Double Olympic gold medallist event rider Sir Mark Todd has apologised after a video showed him whipping a horse with a branch ten times to make it go through a water obstacle.
Todd, a New Zealand Olympian currently living in Swindon and who trains racehorses, is filmed striking the animal 10 times on the legs in a video posted online.
The clip, shared on the social media site TikTok, shows the rider striking the horse with a stick as it stands near the water's edge.
Sir Mark, wearing a jacket with the words "New Zealand" on the back, approached the animal from behind and struck it across the legs as its rider tried to encourage it into the water.
The horse shifted from side to side before eventually entering the water obstacle after being struck ten times.
The footage is a few years old, and it is not known where it was filmed, who owns the horse, or who was riding it.
However, during the clip, onlookers are heard to cheer as the animal eventually enters the water.
Sir Mark's Facebook page and the clip itself attracted numerous comments from people accusing the Olympian of cruelty.
On Saturday night, Sir Mark issued an apology saying it was an isolated incident that was out of character.
"I wholeheartedly apologise to the horse and all involved for my actions in this video clip," he said.
"One of the main things I preach is about establishing mutual respect between horse and rider and that patience and kindness is the best way to get results.
Video footage, which is believed to be two years old and has now resurfaced on social media, allegedly shows Sir Mark Todd repeatedly smacking a horse with a stick. Photo / Tik Tok.
"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."
One Irish equine supply company posted the clip on its Facebook adding that it would no longer be selling any Mark Todd products.
Sir Mark, 65, made his name as an eventer and showjumper and won gold for New Zealand in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988, the year he was named the New Zealand sports personality of the year.
The sportsman was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year's Honours.
According to a number of interviews last year, Sir Mark trains from his Foxhill yard near Lambourn in Berkshire after setting up the stables in 2019.
He told The Sun last year: "The whole reason people train is to dream of having runners in the big races. One of the reasons I decided to start here was because the biggest and best races are here.
"If I can pick up a Group 1 here or an Ascot winner that would top anything I did in New Zealand and I don't want to compare it to my eventing days but it would be right up there.
"So to have a horse that we can take to Ascot so soon and to have spoken about the Derby is really exciting, it's what I want."