Olympic coach disqualified for punching a horse

Germany’s coach for the modern pentathlon, Kim Raisner, has been disqualified from the remainder of the Olympic Games after she was seen during the competition punching a horse and encouraging her athlete to do the same. 

The incident occurred during Friday’s show jumping round of the women’s equestrian competition, as the horse, Saint Boy, became distressed and refused to jump or follow the commands of rider Annika Schleu.

Video of the incident shows Saint Boy seemingly in distress, as Schleu grows visibly more frustrated. 

As Schleu tried to convince the horse to move into the arena to begin the event, she hit the back of the horse as her coach, Raisner, encouraged her to do so. Raisner then punched the horse above its back leg, while telling Schleu to “really hit it.”

Even after Schleu convinced Saint Boy to enter the arena and begin the event, he refused to do several of the required maneuvers. Videos show Schleu repeatedly whipping the horse as she grows more frustrated by the situation.

The modern pentathlon — a sport that includes rounds of equestrian show jumping, fencing, swimming, cross country running and laser pistol shooting — uses horses that riders do not train with before the competition, and athletes typically meet and bond with the horses for the first time shortly before the competition. 

According to the Associated Press, Saint Boy had also refused to perform for a Russian athlete prior to Schleu’s event on Friday.

The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) said that its executive board reviewed video footage of the incident and found that Raisner had appeared to strike the horse with her fist. They promptly issued her a black card, which disqualified her from the remainder of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the organization said.

The German Olympic Sports Federation also released a statement on the incident and called for the international association to change their rules to better protect the welfare of both horses and riders.