It wouldn't be the Summer Olympic Games without a scandal or two, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are no exception. While the games have since concluded, there was an incident toward the end that has left fans wondering about the fate of an Olympic horse named Saint Boy. Here's what happened to the horse, where he is now, and an explanation of the scandal.
What happened to Saint Boy? The Olympic horse was feeling his oats.
During the equestrian portion of a pentathlon, the Olympics page states, "Athletes must ride an unfamiliar horse over a show jumping course without incurring penalties and within the allotted time. In the standalone sport of equestrian, riders and horses train together for years; in modern pentathlon, competitors are paired with their horses in a draw just 20 minutes before they compete."
Riding an unfamiliar horse became a detriment to German competitor Annika Schleu, who until her riding portion was a leader in the pentathlon. The horse Annika drew was Saint Boy, who, according to CNN, was "bucking and refusing to trot around the ring." He also refused to jump, which is a key component in the competition.
While misbehaving horses can be frustrating, German team coach Kim Raisner escalated the situation by encouraging Annika to hit the horse and then physically punching the horse herself, much to the shock and horror of animal lovers everywhere. The UIPM did intervene, and CNN reports their statement disqualifying Kim from further competition.
"The UIPM Executive Board has given a black card to the Germany team coach Kim Raisner, disqualifying her from the remainder of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The EB reviewed video footage that showed Ms Raisner appearing to strike the horse Saint Boy, ridden by Annika Schleu (GER), with her fist during the Riding discipline of the Women's Modern Pentathlon competition."
It sounds like both horse and rider are safe now after a difficult time at the Olympics. Hopefully, the next Summer Olympics will put more safety precautions in place for both animal and human competitors.
What is a pentathlon? The competition does have a horse riding aspect.
During the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, competitors participated in what's known as "Modern Pentathlon." The official Olympics website breaks down the challenging sport, which features an individual doing a series of five disciplines to achieve their goal.
As the story goes, the sport originated from a young cavalry officer in 19th-century France who rode on horseback to deliver a message. During his journey, he needed to ride, fight with a sword, shoot, swim and run. The modern version of the sport had each discipline spread over five days, but after the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the competition was reduced to one day of athletics.
The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) was founded in 1948, and now more than 120 countries belong to the organization. The Union ensures that not only is this extreme display of athleticism safe for the participants, but they clarify any rule breaks or changes.
Currently, the competition order is as follows: Fencing Ranking Round, Swimming, Fencing Bonus Round, Riding, and Laser-Run. (Laser-Run is the shooting round.)