Should we take horses out of modern pentathlon?

Most people in Bude probably watched some of the Olympics, and all were in thrall at the haul of medals, and the incredible feats seen in many events. However, I’ve spoken to a few people who have mentioned feeling very disturbed by the ‘modern pentathlon’, and as an animal lover, I totally get the concern.

There is now a petition to remove showjumping from the ‘modern pentathlon’. Most will be aware of the incident where a horse was punched at the Olympics, not something any of us wants to see.

The Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne said it regretted the “trauma” suffered by a disobedient horse that was punched by a coach at the Tokyo Olympics, and it’s vowed to launch a review into the equestrian event at the games.

The horse, Saint Boy, was struck by the German coach Kim Raisner prior to his refusal to jump during Annika Schleu’s run. Raisner was later kicked out of the Olympics.

The rider, Annika Schleu, was understandably upset but frankly, the horse looked terrified.

On the petition page, it says:

After this year’s Olympics bringing to light the distressing, irresponsible and dangerous showjumping phase in the modern pentathlon, I think the showjumping phase should be removed completely. 

It is outdated and inexcusable to expect a horse to jump at this level only knowing the rider for 20 mins, however experienced they are. 

It is treating the horses as equipment, not as a living thing. Not that any other equipment gets given randomly to the athletes, anyway! They do not allocate bikes, swim suits or trainers, etc., so why allocate the animal?

However well the rider or horse is trained there is an importance to knowing the horse and the horse knowing the rider In order to reduce the risk of injury to both whilst in the ring. 

After years of training, I cannot see why this is fair to the athletes to leave all their hard work up to the fate of what horse they happen to get assigned for this phase either. 

The petition so far has over 2,500 signatures.

For information, in the ancient Greek Olympics, the pentathlon included a race the length of the stadium (about 183 metres [200 yards]), the long jump, the discus throw, the javelin throw, and a wrestling match between the two athletes who performed best in the previous four events.

Later, the first pentathlon event was the classic pentathlon, an athletics competition which was a variation on the Ancient Olympic pentathlon, comprising the long jump, javelin throw, 200 metres, discus throw, and a 1500 metres race. The competition featured at the 1920 and 1924 Summer Olympics but was discontinued thereafter.

No horses were involved in either.

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