Animal Advocacy Group, People for Ethical Treatment into Animals (PETA), seeks to continue its campaign to remove all equine events from the Olympic Games in the future. Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo, who had written to the IOC in August for scrapping horse riding in pentathlon, believes equestrian events should also go away. Horseback riding is already on its way to being replaced by cycling in modern pentathlon after Paris 2024.
“We want to encourage our 9 million supporters and many others who agree with us to tell the IOC what’s obvious to everyone: the Olympics should be modernized to include only willing participants,” Guillermo told ESPN, “Competitions , which involves animals must be terminated and This means that horses that do not care about medals at all should be left out. “
Rider Fouaad Mirza, who had represented India at this year’s Olympics, finds the justification unjustified. He offers that there will always be a case both for and against the sport depending on how one looks at involving animals in competition. “Ours is perhaps the only sport in the world where men and women compete on equal terms, and which involves a human and animal partnership. In terms of Olympic values, it ticks all the boxes of sport, courage, compassion and teamwork. One needs only to walk between the stables to see how much care competitors take of their horses and how devoted we are to them. Horses are an extension of our families. “
Unlike pentathlon riding, where horses and riders are randomly paired with each other 20 minutes before entering the track, the equestrian sport is built around the partnership between rider and mount, choreographed to move harmoniously to invisible aids. Kathy argues that familiarity between humans and animals does not necessarily acquit the sport. “Riding in pentathlon is of course particularly cruel, mating a human and a horse who have never met each other. But in all equestrian competitions the horses have no power,” she adds, “Agree, the horses and humans have a level of familiarity in equestrian sports But make no mistake, horses learn early on that they have to submit – no matter how they feel. It’s a relationship that involves dominance. Horses may be less tense when they know the rider, but they are no less exploited or threatened. . “
As a sport, equestrian sports are seen as wildly expensive and overwhelmingly white, and descriptions such as ‘cracking a horse’ – preparing it for riding, limping and following basic commands do not help either. “I hate that expression and wish we did not call it that,” said Olympian Imtiaz Aneez, who runs a boutique stable and a residential riding school in coastal Gujarat, “but to the argument that horses are being forced in any way, regardless. whether it’s for dressage or jumping, I would say when horses compete at the elite level, it has to be willingness.It can not be coercion.Horses are tested often so that one can not get away with using needles or painkillers.On our facilities, we give them alternative therapy, rest, bandage, multani mitti (fuller’s earth) and the strongest medicine we use are doses of homeopathic Arnica or Calendula. I wish those who criticize our sport would look at the amount of care and money we spend on our horses’ recovery, whether it’s removing lactic acid from their body or leaving them on electrolytes. At the expense of sounding pompous, our horses are more well-groomed than many human athletes. “
Equestrian sports at the Olympics include three disciplines – jumping, events and dressage. Ahead of the London Games in 2012, there was furore over an alleged video of Swedish rider Patrick Kittel using a roll cure – drawing his neck around in a deep curve so that his nose almost touches its chest – on his dressage horse. Kittel would later deny any such incident. Dressage, mainly horse ballet, causes the animals to step aside, pirouette, and perform extended trot to music. Aneez offers that it helps horses to “stay supple and healthy”. Many outside the sport see it as an unnecessary and somewhat ironic routine to put a free-spirited animal through rehearsed choreography.
In recent years, the IOC has sought to address the Olympics’ youth-human problem – making itself more appealing to millennials and the Gen Z audience. In Tokyo, surfing, sport climbing, 3×3 basketball and Freestyle BMX made their initial appearances. Paris 2024 welcomes breakdance on its list, and E-sports will for the first time appear as a demonstration event. This year, the IOC instructed the world equestrian organization FEI to reduce the number of participants and reduce the team jump to a three-man team instead of four. “Like all sports in the Olympic movement, we received a clear message from the IOC President – ‘change or be changed’ – inviting the Olympic sports to make their Olympic events more universal, more exciting, easier to understand and more attractive., especially for new young audiences, “the FEI had said.
Kathy insists that the central issue is about the practice of the sport itself, not specifically the Olympics, but also events at other levels. What put these events on their radar, she explains, was an incident involving a show jumper earlier in the year. She received a video that revealed violent whipping in a show ring in California by a rider named Kevin Lemke. “We filed complaints with both the FEI and the US Equestrian Federation (USEF). In response, USEF suspended Lemke for four months and fined him $ 4,000. As Lemke was no longer registered with the FEI, this body could not intervene. While we knew , that these events could be dangerous, this year we decided that we could not ignore what can only be called abuse. “
Aneez counteracts the argument about possible tough training methods and unnatural routines, citing that almost all riders at the sport’s elite level are animal lovers. The development of the sport and medical science, as he points out, means that injured horses are no longer killed, but instead they can even return to complete fitness and competition. “When we do not agree on anything, it may seem like the easy choice to make up for it. But it is hardly ever a solution. The difficult but sustainable option is to train them in the sport. I have been around horses, since I was four, I grew up bathing, caring for, feeding and brushing them, and today I teach those who train at my facility to do the same. It can go a long way. “
Kathy is preparing for a long campaign. “How far we go depends on what happens. But we keep an eye out. We also receive complaints from those in the equestrian world who are deeply concerned about what they see. Those involved in equestrian events may want to reconsider their future plans.”