A Life-Sized Sumo Wrestler Statue’s Butt Is Scaring Horses At The Olympics, Wreaking Havoc In Equestrian

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 03: A general view of a Sumo wrestler jump is seen during the Jumping Individual Qualifier on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Equestrian Park on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.

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Equestrian jumpers at the Olympics are seriously concerned about a sumo wrestler’s butt. It’s not a real-life sumo wrestler, but it’s a big statue that is causing some even bigger problems.

Training is out the window.

The thing is that riders train with their horses for years to keep them from getting spooked. It’s crucial for the animals to be locked in and laser focused throughout competition— particularly in the jumping discipline.

In Tokyo, however, obstacle No. 10 is throwing that all of that training out the window.

Riders say that a life-sized statue of a sumo wrestler distracted several horses during the individual jumping qualifying round on Tuesday night. Many of the horses, who are trained to avoid distractions, pulled up short of the barrier.

As a result of the hesitation, a few pairings accumulated enough penalty points to prevent entry into the finals.

Riders agree.

“As you come around, you see a big guy’s (butt),” British rider Harry Charles said to NBC.

“There’s a lot to look at,” echoed Ireland’s Cian O’Connor.

“It is very realistic,” agreed Israel’s Teddy Vlock.

Sumo causing serious issue.

Most of the 14-jump course’s hurdles are decorated with a distinctly Japanese feel. Some have kimonos, some have taiko drums.

None of them caught the eyes of competitors, and horses, like the sumo wrestler. It is positioned to the left of a jump in the corner of the arena, hunched over and seemingly ready to attack.

The wrestler faces away from riders. Thus, when the horses complete a sharp turn to take on the jump, the first thing they see is the wrestler’s butt.

After seeing other horses struggle with the jump, Vlock made a point to trot over to the 10th jump prior to his run with hopes of familiarizing his horse. His thinking was that if the horse had already approached and seen the wrester, it might be more brave in the approach.

“It is very realistic,” Vlock said to NBC. “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.”

While some riders believe that the sumo wrestler and his enormous rump might be the root of the spooks, others attributed the issues to how close the jump was positioned to the turn. Some blamed the stadium’s bright lights.

Regardless of what (or who?) is at fault, one would have to imagine that the horses are not a fan of the wrestler.