If you actually read the article to full details, which I am assuming you did not you would soon discover that he is being called a hero because he stopped the horse from jumping the security fencing and harming spectators. Also, it is obvious that he did not intentionally mean to harm the horse, trying to calm and patting it would not be the actions of to be actions of someone who is trying to harm an animal.
I did state that as to why he was labeled as a "hero" Glenn1. Please re-read what i wrote.
The horse died becouse it was over worked, he could of easliy pulled up the horse. When you ride a horse you can feel when the horse is exhursted and you can read its body language. He would of known the horse was been pushed to hard, but he chose to continue to push the poor horse literally to its last breath.