In Response: I Believe That The USEF Acted Fairly In The Glefke Case

Jul 11, 2017 - 2:15 PM

Dr. Mark Baus, DVM, submitted this Letter to the Editor to the Chronicle in response to Larry Glefke’s statement, published online on July 4. 

I read with interest the statement from Larry Glefke responding to charges from the USEF that one of his horses tested positive for GABA [or gamma-aminobutyric acid].

In his statement, Mr. Glefke singles out the USEF president, Murray Kessler, as well as the head of the Equine Drugs and Medication Committee and Interim Director of the USEF Drug Testing and Research Laboratory, Dr. Stephen Schumacher. Mr. Kessler and the USEF are accused of lacking transparency and other indiscretions, while Dr. Schumacher is accused of conducting a witch hunt by singling out Mr. Glefke for excessive drug testing.

I have known Mr. Kessler and Dr. Schumacher for quite some time, and I know them to uphold the highest levels of integrity. I also know them to have a deep-seated desire to see the horse show world governed in a fair and transparent manner. Mr. Kessler is a longtime competitor in the horse world, as is his family. His success in the business world is unparalleled, and he intends to bring his leadership skills to the USEF in hopes of elevating it to the highest standards possible.

Dr. Schumacher is also beyond reproach. I have had the good fortune to serve on several committees with Dr. Schumacher and remain impressed with his focus and dedication to making the horse show industry a clean sport and a level playing field. The drug testing platform of the USEF is an essential part of horse showing, and without it, the horse would suffer, and a blue ribbon would be meaningless.

As for Mr. Glefke, I cannot speak to whether his success in the show ring is from excessive and illegal administration of medication. There is no doubt that his success is noteworthy, since he is obviously a very capable trainer. He has a brilliant rider in Kelley Farmer, and his stable is well managed by Debbie Buchanan.

But it is entirely possible that some of his success is from the administration of prohibited substances. The hunter world suffers from a reputation of trainers and riders who push the limits of medication, and although many of their techniques are known, finding them is not easy.

If Mr. Glefke’s and Ms. Farmer’s success has been achieved within the letter of the USEF Drugs and Medication Guidelines, my hat is off to them. If their success has been achieved by the administration of prohibited substances, shame on them.

Although most trainers and riders uphold very high standards, our sport has suffered significantly from the indiscretion of those riders and trainers who do not. Not only do their actions affect the outcome of competition, many buyers of horses are duped by their forbidden and unethical actions.

I am confident that the USEF has acted in a fair manner during their recent actions against Mr. Glefke and Ms. Farmer.

Mark Baus, DVM, has practiced as an equine veterinarian since 1981. He and Dr. Rick Mitchell founded Fairfield Equine Associates (Conn.) in 1989, and he started Grand Prix Equine (Conn.) in 2009. Baus serves on the USEF’s Veterinary Committee and on the USHJA’s Horse & Rider Advocates Committee and is on the board of directors of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. 

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