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Animal rights charities are calling for changes to the modern pentathlon after a coach punched a horse at the Tokyo Olympics.
German coach Kim Raisner was thrown out of the Olympics after she lashed out at Annika Schleu’s horse, Saint Boy, during the showjumping round of Friday’s women’s event.
Raisner was also heard urging a tearful Schleu to “really hit” the horse, which was refusing to jump or trot.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) accused Raisner and Schleu of “torturing” the animal, and called for all equestrian disciplines to be removed from the Olympic Games as a result.
“Saint Boy was covered over and over with sweat, his eyes were wide open with fear and had to endure a lot of suffering because Annika Schleu had completely freaked out,” Peter Höffken, an expert from Germany, told British newspaper the Daily Express.
“Forcing horses through a life-threatening course by force dishonors the Olympic spirit and must be a thing of the past once and for all.
“We call on the International Olympic Committee to remove all equestrian disciplines from the list of sports.”
Tony Tyler, Deputy Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, called for The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) – the sport’s governing body – to review its rules.
“To be ethical, the welfare of horses in any sport must be put first alongside that of the riders,” he said.
“This was not demonstrated in all the rides at the Olympics on Friday, where some of the horses were in obvious distress and their treatment was unacceptable.
“A review of the UIPM rules is essential. “
In a statement made on Sunday, the UIPM said the event “caused distress” across the global modern pentathlon community.
“UIPM regrets the trauma suffered by Saint Boy in this high-profile incident and has penalized the coach who violated the UIPM Competition Rules by striking the horse from outside the ring,” it said.
“Not only will UIPM conduct a full review of the riding discipline of the women’s modern pentathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, it will also reinforce the importance of horse welfare and athlete safety across the entire global competition structure.
“Although no athlete or horse was physically injured on August 6, the best possible safeguards must be in place to minimize risk in future.”