The U.S. Equestrian Federation has issued show jumper Kevin Lemke a four-month suspension and $4,000 fine for “unsportsmanlike conduct using excessive force with a horse.”
The incident happened Jan. 30 in a national-level $25,000 open classic during Desert Circuit II in Thermal, California, when Lemke was riding the horse Good Luck (now registered as Wednesday with the USEF). Lemke, 37, used his whip four times in quick succession, then twice more after the horse refused to go forward. Lemke was eliminated due to excessive use of the whip, but after being rung out, he attempted to jump the next combination.
The event received widespread public attention when the nonprofit animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reported the German rider to the USEF, the Fédération Equestre Internationale and local authorities after video of the round surfaced.
Lemke, who is based in San Juan Capistrano, California, was issued an official warning at the time.
“I obviously apologized to the show, my horse and the owner,” Lemke said in a statement shortly after the incident. “The horse show dealt with it by giving me a yellow card and a warning, and I obviously accepted it, and it won’t be happening again.”
On May 13, the USEF announced his suspension and fine for unsportsmanlike conduct. The ruling noted that Lemke had voluntarily stopped competing as of Feb. 8, and he has been given credit for that time. Therefore, his four-month suspension will end June 8. The FEI recognizes national-level suspensions and has also set him down for the same period.
“USEF is firmly committed to safeguarding and protecting horse welfare and will continue to investigate and take disciplinary action for reported violations of horse welfare and unsportsmanlike conduct at USEF licensed competitions,” read a statement from the USEF.