Rider under investigation for repeatedly hitting horse in competition

  • A rider under investigation for repeatedly hitting his horse in a showjumping competition says he has apologised, and it will not happen again.

    An animal rights organisation highlighted Kevin Lemke’s round on Good Luck at the Desert International Horse Park, 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 have asked US Equestrian (USEF) and the FEI to revoke the rider’s membership and ban him from competing in future USEF- and FEI-sanctioned events.

    An FEI spokesman said: “The FEI absolutely condemns all forms of horse abuse, whether it occurs in competition or elsewhere. This incident occurred in a national event in the US and, although the FEI does not have jurisdiction in this case, we are liaising directly with the USEF, which is investigating the matter.”

    A USEF spokesman said the video was reported to the federation shortly after the incident.

    “USEF promptly initiated an investigation,” she added.

    “The determination of an appropriate penalty for rule violations, including our abuse and welfare rules, is within the jurisdiction of the USEF hearing committee.

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    “Horse welfare is a top priority to USEF and appropriate action will be taken. We appreciate the shared concern and reporting by our members. As a reminder, all reports of abuse should be made to USEF stewards on competition grounds and can be reported directly to the USEF regulations department at disputes@usef.org.”

    In a statement, 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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