Currently comments concerning the death of Kevin Thornton’s horse Flogas Sunset Cruise in social media are soaring. The horse died during the GPA Jump Festival in Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France. The Irish rider has been accused of having ridden the horse on the racetrack, hitting and propelling it forward with a whip until the horse collapsed, dead. According to pferdeonline.ch a witness said to have seen the scene. Following the incident, Swiss based Kevin Thornton was excluded from the eent.
Meanwhile the FEI and the host of the event have initiated an investigation. The rider himself has also taken a stand on his Facebook page. He stated that he was devastated by the loss of the horse who had been a special horse. “I have a great relationship with all my horses. I make a huge effort to look after their wellbeing and get the best out of them every single day. There is no way I would hurt a horse or endanger its wellbeing. I did not do that and I never would. I’m not that person.”
The rider furthermore stated that the horse had been rather hot and strong during the first days of the competitions. Therefore he and the owner had decided to gallop the horse. He had taken Flogas to a racetrack that was open for riders. The horse had had a normal snaffle bit and had acted up at the beginning of the track. Therefore he had hit the horse one or two times with the whip to get him going, then the horse had bolted off.
“I tried to hold him and stay calm. I cantered for one round, and then slowed him down when he stopped pulling, turned him around and back towards the gate where a colleague was waiting. Flogas nearly jumped on top of this person. I moved him on the straight again towards the jumping arena. He was not breathing heavy or fast. He suddenly felt very weird under me, I got off and walked a few steps with him, when he suddenly collapsed. I took the saddle off him and shouted for a vet. I totally reject allegations that I was riding Flogas for three hours, it was 15 to 20 minutes before the incident happened. Clearly, people have become confused that I was riding Flogas for a long length of time, as I have two other similar grey horses (Saper and Startschuss), that I had ridden previously to him that day”.
The rider also stated that he was completely shocked by the reactions on social media and that this had become a hunt which endangered his safety and reputation and that was not acceptable. It was hard enough to cope with such a tragic ordeal, but it was even harder having to cope with false accusations and violent threats in the press and social media. He added that he was sad and devastated about this tragic incident and that it broke his heart to see a horse die. Kevin Thornton will take a temporary break from competitions.