I saw this article and thought it noteworthy. Original article here.
A German coach who punched a horse will not be prosecuted for animal cruelty after officials ruled it was an ‘exceptional physical and psychological situation’.
German prosecutors will drop the investigation into athlete Annika Schleu and coach Kim Raisner once the pair have paid an agreed sum to an unnamed charity, prosecutors in the eastern city of Potsdam said on Tuesday.
Schleu, 31, lost her chance of a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics modern pentathlon last year when the horse Saint Boy, which was assigned to her at random, refused to cooperate during the showjumping round.
Athletes are given only 20 minutes to bond with an unfamiliar horse before their round and Schleu, who had been leading the field, was in tears as she came into the ring.
TV footage showed Schleu, representing Germany in Tokyo, repeatedly using the whip as she was urged to strike the horse by Raisner, who was also seen leaning over a fence to apparently hit Saint Boy with her fist.
German prosecutors will drop an animal cruelty investigation into athlete Annika Schleu and coach Kim Raisner, after footage showed Raisner striking a horse with her fist (pictured)
The investigation will be dropped when Schleu and Raisner (pictured in 2015) have paid an agreed sum to an unnamed charity, prosecutors in the city of Potsdam said on Tuesday
Prosecutors said they decided to drop the animal cruelty investigation because the horse was not injured, the conduct in question took place ‘briefly’, and because the Olympics constituted an ‘exceptional physical and psychological situation’.
The prosecutors added that, since the modern pentathlon’s governing body plans to remove riding from the sport, a repeat of the incident is unlikely.
Raisner, 49, was suspended from the Tokyo Olympics after the incident and later ordered to undergo animal welfare training before attending any International Modern Pentathlon Union competitions.
At the time, the world governing body for modern pentathlon, the UIPM, issued a statement revealing Raisner’s punishment.
The statement read: ‘The UIPM Executive Board (EB) has given a black card to the Germany team coach Kim Raisner, disqualifying her from the remainder of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
‘The EB reviewed video footage that showed Ms Raisner appearing to strike the horse Saint Boy, ridden by Annika Schleu, with her fist during the riding discipline of the women’s modern pentathlon competition.
Schleu (pictured) lost her chance of a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics modern pentathlon last year when the horse Saint Boy refused to cooperate during the showjumping round
TV footage showed Schleu, representing Germany in Tokyo, repeatedly using the whip and Schleu’s hopes of a medal were dashed when Saint Boy collided with the fifth hurdle
‘Her actions were deemed to be in violation of the UIPM competition rules, which are applied to all recognised modern pentathlon competitions including the Olympic Games.
‘The EB decision was made today at the Tokyo Stadium before the resumption of the men’s modern pentathlon competition.’
Raisner is a former modern pentathlete who competed at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.
Schleu’s horse had appeared spooked before even entering the arena, and aimlessly made his way around the challenging course while refusing several jumps.
Coverage seemingly showed an emotional Schleu in floods of tears before even beginning her performance on Saint Boy, who had already proven a tricky ride for his first athlete.
Having made their way into the arena, Schleu set about attempting to salvage her dreams of a podium finish but after Saint Boy cleared four sets of hurdles, he collided with the fifth.
It brought a rapid end to her lead and Saint Boy buckled despite Schleu looking to guide him around the course for another go. She was made to finish with zero points, leaving her rock bottom.
Having narrowly missed out on a medal in Rio 2016, after finishing fourth, Schleu was left devastated. Her tears were broadcast as Saint Boy jumped around, seeming alarmed and in no fit state to compete.
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What happened to the horse in the Olympics was nothing compared to what happens to race horses every day of the week. Anyone who’s spent any time watching horses interact with each other knows that a person punching a horse on the butt is nothing compared to what they do to each other. Horses don’t just bite with their teeth – they also punch other horses with their teeth, not to mention kicking. I would say that the horse at the Games was either having an off day or was being asked to perform a job it didn’t want to do. I m glad they’ve removed the riding part of that competition; there were several rider falls and horses refusing to jump.
Rox is right – the last several televised equine events I’ve seen (Olympics and otherwise) have been full of unhappy horses. I’ve never seen more pinned ears, wringing tails and horses who seem to having a perfectly miserable time.
I can’t decide who is more unhappy – the jumpers being “rated” with the crank and yank method or the dressage horses with their chins in their chests in what passes for legitimate collection now days. You’ll notice in most cases the nosebands are cranked down to the max on most of them.
Events like the one in question where a horse is paired with a strange rider seem confusing for the horse and to send the message that the horses are interchangeable like identical screwdrivers. My feelings for the horses aside, I always wonder what owner wants to risk ruining an expensive and highly trained animal in this way.
“…because the horse was not injured” by the punch (the whipping wasn’t mentioned as anything possibly being wrong with the treatment of this terrified exhausted horse). Maybe not physically injured. But I will bet my bottom dollar that due to the punch and the WHIPPING that he’s not going to be very committed to being ridden and most of all jumped.
The equine cruelty at the last few Olympics has been shocking. Especially these last Olympics where the horses were forced to continue performing in high heat/high humidity. Particularly horrible on the cross country course where at least one horse collapsed and was removed from competition. This information is available more widely on equine newssites – sure was not being reported by the mainstream media which has a strong financial interest in keeping that kind of thing out of the news.
The horse no longer matters except as a soulless vehicle twisted and tortured to up the medal count – and that medal count isn’t for simply personal national pride or team glory. It’s all sickeningly political. Not anymore the Olympics that I’ve watched for most of my very long life. And why after the last Olympics, not bothering to watch in future.