Dark side of Olympic Equestrian sport


Credits: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

For today, let’s talk about Olympic Equestrian disciplines: Eventing, Jumping and Dressage.

Equestrian sport itself is the only Olympic sport where two participants compete together as one entity. For promoting this fact, FEI launched really amazing social media campaign “Two Hearts”, describing the union of rider and horse.

Remember Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger”?

This motto can be implemented to all Olympic sports, except Equestrian sport, because you can’t explain to your horse the necessity of being “Faster, Higher, Stronger”. You only can coerce your horse to be “Faster, Higher, Stronger”, for example, by using the whip.

And the Equestrian sport is the only Olympic sport, where fatalities of both riders and horses are beyond reasonable numbers.

“Eventing: the most dangerous Olympic competition & also considered one of the world’s most deadliest sports – statistically more dangerous than F1. ”
Emily King, UK

But there is the big difference between death of rider and death of horse.

Did you ever read the Olympic Charter?

On page 13 of this document you can find the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism“.

Article 4 declared that “the practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport”.

For horses, there is no freedom of the will. Horses have no right to choose: to practice the sport or not to practice.

Riders die on their own volition. It’s their own choice to ride and to die. But horses can’t make the choice. They are forced by riders to ride and to die.

Horses have no rights and freedoms. Thus the Equestrian sport does not match the Olympic Charter.

Today we reveal the detailed statistics of horse deaths in Olympic Equestrian disciplines for last 7 years.


Eventing is number one for horse deaths: 60 horses dies in competitions since 2010.
In Jumping there are 32 horse deaths since 2010.
Can you imagine that even Dressage can lead to horse death? It is, in fact.

The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2016

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The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2015

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The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2014

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The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2013

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The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2012

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The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2011

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The Equine Obituary: Eventing 2010

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2016

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2015

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2014

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2013

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2012

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2011

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The Equine Obituary: Jumping 2010

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The Equine Obituary: Dressage 2011

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Cross Country: Licence to Kill

News from Eventing sport looks like criminal chronicle, with the most frequently used word “killed” in many news posts.

Just a little review of last killings:

Argentinean event rider Santiago Zone was killed at a national event on 1 October 2016.

Russian event rider Nikita Sotskov was killed at the Ratomka Horse Trials on 10 September 2016.

British event rider Philippa Humphreys has died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event in New Jersey, United States on 14 May 2016.

Australian event rider Caitlyn Fischer was killed at Sydney International Horse Trials on 30 April 2016.

Australian event rider Olivia Inglis was killed at Scone Horse Trials on 6 March 2016.

French event rider Guillaume Pucci has died on 14 June 2015 after being in a medically-induced coma for seven months.

Italian event rider Sabrina Manganaro was killed at a national event on 12 April 2015.

Portuguese event rider Francisco Seabra was killed at the Alegra Rancho Eventing Tour de Utrera in Sevilla, Spain on 14 February 2015.

Two riders were killed in one day on 14 June 2014:

Canadian event rider Jordan McDonald was killed at Nunney Horse Trials.

German event rider Benjamin Winter was killed at Luhmühlen Horse Trials.

Are we talking about sports yet after reading such news? Or do we just see the senseless way to die?

Five riders died in 7 months in cross country events, and such high number of fatalities is not normal for any sports, or do you have another opinion?

When enough is enough for cross country? How many lives have to be killed before the FEI will make the decision that cross country should be drastically changed or even banned forever?

Since 1993 till 2016 there were 59 rider deaths in the discipline of eventing.

Plus 5 deaths in current year.

Do you want the new killings? Is it time to make changes in this sport?

Olivia Inglis, picture from Facebook

For now, we can easily predict that new deaths will happen in cross country in coming months. Let’s wait for new obituary.

“Phantom horses”

As you can see above, there are some so-called “phantom horses”, which have participated in competitions after date of their death, according to the FEI database!
You can check it right now, just open the FEI website and check the horses which marked in red color.

How is this possible? Is this a glitch of the FEI database, or did the organizers put the dead horses in the start lists?

Evented to death

Please look at one of above mentioned horse: ORIENT EXPRESS. Click to enlarge:

After 2012 this eventing horse has been on rest period for 3 years. And then, in 2015 there were 4 competitions during 55 days. Last competition ended with XC-FH which means Fall of Horse on Cross Country.

It’s really a lot of competitions for so short period of time! This poor 17 years old horse was literally evented to death! Do you not consider this as horse abuse?

“Horse hell” in Eventing

They call the UAE a “horse hell” in Endurance. Also there is a “horse hell” in Eventing.
23 of 60 dead Eventing horses died in Great Britain. Maybe it is time to suspend Great Britain from Eventing until the horse welfare will be improved in Eventing competitions in Great Britain.

The “Unstoppable” Michael

Another shocking example: the horse IKANTOOK VAN BOST Z. Click to enlarge:

This horse was forced by rider to complete 9 jumping competitions during 2 week period. Last competition was ended by death of horse. Did this poor horse have the choice to practice the sport or not to practice?

This rider, Michael “Unstoppable” Duffy has 790 competitions in his performance records so far! He competes with a lot of horses. For example, the horse DOMINANT H is ridden as often as poor IKANTOOK.

Maybe, the rider is just wondering where are the limits of horse capabilities. When this horse will be “jumped to death”?

Is it “the possibility of practising sport” or just intense exploitation of horse?

Athina Onassis

Even Athina Onassis, who is granddaughter of world famous Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, has the horse which was “jumped to death” – AD CAMILLE Z.

This is the “dark side” of Olympic Equestrian disciplines.

Over 90 horses died for last 7 years in Equestrian disciplines which are Olympic ones. We consider the horses as athletes, because horses are the same important part of this sport as well as riders. Can you name any other Olympic sports, where so many athletes died for last 7 years?

Tell us what you think: should the Equestrian sport be in the Olympics?