'Spooky' Olympic equestrian course scaring horses

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Equestrian jumpers aren't keen connected surprises. Neither are the horses, and it takes years of grooming to support them from getting spooked.

Of course, nary equine successful Tuesday night's Olympic jumping qualifier had ever seen thing similar obstacle No.10.

"As you travel around, you spot a large guy's (butt)," British rider Harry Charles said.

"There's a batch to look at," Ireland's Cian O'Connor added.

"It is precise realistic," echoed Israel's Teddy Vlock.

Harry Charles from Great Britain jumps past the sumo obstacle astatine the Tokyo Olympics. (dpa/picture confederation via Getty I)

Riders accidental that a life-sized sumo wrestler positioned adjacent to the 10th obstacle connected the 14-jump Olympic people whitethorn person distracted respective horses successful qualifying for the idiosyncratic jumping last Tuesday night. A fewer pairings pulled up abbreviated of the barrier, accumulating capable punishment points to forestall introduction into Wednesday's finals.

The statue is positioned to the near of a leap placed successful the country of the arena. Hunched implicit and seemingly acceptable to attack, the wrestler is facing distant from approaching riders, meaning that erstwhile they implicit a crisp crook to instrumentality connected the jump, the archetypal happening equine and quality spot is the wedgie created by the wrestler's mawashi.

"I did announcement 4 oregon 5 horses truly taking a spook to that," Charles said.

Most of the course's hurdles are decorated with a distinctly Japanese consciousness — geisha kimonos, a miniature Japanese palace, taiko drums.

None caught the oculus rather similar the sumo wrestler.

Among the horses alarmed by the setup was France's Penelope Leprevost — a squad jumping golden medalist successful 2016. She wasn't definite if the wrestler specifically threw disconnected her 12-year-old stallion, Vancouver de Lanlore.

"Maybe," she said. "We tried to unbend our horses successful the turn, and possibly they're amazed to spot a vertical truthful close. I don't know."

Andre Thieme from Germany rides past the sumo obstacle astatine the Tokyo Olympics. (dpa/picture confederation via Getty I)

Vlock went 34th successful the 73-horse field. After seeing others person issues, helium and trainer Ireland's Darragh Kenny — besides a rival successful Tuesday's tract — made a constituent of trotting their horses to the 10th leap earlier opening their runs truthful the animals could look it over.

The anticipation was that familiarity would breed bravery.

"It is precise realistic," Vlock said. "It does look similar a person, and that's a small spooky. You know, horses don't privation to spot a guy, like, looking aggravated adjacent to a jump, looking similar he's acceptable to combat you."

Vlock and Kenny some cleared the obstacle without issue. Kenny finished 2nd with nary punishment points and a clip of 82.01, portion Vlock fell abbreviated owed to different issues.

Of course, it's hard to cognize what's successful a horse's head. Some riders chalked up the troubles to however adjacent the leap was positioned to the turn. Others blamed the stadium's agleam lights that besides led to interest astatine leap No.1.

Medal hopefuls Scott Brash of Britain and Martin Fuchs of Switzerland believed cherry blossoms positioned connected the different broadside of the leap were the much apt culprit.

Italy's Emanuele Gaudiano successful enactment during equestrian jumping astatine the Tokyo Olympics, with cherry blossoms featured connected an obstacle. (dpa/picture confederation via Getty I)

Whatever the cause, it's not astonishing to Olympic veterans that there's play astir the park. The Games person a estimation among riders for flashy people design, including an oddly shaped leap astatine Rio de Janeiro successful 2016 that caused akin consternation.

"To beryllium honest, you expect it successful the Olympic Games," Brash said.

And that's OK with them.

"You cognize it's going to beryllium colourful coming here," helium added. "You cognize it's going to beryllium decorative. And it's beautiful, you know? It's fantastic. That's what makes it a championship. If it was conscionable plain aged jumps, it'd beryllium conscionable similar immoderate different week."

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