Using animals within sport in not inherently harmful but some practices need to adapt to the times. Modern pentathlon is doing away with showjumping.
|The use of animals in sport has to evolve at the very least at the same pace that overall societal concern has furthered protecting animal welfare. There are some practices that have the inherent objective of harming animals for fun. We do not consider them a sport.|
This does not mean that every instance of using animals in sport is inherently harmful. Some Equestrian sports -such as those recognized by the FEI- have safeguards in place to protect animals. Indeed some of these animals live wonderful, meaningful lives.
Modern pentathlon has always used horses since its inception in the early XX Century. The practice of showjumping has been the form of equestrian -with smaller jumps- that has been used in the sport.
Showjumping is not inherently problematic. The issue with Modern pentathlon lay, -as witnessed in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games-, in having riders jump straight onto horses without forming a prior bond or sometimes without having the proper experience or respect can result in a situation of stress for the horse, increasing the likelihood of accident.
The debacle of showjumping in Tokyo 2020 prompted its Executive Board to replace the discipline, perhaps with cycling, as per an Insidethegames.biz news report.
This is a welcome news. An alternative in which athletes would be required to compete with their own horses would probably make it financially inaccesible to most athletes in the sport. The status quo without forming such bonds is clearly problematic.
The objective of the sport is to have its athletes compete in five different disciplines, originally envisaged as tests required in the military. The fact that five sports were chosen does not mean that other sports could have not taken the place of equestrian originally. Now one will.
Paris 2024 will also see a new version of Modern Pentathlon where all five competitions will take place within a single final within a timeframe of 90 minutes. This will make for the sport more attractive for the audience, which can also lead to more people practicing it. This is another positive step.