Monday 11 December 2017

'I would never whip a horse to death' - Authorities investigate death of animal ridden by Irishman

Irish showjumper Kevin Thornton is at the centre of an investigation following the death of a horse he was riding at an event in France on Monday.

Ireland's governing body for equestrian sport, Horse Sport Ireland, said it is "extremely concerned" by reports of the incident at the two-star show in Cagnes-sur-Mer.

It also said it was liaising with both the French equestrian federation and world governing body the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI).

A statement read: "Horse Sport Ireland, the national governing body for equestrian sport in Ireland, are extremely concerned about reports of the alleged circumstances leading to the death of a horse ridden by Swiss-based Irish rider Kevin Thornton in Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France on Monday October 10th 2016.

"Last night, Horse Sport Ireland was in contact with our colleagues in the French Equestrian Federation, and the rider, to gather information on what happened. We will be continuing with this process.

"Any rider who obtains a licence from Horse Sport Ireland is also subject to the Horse Sport Ireland rules and code of conduct. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for Horse Sport Ireland to comment further on the specifics of the case at this time as the matter will be subject to due process.

"Horse Welfare is a core value of Horse Sport Ireland. The horse is the silent partner in our sport and everyone involved has a responsibility to ensure that the welfare of the horses participating in our sport is never compromised."

Speaking to the Irish Field, Thornton said: “I’m into horses all my life. There is no way I would ever whip a horse to death. I did not do that and I never would. I’m not that person.

“I was also not riding this horse for three hours as is being said on social media. I was riding him for 15-20 minutes at most before he keeled over. I have other grey horses that people seem to be confused with because I was riding them earlier.”

Neither the French federation nor the FEI were immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

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