For Immediate Release:
August 13, 2021
David Perle 202-483-7382
Tokyo – After German pentathlon competitor Annika Schleu was caught on camera whipping and trying to force the terrified horse Saint Boy onto the course during the Tokyo Olympics, PETA this morning urged Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, to eliminate all equestrian events from the games.
Schleu’s coach, Kim Raisner, was also caught hitting Saint Boy and was expelled from the games. Jet Set, a horse ridden by a Swiss competitor, was injured so badly that he had to be euthanized, and an Irish competitor forced a horse named Kilkenny to finish the course even though he had blood pouring from his nostrils.
“The Olympic Games showcase human athletes, not the ability to terrify and injure horses who don’t choose to compete yet are doing all the work, sometimes at the cost of their very lives,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Just as the games have evolved to include modern sports like skateboarding, PETA is calling on the International Olympic Committee to relegate abusive equestrian events to the history books.”
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
PETA’s letter to Bach follows.
August 13, 2021
International Olympic Committee
Dear Mr. Bach:
I’m writing on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and our more than 6.5 million members and supporters worldwide to request that you eliminate all equestrian events from the Olympics. As you undoubtedly already know, the controversy over equestrian sports has grown—especially during the events of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The world was shocked when a visibly upset German pentathlon competitor, Annika Schleu, was filmed spurring and whipping the horse Saint Boy after he refused to enter the course. Schleu’s trainer, Kim Raisner, was then shown hitting the horse. Raisner was rightfully expelled from the Olympics, but fines and suspensions aren’t enough to protect other horses from trainers who might commit similar offenses.
Jet Set, who was ridden by Swiss competitor Robin Godel, was injured so badly during a cross-country event that he had to be euthanized. And even though Kilkenny had blood pouring from his nostrils, Irish rider Cian O’Connor forced him to finish the course. Officials made no effort to stop the competition immediately in order to check on the horse.
Just as the Olympics evolved to include sports that are of current interest—like skateboarding, surfing, and sport climbing—in a world that increasingly refuses to accept abuse in any form, it’s time to remove sports that are no longer supported by the public. Otherwise, you risk losing your social license to operate.
Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this important matter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Senior Vice President
Equine Matters Department