Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or just busy running a boarding barn) you must be aware of the Tokyo Olympics modern pentathlon controversy, where German athlete Annika Schleu lost her cool when the horse she was riding refused to jump during the final event of the competition. The video of Schleu sobbing, spurring and striking Saint Boy, a 15-year-old gelding, went viral. In the video the German coach, Kim Raisner, can be seen giving the animal’s haunches a hefty punch to “encourage” it to move forward, as well as instructing Schleu to whip the horse harder.
The horse never did jump, which landed Schleu in 31st place out of 36 athletes, despite entering the phase ranked first, while coach Raisner was dismissed from the games entirely.
The controversy caused the pentathlon’s governing body, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM), to revisit and draw up plans to revamp the equestrian portion of the event to ensure humane treatment of the horses. You can read the contemplated measures in detail here.
But the video also attracted the attention of horsewoman, animal welfare advocate, and oh yes, Emmy-nominated actress Kaley Cuoco. She posted a series of stories on Instagram about the German rider’s horror show, and suffice to say that Cuoco didn’t pull any punches herself during her passionate rant.
“I feel it’s my duty and heart to comment on this disgrace. This is not Olympic show jumping. This is a disgusting, classless, abusive representation of our sport in so many ways. This team should be ashamed of themselves. You and your team did not do your country proud or this sport. You make us look bad. Shame on you and godspeed to any animal that comes in contact with you. Pure classless behavior right here. Disgusting on all levels. This is not our sport. This does not represent our sport. This rider and her “trainer” are a disgrace. I’ll buy that horse outright and show it the life it should have.”
As for Cuoco’s offer to buy Saint Boy? The horse wasn’t actually owned by the German team. In the modern pentathlon the athletes draw random horses provided by locals for the competition and are given only 20 minutes with the mount before entering the ring. Saint Boy is owned and kept at a private stable in Japan where he is apparently enjoying his 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) and some well-earned carrots.
The UIPM posted on its website that it “has received strong assurances from the owners, via Tokyo 2020 organizers, that the horse is safe and well back home at the Minakuchi Riding Club in Shiga Prefecture. The owners said: ‘He is in good health, although fatigued from competition.’”
No word if they’ll entertain Cuoco’s offer nonetheless.