German coach who struck horse at Olympics accused of cruelty to animals

The incident happened during last Friday's competition in Tokyo when Annika Schleu could not bring her horse Saint Boy under control during the showjumping segment and repeatedly used her whip on it.

Annika Schleu of Germany cries as she couldn't control her horse to compete in the equestrian portion of the women's modern pentathlon at Tokyo Olympics.   -  AP

The German Animal Welfare Association said Friday it has filed a complaint of cruelty to animals against a German modern pentathlete and a coach, who was thrown out of the Tokyo Olympics for striking a horse during the women's event.

Annika Schleu and German coach Kim Raisner are accused of "cruelty to animals" and "aiding and abetting cruelty to animals," said the association in a statement.

The incident happened as Schleu was leading last Friday's competition in Tokyo but could not bring her horse Saint Boy under control.

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The mount refused to jump the fences in the showjumping segment.

A frustrated and tearful Schleu repeatedly used her whip on the horse with Raisner overheard encouraging her to "hit it" during live coverage.

The International Modern Pentathlon Union said footage then showed Raisner "appearing to strike the horse ... with her fist", which resulted in the coach being thrown out of the Olympics.

Schleu eventually finished well outside the medals in 31st place with Britain's Kate French winning the gold.

Competitors in the modern pentathlon draw their horses at random.

The German Animal Welfare Association criticised Schleu for having "roughly beaten the frightened and overtaxed the horse several times".

Raisner is accused of urging the athlete "to commit this act of cruelty to animals".

"Of course, an athlete fixated on Olympic gold is under enormous stress at that moment, but that is no excuse for cruelty to animals," said Thomas Schroeder, President of the association.

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In a later interview with AFP subsidiary SID, Raisner admitted "I said 'hit it'. But she (Schleu) didn't torture the horse, not in any way".

Schleu insisted to German daily newspaper Die Zeit that she had not treated the horse "extremely harshly".

However, she admitted she could have reacted "a bit calmer and more level-headed".

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