Equine charity patron steps down after video surfaces of him striking a horse

Former Olympian Sir Mark Todd was filmed repeatedly hitting a horse with a tree branch in a training session

Event rider Mark Todd
Photo Credit: Harry Trump/Getty Images

A former Olympic equestrian has stepped down as patron of World Horse Welfare after a video emerged of him hitting a horse in a way the charity described as “disturbing and unacceptable”.

Sir Mark Todd, who won two Olympic gold medals for individual eventing and became a racehorse trainer after his retirement from eventing in 2019, has been a patron of the charity for more than five years.

The video, which was shared on social media, shows the New Zealander repeatedly striking a horse with a tree branch during a training session in 2020.

World Horse Welfare announced today that following the posting of the video, Todd had contacted the charity and voluntarily stepped down.

The charity said: “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 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.”

In a statement published on BBC Sport, Todd said: "I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip.

"One of the main things I preach is about establishing a mutual respect between horse and rider, and that patience and kindness is the best way to get results. I believe this is one of the main attributes along with a great empathy with animals that has enabled me to have a long and successful career in eventing. I am very disappointed in myself that I did not adhere to that in this case."

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