South African blade runner Oscar Pistorious has beaten an Arabian horse in a 200-metre fundraising sprint in Doha, but animal rights advocates are up in arms over the treatment of the horse.
The Arabian horse, named Maserati, faltered as the race began and was whipped as it ran the event, finishing well behind Pistorious.
The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said it had been inundated with complaints regarding the manner in which the horse was ridden following the December 12 “Run like the Wind” race.
The SPCA said it could understand why the general South African public was so outraged and disappointed with the participation of one of country’s local heroes in this event.
The horse, it would appear, was excessively, unnecessarily and cruelly whipped from start to finish, the SPCA said.
SPCA chief executive Allan Perrins said: “In our opinion, this incident has defeated the purpose of Oscar’s message and tarnished his otherwise wholesome image and I am almost sure that when he examines the footage he, too, will be horrified by the rider’s apparent indifference and would want to disassociate himself from the rider’s misbehaviour.
“If this incident were to have happened in South Africa, the rider, organizers and all participants, including Oscar, would have been charged with cruelty to animals and if found guilty have faced some very serious consequences – not least of all reputational damage.”
The SPCA confirmed it had presented the office of Pistorious with an official animal welfare complaint.
Pistorious promptly replied: “I participated in the race in good faith as it was to promote abilities across sport and I was totally unaware of any alleged excessive force being used on the horse.
“I don’t condone any ill-treatment of animals and would always hope that a horse would be ridden in the correct way. Those who know me well are very aware of my well-publicised care and love of animals.”
The said it wanted assurances that the horse would be examined by an equine veterinarian to ensure that it suffered no lasting injuries.
Pistorious, who runs on carbon-fibre blades, became the first disabled runner to compete in the Olympics, when he ran in the 400 metres and made the semifinals.
Pistorius entered the “Run like the Wind” to promote disabled sportspeople and fight discrimination against the disabled.