Paris 2024: after the animal abuse in Tokyo, the modern pentathlon wants to turn the page on horse riding on a good note

A rider in tears on her recalcitrant horse. These images of German pentathlete Annika Schleu during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics were among the most striking of the fortnight. While she was on her way to Olympic gold after the first two events – fencing and swimming – her horse refused to jump the obstacles, and sometimes even to move forward.

Frustrated, Annika Schleu had made several violent gestures towards her horse, inflicting blows with a spur and a whip. Its trainer, Kim Raisner, also punched the animal. This situation “was badly experienced [au sein de la Fédération internationale], because you don’t hit a horse, admits Joël Bouzou, vice-president of the International Union of Modern Pentathlon (UIPM). The frustration was enormous for her, but that does not justify her action.”

Annika Schleu – Modern Pentathlon



If pentathletes are often confronted with a horse that refuses to jump, the reaction of the German rider is, however, much rarer. In any case, this event left its mark. “This triggered the change of test for 2028,” remembers Valentin Belaud, double world champion in 2016 and 2019.

On the international circuit, horse riding will be replaced by a walking obstacle course from 2025. “I supported this development, supports Valentin Prades, European champion and vice-world champion in 2018, because I consider that the draw [du cheval 20 minutes avant l’épreuve] is too unfair.”

It was even a “absolute necessity”, according to Joël Bouzou, who is also president of the French Federation. “We no longer met the IOC criteria [Comité international olympique] for the Olympic program: accessibility, equity, cost, for organizations, but also for practice”, he explains, while specifying that the replacement of horse riding had already been in the pipeline for several years.

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  • Source of information and images “svoboda

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