Horses Misbehave During Pentathlon At The Olympics

Whether you're a seasoned equestrian or a beginner, safety should always be a priority. One of the most effective safety measures is wearing an airbag vest. In this article, we'll delve into five compelling reasons why every rider should consider this essential gear. And trust us, reason number four will genuinely surprise you!

Horses Misbehave During Pentathlon At The Olympics


Horses Misbehave During Pentathlon Event At The Tokyo Olympics


In the Pentathlon event at the 2020 Olympics several misbehaving horses left the riders unable to finish the show jumping segment of the event. However, it may not be entirely the horses fault but instead the riders and the Olympics protocols. 

We saw several riders from all over the world compete in various sports but the Pentathlon segment of the Olympics didn’t go as planned for some competitors. Horses and riders couldn’t connect which led to several contestants being unable to finish the show jumping round. Although it begs the question, whose fault is it really?

What Happened?

At the 2020 Olympics many horses competing in the Pentathlon event misbehaved to the point where some riders couldn’t even finish the course. To ensure some sort of fairness, competitors were not allowed to bring their own horses, thus having a horse randomly assigned to them. Many of the assigned horses were not willing or able to compete with their new riders and resulted in several unfortunate incidents.

What Is a Pentathlon?

A Pentathlon is an event that consists of five disciplines: swimming, fencing, running, shooting and riding. It was invented by Pierre de Coubertin and was designed to mimic the tasks of soldiers in the 19th century. Additionally, the Pentathlon has been in the Olympics since 1912.

Dangers Of Riding Randomly Assigned Horses 

Riding a randomly assigned horse is also known as “catch riding”. The riders and horses have no familiarity with one another and there is know relationship prior to the show. Horses are sensitive animals and most often need time to warm up or get to know a rider. Having horses randomly assigned to riders for an intense competition, like the Olympics, poses huge risks.

It is dangerous for any regular person just as much as it is dangerous for a professional. Catch riding can be beneficial by giving the rider more experience and reduces the cost of owning a horse. However, it can result in injury to not only the rider but the horse as well.

More Than One Rider’s Horse Refused To Jump 

Throughout the event the first four of the five disciplines went off without any issue. However, once it came time to the riding segment, the horses were not willing to work. For Annika Schleu of Germany, her horse Saint Boy refused to jump any of the fences which left her unable to finish the course. It wasn’t just for Annika that Saint Boy refused to work, but also for Russia’s Gulnaz Gubaydullina.

Additionally, six other riders and their horses didn’t score during the show jumping because of misbehaving horses. Brazil’s Leda Guimares’s horse, Caleansiena YH, threw her off which resulted in her scoring a zero. Italy’s Elena Mcheli also had a difficult horse who bucked her off twice and ran through a jump. Although it’s unfortunate for the riders who worked hard to get to the Olympics, it begs the question, why is catch riding permitted in the Olympics in the first place?

How Can Riders Protect Themselves In Events Like This?

It goes without saying that riders in the Olympics shouldn’t catch ride, regardless of experience. It isn’t fair to the horses or rider if something goes wrong. Although in situations like this, proper protective equipment must be used to keep everyone safe.


Helmets are required in almost all forms of horseback riding with the exception of a few. They are crucial for protecting your head against any potential injury. In an event like the Pentathlon at the Olympics there is huge amounts of pressure, all of which the horses are aware of. This makes wearing a helmet much more crucial in order to protect against being thrown off or kicked.

Airbag Vests & Body Protectors 

In addition to wearing a helmet, an airbag vest and/or body protector is an excellent option for keeping riders safe. In the Pentathlon the riding event is show jumping which only requires a helmet and show jacket. Companies like Helite make airbag vests that zip into or can even replace show jackets.

Bottom Line 

Riding randomly assigned horses is dangerous and even more so in events at competitions as big as the Olympics. These shows are already high-pressure, theatrical and nerve racking, just think about how the animals involved feel. Horses are sensitive creatures and not all of them are easy to ride, especially with a rider that is new to them. Events like this should allow riders to bring their own horses in order to protect not only the athlete but the animal as well.

Riders can keep themselves safe by wearing the proper protective gear. Helmets are a must and airbag vests or body protectors come in useful. As we have seen, some of the riders in the 2020 Olympics Pentathlon were thrown off their horses. An airbag vest from Helite would help reduce the impact and keep them secure from any potential injuries.


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