The Federation Equestrian International (FEI) announced that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld its 2021 decision to suspend U.S. show jumper Andrew Kocher 10 years for using electric spurs on various horses.
The ruling upholds the 2021 decision not only to suspend Kocher for a decade but also to impose additional sanctions including the disqualification of his results from eight events between June 2018 and November 2019 where evidence supported his use of electric spurs.
Fines and legal costs total about $19,400. Kocher had appealed the decision in July 2021, seeking to eliminate or otherwise reduce the sanctions imposed.
In his defense, Kocher argued during proceedings that a device seen in pictures of him riding was a clicker and not a trigger for electrified spurs.
At the 2019 National Horse Show in Kentucky, Kocher rode Fashion V in the $36,000 Welcome Speed Stake. What appears to be a device with a button can be seen in his right hand in photos.
“We are extremely satisfied with this outcome and that the sanctions imposed, to reflect the severity of the offenses committed by Mr. Kocher have been upheld,”, said FEI Legal Director Mikael Rentsch.
“It may have taken two years to complete this process, but it confirms that we had the right decision to start with, and that there is no room for leniency when it comes to cases of horse abuse.
“We have rules and regulations in place to protect the integrity of our competitions and the wellbeing of our horses, and when these rules are breached and their welfare is jeopardized, we will continue to seek to impose maximum sentences,” Rentsch added.
Kocher is barred from participating in or attending, in any capacity, including as a spectator, any competition or event that is authorized or organized by the FEI or any National Federation until October. 27, 2030.
The provisional suspension that he began in October 2020, when the FEI opened disciplinary proceedings, will be credited against this period of suspension.
Kocher was first reported in the Independent Equestrian Community Integrity Unit (ECIU) in June 2020 by his former business partner, Eye Candy Jumpers owner Erica Hatfield.
She provided the ECIU with approximately 500 photos as well as key video evidence that showed a shock device and explained how it worked, as well as video of a pair of Kocher’s old riding boots, which showed holes cut in them where wires allegedly would run through to electrify the spurs.
Hatfield told the ECIU that Kocher had used electric spurs on a number of horses in international and national events, and during training.