The future of showjumping in the modern pentathlon has been discussed at the World Horse Welfare Conference #WhoseOpinionMatters (11 November).

The discipline will no longer be included in the sport after the Paris 2024 Olympics, following widespread concern for the welfare of the horses involved in this year’s Games, but some have argued it should be reinstated.

Roly Owers, Chief Executive Officer at World Horse Welfare, said it was not the inclusion of horses in the sport that was the problem, but the way the horses were being ridden that caused outrage.

“At the Olympics this summer there were some difficult scenes, including the disturbing footage in modern pentathlon,” he said.

“No one could condone what happened, but the issue wasn’t that the horses were being ridden, but how the horses were being ridden, together with the rules of the competition.”

Mr Owers added that in the charity’s view, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (the sport’s governing body) made the wrong decision in removing showjumping from future Olympics.

Overhaul needed

Dressage trainer and rider Pammy Hutton said the modern pentathlon needed to vastly change the rules and regulations of the showjumping element, if it is ever to be reinstated.

“Is this the beginning of the slippery slope of getting all equestrian out of the Games? I really hope not,” she said.

Pammy said the standard of riding had changed in the modern pentathlon in recent years.

“The riding was such an important part of the pentathlon, the athletes learnt to ride at a much greater standard than they do now,” she said. “I have to say, [now] it is slightly much more [like], ‘Well we just get on a horse and kick it round and hopefully the horses are going to be good enough to do what it is that we want them to do’.

“Some of the athletes haven’t bothered to ride. I would say they should be at least up to Stage Four or even a little bit higher, should be able to jump 1.30 at home, and if it’s brought back in at another Olympics [the height of jumps] needs to be lowered.”

She also suggested a different marking criteria, perhaps including judgement style.

“Style matters in dressage so I can’t see why style couldn’t matter,” she added.

“If the athletes had learnt to ride I don’t think the issue would have happened. And its been ongoing for years, Olympics after Olympics. It was going to go. I hope it is brought back in with revised ground rules.”

Lead image: © International Olympic Committee. Photographer Filip Komorous

Find out what’s inside the latest issue of Your Horse

Get the latest issue

Check out our latest subscription offer