The coach of Germany’s modern pentathlon team was disqualified from the Tokyo Olympics because she punched a horse.
The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM), the sport’s governing body, announced Saturday it was giving a black card to Kim Raisner, dismissing her from the remainder of the Games, after reviewing video footage from a Friday event.
The footage “showed Ms Raisner appearing to strike the horse Saint Boy, ridden by Annika Schleu (GER), with her fist,” the group said in a statement. That violated UIPM competition rules, they said.
The light punch came after Schleu, who was heading into the show jumping round with a commanding lead, was trying to get Saint Boy to respond to her commands. But the horse was obstinate.
“She looks very, very nervous here,” one commentator said as the horse bucked and walked in reverse. “What on earth is going on here? The horse is refusing!”
Raisner was heard on video urging Schleu to hit the horse with her riding crop to get it to comply. This was an unfamiliar horse for Schleu, who — like all competitors in the modern pentathlon — drew the horse at random and only had 20 minutes to bond with it before the event.
“I said hit it,” Raisner said, according to the German media outlet DW. “But she didn’t torture the horse, in any way,” said Raisner.
At one point, Raisner lightly punched the horse once above its back leg. The horse did not seem to notice.
Schleu ended up scoring zero points in the show jumping segment, finishing the competition in 31st place.
Modern pentathlon combines five events: fencing, freestyle swimming, equestrian show jumping, pistol shooting and cross-country running.
In a statement to CNN, the German Olympic Committee said that Friday’s showing damaged the image of the sport. “Numerous recognizable excessive demands on the horse, and rider combinations should be an urgent reason for the international association to amend the rules,” the committee said. “It needs to be changed so that the horse and the rider are protected.”