Germany pentathlon coach: We don't beat up our horses
Germany's Annika Schleu reacts after being disqualified in the Women's Individual Riding Show Jumping round of the Modern Pentathlon at Tokyo Stadium during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Marijan Murat/dpa
Germany's Annika Schleu reacts after being disqualified in the Women's Individual Riding Show Jumping round of the Modern Pentathlon at Tokyo Stadium during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Marijan Murat/dpa

The German modern pentathlon coach disqualified from the Tokyo Olympic Games for punching a horse has expressed regret for the incident and insisted that animals in the sport are not badly treated.

"I am a long way from torturing animals," Kim Raisner told dpa on Sunday. "I love animals, I love horses. We don't beat up our horses."

German gold hopeful Annika Schleu saw her Olympic medal dreams end on Friday when horse Saint Boy refused to take the show-jumping course.

Entering the middle event of the pentathlon with a substantial lead, Schleu's failure to score on the horse left her out of contention in 31st.

Raisner was heard on television encouraging a tearful Schleu to "properly" hit the horse in an unsuccessful bid to get it going and was later ejected from the Games for punching Saint Boy - in an incident she said was overblown.

"Yes, in hindsight you can perhaps say it was too harsh (how she spoke to Schleu), Raisner said. "I also know that this slap on the behind didn't have to happen but it wasn't hard.

"The horse had almost knocked over the people that had opened the gate because it was going backwards. And then it came towards me.

"But that it is now presented that horses are generally treated in such a way is not true."

Schleu is unsure whether she will continue her career but said that is unconnected to the Games.

"That this decision is still open was already clear before the events," the 31-year-old told dpa.

"I have not yet decided how it will continue for me in the sport."

There was widespread social media condemnation over the treatment of the horse and Schleu previously told dpa she had deactivated her Instagram account over comments she had received.

Schleu competed at the London 2012 Games and five years ago in Rio, where she also missed the medals by coming fourth.

Modern pentathlon contains swimming, fencing, running and shooting but a key element of the sport is riding an unfamiliar horse, with athletes given only 20 minutes to bond with their animal before competing.

The governing UIPM said on Sunday that it would lead a review into the riding at Tokyo but that it was "integral" to modern pentathlon.

"Not only will UIPM conduct a full review of the Riding discipline of the Women’s Modern Pentathlon at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, it will also reinforce the importance of horse welfare and athlete safety across the entire global competition structure, the statement said.

"UIPM regrets the trauma suffered by Saint Boy in this high-profile incident and has penalized the coach."

The body acknowledged that the events on Friday had caused "distress" to those in and outside the sport and that some changes were due anyway.

"Although no athlete or horse was physically injured on August 6, the best possible safeguards must be in place to minimise risk in future," it said.

"Changes in Riding were already in the pipeline due to the new Modern Pentathlon format coming into force in 2022 for the Paris 2024 Olympic cycle."

The horse Saint Boy of Germany's Annika Schleu refuses to jump during the Women's Individual Riding Show Jumping round of the Modern Pentathlon at Tokyo Stadium during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Marijan Murat/dpa