Fédération Equestre Internationale officials announced Nov. 10 that they have opened a case against Irish show jumper Kevin Thornton for alleged abuse of the horse Flogas Sunset Cruise, who died on Oct. 10 during the GPA Jump Festival CSI** in Cagnes-sur-Mer, France.
The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (ARD VDL Douglas—PH Cruise Hill, Cruising), owned by the rider and Vinnie Duffy, dropped dead after Thornton exercised him on the track.
Show management accused Thornton of abusing the horse until it died. Thornton said the horse died of natural causes, and he believes a necropsy, which was witnessed by former FEI Veterinary Committee President Dr. Peter Cronau, will help exonerate him.
“I can say what I want to say, and the witnesses can say what they want to say, but at the end of the day the autopsy report doesn’t lie,” said Thornton. “Dr. Cronau, who is a very respected vet, he knows that the horse had no sweat, showed no sign of stress, and had no marks from the stick in any way, shape or form, so I think for me that says a lot.
“I think a lot of the public was influenced by the statement the show issued at the beginning, and I think it had a lot of false information,” he continued. “I think that the case that the FEI has is very, very thin. My lawyer has said to me that from her side the case is very, very thin.”
Thornton posted a statement to his Facebook on Oct. 18, which included results of the necropsy.
“According to Dr. Cronau neither sweat nor sweating consequences (incrusted areas, change of skin surface etc.) were visible on the horse’s coat. He also stated that the existent skin was undamaged. This refers also to spur and whip marks. As to the cause of the death, there are no conclusive results yet. Pathologic anatomic-wise neither an aortic rupture nor any rupture of other blood vessels nor heart lesions which could be related to the sudden death were found. Further investigations have to be carried out, including blood analysis,” read the statement.
“Based on these findings the statements accusing me of having worked (lunged and/or ridden) excessively cannot be maintained, as the horse did not show any signs of having sweated when he died. Further, any accusations that I had abused the horse with a whip and/or spurs also prove to be false. The first results of the autopsy fully support my statement on the incident made on 11 October 2016, i.e. that I had ridden the horse for 15 to 20 minutes and definitely not worked too hard or even excessively, and that I had not abused the horse.”
Thornton said he’s still waiting to learn the cause of death.
The FEI will give Thornton “the opportunity to provide a written reply to the allegations, including any documents, witness statements or any other evidence that may be used in any legal proceedings arising out of this case.”
Once the full case file has been compiled, the FEI will submit it to the FEI Tribunal.