Martin Fuchs investiaged for animal abuse

Looks like Martin Fuchs (current Jumping World #1) is at it again. Like his angry response back in 2019 at Spruce Meadows, here he is in 2020 whipping his horse in the head area.

Now the Austrian Animal Welfare agency is looking into it.

FEI rules says you can not hit your horse in anger, so why he continues to get away with it show how toothless the FEI is about enforcing their rules and horse welfare.


I’m not saying this is awesome, but it kind of reminds me of when people were up in arms about the steward ripping the teeth off that rank Kentucky derby winner this year? On the other hand, if MF is wealthy and successful enough to only ride compliant packers who make him look terrific, obviously he should take advantage of that.

1 Like

Horse was fried with the head-whipping video and clearly he didn’t “fix” the issue. And the Spruce Meadows one - looks like Clooney misread where they were going and Martin gave him a hard crank that resulted in that awkward balky step, but then tried his heart out to not touch that fence. Seems like a “hey, thanks for trying anyways after I floated your teeth” would have been more in order… Even if it had been a balky step, Martin had 3-4 strides before the fence to make the appropriate correction.

edit: I just watched the Rich Strike video. Don’t love the way it was handled necessarily, but the stakes here are a little different. Manhandling a belligerent and studdish 3yo stallion who is acting aggressively towards an outrider is a safety issue and I can’t blame the guy for doing what he felt was necessary to manage the situation. A horse grabbing the bit or getting balky at a fence, on the other hand, is a training issue and does not demand a “whatever it takes” response from the rider.


It was harsh and clearly he has a history. That said it’ll be all but forgotten about by the time the world championship rolls around in a few weeks. The top riders will rarely, if ever, face meaningful consequences for less than stellar horsemanship unless they are truly horrific welfare violations (Barney Ward, Andy Kocher, etc)


There is never any reason to use the whip in front of the shoulder when mounted.


Fame and past winnings do not make a good horseman.

Whipping horses because your class isn’t going your way isn’t it Marcus.

Go home and work on the issue, come back another day. Glad it isn’t being ignored.


A horse threatening to go up and over is 100% a reason. To me it looks like that horse is just waiting to get his hind legs under him to go up in a rear, and Martin is hustling him so he can’t engage. We can armchair show jump all day, but I’m guessing most of us would have scratched the class and bailed on a horse losing its marbles like that, and as cruel as it may seem to whack a horse upside the head, it’s a lot crueler to teach a horse that rearing up and intimidating the rider is the solution to all life’s problems.

1 Like

I wouldn’t classify that as a horse threatening to go up and over . And EVEN IF and you felt you needed to make an immediate correction for a safety reason like that, the smack should have been singular and come from above onto the poll as soon as the horse rose up - not from the side towards his eye multiple times.

Maybe you’re ok treating your horses differently. I won’t be defending this though. We don’t have to accept this level of horsemanship.


I would NEVER strike a horse in the face threatening to rear. Are you NUTS? I’d overhand whip him right in the ass to get him moving FORWARD so that the front end goes down. Doing anything to encourage the head to flail when you’re already in a sketchy position, no thank you!

It’s like people who shank a horse who is already rearing on a line - are you crazy? Why would you do ANYthing to encourage that horse to flip his head when he’s already in a precarious position?


This - a horse that feels trapped goes UP. Giving a frustrated horse an “out” (forward) can often avoid the situation entirely.


I agree with others that the horse was not trying to rear. There is obviously some issue with completing the course and in the middle of a competition is not the time to deal with it.

This thinking that horses are “trying to get out of work” or are “intimidating the rider” is putting human emotion onto horses. Horses have shown that they will do so much for us and if they reach this point of not doing something we ask then we have to question what we are doing wrong.

If Fuchs has this issue at home and continues to have this issue then obviously he is doing something wrong at encouraging the horse to be a willing partner or this is not the job for the horse. There is never any reason to strike a horse in anger like Fuchs has done repeatedly.


I didn’t see a horse trying to rear. I saw a horse blowing through the outside aids as MF was trying to turn left. Horse was running sideways through the outside aids, then resisting going forward. I do think that MF lost his temper, got frustrated that horse was blowing through aids, then resorted to striking horse in front of the shoulder. Horse had ample opportunity to go up, and I think was to it’s credit that it did not.


To me, the fact that outside players are stepping in to censure riders is evidence that perceptions of abuse or cruelty are becoming a threat to the sport and the sport needs to evolve. (See: modern pentathlon debacle, Mark Todd debacle, etc.)

It doesn’t really matter if Fuchs was pissed off or not. It doesn’t matter if the horse was about to go up and over or just blowing through his aids. 99% of people can’t tell. The people on this board can’t even tell. Put aside everything you know about horses: what would a random person in the grocery store think if they watched this video? To them, it just looks like some guy in a silly outfit beating an animal. The context and the details don’t matter to them. If you say “Well, it’s a dangerous situation” they’ll say, “Can’t the rider just stop, why does he have to keep jumping?” And if you say “Well, then you’re teaching the horse it can get away with bad behavior,” they’ll say “If he’s the best rider in the world, can’t he find a different way to teach it to behave better?” Both great questions.

These riders need to understand that they are being filmed and watched at all times… including by people who do not understand the sport or horses. It’s not like it was 15 or 20 years ago. You cannot lose your temper. You just cannot ‘whack a horse upside the head’ in public at a major competition anymore. (See: debacle about outrider correcting Rich Strike post-Derby.)

These top riders can basically get any horse over any fence and FEI gives them plenty of leeway about how to do so. It doesn’t mean that they SHOULD. At some point the bigger goal of the public perception of the sport is going to have to be more important than rider’s day-to-day competition and training goals. If riders feel the need/desire to correct the horse in a way that could lead to animal abuse investigations… time to retire and say it wasn’t your day. If doing so ruins the horse, maybe that’s part of the cost of doing business now, and a reason to look at your program and ask yourself how you ended up in this situation.

I see Kevin Lemke a lot at shows in my area. In the grand scheme of the horse world, dude is a nobody… but if his name seems familiar, it’s because he beat the snot out of a horse at Thermal last winter and it blew up on Youtube and PETA jumped all over it. Go read the comments on the videos of these incidents and people are calling for jail time for the riders, not just a little USEF suspension and fine. It seems extreme to us because we’ve normalized hitting horses but that is a real sentiment that is floating around.

I get so nervous about something like this happening at the Olympics. At least with pentathlon the equestrian community had a credible out that these people weren’t “real riders.” If a top show jumper is in Paris and the horse starts acting up and the rider feels himself losing his temper… is he going to think, “I am on the world stage, hitting my horse twice on the shoulder could become a major PR incident” or is he going to go on competitive autopilot and whack the horse? I work in marketing so maybe that’s why I feel like this but… we live in a world where we are always, always being watched and judged. Optics are everything. And the OPTICS of these incidents are terrible, even if the rider made the correct choice in the moment from a horse training perspective.


Definitely bad optics - at least PETA didn’t cut the bit where they did ring him out for excessive use of the stick. I don’t want to derail this, but I thought after you were rung out of the ring, you needed to, you know… get out of the ring? You’re not allowed to jump another fence right?


And to add to this excellent post, the general public could very well determine that if the horse has to be FORCED to jump (through use of the whip or any other means) then the act of jumping is by itself an act of cruelty.

They don’t care about riders in tight pants winning medals, they really don’t.


I’m not sure this is a hard and fast rule or anything, but at jumper shows I’ve been to, horse and rider pairs are generally allowed a schooling jump as a courtesy before exiting the ring. For example, a horse has a crash and the rider comes off, I’ve seen riders re-mount and jump another fence to polite cheers from the crowd before leaving the ring.


Hmm. I’ve only seen the courtesy jump when a rider would like to retire early so they jump out of order to eliminate themselves (one rider even did this at the Tokyo Olympics).

The rulebook says;

Courtesy Fence. An eliminated competitor has the right to make one attempt to jump an additional single obstacle, which the judge(s) may designate, but may not continue thereafter. (Exception: The right to attempt an additional obstacle does not apply to Fault and Out classes or in the case of the fall of the horse or rider.)

Curious that he attempted to jump a combination, as it seems that would be against the rules.

Not sure where you were showing, but with regard to your example, the rules also explicitly say:

  1. In the case of a fall at any time in the competition ring, the rider may not remount.

What steward “ripped the teeth out” of the KD winner?

It was an outrider trying to protect himself and his horse, when the KD winner was savaging them on the way to the winners circle.


Thank you! you beat me too it! Obviously the person who posted that comment didn’t look at the whole picture when they posted that comment.

1 Like