Mark Todd video
There has been an outpouring of anger and disbelief at the video of Mark Todd repeatedly hitting a horse from behind, when it was refusing to go into the water on a cross country course. This is disturbing not only because it sends the wrong message to other trainers and riders who may be frustrated by a horse not cooperating as hoped, but also, because the equestrian world is increasingly under the eye of the non horse owning public, many of whom believe horses should live in fields, not be ridden and certainly not competed. While horse owners today are generally a more enlightened community, believing that encouragement not force is the way forwards, this has not always been the case. Much as smacking a child is now abhorred, not that many years ago it was a widely accepted form of disciplining a naughty child. While this is not an excuse it does however, suggest a more generational acceptance of actions no longer tolerated.
World Horse Welfare, of which Mark Todd was a patron has issued the following statement.
'The treatment of the horse in this video is disturbing and unacceptable. There is no place in the horse-human partnership for such use of force. Mark agrees that his behaviour was wrong and we welcome his apology. Mark is a consummate horseman, who cares deeply for horses and their welfare but, in this case, either through losing his patience or acting out of frustration, he has badly let himself down.
To his credit, when the video came to Mark’s attention he contacted us and voluntarily stepped down as one of our Patrons. We all need to take heed from this episode. If equestrian sport, which we actively support, is to continue to maintain the acceptance of the public – its social licence – there cannot be any tolerance for unacceptable practises, no matter how experienced the rider or trainer.'