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George Morris on the SS list

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  • Originally posted by kt-rose View Post
    I'd like to say something to those who who wonder why we didn't do anything back then, why we kept quiet and then blame some of us for the ongoing abuse that occurred. I was there. I spent most of my teenage years at Cedar Lodge Farm riding and working both while Victor and Holly Hugo-Vidal were there and after the Reserpine scandal and their move to California.

    It was a different time. Not in what was acceptable behavior but in what one might do about it and what people got away with. I was a kid and while I heard all the rumors, saw a lot of horrible treatment of horses and received plenty of warnings, I had no clue what I could or should do. In retrospect, as an adult my understanding of what I saw happening around me leaves me well and truly shaken and there are very few 'gods' in the hunter/jumper world I would allow within 100 yards of a horse I owned.

    But back to my point...we did do what we thought we could. We moved in packs. We warned each other. There were a variety of people we never left our friends alone with. Our mothers guarded us. I can think of a handful of the top equitation riders of that day whose mothers had eyes on at every moment. My mother could spot a predator a mile away and warned me quite specifically about Jimmy Williams. My mother taught me how to operate safely in the world as it was then as did the mothers of many of my friends. And if things even threatened to go south they stepped in. Not everyone was as fortunate in having a savvy parent watching. But it is how a lot of us got to ride at a fairly high level with those who were considered the best, but stay safe.

    We did the best we could to take care of the horses. I personally iced the face of a mare who was subjected to a Chambon made of baling twine. Was pretty sure it or something worse would happen to her again so I bought her and removed her from Cedar Lodge. The scars never went away. The abuse was pervasive. Doing our best was all we thought we could do. We knew enough to know the risks but never enough to report or who to even report to. Because of all I saw, I left that world in the very early 80s for eventing and have never gone back.

    So none of this surprises me, it's about time. And while I have long hoped that many of the 'great horseman' of that era learned and actually became great horseman in time, given what I saw back then, they would have to be very different people for it to be true.
    I had to quote this as someone who was alive and around at that time. This is the most accurate depiction of how women and children HAD to handle predators back then. Accusations weren't believed. Police wouldn't always take a report. Women were legally allowed to be raped by their husbands. Men's words were worth more than a woman's, and most certainly more than a child's. Parents and adults in power were almost never arrested for any form of child abuse at those times, even with the laws on the books.

    Younger women and men are often in disbelief when they are told that there was little to no protection for women and children before the 80s, but it's true.


    • Originally posted by Bold MooMoo View Post
      Food for thought. In the timeline given, late 60’s thru 70’s Homosexuals were already considered grave perverts and criminals. So in simply being alive George had already committed crimes that were equal in that time to what he is currently being accussed of. Under the age of 18 members of the AHSA, (not the USET or USEF) that have had sex with an older member of the AHSA must number in the thousands. Some eventually married, some had no ‘business’ connection and were simply 2 people, some were raped, some were manipulated. All of these according to SS should lead the over 18 participant to being banned from the USEF. How do fellow members of the USEF feel about this?
      Hold up. I don't know when you think having consensual homosexual sex and sexually molesting a minor are "equal" crimes, but I don't think they are now, nor were they then.

      Not sure I understand the rest of your post and the issue you'd like us to issue an opinion about.
      The armchair saddler
      Politically Pro-Cat


      • Click image for larger version

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        Let me apologize in advance.


        • Originally posted by mvp View Post

          Most people budget so that they can be retired by 81. I don't think Morris has ever been poor. He'll be OK financially, I would think.
          Interesting that Dover is trying to raise money for him now. I remember when the farm Morris lived at was auctioned, there was a lot of memorabilia included, the kind most people don't sell. Oh well. It doesn't matter.

          What matters is that he has no more access to children.


          • Originally posted by BLBGP View Post

            So far it’s only raised $100. Perhaps the ISWG folks don’t really SWG.
            time to see if they literally put their money where their mouths are


            • Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post
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              That’s awesome.


              • Originally posted by Horsegirl's Mom View Post

                I'm skeptical about the persuasive value of anecdotal evidence along the lines of "Look! BNT X was banned for life and people are still sending their horses to train with him and going to his private clinics!"

                As far as I can tell, the people you are referencing were already famous and highly regarded before they were banned. They got there BECAUSE they had years of access to USEF and FEI shows, with all the press coverage, published results, networking, and reputation-building that goes with it. Without that access, they never would have made it.

                Show me a no-name young trainer who gets banned and still manages to achieve financial and reputational success in the h/j world at a serious level. I think it's highly unlikely to happen, because few parents or horse-owners will send their kid or young hunter/jumper to a trainer who can't take them to any recognized shows.
                You say this like it would be a bad thing.

                In fact it is explicitly the intent of the SafeSport legislation to prevent sexual predators from coaching youth ever again. In gymnastics in particular, there were several local level coaches who owned a gym or were employees of a gym who molested kids while 'coaching' them. Those people shouldn't be allowed to coach kids. Time to find a new livelihood.
                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


                • Take George’s name off something.... like the George Morris excellence in equitation class & change it to the Micheal Hart memorial in equitation class. Or the stadium in tryon or the GM jr clinic.


                  • Originally posted by laiqalasse View Post

                    time to see if they literally put their money where their mouths are
                    The fundraiser has already been shut down.


                    • Originally posted by Alterforme View Post
                      Take George’s name off something.... like the George Morris excellence in equitation class & change it to the Micheal Hart memorial in equitation class. Or the stadium in tryon or the GM jr clinic.
                      Oh take it off everything.
                      Let me apologize in advance.


                      • Originally posted by 4LeafCloverFarm View Post

                        I went to look for it (NOT to donate - just to be clear - was curious what it said about the fundraiser) and its already "ended". Maybe someone put a bug in Robert Dovers' ear that perhaps that wasn't a good idea...

                        Yet there it is for the world to see. Not a wise move.


                        • Originally posted by ladyj79 View Post

                          Oh take it off everything.
                          100% yes. The sheer volume of equestrian stuff that will have to be shed of the George Morris name is itself an indication of why we need to be having this conversation.

                          Check out the latest Fortune's Fool novel, Courage to the Sticking Place!


                          • ladyj79 May I offer up this one?
                            The Evil Chem Prof


                            • Originally posted by Peggy View Post
                              ladyj79 May I offer up this one?
                              That is a much more apt strawman! down to the period appropriate rust breeches!
                              Let me apologize in advance.


                              • Originally posted by Alterforme View Post
                                Take George’s name off something.... like the George Morris excellence in equitation class & change it to the Micheal Hart memorial in equitation class. Or the stadium in tryon or the GM jr clinic.
                                This. Everyone rightly feels awful that Gage committed suicide. I find it sickening that the same human empathy is not automatic for children whose lives are f'd up by an abusive trainer. And this is in an industry like equitation that revolves around juniors that we have to remind grown ups of the need to protect children? In the best of circumstances, how many working students flounder when they age out of the big eq? A lot. Their skill set - for which they may have sacrificed an education - is suddenly nearly worthless after 18. Of those, how many involved with abusive trainers get into real trouble when the trainer is finished with them? Let's say more than one or two a year. I'm really disgusted by some purportedly wholesome trainers standing with George. I thought Beezie Madden's measured response was more encouraging. She isn't standing with George is she? It's a closed group so I don't know who's in it unless they say elsewhere. I'm sure not in it.


                                • Like others before me, I’m going to share my personal experience here. My hope is that as more people share their stories, it will help demonstrate why there is such an overwhelming need for SafeSport, why victims often do not report incidents at the time they occurred (or ever), and how child predators are able to operate essentially in plain site for decades. Full disclosure: I have never told anyone about this, nothing was reported to law enforcement and I don’t even know this person’s full name let alone their current whereabouts. It has been reading this thread and learning about SafeSport that has made me unpack and re-examine a confusing part of my life that I had compartmentalized and ignored until now.

                                  From the age of 5 until 12, I was a competitive dancer. I spent 20+ hours per week at the dance studio practicing and rehearsing, often without my parents present. Our studio was well recognized and highly regarded, having received many awards and accolades within the industry. We traveled to competitions regularly and it was very much considered an “honour” to be asked to join the competitive team and offered solo and small group performance opportunities. It was completely normal for us to travel with our teachers or other parents without our own parents in attendance. I never questioned some of the (what I now recognize to be highly inappropriate) activities that took place within the studio community between children and people who were presented to me as trusted adults. It was “normal” and “that’s just how it was”.

                                  When I was around 10 years old, a new boy in his mid teens joined our studio. Everyone was falling over themselves that we had a “new boy” (boys are a rarity in competitive dance especially at that age), and especially one that had extensive previous experience in gymnastics and could perform lifts. There was much wooing done to integrate him and his father, Mr. Lee, into the studio. Mr. Lee became a regular fixture at the studio and often assisted as a spotter in our acrobatics classes. He also frequently had a professional quality camera and took candid photos of us that were used in promotional materials for the studio and as “morale boosters” to remind everyone of the great memories we were making.

                                  Shortly after Mr. Lee and his son arrived, I went over to a close dance friend’s house to play. My mother dropped me off and left, as she had many times before. My friend excitedly told me that Mr. Lee was coming over and was going to do a “private photo shoot” for us. She said we could give the pictures to our moms as a gift; they would love getting pictures from us instead of paying for the pictures we had taken all the time at the studio. It never even occurred to me to question it; people took pictures of us in costumes all the time and Mr. Lee was always at the dance studio with the other adults so it must be okay. So Mr. Lee came over, helped us pick out our outfits and proceeded to do a photo shoot that probably lasted a couple hours. The only other person I can recall being present at the time was my friend’s teenage sister. When I presented my mother with the developed photos I was given, she became very angry with me. Why did I get dressed up and let a man take pictures of me?? I apologized, saying I didn’t know it was wrong, and we never spoke about the incident again. I didn’t share some of the more troubling details with her, like how I found some of the poses and camera angles very strange (very different from the photos we had taken at the dance studio) and that the developed photos I was given were just a fraction of the number of photos that he had actually taken. I shudder to think what actually happened to those photos and am grappling with the possibility that they may still be in “circulation”. When I quit dance at 12, Mr. Lee was still a regular fixture at the dance studio.

                                  To this day, my mother believes I quit dance when I was 12 because I lost interest and found horses instead. The reality was I was increasingly uncomfortable with what I was beginning to recognize as the sexualized way adults were asking me to perform with my developing body in front of my peers and other adults. It felt wrong and confusing, especially as I started to enter puberty. I did not know how to verbalize this at the time and perceived her pushing me to continue dancing and not be a “quitter” as her implied approval of what I now recognize as sexualization. I always felt like the problem was with me; that I felt uncomfortable because I just wasn’t good enough and I was ugly because I was developmentally behind my peers. My mother made me “think” about whether I really wanted to quit dance for over a year and then made me tell the male dance studio owner that I wanted to quit by arranging a private meeting between myself and him in his secluded office.

                                  As I reflect on all of this in the current climate of the #metoo movement and SafeSport, it all seems so obviously wrong. But 20 years ago, I perceived the situation to be my fault. I let a man take pictures of me and wasn’t smart enough to recognize how that was different from the other people who took pictures of me. I felt uncomfortable dancing provocatively because I was ugly and wasn’t good enough. I didn’t disclose anything to anyone because I felt guilt and shame and perceived myself to be the problem. At 10 or 11 or 12, I didn’t have the maturity or life experience to recognize a predator in a toxic culture.

                                  Reading the Nassar case, my first thought was how easily I would have been one of his unknowingly willing victims. I was physically underdeveloped for my age, easily mistaken for 7 or 8 at 10 years old. I was often at the dance studio without my parents present and blindly trusted the adults in the dance studio community. And there were some troubling things going on in my home life that made me unlikely to talk, very malleable by adult male influence and my obviously preoccupied parents unlikely to notice or listen if I did say something. Never mind the environment I was in where skimpily dressed children were the norm and adults put their hands on our bodies all the time; the concept of permission never even occurred to me. An experienced predator could have spotted me from a mile away.

                                  SafeSport is forcing us all to raise our collective consciousness about the framework that outlines how adults and children should appropriately interact within organized sports and recreational activities. I recognize that dance is not an Olympic sport and that as a Canadian it does not apply here, but at least it gives us a starting point and an independently developed set of guidelines we can choose to use (similar to how a schooling show can elect to follow the rules set out by the NGB).

                                  My experience played a huge role in the development of my identity. It coloured how I relate to my body, how I relate to authority figures, my perception of trusted adults, my ability to listen to (or ignore) my instincts when something feels wrong, and my understanding of when and how to seek help. There are so many victims out there who are struggling and blaming themselves because a system and the gatekeepers in their lives knowingly or unknowingly failed them.

                                  To the people that stand with GHM because their livelihoods depend on it: may you have the strength and wherewithal to tactfully navigate the “snake pit” until we have moved past this false dichotomy of turning a blind eye to or enabling child abuse vs. committing career suicide.

                                  To the people that stand with GHM because of his hero status and belief that that’s just how it was and if victims didn’t disclose at the time, then they were somehow complicit and willing or deserving: you are truly blessed to not have the personal experience that would enable you to empathize with his victims and understand that there is no excuse for what he did and no argument will invalidate the harm they experienced and live with every single day.

                                  To those who stand with GHM because the alternative means recognizing what they had justified until now as “normal” or “just how it was” and they aren’t ready or able to process that they were a victim of child abuse: my heart goes out to you. You are not alone. There’s far more tortured souls out there just trying to survive than anyone ever imagined. I hope one day you are in a place where you can start to heal.

                                  Thank you to all the posters who contributed thoughtful, nuanced ideas and discussion. You have also created a safe space for victims who are struggling right now, victims who didn’t understand they were victims and have been blaming themselves for a very long time.
                                  Last edited by Mia Sorella; Aug. 12, 2019, 06:52 AM.


                                  • Mia Sorella Thank you for sharing that. 20 years is not that long ago. Your post is worthy of publishing.
                                    A helmet saved my life.

                                    2017 goal: learn to ride like TheHorseProblem, er, a barn rat!


                                    • Has anyone else seen this? Sorry if it's already been posted.
                                      Last edited by skydy; Aug. 11, 2019, 07:18 PM. Reason: Does anyone here know the people who made the video?


                                      • Originally posted by laiqalasse View Post
                                        two questions.

                                        1) is the US equestrian world aware that Safe Sport deals with more organizations than just the USEF? because they act like they have no idea how big Safe Sport is, or that it oversees MANY sports/organizations.

                                        2) does the US equestrian community realize that out of all the sports Safe Sports is involved with (and has issued bans within), we're the only ones who actively rally around the people who have been banned and want to dismantle Safe Sport? do they REALIZE how that makes us look? (when things went down in the figure skating world with John Coughlin there were a few people who victim blamed and did the whole "i knew him and he'd never" song and dance, but NOBODY was calling Safe Sport a form of McCarthyism or calling for it to be dismantled)
                                        If it makes anyone feel any better (I doubt it), it's not just sports. I'm a scientist, and science is going through it's own reckoning with respect to sexual abuse at the moment. Although these are obviously not cases involving minors, the script is depressingly similar:
                                        1. Renowned professor/scientist is accused
                                        2. Immediately there are published letters and statements from other luminaries, supporting said scientist. Interview past postdocs and students who say accused was always professional and appropriate with them. Thus accuser must have an axe to grind!
                                        3. Other accusers step forward. It's revealed that similar complaints have been made for years/decades, university has "investigated", but never taken any action.
                                        4. Well, accused is older/from another country. "Things were different" then, or there. Why didn't all these accusers go to the police then? Have they something to hide??
                                        5. (Some of them did report it. It went nowhere)
                                        6. Under pressure, the accused resigns! And takes up similarly prestigious post elsewhere. Are their new students and postdocs warned about accused's history. Well of course not! They're so well respected in their field! They bring in millions in funding! These accusers (whose careers are now dead in the water as no-one will hire them) who's heard of them? Clearly they're just bitter.

                                        People don't like to see their idols fall. But the excuses people make for them, and the cognitive dissonance, is just sickening.


                                        • Makes me sad and sick to note the names of riders and trainers I formally respected that have shown they support child sexual abuse by attacking SafeSport and individuals.

                                          I can only hope that one day their hearts and minds open up to the truth. Just hope it is not too late for them all.