2020 Tokyo Olympics: Sumo Display May Be Making Horses Jumpy at Equestrian Events

by Anna Dunn

Horses are known to be easily spooked and unfortunately, one display at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics disqualified a bunch of riders. Some believe that a Sumo jump at the games is causing horses to spook at equestrian events.

If you’re looking to watch the equestrian events, The 2020 Tokyo Olympics are still ongoing. You can catch them on NBC, and there are definitely more equestrian events to go. If you don’t have cable or a live TV subscription, you can access the Olympics on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, on the NBC Sports App, or at NBCOlympics.com.

Horses Felt Spooked by Incredibly Realistic Sumo Wrestler Jump at 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Jumpers have to face multiple challenges, but Sumo wrestlers aren’t supposed to be one of them. That’s probably why so many of the horses have been underperforming at a Sumo wrestler-themed jump in the qualifying rounds. The jump was the 10th obstacle on a 14 jump course.

In fact, so many horses spooked that 2020 Tokyo Olympic riders walked their horses to the jump so they could get a good look at it before their run later on in the competition.

One British rider, Harry Charles, told the Associated Press that, “four or five horses really taking a spook to that.” NBC commentator Melanie Smith Taylor even referred to the jump as the “spooky jump.”

It really is frighteningly realistic. It’s surprising that it didn’t scare more humans, let alone horses. Not to mention, the poles are incredibly difficult to see, making the jump a double threat to 2020 Tokyo Olympic competitors.

Hilariously according to WGRZ, “When the equestrian riders complete a sharp turn to take on the jump, the first thing horse and human see is the wedgie created by the sumo wrestler’s mawashi.”

Riders Recounted What it Was Like Facing the Jump

Many riders recounted the spooky, yet somewhat hilarious experience to The Associated Press.

“As you come around, you see a big guy’s (butt),” Charles said. Cian O’Connor of Ireland echoed that sentiment. “There’s a lot to look at.”

Israel’s Teddy Vlock also chimed in saying, “It does look like a person, and that’s a little spooky. You know, horses don’t want to see a guy, like, looking intense next to a jump, looking like he’s ready to fight you.”

It’s unlikely humans do either, but for Equestrians, this is all a part of the games. An oddly-shaped jump caused similar problems in 2016, and part of the sport is keeping yourself and your horse focused and on course no matter what the obstacles have to throw at you. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have proven themselves to be no exception.

“You expect it in the Olympic Games,” Scottish rider Scott Brash said. “You know it’s going to be colorful coming here and you know it’s going to be decorative. And it’s beautiful, you know? It’s fantastic. That’s what makes it a championship. If it was just plain old jumps, it’d be just like any other week.”