German horse trainer won't be prosecuted for punching horse at Tokyo Olympics

The coach struck the horse with her first, but won't be punished for animal cruelty.
The coach struck the horse with her first, but won't be punished for animal cruelty. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

The German equestrian trainer who punched a horse at the Tokyo Olympic Games will not be prosecuted for animal cruelty because she was in an "exceptional physical and psychological situation".

German prosecutors have dropped the investigation into athlete Annika Schleu and coach Kim Raisner as long as the pair pay money to an unnamed charity. 

Schleu missed out on gold at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics modern pentathlon when horse Saint Boy, which was randomly assigned to her, refused to cooperate during the showjumping round. 

Athletes are given 20 minutes to bond and get to know an unfamiliar horse before they take it into the ring. The Daily Mail reports Schleu was in tears as she and Saint Boy entered.

TV footage showed Schleu repeatedly using a whip on Saint Boy after coach Raisner urged her to strike the horse, who at the same time was seen leaning over a fence to apparently strike it with her fist.

Coach Raisner was suspended from the Olympics over the incident, and was later told to undergo animal welfare training before attending any International Modern Pentathlon Union competitions.

German prosecutors say the decision to drop the animal cruelty investigation came down to the horse not being injured.

They say the conduct in question took place "briefly", and that the Olympics constituted an "exceptional physical and psychological situation". 

They added a repeat of the incident is unlikely because the modern pentathlon's governing body plans to remove riding from the sport.