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December 31, 2012

USEF Responds To Times Article

On Dec. 29, U.S. Equestrian Federation CEO John Long posted a response to The New York Times article investigating the death of the pony, Humble, at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.) in May.

“In early November, the USEF received inquiries from The New York Times regarding the use of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) to calm horses and ponies for competitive advantage,” wrote Long.

“Since then, the USEF has endeavored to provide The New York Times with all the facts on GABA and to outline the aggressive actions the Federation has undertaken to deal with this emerging issue and the threat it poses to the health and welfare of our equine partners,” he continued.

You can read the full letter from the USEF to the Times here, where Long admits that the “Mandarino case,” the USEF investigation into the death of Humble and any potential wrongdoing by his owner, Elizabeth Mandarino, “has been one of the most challenging situations the USEF has had to face during my tenure as CEO.”

Long explains that until now the USEF has had “neither the power to subpoena documents nor to compel witness testimony during our investigations. We must rely on the voluntary cooperation of our members, owners, trainers and riders.”

However, this case may lead to changes in policy so that “the Federation does not find its hands tied in the future when a matter of animal welfare like this presents itself,” according to Long.

Long also asked for input on how to discourage and prevent the use of calming agents in the horse show world and set up an email address for suggestions and questions: gabacomments@usef.org.