Swiss Tokyo 2020 participant Robin Godel’s horse, named Jet Set, had to be euthanized after suffering a serious injury at the Olympics – a torn ligament in his lower right limb. The animal was injured while passing the barrier in the forest belt. The Swiss athlete, together with his horse, participated in team triathlon. Fatal for the Jet Set was the 20th barrier.
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“The ultrasound revealed an irreparable torn ligament in the lower right limb, just above the hoof. For humane reasons and with the consent of the owners and the athlete, it was decided to euthanize the horse. Samples have been taken, an autopsy will be performed,” the press service of the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.
After the unfortunate incident, the organizers suspended the tournament, and all riders were forced to stop to make way for specialists who evacuated the animal from the scene. All the necessary veterinary care was provided to Jet Set – he was taken to the clinic for an examination.
Now Godel will no longer perform at the Games: the horse and rider are tied, it is impossible to change a fighting comrade in equestrian sports during the competition. The 22-year-old rider will be replaced by Evelyn Bodenmüller along with Violin de la Brasserie. “A horse is an animal that can get injured at any time, like any football player and athlete in general,” commented Evgeny Gorovoy, chief veterinarian of the Russian national team.
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the untimely demise of my dear Jet Set, who suffered a torn ligament in Tokyo. Jet was an extraordinary horse, he had a great performance. It was created for what he loved most: jumping and flying over obstacles. Thank you all for your support, I am deeply touched by this. I hope you understand my absence from social networks in the next few days,” Robin Godel wrote on Instagram.
The horse really would not be able to walk with such an injury, at least for several months. For a human, this would not be a critical problem, but an animal is another matter. Veterinarian Maria Zhukova told SE that there are certain cases when it is really better to euthanize a horse in order to prevent suffering – this is much more humane.
There are situations when a horse loses the ability to stand on its leg due to an injury. Since this large animal is naturally adapted to live in motion, any restriction in the stall with a cast on the leg can provoke additional complications. For example, the intestines stop working normally or neighboring limbs may get sick, laminitis may develop. Then the curability of such a case will be in doubt.
All horses are insured, and abroad there is such a thing when an animal is suffering. And if this happens and it is understood, then no other good ideas to save his life for the sake of future reproduction can have weight. The horse will still be euthanized. It is believed that the life ahead is hardship and torment. There is a specific list of pathologies for which horses are not allowed to be treated.
Therefore, such a case is a tragedy, but it happens. Doctors in this situation did the right thing in relation to the horse. It is unlikely that anyone could have foreseen the occurrence of such a problem at the Olympics at all – this had not happened before. But this is a sport, and here the horse is the same participant in the competition.