EU Sports Law and the Equestrian World: A Galloping Area of Increasing Importance

International Sports Law Journal (2013) 13:168–175

Posted: 6 Mar 2013 Last revised: 21 Jul 2015

Date Written: December 1, 2012


The starting point of this paper is that horses are special and so is sport. The EU has for a long time restricted national sport rules when such rules have been likely to create obstacles or distort competition within the internal market. Much of the academic debate on EU sports law has been concerned with rules governing, in particular, the game of football. The paper tries to offer a critical survey of the different types of EU law involvement in the equestrian sport: an area that has received no, or very little, academic attention thus far. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to offer an account of a ‘new’ area of EU sports law, which seems to have been neglected, or at least largely remained in the shadow of other sports. Equestrianism includes a wide category of horse related sports; most prominently show jumping, dressage and eventing as well as horse racing. In particular, the racing industry is a million euro business with a complex set of national rules that interact with the EU law web, animal protection questions and the rules on gambling as well.

The paper is structured as follows. The first section sets out the basic framework of the EU and sports. The second part of this paper looks at the peculiarities with the equestrian sport and why horse sport is different from ‘other’ sports by clarifying just when EU law is relevant in the context of sport and horses. In doing so the paper focuses in particular on the free movement rules of horses as well as the question of national breeding association prizes for domestic horse breeding in Europe. In addition, the paper looks at the rules governing national racing authorities and their compatibility with EU law. The final section of the paper looks at the anti-doping regulation in the horse sport and its compatibility with EU fundamental rights protection and animal welfare laws.

Suggested Citation

Herlin-Karnell, Ester, EU Sports Law and the Equestrian World: A Galloping Area of Increasing Importance (December 1, 2012). International Sports Law Journal (2013) 13:168–175. Available at SSRN:

Ester Herlin-Karnell (Contact Author)

Uppsala University ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20

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