German coach disqualified after punching horse at Tokyo Olympics

Horse Saint Boy looking scared with rider Annika Schleu, photo: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado
Horse Saint Boy looking scared with rider Annika Schleu, photo: Reuters/Ivan Alvarado

Germany’s modern pentathlon coach Kim Raisner has been sent home after hitting horse Saint Boy with her fist at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan.

On Friday, she was screaming at rider Annika Schleu to hit her horse when Saint Boy refused to do what she wanted. Raisner is then seen hitting the horse herself. She punched the animal above the back leg.

The Modern Pentathlon federation (UIPM) said Raisner had been disqualified because of her actions.

Modern pentathletes, who compete in five different sports – fencing, swimming, shooting, running and horse riding – for a medal, do not use their own horses.

They draw one at random and are given 20 minutes to warm up with the horse before competing. Shleu pulled the fifteen-year-old male horse Saint Boy.

Schleu was first in the competition before starting with horse jumping. But Saint Boy refused to jump for Schleu and walked backwards.

Schleu’s frustration grew with each refusal, and she was seen screaming and crying. Her coach kept yelling to “really hit” the horse. She was heard live back in Germany, triggering a wave of criticism.

“An urgent review of the incident is necessary, especially in terms of animal protection,” Germany’s Olympic team chief Alfons Hoermann said.

Top-ranked Michelle Gulyás from Hungary and Ireland’s Natalya Coyle suffered similar fates with their horses as they saw their podium hopes crushed, dropping out of the top 10.

“Rules must change in such a way, so that rider and horse are protected,” Germany’s Olympic team chief Alfons Hoermann said.

“The focus must be on the welfare of the animals and the fair competition for athletes,” he added.

The Animal Reader is an animal news organization. We need your help to continue reporting on animal welfare and animal rights. If you can, please consider supporting our work

Previous articleSheep, dogs, rabbits and other animals killed in Greek wildfires
Next articleAlmost 100 thousand signatures to save alpaca Geronimo from being killed