The FEI announced yesterday that they have begun a case process for Irish show jumper Kevin Thornton, who is at the center of the controversial death of Flogas Sunset Cruise, for whom he was the rider at the time of the horse’s death. The FEI’s complete statement is as follows:

“The FEI has opened a case against Irish Jumping athlete Kevin Thornton (FEI ID 10056297) for alleged abuse of the horse Flogas Sunset Cruise (FEI ID 103KQ92) at Cagnes-sur-Mer (FRA) on 10 October 2016. This case is taken in accordance with Articles 142 and 163 of the FEI General Regulations.

The athlete has been given the opportunity to provide a written reply to the allegations, including any documents, witness statements or other evidence that may be used in any legal proceedings arising out of this case.

Once this information has been received and a full case file has been compiled, the FEI will submit the matter to the FEI Tribunal under Article 142.2 of the FEI General Regulations.

As the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, the FEI will not comment further at this time.”

On October 10, witnesses reported seeing a horse being ridden for a long length of time by Irish rider Kevin Thornton while an additional person got after the horse on foot with a dressage whip. The witnesses say the horse was forced to gallop without stopping, and subsequently collapsed and died in the ring.

The show claims they immediately began issuing witness statements for people to sign who saw the event, and removed Kevin Thornton from any remaining classes during the festival as they investigate the case.

Kevin and his owner together released statements to The Irish Field claiming that the accounts of the incident are completely false, and they are devastated at the loss of the horse. They also claim that the GPA Show Festival did not remove Kevin and his horses from the remainder of the event, but that Kevin opted to retire.

Thornton goes on to say that he credits the confusion about the incident to the number of gray horses he has, telling the Irish Field that he was not riding the horse for hours as the reports suggest, but closer to twenty minutes when the horse collapsed. He stated that he had previously been riding his two other gray mounts in succession before mounting Flogas.

The owner was not present for the incident, but fervently defended Kevin. A full autopsy was performed on the horse within hours of his death.

We will continue to update this story as the case proceeds.