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Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@AndrewGourdie
Former Olympic equestrian champion Sir Mark Todd has sparked outrage after a video emerged online of him repeatedly hitting a horse with a stick.
In the disturbing clip, 65-year-old Todd can be seen beating the scared and distressed animal with what appears to be a tree branch in a bid to force it into water.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) have now launched an investigation into the incident with a number of animal welfare groups expressing their concerns.
It's understood the video was recorded a couple of years ago at a cross-country training session.
When the footage emerged on social media, Todd was met with immediate backlash, many people condemning him for his actions.
But it was Newshub sports journalist Andrew Gourdie in New Zealand who perhaps summed it up best with his assessment.
Gourdie took to Twitter to share the clip, captioning it: "This, from Sir Mark Todd, is absolutely disgusting. This is not the behaviour of someone knighted for services to Equestrian Sport."
This, from Sir Mark Todd, is absolutely disgusting.- Andrew Gourdie (@AndrewGourdie) February 12, 2022
This is not the behaviour of someone knighted for services to Equestrian Sport pic.twitter.com/fRIa5D27cy
Todd, a two-time world champion and six-time Olympic medallist, eventually issued an apology after being bombarded with criticism.
"I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip," Todd said.
"One of the main things I preach is about establishing a mutual respect between horse and rider, and that patience and kindness is the best way to get results.
"I believe this is one of the main attributes along with a great empathy with animals that has enabled me to have a long and successful career in eventing.
"I am very disappointed in myself that I did not adhere to that in this case."
As a result of his actions, New Zealander Todd has now stepped down from his role with World Horse Welfare.
The well-known charity released a statement, saying: "The treatment of the horse in this video is disturbing and unacceptable.
"There is no place in the horse-human partnership for such use of force.
"Mark agrees that his behaviour was wrong and we welcome his apology.
"Mark is a consummate horseman, who cares deeply for horses and their welfare but, in this case, either through losing his patience or acting out of frustration, he has badly let himself down.
"To his credit, when the video came to Mark's attention he contacted us and voluntarily stepped down as one of our patrons."