Update: May 25, 2021
We were notified by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) that Kevin Lemke was issued a four-month suspension and a $4,000 fine for using excessive force on a horse named Good Luck. This penalty will be on Lemke’s permanent record that’s included in his member file with the USEF and will be considered for enhancing any future penalties, if he violates the USEF’s rules again.
PETA is calling for a criminal investigation after a shocking act of abuse unfolded—on camera—last month at a horse-jumping event in Thermal, California. Kevin Lemke, a competitive jumper, was filmed in a show ring at the Desert International Horse Park in a $25,000 Open Classic class viciously hitting a horse named Good Luck numerous times with a whip after the animal refused a jump. In a fit of apparent frustration, Lemke hit Good Luck so hard that the sound of the whip repeatedly striking the horse’s skin is audible in the video footage below:
Using excessive force to strike Good Luck got Lemke disqualified, but this cruelty transcends a simple rules violation.
PETA has already submitted a cruelty complaint about Lemke to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. But we’re not stopping there.
We’re also urging the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the Fédération Équestre Internationale—organizations to which Lemke belongs—to conduct their own thorough investigations into this violent and volatile individual. Though he was disqualified for his behavior at this particular event, these industry oversight bodies must pursue all appropriate actions, including consideration of banning him from competing in future events and permanently revoking his eligibility and memberships.
Update: After hearing from PETA, officials at USEF confirmed that the organization is reviewing the incident.
Lemke’s behavior is a red flag. Investigators should also look into his wider conduct as a trainer, including his behavior outside the show ring.
Lemke committed this brazen act of abuse in clear public view—in front of judges and other competitors—and seemingly did so without a moment of hesitation. This raises serious questions about his treatment of animals when he believes that no one is watching. Studies have repeatedly shown that those who harm animals often later direct their rage at fellow humans. That’s why we’re adamant that law enforcement and all show jumping organizations to which Lemke belongs also look into his conduct during teaching and training sessions.
Inside PETA’s Work to Take On Cruelty to Horses
PETA does not support deadly “sports” involving horses. However, simple changes could make a world of difference for horses. You can help support our efforts by calling on racetracks to enact the following rules and commit to protecting horses: