Sir Mark Todd faces a British Horseracing Authority (BHA) probe after a video of the Olympian-turned-trainer repeatedly hitting a horse appeared on social media.
The footage, believed to be two years old, shows the New Zealander, who won eventing gold at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and at Seoul four years later, striking a reluctant horse on the rear 10 times with a branch in order to make it cross a water obstacle.
As the animal consents to enter the water, cheering can be heard in the background – but the video sparked widespread outrage when it was published on Saturday.
And now Todd, knighted in 2013 for services to equestrian sports before taking out a licence to train in Britain six years later, is set to face a grilling from the regulator.
“The footage seen this weekend of Sir Mark Todd hitting a horse with a branch has rightly caused anger and upset within the equestrian community and beyond,” said a BHA statement.
“His behaviour, for which he has apologised, fell a long way short of the standards of care we expect of licensed individuals and that we know is provided to the overwhelming majority of horses in training in Britain every day.
“The BHA is looking into the incident.”
Embarking on a damage-limitation exercise on Saturday night, Todd apologised and admitted that he “did not adhere” to his principle of “establishing a mutual respect” between horse and rider.
He said: “I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip.
“One of the main things I preach is about establishing a mutual respect between horse and rider and that patience and kindness is the best way to get results.
“I believe this is one of the main attributes along with a great empathy with animals that has enabled me to have a long and successful career in eventing.
“I am very disappointed in myself that I did not adhere to that in this case.”
But, with equine welfare forever in the spotlight – and the Cheltenham Festival set to start in 29 days’ time – the 65-year-old’s words may not be enough to satisfy the BHA.
The furore comes just under 11 months after Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning trainer Gordon Elliott received a 12-month ban – of which six months were suspended – for being photographed astride a dead horse on his Co Meath gallops.
The Tucson Rodeo in Tucson, Arizona is an inherently brutal event where animals are injured and traumatized for one of the lowest forms of entertainment by being roped and dragged, forced to perform in front of a loud and rowdy audience, and electrically shocked to make them appear wild when they leave the chutes.
We must urge Tucson community leaders to exercise compassion and integrity by enacting a ban on the use of electric shock devices at the rodeo, as a step toward phasing out this abusive event completely.
Undercover video footage has documented this abuse every time investigators have infiltrated the arena with cameras.
The sneaky tactics, body language, and overall behavior displayed by the individuals using the Hot-Shot devices (hand-held electric shockers) all serve to reinforce the fact that they are fully aware that this is an unacceptable practice that should be hidden from public view.
Many rodeos sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association have abandoned the use of electric shock devices at their events. It’s long past time for the Tucson Rodeo to follow suit.
Forget the myth of the rodeo as an all-American sport.
Modern rodeos are nothing more than western-themed circuses with contestants racing against the clock in various spectacles of domination for cash prizes.
Yet it’s the animals who pay the price.
Many rodeo fans themselves are enraged to learn that the bulls and horses are being subjected to extremely painful 5,000-6,000-volt zaps from Hot-Shot devices during the event.
This abusive practice has nothing to do with tradition, as rodeos existed long before shock prods were invented.
Common decency demands that corrective action be taken to alleviate the animal suffering caused by abusive electric shock techniques.
For more than a decade, Tucson-based SPEAK (Supporting and Promoting Ethics for the Animal Kingdom) and SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) have obtained undercover video footage on various occasions that depicts the routine shocking of animals.
A designated individual moves from chute to chute, shocking horses and bulls just before they are released into the arena.
The following video clips obtained inside the Tucson Rodeo Arena clearly show animals who were injured to the point where they could not stand up on their own, much less leave the arena on their own power:
Why don’t all injured animals receive veterinary treatment?
Why is this sort of animal abuse allowed in the first place?
The answer to both of these questions is the same.
It’s because the rodeo is an event based on the dominance and exploitation of animals, and when any of the unwilling participants are injured, it is only a momentary interruption in the arena that is soon forgotten by an audience whose primary concern is unfortunately of self-gratification, not the welfare of the animals involved.
“With this rodeo in its 97th year, will it really take our community a century to finally realize that there’s no such thing as a rodeo without animal cruelty? The real concern is not how many people are admitted to the event, but rather how many people in the arena admit to the animal abuse that they witness.” SPEAK president coordinator Gary Vella
“Undercover video footage at the Tucson Rodeo has revealed the electric shocking of horses and bulls. Many rodeos have abandoned the use of these 5000-6000 volt Hot Shot devices. I am calling on Tucson community leaders to exercise compassion and integrity by enacting a ban on the use of these abusive electric shock devices at the Tucson Rodeo.”
And I mean…Rodeo is a holdover from the old “wild west” in America.
In rodeo spectacles you can see cowboys on wildly jumping horses or bulls.
The horses used in these tacky events these days are no longer wild horses, but often cheap horses that are considered “unrideable”.
The wannabe cowboys try to stay on the animal’s back as long as possible, despite the resistance.
Whoever can do this the longest wins.
Due to its primitive basic structure, rodeo cannot be carried out in an animal-friendly manner, as the rodeo mafia often wants to sell.
Rodeo doesn’t work without violence.
Rodeo is all about turning domestic animals, such as horses and cattle, “wild” through physical manipulation.
The most important means of coercion at the rodeo is the flank strap.
Tame horses and bulls are forced to be wild by having the flank strap buckled very tightly around their groins and genitals.
And because this causes great pain to the animals, they “buck” to get rid of the belt.
The wannabe cowboy supposedly only has to stay on the animal’s back for 8 seconds.
But even when the cowboy has been shaken off, the animals buck like mad until their flank straps are removed.
Even if the flank belt is partly padded, it doesn’t relieve the terrible pain.
Animals in rodeos are treated as “disposable” items, especially in the United States.
They are often destined for the slaughterhouse and are supposed to “entertain” people once more before they die.
Horses, bulls, calves and other animals often break their necks, backs and legs.
Some die right there at the rodeo.
In America there are hardly any laws protecting animals at such events.
But even at German rodeos, the animals are treated like objects.
A shame is this primitive spectacle, like any form of entertainment based on animal cruelty.
WAV Comment: We communicate with Erika almost every week and are always more than pleased to watch some of the latest monthly rescues which get sent through to us. The dedication of the team is amazing, so please give them your support if you are able – donation links are given below.
Little Adoo is amazing – watch the video and see how this little guy was saved just in time and brought back from the edge of death.
Animals bring out our best in so many ways. Those of us who are shy around people, may chatter with delight to an animal. We might be upset, but one look into the eyes of a dog and our bad mood melts away.Feeling a little anxious or sad? Meet Tulip in the video below.
Tulip wasn’t an old lady after all!
At first you might think this dog is an elderly frail old lady, but she is a puppy who was suffering from advanced mange and starvation.
To our amazement she greeted her rescuers with the trust and affection of someone not defeated, but with a strong will to live. We hurried her into treatment, knowing that in this desperate condition, her immune system was very weak and at any moment she could take a turn for the worse. Her innocent eyes peered up at her caregivers with so much hope from the first moments. And thankfully, her appetite was strong and she dove right in.
We named her Tulip and watched with joy as day by day her health improved and a playful puppy emerged.
When we warmed Adoo up, he turned into a bright little star!
If we couldn’t warm up little Adoo quickly he was going to die from the cold.
Somehow he had gotten wet, and his body went into hypothermia–a life-threatening condition that affects the heart and other organs. We rushed him to our hospital and placed him in a nest of hot water bottles and blankets and started him on warm IV fluids. But all we could do was wait to see if his little body would respond to the external warmth.
By the next morning, we met a new little guy–his eyes were sparkling and he even ate on his own before going back to his mama.
Warm a little soul through rescue and medical care. Donate today
Balveer’s will to live was even bigger than his wound…
One of the most difficult cases we’ve treated, this quiet dog had a wound filled not only with maggots, but a resistant bacteria that continued to cause damage.
We were alarmed that even once we had removed the maggots and cleaned the wound, it continued to grow larger by the day.Even before the wound responded to the antibiotics, this boy had unusually gentle perseverance. He kept very still throughout his weeks of daily wound dressings. He seemed to be waiting patiently for his body to heal. It was incredible to see that as his wound shrank, his happiness rose to the surface.