Horses galivanting in Olympic equestrian events in Tokyo may have gotten more than they bargained for during some of the jumping competitions.
Olympia riders suggested that a big statue of a sumo wrestler could be distracting their horses on the course. The statue sits next to the 10th obstacle in the jumping competition at Equestrian Park. The statue is turned away from the riders so when they make the sharp turn the riders and horses see the sumo in his mawashi.
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“As you come around, you see a big guy’s (butt),” British rider Harry Charles said, adding he noticed “four or five horses really taking a spook to that.”
A few pairings pulled up short of the barrier and received penalty points that precluded them from the finals and a chance at an Olympic medal.
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Israel’s Teddy Block said he and his coaches made it a point to slowly jog the horse over to the 10th obstacle before the official run so the animal can get used to the item.
“It is very realistic,” Vlock said. “It does look like a person, and that’s a little spooky. You know, horses don’t want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he’s ready to fight you.”
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The course hurdles are decorated with Japanese cultural items ranging from the sumo wrestler to geisha kimonos and a mini Japanese palace.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.