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Olympics corner: Sumos spook the horses

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Equestrian - Jumping - Individual - Final - Equestrian Park - Tokyo, Japan - August 4, 2021.

Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

Jumpers had to clear 14 hurdles, and the sumo, stationed at hurdle 10, caused quite a stir. "Hunched over and seemingly ready to attack, the wrestler is facing away from approaching riders, meaning that when they complete a sharp turn to take on the jump, the first thing horse and human see is the wedgie created by the wrestler's mawashi," the Washington Postwrote.

The statue spooked several horses, and jumpers incurred penalty points as a result. Fun fact: American rider Jessica Springsteen, daughter of a certain famed musician called Bruce, was knocked out of the event after her horse knocked down a rail after confronting the sumo statue.


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