Olympic gold medal-winning eventer Ingrid Klimke is among the riders calling for an urgent review of modern pentathlon rules after controversial scenes in the women’s Olympic competition yesterday (6 August).
Ingrid said the rules “urgently” need to be reconsidered, joining a number of riders expressing concerns about the riding phase of the sport.
Germany’s Annika Schleu was in the lead going into the showjumping, in which competitors ride borrowed horses to jump a course of up to 1.20m.
She could be seen crying as her ride Saint Boy napped, and hitting him with her whip. Coach Kim Raisner was also seen striking the horse with her fist over the fence. The horse started his round, but napped again and later refused to jump.
The coach was banned from the men’s competition today (7 August), but this last competitor’s round was one of a number that prompted equestrians to speak out. Other athletes fell, more than once, or appeared in other ways not to be comfortable in the arena.
Ingrid said today: “For me, trust and harmony are a fundamental part of every way of dealing with the horse.
“The regulations of the modern pentathlon expect horse and rider to get to know each other so well in 20 minutes that they can complete a jumping course together. In my opinion, that is not possible, at least not in a competitive situation like the Olympic Games.”
Ingrid said she would not want to swap places with the pentathletes, adding that horses are so sensitive they immediately pick up on their riders’ feelings.
“In this case also the high level of tension and the unfamiliar atmosphere!” she added. “When you have grown together as a horse-rider couple over the years, you know each other very well and can master such situations together.
“The rules of the modern pentathlon should urgently be reconsidered!”
The German Olympic committee agreed with Ingrid, and the world modern pentathlon governing body UIPM said it “acknowledges the messages received… from people concerned about horse and athlete welfare in modern pentathlon”.
Britain’s Kate French won the individual gold in the women’s event with 1,385 points, including a stylish showjumping round that many on social media said demonstrated her excellent horsemanship. Silver went to Lithuanian Laura Asadauskaite on 1,370 and bronze to Hungary’s Sarolta Kovacs on 1,368.
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