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The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were unprecedented in many ways, but one thing we all could have predicted was that the suffering of the horses used for the equestrian events would continue. Show jumping, dressage, cross country, and other equine “sports” can be extremely cruel. Just take a look at these incidents—and PETA’s viral video, viewed nearly 1 million times—from this year’s Olympic Games:
German pentathlon competitor Annika Schleu was riding a horse named Saint Boy when she was filmed whipping and spurring him during the jumping portion of the competition after he refused to enter the course. As the rider’s frustration increased, Schleu’s coach, Kim Raisner, was shown hitting the clearly startled Saint Boy. After the incident, Raisner was rightfully expelled from the Olympics.
Jet Set, ridden by Swiss competitor Robin Godel, appeared to be injured in the middle of a cross-country course during an Olympic competition. Veterinarians diagnosed the injury as an irreparable ligament rupture in one of his legs, and he was euthanized.
During another show-jumping event, blood poured from Kilkenny’s nose, and although it was clearly visible to those watching, Irish rider Cian O’Connor forced the horse to finish the course. Nothing was done by officials to stop the competition to check on him. One thing is clear: Horses don’t care about gold medals. And unlike humans, they don’t choose to participate in dangerous events—they’re forced to. Please take action to call on the International Olympic Committee to remove all equestrian events immediately. Leave the Olympics to the willing participants.