This summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo have been full of surprises and dramatic twists and turns. So it stands to reason that eventually, even the horses in the equestrian events would start getting in their feelings.
It seems that a deeply random but "very realistic" statue of a sumo wrestler on one of the equestrian courses, exposed booty and all, is freaking the horses the heck out. Several Olympians have reported that their horses have been spooked by the figure lurking at obstacle 10.
Just when we all thought these Olympics were finally winding down, we've got horses spooked by a sumo butt. What's next?!
Positioned near a jump in the corner of the equestrian arena, the sumo wrestler statue is molded as if poised to attack: hunched down, arms out, mean-mugging at all who pass by.
The "wrestler" provides an interesting spectacle for horses and riders. As British rider Harry Charles evocatively put it:
"As you come around, you see a big guy's a**."
Add that to the statue's outstretched arms and snarling face, and quite a few horses have said, "Oh hell no" as they've approached. And who can blame them?
Israeli rider Teddy Vlock explained:
"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."
Fair enough! But for a few Olympians, the sumo figure has spelled their competitive demise. After their horses came to a screeching (or neighing?) halt at the obstacle next to the wrestler and refused to get any closer, the riders were docked enough points that they were unable to qualify for the Wednesday finals.
Naturally, people on Twitter had a field day with the idea of horse's being spooked by a giant sumo butt on an equestrian course, which is admittedly a phrase we never dreamed we'd need to write.
It is tradition to decorate the equestrian courses with visual elements from the culture of the host country. But perhaps in the future we can steer clear of nearly naked men in attack mode!