Kevin Thornton: Irish show jumper reveals death threats

Stock picture of a horse
In October, Thornton said he had whipped the horse "once or twice" to encourage it to move forward

Death threats have been sent to the Irish show jumper being investigated for alleged fatal overuse of the whip.

On Thursday, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) opened a case into Kevin Thornton's "alleged abuse of Flogas Sunset Cruise" at an event in France in October.

He denies "whipping it to death" and says his name will be cleared.

"I've had every kind of threat you can imagine," Thornton told BBC Sport. "I know the facts, I know what happened."

He added: "I had threats that I would be burned alive, have my fingers removed and beaten to within an inch of my life.

"People were saying I was a murderer and an animal abuser. I'm confident my name will be cleared."

Flogas Sunset Cruise died on a non-competition day at a GPA Jump Festival at Cagnes-sur-Mer on 11 October.

The FEI told BBC Sport it "cannot give any further comment" on the ongoing investigation, including the post mortem examination on the horse.

Thornton says that, according to a veterinary witness who attended the examination on his behalf, he will be cleared by its findings.

"What we know from the autopsy, it clears me of any wrongdoing," Thornton said.

"The FEI has to do their job and I don't know what I can say, but I just know it shows I did nothing bad against the horse, and that the cause of death was inconclusive."

In a statement released in October, Thornton said the allegations of abuse came about because people had mistakenly assumed he had been riding the same horse for three hours.

He said there was "confusion" because he had been riding three different horses which looked alike.

He claimed he whipped Flogas Sunset Cruise "once or twice" to encourage movement forward. He said the horse showed no signs of physical discomfort and the death had been a shock.

"The people who were around me know I rode three horses that day, one after the other. I had six horses with me and three of them were grey," he said.

"I'm afraid that no matter what happens, people will remember the bad side because they don't know all the facts.

"It hasn't been simple but now we just have to keep going. It's all for horse welfare, which is the most important thing."