Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein to Run for Board Danish Equestrian Federation

Sat, 01/27/2024 - 16:58
Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein :: Photo © Astrid Appels

Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, a double Danish Olympic team rider and former Danish team trainer, will be running for a seat on the board of directors of the Danish Equestrian Federation.

Tumultuous Year

The board of the Danish equestrian federation came in difficult waters in 2023, when it face massive amounts of criticism following alleged animal abuse at Helgstrand Dressage and Helgstrand medication issue at the National Championships. In the background of all tht the huge animal neglect case at John Byrialsen's Viegaard Stutteri further fuelled the negative climate around horse management and sport in Denmark.

In September 2023 chair Ulf Helgstrand took leave after the federation's ethics were questioned over the alleged protected status of Andreas Helgstrand within the federation despite the doping scandal and Operation X. Vice chair Jakob Blicher Ravnsbo stepped up and acted as interim chairman of the federation since then.

Four New Board Members up for Election

A Double Olympian on Digby
At the start of January both Ulf Helgstrand and Jakob Ravnsbo announced they will be stepping down from their top position in 2024. Two further seats on the board are up for re-election as well.

On 12 January 2024 the board of the DRF communicated that they have put forward Dan Boyter as candidate for chairman. "A unanimous board has decided to nominate him as the board's candidate for the position of chairman," DRF stated.

DRF added, "The new chairman must, among other things, be at the forefront of bringing together equestrian sports across parts of the country, disciplines and interests, both in the short term and in a long-term perspective, and to restore the credibility of equestrian sports and the world's trust in the entire horse welfare area."

Be the Change You Want to See

At the beginning of January Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein made a call on social media that it is time to give the Danish federation new direction. She posted "Now is the Time. The time is right for a new way of thinking. Now it is the responsibility of the clubs that the right people get the right positions."

Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein at the Stutsborg Riding Club
Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein was the Danish team trainer from 2017 till 2021. She was suddenly shown the door by the Danish federation and rumour has it that the group surrounding Helgstrand and his students lobbied for the discontinuation of her job. Nathalie continued as personal coach of Cathrine Dufour and Daniel Bachmann Andersen, two key riders on the Danish team.

Today the Stutsborg Riding Club announced on Facebook that they have chosen to nominate Nathalie as their candidate for the board before the nomination deadline on 1 February 2024. 

"Equestrian sport, in my eyes, has hit rock bottom. And it's not just my point of view, it's many people's. With a new chairman and with new forces on the board, I hope that this can be turned into something positive. Because we have to get the positive things and the positive stories back again," zu Sayn told Ridehesten. "I believe that we can turn this around. But we all have to pull the load there - and not just one person. Or that there are too many people pulling in different directions. It is in the right and one direction that we must all pull towards."

The new board members will be chosen on Saturday 13 April 2024.

Photos © Eurodressage - Stutsborg riding club

Related Links
Helgstrand and Ravnsbo Step Down from Danish Equestrian Federation's Board of Directors
Danish Equestrian World in Turmoil as Ethics of National Federation Are Questioned
Operation X Documentary Causes Cascade of Anger, Indignation, Disapproval