Prince Harry has come under fire from animal rights supporters who claim his mistreatment of a polo horse caused the animal to be injured.
The 25-year-old royal was participating in a polo match last July when the horse he was riding started to bleed from cuts caused by his spurs. Animal rights organizations are up in arms about reports that Harry continued to ride the horse despite its condition, while others dispute the accusations.
A spokesperson told Mail Online: "Prince Harry was wearing regulation footwear (round-headed spurs) worn by many polo players. As soon as the cut was noticed, play was stopped and the horse was treated properly. The horse was absolutely fine and returned to the field immediately.
"Prince Harry takes the welfare of his horses incredibly seriously and has been riding this horse for many years. He has nothing but the highest respect for the polo ponies and would never knowingly do anything to cause the animals distress."
A vet who examined the horse immediately after the incident said that the wound did not appear to originate from carelessness on the part of the prince, saying instead that it was most likely the result of a collision with another rider.
“My gut feeling is that something has pushed the spur into the pony. It was only on one side of the pony. If it had been caused by excessive use of the spurs, you would have expected to find it on both sides,” he said.
Still, the sport’s governing body, the Hurlingham Polo Association, has decided to launch an informal inquiry into the incident, saying that they are "very hot on the welfare of ponies."
One senior representative told the UK Express that Prince Harry is unlikely to face any disciplinary action.
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