Modern pentathlon controversy urges show jumping changes

Modern pentathlon controversy urges show jumping changes

Aug 10, 2021

Changes to the riding part of modern pentathlon will be urgently discussed at the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) 2021 Congress in November following the controversy in the women’s individual event. 

During Germany’s athlete Annika Schleu performance with Saint Boy, we saw an extremely inappropriate behaviour from her trainer, Kim Raisner who was sent home after video footage that showed Raisner appearing to strike the horse Saint Boy for not performing. 

The riding discipline involves show jumping over a 350 to 450 metres course with 12 to 15 obstacles. 


A devastating incident 

Saint Boy had refused to jump after being partnered with Annika Schleu. In Modern Pentathlon, horse and rider are paired 20 minutes before the show jumping competition. The horse was randomly assigned from a pool of 18 horses. Schleu is a three-time Olympian and was fourth during the Rio 2016 competition. 

The Gold medal contender sobbed after Saint Boy napped badly and refused to go near a fence. The athlete beat Saint Boy with her stick multiple times, as instructed from her German coach Kim Raisner. 


The coach received a black card - the most serious field of play sanction - and was ordered to leave the Olympic venue. She was heard urging her rider to “really hit it, hit!” and Raisner herself punched the horse on the flanks with her fist. 

You will find interesting: Using a whip - allowed during equestrian events or not? 

This incident has gone viral and has drawn criticism for many reasons. In the equestrian community, the rider and coach’s abusive actions were deemed as well as the poor riding skills shown in this phase. Not only this incident occurred, but many riders also suffered falls and refusals. 


Changes in Modern Pentathlon

The Modern Pentathlon governing body, UIPM, has claimed it “regrets the trauma suffered by Saint Boy in this high-profile incident and has penalised the coach who violated the UIPM Competition Rules by striking the horse from outside the ring.”

The UIPM will now conduct a full review of the riding discipline of the women’s modern pentathlon, reinforcing the importance of horse welfare and athlete safety in the entire competition structure. 

Months ago Brazilian rider Leandro Aparecido Da Silva was suspended by the FEI Tribunal after mistreating his daughter’s small pony.