American showjumper Michael Morrissey has been handed a three-month suspension by equestrian sport’s governing body, the FEI, for excessive use of the whip.

Mr Morrissey was taking part in a United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) World Equestrian Games selection trial at Wellington CSI** on 27 February 2010, when his horse — Crelido — refused a fence.

According to video posted on YouTube (see below) the rider appeared to hit his horse up to 13 times coming in to a jump.

“I apologise unreservedly for this incident,” Mr Morrissey said.

“I overreacted when the horse stopped and that is unforgivable. Horse welfare has to take precedence over competitive interests and I know that I was in breach of that basic principle.”

Mr Morrissey has been suspended from competition for three months and issued a yellow card. His suspension from FEI competition runs from 5 May to 4 August, in line with the three-month suspension imposed on him USEF.

He has also been disqualified from the event and fined CHF 2,000 (£1,254)

All members of the ground jury have been sent letters of reprimand as a warning after an investigation into the role of the ground jury showed that Mr Morrissey should have been disqualified at the time.

“This incident not only threatened horse welfare and caused reputational damage to the sport and the FEI. All of that would have been avoided if the Ground Jury had properly executed its responsibilities at the time of the incident,” said Lisa Lazarus, FEI General Counsel.

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