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Rule with respect to excessive hacking?

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  • Rule with respect to excessive hacking?

    So this weekend I encountered a somewhat novel situation. I was attending a two day horse trial where the day before included an optional schooling show for dressage and show jumping rounds. For the schooling show, you could only sign up after arrival and when I arrived they only had slots left to do a show jumping round followed by a dressage round. I got on my horse at 2:20, rode a nice quiet clean Training level stadium round at 2:45, then put my mare in her stall to rest with hay and water to rest while I started to unpack. I tacked her up in her dressage tack at 3:40, and was in the dressage warm-up at 3:45 for a dressage test at 4 pm. We trotted and cantered briefly, then walked around on a loose rein while I looked for the ring steward to check in. At 4 pm the T.D. comes over and says that she wants to talk to me because "someone reported I'd been on my horse for a long time." I was puzzled and said perhaps someone was confused and didn't realize that I'd put my mare away between schooling rounds. She asked me specifically how long I'd been on my mare in the dressage warmup, and I said 15 minutes. I also added that she could check with the show jumping steward or a trainer I know in the ring, and she said she might. She finally looks more closely at my obviously non-sweaty relaxed mare and says, "but she doesn't seem to be distressed." Just to be on the safe side she places her hand on my mare's chest to see if she felt sweaty, then finally leaves.

    After she left I started to wonder exactly what the issue was that was potentially being reported, since I'm not sure what the problem would have been even if I had been hacking the horse about between rounds. I understand there are rules about abuse of horse, but I've never heard that hacking or being on a horses back for over an hour is a rules violation, unless there is a new rule I'm unaware of. I regularly go out on trail rides for a couple of hours, and clinics often last 1 1/2-2 hours, so I don't think there is anything abusive about being on a horse's back for over an hour. The temperature was mild, I wasn't even carrying a whip or spurs, and at this point in the season my mare is quite fit. It seems like there are enough new rules being added every year without spontaneously inventing new ones not in the rulebook, but am I missing something here?
    Last edited by vali; Oct. 5, 2009, 01:40 PM. Reason: clarification

  • #2
    I would think, esp at a schooling show, it was a TD taking the chance for a possible "teachable moment" under the general rubric of investigating possible abuse. I'll need to look up the definition/description of abuse in the rules - think there is something about lathered and distressed horses.
    I always think of the TD as the intermediary between the rules and the players (organizers and competitors). So if there is a chance when a td can help a participant understand the rules, or when she needs to investigate to see if the rules are being followed, that's what they do. You weren't anywhere close to breaking any rules, but better for her to come over and check than leave someone out there abusing their horse and not knowing they were doing wrong.

    Course, maybet he reporter was a meddlesome busybody who is now trashing the td for not even doing anything....



    • #3
      Jeez, somebody's being a busybody!

      When I was getting Gwen fit for a three day I'd do a 40 minute hack, dressage warmup, dressage, another warmup and two short, fast canters before XC at two-day Horse Trials. Oh, the horror!
      Click here before you buy.


      • #4
        I think that would be a really tough rule to define, never mind enforce.

        I know when I was first starting showing with my guy, I'd get on at least an hour before my dressage time so that we could have a good long looky-lou session before doing any real warm up. If I was showing in a place like KHP where the rings sometimes are a long hike from the barns and there's a lot going on I'd allow even more time.

        As he got more confident and fit, and thus cockier, I'd also go find a place to go for a gallop pre-stadium, and occasionally pre-dressage if he was really on the muscle. Sometimes he just needed to blow off steam after being in a stall as he lives out 24/7.

        That said, I see competitors out there "warming up" for that length of time pretty frequently, but they aren't hacking. It's a solid 45min or better of real work, trot and canter (or gallop and jump) and the horses are sweaty and puffing. My only thought has been that they're using up their horse's best work before they ever get in the ring. It wouldn't occur to me to tell the TD, but then again I've not seen a horse truly distressed or overworked, just worked beyond what *I* consider sensible at that time.

        As for sweaty and blowing, some horses sweat easily, some pant easily. Mine is a pant-er, but it's usually a sign of nerves or tension with him. I think he bottles it all up and it's sort of a mental overheating rather than a physical one, because the same sort of workout at home doesn't get that reaction. And I get less panting during warmup if I've been able to go somewhere and have a good canter or a brief gallop first

        I'll be interested to see Janet and the other Rules Guru's take on this...


        • #5
          This was a schooling day prior to the actual recognized competition?

          Still, there would have to be documented evidence of some kind including more than one witness who saw the horse being hacked excessively - if I were a TD I would be very sure to have witness statements from several people at different times, independently given, and a TPR reading from a vet before saying a word. Good grief, it's not an international championship or something.

          Agreed on your statement about making up rules; seems like they were just looking for ways to make trouble!

          You know, I don't believe sometimes these officials understand the really HUGE disconcerting effect some little sentence like this, a little action like putting the hand on the horse's chest to sort of check to see if you're lying - this sort of thing really knocks us amateur competitors for a loop in terms of our mental equilibrium. It would upset me ALL DAY (shoot, all weekend) if someone called into question wrongly anything I'd done or not done. I think this sort of thing is really REALLY bad for an official to do especially the first day of a competition.

          This sort of thing ruins the sport for me, it would sure upset my horse trials. I would feel terrible the rest of the weekend, and that they would be WATCHING me, etc. This should be reported against this official and should be noted in your event evaluation. NO one has the right to touch your horse without your permission in any way. Even bit check. You can take the bridle off to let them see the bit, they don't have to put the hand in the mouth. You can say, don't touch. When you sign the entry blank you agree to allow for testing but not for some sort of non-vet examination. They need to observe, and then if it looks serious then bring in vets etc to determine condition.

          We have to remember this is a sport and we do this for fun. All officials and horse trial management need to remember that, too, that we are there to have fun and not there to find rules to skirt around or break which seems to be the prevailing attitude at some events, that competitors are there to get all they can.

          I think you have the right to know who accused you of this, and to confront them. They "ruined" your weekend with a false accusation, and especially one like this where your horsemanship was called into question, and you were forced to explain something you didn't do. I'd be LIVID and furious and would do a lot more than post a polite question on the COTH board! (I say "ruined" because it would ruin mine, if I were you. You sound like you are a bit better at being grounded than I would have been under the circumstances)

          I guess I am making an issue of this but darn it, sometimes I think it just gets so complicated when it doesn't need to. I want to have fun doing this stuff, not worry to death everytime I put an entry in the mail that I'm going to break some esoteric little hidden 4th paragraph/2nd sentence/footnoted/rule.
          Last edited by retreadeventer; Oct. 5, 2009, 09:22 AM.
          Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
          Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


          • #6
            I do not think anyone could confuse what you did with an excessive warm-up. (Unless you're fibbing, of course! - But I don't think that.)

            A more likely scenario is that you were confused with someone else who was either A) riding excessively, or B) riding at opposite times than you were, so it looked like excessive riding between the two of you.

            Really, don't worry about it. The TD could easily see that the report did not reflect the reality and obviously did not pursue it with you. I know it was probably a little freaky. It probably confused the heck out of the TD too!

            Hope the rest of your weekend went well!

            The above post is an opinion, just an opinion. If it were a real live fact it would include supporting links to websites full of people who already agreed with me.



            • #7
              AFAIK there is no rule against "excessive hacking".

              EV111 Abuse of horse DOES refer to
              * Riding an exhausted horse.
              * Excessive pressing of a tired horse.
              but you would be hard pressed to apply that to this situation, even if you HAD been "hacking" for 2 hours.

              chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


              • #8
                I would guess someone though you were on your horse the whole time, or confused your horse for another like LLDM said.


                • #9
                  Ridiculous. But this is the 21st century, where a 3 hour ride is considered a big deal by lots of riders.

                  Anna Ela used to ride her Morgans from home to Rutland (or somewhere), about 40 miles, compete at the show, and ride home.

                  This was maybe in the early 30s.


                  • #10
                    Maybe I'm the lone voice here, but it sounds to me like the TD handled it about right - she walked over, said hello, asked a question (and perhaps I'm reading too much friendliness into it, but it sounds like a pretty friendly tone and a quick assessment that there wasn't a situation there) and walked away. I certainly wouldn't have let this "ruin my weekend". I'd like to think that perhaps someone else mistook another horse for yours and thought you'd been out there for a long time, and put in a question to the TD to see if there was an issue or not. There was no report, no investigation, nothing official - just an informal conversation in which it was quickly determined that there wasn't any issue at all. Frankly, I'd prefer that kind of informal conversation and give/take with the officials. And as for putting a hand on a horse's neck, honestly, I know folks do that all the time to pat a horse or say hello or what-have-you. I've had officials stop by to say nice-ride and pat the horse on the neck, or just rest a hand while chatting about something else - I guess I wouldn't think twice about it.

                    Had it been the alternative - had you been drilling your horse for an hour and a half straight, folks here would be on the warpath (can't you see the thread "I saw someone abusing their horse by galloping it around the ring for an hour") asking why wasn't it reported to the TD to do something.


                    • #11
                      My horse would be happier and feeling better if I hacked him in between than if I stuck him in a stall for a few hours after stadium. At home, to get him fit for Prelim, I hacked him for 2 hours after every ride. Jump school, 2 hour hack. Dressage school, 2 hour hack.

                      I could see excessive hacking to be trotting and cantering around to wear the horse down, but if the horse isnt hot I think its more than apparent that he is capable and fit enough to do whatever he is doing.


                      • #12
                        An hour and half is excessive?? This summer we did 2-3 hour rides for conditioning, and has anyone checked in with the local hunts lately?

                        I hope someone mixed you up with someone else - I don't think someone asking me would have ruined my weekend, but probably because I wouldn't really believe that that thought 90 minutes was excessive!


                        • #13
                          Oh I had this happen with my dog in a car!! I was traveling, needed to go to the bathroom bad -- stopped at a fast food joint, parked in the shade under the only tree in the whole lot. My car has a sun roof I left it wide open. Ran in to the bathroom and bought a cup of coffee and a cheap hamburger for the dog - with no line at the counter. I came out was sitting in the car reading a map, my dog drinking the fresh water that I had just gotten her from the bathroom and her hamburger torn into bite size pieces on the front seat and a cop pulled up. He said that there had been a complaint about a dog that was suffering in a locked car. I stuck my hand up thru the sunroof and he about fell over laughing. I figure that it was the same thing that happened to you.


                          • #14
                            I'm with GotSpots: who knows exactly what the TD was told, but she was given reason to be concerned about a horse and she checked it out quietly. That's one of the things the TD can do, and it sounds like she handled it well.

                            Maybe the original reporter saw someone working a horse in distress and there was a mixup. That's something I'd want the TD to do, to look out for the horses.

                            Still, it's confusing and distressing to have the TD come ask you such a thing!
                            If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                            • #15
                              No you are not a lone voice GS- I agree with you. Yes, it was sort of an odd complaint but I think the TD handled it fine and fail to see how this would ruin a weekend.
                              While,as I said, I think this is a weird complaint and from the OP's description seems like a totally frivolous one, on the other hand, how often have we complained on this forum about TDs who are lax about enforcing the horse abuse rules? It is not like the TD went up, yelled at her and ordered her off her horse for horse abuse- she walked up, talked to her about a complaint that was received, discovered the complainer was smoking the wacky weed and left- done. Seems like a reasonable follow-up response to a complaint to me.
                              There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.(Churchill)


                              • #16
                                I quite agree the it was right for the TD to follow up. But I didn't think that was the question.

                                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by babecakes View Post
                                  Oh I had this happen with my dog in a car!! I was traveling, needed to go to the bathroom bad -- stopped at a fast food joint, parked in the shade under the only tree in the whole lot. My car has a sun roof I left it wide open. Ran in to the bathroom and bought a cup of coffee and a cheap hamburger for the dog - with no line at the counter. I came out was sitting in the car reading a map, my dog drinking the fresh water that I had just gotten her from the bathroom and her hamburger torn into bite size pieces on the front seat and a cop pulled up. He said that there had been a complaint about a dog that was suffering in a locked car. I stuck my hand up thru the sunroof and he about fell over laughing. I figure that it was the same thing that happened to you.
                                  I'd rather a complaint be followed up on than not at all. It might have been a slight inconvenience for you but remember that there are far too many irresponsible pet owners out there who don't do the right thing.

                                  Just recently I was going out to lunch- pulled into a pizza place and parked next to this little car. The windows were about 1-2 inches down and the sunroof half closed. Anyway I walk in thinking nothing of it except the fact that it was a very nice new BMW. Anyhoo- go in order my lunch and about 20-30 minutes later head back out to get in my car. As I'm getting in I hear whining. At first it sounded like a baby so I paused to listen then realized it was a dog. So I'm looking around the cars and see a small dog in the BMW. I just about freaked. It's almost 90 degrees in Long Beach, CA. So I walk into the now packed pizza place and ask out loud to EVERYONE "Who left their dog in a car." Various commentary is chimed back like.. is it dead? break a window... etc. A woman hops up and is "OMG what's happened" and follows me out telling me it's her car and dog. Anyway once outside I tell her that its obviously hot in the car and that it's been over 30min the dog could be in distress. She gets all defensive and angry- swearing at me. The sunroof is open- the dog is just fine she argues. Anyway I cut off her bitching and said flatly "I can call the police and animal control if you'd like". She went back in- got her stuff and her friends- came back out and left (not quietly obviously).

                                  So maybe the dog wasn't in distress *yet* but at least she'll think twice before leaving her dog in a car. Shame on her friends for not thinking about the dog's welfare either. I'm sure inside the car was approaching if not already unbearable- it doesn't take long.


                                  • #18
                                    This makes me think of a kid I know who thinks her horse is a bicycle. Rides it all day at a show. No consideration what so ever. So, I can see how someone would mention this to the TD, even though they were wrong, and I can see the TD following up. That is their job, right?
                                    I would not let this ruin my weekend, and I will not get upset if someone touched my horse.


                                    • #19
                                      Good grief, sounds like someone is a busy body. The TD was doing her job, and she is supposed to follow through, but for someone to comment that you had been on a horse for an hour and a half? I had a horse that required at least an hour of dressage warmup to settle...and after that I'd hack him around the grounds just to let him look at everything.

                                      It would have blown my mind, too to know that someone was thinking I was mistreating my horse for RIDING him (he used to hunt for 5 or 6 hours, and the only time I was off was to get a gate to visit the ladie's room in the woods)

                                      On the other extreme, one year at Rolex (I was in the FEI enclosure, so I was catching a lot of stuff folks outside the fence do not see) there was a well known UL rider who had been schooling a horse "excessively" for 3 or 4 hours, cantering around and yankin' and snatchin' for a lot of that time, in one of the rings. It went on and on, and the horse had bleeding spur rubs.
                                      Finally, as it was getting dark, (and we were ALL concerned) a TD walked towards the ring, and as they did, the rider stopped, petted the horse profusely, and walked off towards the barns. Like (see? No problem here, I'm being nice to the horsey)
                                      Don't know if the TD followed up. It's touchy.
                                      In your case, somebody you can easily best got their thong in a wad, I think. Good for you for having a fit horse, and for being thorough in your preparation!
                                      What would you try if you knew you would not fail?


                                      • #20
                                        I have a new rule for you.

                                        EV111-1/2 Abuse of Horse

                                        An event official's investigation of a spurious accusation concerning a competitor will result in a fine of $100 payable to the organizer and reimbursement in full of all competitor's costs at the event, including but not limited to stabling, housing, entry fee, horse treats, and miscellaneous snacks. A written apology will also be required. Responsibility for electing retaliatory spitball attack shall rest with the unfairly accused.

                                        Talk to the Hoof