I doubt too many of them don't know, but I think they all "don't know".
I have met far far too many parents who are willing to "look the other way" if it means the kid wins. I've met far far too many people who are willing to start to bend the rules "well, he's prescribed medicine x, but if we wait to give it to him until y, then it will be within limits and we'll still get the quieting effect". *gag*
What did I do? I quit. I won't play the game that way and I'll keep working with my own horses the nice, slow, quiet way. Maybe I'll never show hunters again. Maybe I will, but not until this fine mess is sorted out. I still love the feeling of putting down a soft, slow, flowing hunter round...but I can do that at home, too.
IME, there are two outcomes.... depending on how "broken" the horse was by the time the HO figured it out.
Originally Posted by M. Owen
1. The most damaging scenario:
The HOs who get bummed and leave more or less entirely usually have a story that goes like this: Trainer finds them or kid "the horse" that will give some desired ribbons in the ring. This may be for a kid/ammy who isn't talented enough (or whatever enough) to win in the ring she'd like. But the family is game, well-heeled and trainer likes them, in addition to their money. It starts well enough.
Then the horse doesn't do the job. Steps are taken and that new "program" works for a while, but then the horse gets increasingly unsound or "crazy." Clients are disappointed. Trainer is worried. Trainer advises them to sell. They try, though the trainer, and can't. Clients get more disappointed still and start asking "Hey, you're the pro... WTF? We did as you advixed. Make.This.Work." The trainer finally tells them to take their POS elsewhere.
Somewhere in this denouement, the clients begin to feel that trainer has not had their back. They also wonder how what started as "the horse for the job" could have gone so wrong. Were they sold a POS? Or did the trainer turn it into one?
At this point, they might try to learn about vet work and meds they didn't know about, but it doesn't matter because they are pissed and done with that trainer, if not all of 'em.
2) Less bad but it leaves a scar
The other way this happens is when someone more involved with their horse or their checkbook asks--- the horse isn't wrecked yet. This HO has a Summit Meeting with the trainer and it may or may not end well. Client may end up leaving the barn. Client usually doesn't get "special treatment" with respect to total transparency for drugs and charges related to those, but sometimes that can happen if both HO and Trainer are careful not to offend the other. It's a good, but tenuous working relationship.
Either way, HO remains more suspicious of trainers and showing than when she started.
To answer the spin-off question of what people do when they learn what really happens: for me after grooming at some big shows (was to be thrill of my life), I have complete distaste for hunterland. My own kids, my students and my horses are all steered far clear of it (and happily so). Foxhunting, paces, eventing, local jumpers, field trials. I've found the people around me at these endeavors seem far far happier and are usually better horse people (for much less $) than the folks at rated shows.
I know what happens. I am, therefore, an extremely involved owner who did my own show care. Still would if I were showing.
My guy needs no prep- if you wanted to give him anything, it would be caffeine- but I had one that was a head case. His prep was to go gallop in the back field for 15 minutes before he went in the ring. Worked a treat to take some of the edge off. He was held together pretty much by baling twine and crossed fingers, so couldn't put him on a line. Drugging him would have been easier, and actually probably better for his body, but it wouldn't have been right. He needed (and got) a change of careers but unfortunately died very suddenly shortly after. I did lease one that showed locally on Quiessence for a few shows because he'd get off the farm and act like a lunatic to the point of being a danger to everyone in the ring. The idea was to get him about on chemistry so he would hopefully learn to get over it. Never figured out if that would have worked or not, because we started treating him for ulcers two weeks later and that fixed him... imagine that.
I am honestly glad that you found a good place to play, but my experiences have been the reverse--I've seen/heard of drugging at every level, but I've seen worse treatment/management/training/basic care at the local levels--underfed, wormy, poor feet, bad (meaning harsh and mean) riding/training, etc. :cool:
Originally Posted by trabern
If it's a part of the culture and is widely accepted amongst the people around you, you will think that is the way things are done.
People watch the movie "Jesus Camp" and say "how could people be like that/think like that?" Having been involved in that culture for a brief period when I was younger, I have a lot more empathy and understanding for how people could act that way; when all of your friends and family think in that manner, you begin to think like that as well.
People are in varying stages of involvement in the horse world, and therefore at different points of understanding. The rules can be very difficult to comprehend for the newly initiated, and so they look towards their trainers for guidance. We hope that our trainers have the horses' best interest in mind and that our trainers are educated on the potential side effects of many of the drugs administered, but often they are not educated, or worse, they do not care.
I had a very difficult ottb when I was in high school. My mom wasn't a horse person, but she read a lot. She knew the potential side effects of the drugs my trainer told me we should show my horse on (something I'm sure he learned from other highly successful trainers of long standing in the industry) so we did it. We trusted my trainer and the other people around him who said it was okay.
Now I'm a trainer and I've decided not to use mood-altering drugs or substances. I will use NSAIDs discriminately because I think it helps the horses as athletes, but I won't inject them. I realize that I have to work a lot harder to get the horses going, but I know that it's worth it in the long run.
And realize, those who are on these boards represent individuals who are dedicated to learning more and conversing with other highly educated horse people. Wide education in the form of seminars at horse shows, fun quizzes and events at shows on horse care, and things of the sort are terribly needed if we're going to up the knowledge of the A-circuit client crowd.
You don't necessarily have to be clueless to get ripped off. All you have to be is ABSENT for a few months. :-( I had a situation where, like HorseLostAnotherHAlter, I had "the talk" and everything was fiiinnnne so long as I was a proactive owner who turned up for spot checks 3-4 nights a week and both days on weekends and had my horse attached to me at the shows EVERY day from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. But my job situation changed when the economy tanked and my law firm let all the paralegals go except me - so my workload quadrupled overnight and for several months I simply could NOT get out there. That's when everything started to go you-know-where in a you-know-what. :(
As to what happens to these people? Well, horsie ended up having to be euthanized and it's going to be a VERY cold day in hell before I'll trust another H/J trainer. I've given up and am OUT of horses - as in, sold/donated/gave away 4 trunkloads full of stuff out. I still love the hunters *in theory* but by the end it was SO VERY MUCH no fun any more I can't begin to tell you. If your horse exists only to stress you out and make your life miserable, you should quit. So I did.
I don't think the owners are clueless at all.
Mom takes Prozac for "nerves".
Kid takes Adderall "to help focus".
Horsie takes a shot in the vein "to perform better".
And we're surprised?
I'm not saying this is always what happens, but what I have heard more than once from owners/riders is some variation on the theme that the meds are for the benefit of the horse...that their horses are getting something to ease some soreness/muscle stiffness from living in a stall without turnout and from all the trailering, and plus they get some vitamin/mineral and nutritional supplements to help their body deal with the stresses of showing and to fill in for nutritional deficiencies from not getting to eat fresh grass, and/or some joint medications. Once in a while someone will mention their horse needing something "for a skin thing." Pretty much invariably when owners know about meds they are under the impression that these meds and supplements are being given as a kindness to the horse.
I've heard trainers give the spiel on how whatever they are giving is really for the benefit and comfort of the horse and it can be quite convincing that they are doing all this extra stuff for the horses to give them the very best care possible and to make them as comfortable and happy as possible. Owners and riders want to trust trainers and seldom ask the specifics of what is being given. I can understand that even someone who has been riding for a while might not immediately assume that some special "vitamins and minerals" is really GABA or IV magnesium. Even if they do find out what the "vitamins and minerals" specifically are, a lay person might not know right off the bat the dangers of GABA or IV mag.
What I don't understand is why, up until now, there has been so little fall out when owners find out what really is being given or one of these injections goes terribly wrong--like with a horse falling in warm up with their child on it, or their horse dropping at the end of a needle. That is part of the weird culture of our sport that I will never understand, and something I hope we can change. Why is Ms. Williams the first person to come forward?
To those that say that trainers are motivated by money--of course they are. They are training and showing horses to make a living and most of them aren't getting rich quick. By the powers that be only very ineffectually regulating the drugging of horses, drugging has become so mainstream that I think it creates a very difficult situation for trainers. I have seen very respected trainers with good reputations going down the aisle with vials and syringes. The way things are now, if you refuse to drug, it's a disadvantage to compete when the most robotically slow round is going to win, when a head shake or an expressive lead change or a little bit of keenness down a line is going to put a horse out of the ribbons because so many of the other horses ARE pharmacologically "prepped."
Thats why the OWNERS need to face something besides censure, giving the ribbons back and a 300 fine for repeat violations.
I say no more points or qualifying for anything for remainder of that year for repeat owner violators. That would handle the complicated multiple ownership situtaions and short term leases-horse is OUT for the rest of that year and cannot earn anything for anybody.
Might make owners a little more interested in what is actually going into that horse, whether they actually care or not. The ones that only want results won't get the kind they want with repeat violations. And some of the trainers of those gravy train short term lease horses will have to rethink how they get it to the ring. loss of that horse for the rest of the year will really be a financial hit to their business.
Owners are not 'censured' and the $300 fine is for each violation, not repeat violations.
Originally Posted by findeight
USEF rules make the trainer the responsible person for drug and medication violations. The concept of responsible person would need to be altered to put more of a fine on the owner.
But be careful what you ask for. The trainers/riders would love to have the owners be the responsible party, not themselves. That way they could have carte blanche and the owner takes the vacation not the trainer.
Findeight, I very strongly agree that the penalties need to go to the OWNER of the horse. This nonsense about the "trainer" being punished is just ridiculous, even more so now that assistants and stable hands are commonly signing on the "trainer" line. It makes no sense.
Believe me, I really hate the idea of things that punish owners when they are the ones that provide the horses and hard earned money that keep our sport going. But there is no other way to get a grip on this situation. Owners will leave/hold responsible trainers that get them in trouble, and thus the trainers will fall into line.
The USEF should publish an attractive and readable circular with basic drug and medication info for owners and include the phone number for the drug hotline. It should mention that medications should only be given on the advice of a veterinarian and that giving "legal" drugs without a medical need is inappropriate. It could also discuss that "untestable" and "legal" and "safe" different things. This would make it easier for owners to ask, "what is my horse getting?" and interpret the answer.
ETA: Pine Tree, I completely understand your point, but now that people other than the actual trainer are signing on the entry blanks, I'm not sure that holding the trainer responsible works. Owners are a precious commodity to trainers, and trainers usually like to keep their owners happy so that they will remain loyal, paying customers.
I agree - owner, rider and trainer.
Originally Posted by findeight
I would like BOTH trainer and owner(s) to be held accountable. And I am a long time owner and not talking about simple single violations with no repeats (I never had one but it could happen).
Right now owners are assumed to be ignorant and unaware what they are paying to have done to their horses so should be protected more then the trainer. It's time to get their attention so they can at least consider putting the brakes on the overmedication by not blindly or knowingly funding it.
I consider myself a very knowledgeable amateur. In the past, I have worked at some pretty high end barns (and so not so high end places, LOL) and I know what (sometimes) goes on.
Originally Posted by M. Owen
I have been Very Clear with every professional I've ever ridden with that I will not tolerate my horses being medicated without my knowledge, period. I do not believe in better performance through medication and if my professional believes my horse needs something, then I expect them to discuss it with me. And they better be talking about something therapeutic when they do - not something performance altering.
Several of those professionals made it clear that this made me unwelcome in their programs (And yes, I left.)
Two others nodded and smiled and said no problem, "thrilled to have someone that wants to put the time in and do it the right way..." and then stuck my horses anyway, when I wasn't there. (Found out and left those programs also.)
Most recently, I moved due to a job opportunity and happily sent my horse to a H/J professional that I have known for ages, had a lot of respect for, and considered a good friend. Always considered her a good, old school trainer who did things the right way - based on years of prior (although not recent) experience with her.
Shortly after I got back, I learned she had fallen off the old school wagon, and was using that Carolina Gold crap. She wasn't covert about it at all and actually sung its praises to me as an "all natural" substance, blah blah blah. I was horrified and told her so; she was very offended and hurt that I would suggest she was doing anything wrong. I made a LOT of noise about it, which pissed her off. Too bad, so sad. Don't expect me to endorse your illegal/unethical activity, sorry.
I left her program and moved to a friend's dressage barn, mostly because said friend is very like minded about care and doing things the right way. I now jump only at home, since friend doesn't do H/J shows.
If there had been a H/J barn that I felt equally comfortable about (and that met all the other usual criteria - close enough to home, appropriate facilities, care etc) I might have chosen to stay in a H/J program, but I am a super picky client and I need to have more control over my horse's program than most H/J pros will permit. I do miss showing in that discipline a bit but am having a ball learning the whole dressage thing, and having the peace of mind that comes from knowing my horse is being cared for in a way that I am comfortable with is, as they say, priceless.
I very much doubt I will be going back to a H/J program anytime soon.
Then require the owner to sign as Trainer.
Originally Posted by BeeHoney
There is no requirement that a 'Trainer' need sign your entry blank. Perfectly OK for the Owner to sign and that does make the Owner the responsible party.
But the 'Trainers' won't like that either. No way to pass on inflated stall and feed splits unless they are the trainer of record at the show. LOL
USEF does publish a fairly comprehensive drug and med booklet.