What many on this forum are not understanding is that 1) the pony was tested and nothing was testable and/or illegal 2)Much of what the pony was getting was for soundness (not just calming) 3) this medication list is much closer to normal for many hunter AND equitation barns than anyone would care to think. Sadly even the best hunters who may not need sedatives still need cocktails to help with the wear and tear of competing in double divisions at 15-20 shows a year!
Julie's point of view seems to me the most solid suggestion- change the rules of the game (the incentives for this kind of behavior)
Judging - change what is rewarded and emphasized - don't reward robots and people will stop producing them
Courses - to me the is one of the greatest causes of the current state of the hunter rings. Single, side, diagonal, side with huge groundlines, fill, and ramped oxers. This does not promote brilliance in horse or rider!! Less related distances, more off your eye singles and jumps that rider must actually set up to get a good shape (ie- post and rail without groundlines). Bending lines with options for steps instead of the same 4 to 2 down the diagonal and 6 coming towards home. Reward a careful horse with a good shape and not a robot that yanks its legs no matter what distance because it has enough fill in front of the vertical to measure for itself. Make riders find 8 jumps instead of 4 (the single an the three vertices in).
Something real must change or the status quo will remain.
The judges are not the problem, judges pin based on what enters the ring, if all of the horses are drugged,,, well then you see they are going to pin the best drugged hunter.
The courses are not the problem either.
Its the TRAINERS.
The Humble death is sickening. It is one that the public can get behind since the owner is disliked. Don Stewart, who is popular was also caught doing the same thing, but with no fanfare. I don't know who figured out how to inject mag, but hunter trainers didn't invent the practice, for instance it is also rife among Western Pleasure and halter showing at the high levels.
Excessive drugging seems to happen when more money is involved with clients who will look the other way or who think it is acceptable.
Since dressage was brought up on this thread, I heard an interesting story from a big name dressage trainer about how at FL shows there is random drug testing and the riders will trot away from the testers to their barn and then offer up some other clean horse with the same markings for the drug test.
Horses are not machines.
They should all have personality and frankly people need to learn to ride better and trainers need to grow some balls and tell the riders they need more training.
If a horse needs that much medication to do two divisions, then the horse should be retired!
Unfortunatly, if people stop with the drugs, the lunge line will be next and if you have ever seen the grooms lunging early morning at a show, that frightens me just as much!
I know that clients can be quite difficult and it is hard to make them happy, I just have a really hard time with harming the well being of a horse to make a client happy.
Noms- just because I am aware of the problem does not mean I am part of the problem- far from it. What it does mean is that I have put serious thought into what solutions can actually bring about much needed change. The Op is correct - the state of hunters/eq is sad, really heartbreaking actually. And can we blame the trainers - absolutely ! But don't forget the owners either. But blaming the trainers and calling people who have actuall suggestions part of the problem is NOT helping instigate change. Change will only come from the top down (ie USEF) and not the bottom up. If you have any suggestions please suggest away- that is what these forums should be used for - debate (not accusations).
I would bet the farm it was mag. The whole reason people use it is because you can't test for it so the fact that it didn't test positive for anything means nothing.
You blamed "courses" as the greatest causes of the current state of affairs in the hunter ring??? And you also blamed the judging.
How on earth do those two things have any blame in what a trainer decides to stick in the neck of their horse?
The courses and judges reward trainers who stuck needles in necks in order to attain the ideal promoted by simple courses and rewarded by many (but certainly not all judges). Look at the unferlying causes- dont give trainers a reason to drug and drugging will be reduced. Exactly how are you going to sanction trainers when the drugs they inject are not testable. The Mg that most likely killed that pony- not testable. Are you going to lifetime ban the trainer on what evidence? Obviously, sanctions can't work on non testable substances. And there is always a new non-testable substance.
Years ago I drove into my favorite dealer's yard and saw this stunning chestnut mare in his paddock and I said "I HAVE to have her! Whats the story on her?" and I picked her up for $1200.00 and then did some digging on her when I got home
The previous owners wanted her to "disappear" and never set foot in a show ring again. She had totally and completely flipped out at the last show and went berserk and the trainer/rider refused to ever get on her again. This mare won everything and was at the top of her division in a top barn
The mare was sore in the back, sore in the hocks, sore everywhere.
The day before a show, water was withheld from her from the night before and one leg was tied up so by the time morning came she was exhausted from trying to balance on 3 legs. The lungeing started at 4:00 am for a 9:00 am class. At this particular show when the rider was legged up on her, she sat down like a dog and refused to move, They clucked and whacked at her and she got up and bolted and took out other horses, jumps, people, the works. Her brain was fried and she had had enough.
I dont believe that any drugs were used on her but I could be wrong
I dont know what the answer is. You take away the drugs and this is the stuff that will go on, in order to win at all costs
Does anyone remember seeing that video clip of the horse in a stall whacking its head repeatedly against the stall walls? The one that they had injected with medication for ADD humans to see if it would work to quieten down the hunters?
Its insane. Its sick. JUst when you think you have seen and heard everything another picture and/or story comes along like that poor dressage horse in the overseas barn that had his jaw tied to his neck with binder twine to force him into a "frame"
Where and when and how will it all end??? :(
In this strange world, what Ms. Williams did took courage. I hope Katie is very proud of her mother.
I think back to when I was a junior rider, riding with the likes of Tom Gayford, Colonel Gutowski, Dezo Hary, etc. You got bucked off or unceremoniouosly dumped at home or in the ring and YOU got yelled at for allowing it to happen and you got told to get back on the damned horse and make sure it didnt happen againQuote:
So its a choice between drugs and abuse,,,, huh which one shall,,,,,, How about TRAIN your dang horse.
Breaking TB yearlings in 60x120 arenas, riding a course of 10-12-15 jumps in the same 60x120 arena - you damned well better ride every available inch of the space you had or you were going to get dumped or have rails and have Tom scream at you. THere were no cocktails, there was no prep, there was just junior and Ammy riders who learned to stick like glue and ride out any/all problems that were presented to them
I also remember our hunter rounds in the ring were far more "brilliant" and forward and leaping into a change wasnt penalized. Everyone had forward, happy, exuberant hunters so it was all a level playing field and everyone - the older Ammy's included - could ride whatever the horses threw at them and work it out for themselves
It truly is a shame where the sport has "progressed" to ... :(
A true shame. USEF look inpet, hunter industry, in general, looks like monsters to the general public. People who don't care about their animals and treat them like machines. Too bad because most horse people dote on their animals and only want the best for them.
My homebred hunter, who showed in YH at Devon this year, is naturally quiet. When I was schooling her around the grounds ( I am a older ammy with an injury) someone asked what I did her to get her so calm!! Um... 1. Good breeding 2. Exposure
EM commented on HJ forum...
Until good training is rewarded and a zero policy towards drugs is adopted, nothing will change.
And the pendulum sometimes swings the other way. There was a discussion this morning on this topic on facebook. The original poster was wondering about the "carolina coctail" and the use of other drugs by top trainers in competition. Someone responded with the following (and a bunch of people agreed):
"I said the exact same thing earlier. it really is maddening as i have 1 really nice Aristos B mare gorgeous hunter type and a coming 3yrold popeye k baby both which should do hunter but i wont lunge mine( if they are a bit high i know how to ride and i ride them) and only medicate IF necessary. i like the hunters but mostly do jumpers because of the way the hunter world is... too bad"
Ignorance is bliss, I guess. I am totally appalled by a lot of "trainers" use of illegal drugs. However, let's not be unreasonable here. Correct lunge line work not just can be, but is an absolutely essential tool for proper training and warmup. Of course I'm not talking about "mexican lunging" - and I think we all know what I'm talking about. To me "trainers" who drug their horses for better performance are in the same category to me as "trainers" who send the groom out to chase their horses around in a halter, for hours, out of control, cantering couterflexed and on the wrong lead. And to me, people who call THAT lunging are just plain ignorant. People who do not lunge their horses, because they believe that THAT is lunging, need to learn.