A rider who was caught on camera repeatedly hitting his horse during a showjumping round has been suspended for four months and fined $4,000 (£2,824).
Following an investigation, US Equestrian (USEF) has announced the sanctions for Kevin Lemke’s “unsportsmanlike behaviour using excessive force with a horse”.
The incident occurred during the rider’s round on Good Luck at the Desert International Horse Park in California on 30 January.
Video shows the horse refusing at an out-of-sight jump, after which Kevin hits him hard, six times. As a bell goes to signal elimination, explained by the commentator as being owing to excessive whip use, he kicks the horse and canters round to the fence again.
The horse crashes through the jump, the first part of a double, and stops at the second part as he is not in a position to take off.
Animal rights campaigners asked USEF and the FEI to revoke the rider’s membership and ban him from competing in future USEF- and FEI-sanctioned events. As the show was a national event, the FEI said it had no jurisdiction in the case and was working with USEF.
A spokesman for USEF said this week: “USEF is firmly committed to safeguarding and protecting horse welfare and will continue to investigate and take disciplinary action for reported violations of horse welfare and unsportsmanlike conduct at USEF licensed competitions.”
The rider says he has apologised to the show, his horse, and the owner
The rider said he intends to appeal immediately to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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In a statement soon after the incident, Kevin said he had apologised to the show, his horse and the owner.
“The horse show dealt with it by giving me a yellow card and a warning, and I obviously accepted it, and it won’t be happening again,” he said.
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