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Hoof justice Irish showjumper found to have caused the death of his horse given 12 month suspended sentence

Thornton has since hit back at the French court conviction insisting that the first he heard of it was on Twitter.

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Kevin Thornton

Kevin Thornton

Kevin Thornton

A French court has found Irish show jumper Kevin Thornton guilty of abuse towards an animal.

The 31 year old horseman from Co Louth was found to have caused the death of his horse, Flogas Sunset Cruise,during the Cagnes-sur-Mer CSI in 2016.

The 10-year-old stallion collapsed from exhaustion after a lap of the 2,500-metre racetrack, during which his rider hit him with his whip, causing his heart attack according to the autopsy.

After receiving a fine of 5,000 Swiss francs and a high-profile media case, the former Irish rider has been found guilty by the French justice system of abuse towards an animal.

Last week he was sentenced to a 12-month suspended prison sentence, according to French media reports.

He was also definitively banned from owning an animal and from practicing the profession of being a horseman for five years, which is applicable only in the French territory.

In a statement released to the Sunday World, Sport Horse Ireland said they welcomed the verdict insisting that the welfare of the animal was always at the core of their organisation.

“As this incident happened at an international location, an investigation was carried out by the FEI (International governing body of equestrian sports),” read the statement.

“In its findings, the FEI Tribunal determined that the athlete’s behaviour "went way beyond what could be considered an acceptable conduct towards a horse".

“And it further concluded "with confidence that the horse has been whipped repeatedly, substantially and excessively and clearly more than the three times alleged by Mr Thornton".

“Horse Sport Ireland fully supports the actions taken by the FEI and welcomes the decision of the French court.

“Now that both the FEI and the French legal system have separately determined the matter, Horse Sport Ireland will consider the matter within the jurisdiction of the Irish National Federation.

“Horse welfare is, and always will be, an undisputed core value of Horse Sport Ireland.”

However, Thornton has since hit back at the French court conviction insisting that the first he heard of it was on Twitter.

Speaking to show jumping website EquNews.com he said: “I’m very sad to relive this moment again.

“Four years ago I was unfairly portrayed in the media after one of my best horses, Flogas, passed away and now the vilification is starting again.

"My lawyer or me were never contacted or summoned about this matter. The first time I heard about it was actually on social media.

“I didn’t get the chance to defend myself in the media or in court.

"People who know me, know that my horses always come first.

"I would do everything to keep my horses happy and healthy. I did not go to court or wasn’t asked to do so."

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