COULTER: Saint Boy’s rebellion spurs debate about ethical treatment of horses at the Olympics — and beyond

Kendra Coulter, Chancellor’s Chair for Research Excellence and Associate Professor in the Department of Labour Studies at Brock University, had a piece recently published in The Conversation about the ethical duty she says people have to pay attention and listen to horses involved in work and athletic competition.

She writes:

“As the glitter and dust of the Tokyo Olympic games settle, one controversy doesn’t just have legs, it has four legs. This is largely due to an ugly scene in the modern pentathlon, an intense event in which human athletes fence, swim, shoot, run and ride a horse all in the same day. 

During the pentathlon, a horse named Saint Boy — ridden by German athlete Annika Schleu — refused to jump multiple obstacles. This resulted in Schleu having a very public meltdown, and German coach Kim Raisner being disqualified after she was caught on camera punching the horse. The incident generated so much international attention that actress and horsewoman Kaley Cuoco offered to buy Saint Boy.

Saint Boy, who normally lives and works at the Minakuchi Riding Club in Japan, certainly made his views crystal clear on that day in Tokyo. He did not want to participate, no interpretation or detailed horse knowledge needed. Was he an athlete feeling stress and discomfort? A worker withdrawing his labour? A sentient being saying no? As a researcher of animal protection and labour, I’d say all three.”

Continue reading the full article here.

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