse of Animals Behind Fences and Horse Protection have reported the stud farm to the police. The Central and West Jutland Police confirmed they received a report.  Christian Toftemark, deputy police inspector and head of the local police in Viborg and Skive, told TV Midtvest, "we evaluate the new reports that have come in. We are in a place where we have a watchful eye on it, so that it hopefully doesn't happen again."

Public Outcry

remains of a horse in a mass grave,
allegedly at Viegaard
The lack of immediately action from the local police and Danish animal welfare authorities has led to an immense public outcry on social media. Danes are now taking the matter into own hands.

On the Danish facebook page Stop Vanrøgt Af Dyr Bag Hegn photos are shown of a mass grave with horse carcasses apparently taken at Viegaards yard. Witnesses have seemingly gone to Byrialsen's properties in Denmark and taken photos to gather more evidence of atrocities happening there. It is illegal in Denmark to bury a horse on your own property. 

Dorthe Brauner Jensen has posted photos of bones, wounds, and graves on that page. She also accuses the Viborg police of protecting Byrialsen and condoning the abuse. Operation Oxenholt has posted photos, seemingly at Viegaard, showing a horse shot, as well as a rifle in a van, although the authenticity of these pictures (as taken at Viegaard) is unsure.

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