SIX-time New Zealand Olympic medallist Sir Mark Todd has been temporarily suspended from training racehorses by the British Horseracing Authority following a video of him striking a horse with a branch was circulated online last weekend.

The retired event rider who now trains horses in Britain released a statement apologising for his actions after the video, which was reportedly recorded during a training clinic in 2020, showed him hitting a horse several times with what appears to be a tree branch after a horse refused to jump into water. The video was posted to Tiktok and Instagram by the rider of the horse.

“I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip,” Todd said in a statement. “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.”

While the BHA carry out their investigations, Todd will not be able to race horses in Britain or internationally. Todd also stepped down as patron of World Horse Welfare who said the footage was “disturbing and unacceptable”.

A statement read: “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.”

The FEI also commented on the incident. A spokesperson said: “The FEI is disappointed and alarmed by the images in the video. This is not acceptable behaviour and it goes against everything we stand for and the values we encourage and expect from all horsemen and horsewomen.”

In recent days, a number of professionals in the sport have shown their support for Todd by sharing a photo which read ‘I support Mark Todd’. Irish international event rider Fred Scala shared a video of Todd on his Facebook page and wrote: “Utterly terrifying that people with little to zero knowledge or experience in an industry can affect, in such a negative and destructive way, the people that have quite literally given their lives to the love of the horse.”

Todd, who won Badminton four times as well as two individual Olympic gold medals, retired from eventing for the second time in 2019. He now focuses on training racehorses from his base in Wiltshire, England.