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Cleaning up the USEF House

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  • Cleaning up the USEF House

    At a horse showo this weekend in Pennsylvania, I picked up a magazine called "The Equirer," which I had not seen before. In it was a letter that deserves to be passed on to readers of this board - particularly after 85 pages of the suspension list thread. It was written by Liz Ireland of Athens, GA and is entitled "An Open Letter To David O'Connor."

    "Dear Mr. O'Connor:

    I read with interest your introductory letter to the membership of USEF in the December/January issue of Equestrian.

    I have to wonder why the officers and directors of USEF seem so determined upon a program of expansion. Bigger is not always better and I think before we attempt to tack another wing on our house and hire high-powered real estate agents to market it to an unsuspecting general public, we need to clean the place up. I don't mean slapping on a coat of paint in this year's fashoinable color. I mean rehabilitating it from the very foundations on up.

    We need to acknowledge that equestrain sport has a very dark side indeed, and we need to maximize our efforts to shut it down in toto. Whilte the recent list of "Big Name Trainers" in the hunter-jumper industry suspended for using illicit drugs is the most obvious current example of what I mean, I'm not just talking about those individuals or that one situation.

    ""Nobody can tell it's lame if you enter the rings at a canter and don't trot.""

    This is what an experienced "A" Circuit trainer told me about a fabulous old jumper I bid in at a feelot auction for $600, absolutely crippled, and fresh off the "A" Circuit with the drugs still in his system to prove it. This horse had been nerved twice to keep him jumping; he had been jacked up on extra testosterone to make him "brave to the jumps." "Legal" limites of panikillers? I think not. It took me over a year to detox this horse, and an additional three years to get him pasture sound.

    And now, we are hearing about the latest round of designer drugs which keep a horse civilized enough for any amateur or child rider - but which have some nasty side=effects, including long term brain damage. Would you want your child to buy such a horse? For a six-figure price tag? Sooner or later, some child is going to die riding one of these horses. How will our sport play to the general public then?

    I say, enough.

    No more hot-wiring dressage horses' teeth. No more jumping horses until they are crippled. No more blowtorches to "air up" the gaited horses. No more designer drugs. No more "trainers (quotation marks emphasized) training horses for several clients just outside the show grounds, even though said trainers are under indefinite suspension from USEF for killing horses to collect the insurance money. And most importantly, no more slap-on-the-wrist suspensions for the owners and trainers who participate and condone such activities. We must make the abuse of horses so economically impractical that people understand that in doing so, they may very well ruin their own careers as well as those of their clients. We must hit these people in the pocketbook so hard we bring them to their knees.

    And if undertaking such a program means your international "medal count" goes down for a few years - you know what? A lot of your members really, truly don't much care. The recent vociferous support for our carriage driving pairs should provide the Federation with ample proof that many of your members are still people who love horses and believe that simply to compete in an international level competition is something to be very proud of, and something that deserves all the support the Federation can provide.

    Quite honestly, Mr. O'Connor, I don't feel I need my Federation to provide me with a tie-in to a tractor company so that I can get a discount on a product I don't need, and will never buy. What I do need my Federation to do is make equestrian sport something we can all be proud to participate in. Right now, the list of illegal activities receiving benign neglect from our officers and directors is so mind-boggling that, quite frankly, I am (as I do every year) once again giving serious consideration to dropping my membership.

    Don't try to sell me a bigger house. Try to sell me a better one.

    Sincerely Yours,"


    I say, bravo Liz!

    I add that USEF needs to start paying attention to the concerns of it's general membership, increase it's educational efforts on proper horsemanship on the regional and local levels and stop catering to the craven interests of a few BNT's and show managers.
  • Original Poster

    #2
    At a horse showo this weekend in Pennsylvania, I picked up a magazine called "The Equirer," which I had not seen before. In it was a letter that deserves to be passed on to readers of this board - particularly after 85 pages of the suspension list thread. It was written by Liz Ireland of Athens, GA and is entitled "An Open Letter To David O'Connor."

    "Dear Mr. O'Connor:

    I read with interest your introductory letter to the membership of USEF in the December/January issue of Equestrian.

    I have to wonder why the officers and directors of USEF seem so determined upon a program of expansion. Bigger is not always better and I think before we attempt to tack another wing on our house and hire high-powered real estate agents to market it to an unsuspecting general public, we need to clean the place up. I don't mean slapping on a coat of paint in this year's fashoinable color. I mean rehabilitating it from the very foundations on up.

    We need to acknowledge that equestrain sport has a very dark side indeed, and we need to maximize our efforts to shut it down in toto. Whilte the recent list of "Big Name Trainers" in the hunter-jumper industry suspended for using illicit drugs is the most obvious current example of what I mean, I'm not just talking about those individuals or that one situation.

    ""Nobody can tell it's lame if you enter the rings at a canter and don't trot.""

    This is what an experienced "A" Circuit trainer told me about a fabulous old jumper I bid in at a feelot auction for $600, absolutely crippled, and fresh off the "A" Circuit with the drugs still in his system to prove it. This horse had been nerved twice to keep him jumping; he had been jacked up on extra testosterone to make him "brave to the jumps." "Legal" limites of panikillers? I think not. It took me over a year to detox this horse, and an additional three years to get him pasture sound.

    And now, we are hearing about the latest round of designer drugs which keep a horse civilized enough for any amateur or child rider - but which have some nasty side=effects, including long term brain damage. Would you want your child to buy such a horse? For a six-figure price tag? Sooner or later, some child is going to die riding one of these horses. How will our sport play to the general public then?

    I say, enough.

    No more hot-wiring dressage horses' teeth. No more jumping horses until they are crippled. No more blowtorches to "air up" the gaited horses. No more designer drugs. No more "trainers (quotation marks emphasized) training horses for several clients just outside the show grounds, even though said trainers are under indefinite suspension from USEF for killing horses to collect the insurance money. And most importantly, no more slap-on-the-wrist suspensions for the owners and trainers who participate and condone such activities. We must make the abuse of horses so economically impractical that people understand that in doing so, they may very well ruin their own careers as well as those of their clients. We must hit these people in the pocketbook so hard we bring them to their knees.

    And if undertaking such a program means your international "medal count" goes down for a few years - you know what? A lot of your members really, truly don't much care. The recent vociferous support for our carriage driving pairs should provide the Federation with ample proof that many of your members are still people who love horses and believe that simply to compete in an international level competition is something to be very proud of, and something that deserves all the support the Federation can provide.

    Quite honestly, Mr. O'Connor, I don't feel I need my Federation to provide me with a tie-in to a tractor company so that I can get a discount on a product I don't need, and will never buy. What I do need my Federation to do is make equestrian sport something we can all be proud to participate in. Right now, the list of illegal activities receiving benign neglect from our officers and directors is so mind-boggling that, quite frankly, I am (as I do every year) once again giving serious consideration to dropping my membership.

    Don't try to sell me a bigger house. Try to sell me a better one.

    Sincerely Yours,"


    I say, bravo Liz!

    I add that USEF needs to start paying attention to the concerns of it's general membership, increase it's educational efforts on proper horsemanship on the regional and local levels and stop catering to the craven interests of a few BNT's and show managers.

    Comment


    • #3
      FYI - that letter was composed by a BBer (War Admiral) - there was a long thread about it on Off Course.

      "I used to care, but things have changed..." Bob Dylan
      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks, I hadn't seen it before, but will go and look at that thread.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hats off to Liz! Thank-you for this informative post!

          Comment


          • #6
            The "Reader's Corner" in The Equirer is where we hope to have more people write in with their opinions about important topics related to the hunter/jumper industry.

            Cowboy Logic
            Walk In The Park
            Blue
            www.theequirer.com



            Cowboy Logic, Walk In The Park, Blue, Jacob & Missy- and now Junior and Betty too!
            www.theplaidhorse.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Aw thanks, Austinpony, that was sweet of you to re-type all that!! And thanks to Cowboylogic for printing it.

              I just hope others will add their voices, and the Federation will be responsive.

              Can anyone shoot me a copy? I haven't actually seen it.

              ______________

              "Those who use horses just for the business are crass, classless horsemen."
              --George Morris
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

              Comment


              • #8
                Absolutely brilliantly thought out and written letter. A beautiful job done by War Admiral.
                Has anyone thought of using it as a petition, perhaps using the internet as a medium to pass it on to as many of us as possible who feel so strongly about these issues? Perhaps the powers that be as USEF will listen if we speak to them in "loud" numbers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The Equirer was available at the USEF convention in LA.

                  Liz, email me your address and I would be happy to mail you a copy of The Equirer.
                  Thanks,
                  Cindy

                  Cowboy Logic
                  Walk In The Park
                  Blue
                  www.theequirer.com



                  Cowboy Logic, Walk In The Park, Blue, Jacob & Missy- and now Junior and Betty too!
                  www.theplaidhorse.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by cowboylogic:
                    The Equirer was available at the USEF convention in LA.
                    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

                    Bless you, Cindy. You TOTALLY rock!!!

                    ______________

                    "Those who use horses just for the business are crass, classless horsemen."
                    --George Morris
                    "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      bravo, bravo!!!
                      http://community.webshots.com/user/pringle02
                      http://www.elysianfieldsinc.com

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        After I saw the post about the previous thread on this letter, I briefly thought "oops." But, you know, I think this is the kind of letter we need to see in different places to keep these issues foremost in our minds. Bravo again to War Admiral for having the guts to write it and get it out there.

                        As a former trade & professional association exec, I know the ONLY way to get things to change is to keep the pressure on.

                        If anyone wants to turn this into a petition, I say we go for it. I know I would sign in an instant.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It is really nice to know that it was published! Also great news that it was at the USEF - Kudos!!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Did anyone that was at the convention actually see The Equirer? I was told by someone that asked for it each day that only "approved" magazines had been put out...so we must not have been "ok" with The USEF. Please let me know if you saw or didn't see the magazine. We mailed a couple of hundred copies like they said we could.I will be very disappointed if they took it upon themselves to restrict what information people could receive while there.

                            Thank you,
                            Cindy

                            Cowboy Logic
                            Walk In The Park
                            Blue
                            www.theequirer.com



                            Cowboy Logic, Walk In The Park, Blue, Jacob & Missy- and now Junior and Betty too!
                            www.theplaidhorse.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Great letter War Admiral!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I was there and asked about it too...I have a rider in the picture insode the back cover and REALLY wanted to see it and get a copy for them.

                                It was NOT out anywhere through the week and when I asked on Saturday about it at the registration desk, where the rest of the "publications" were laid out, I was told that only publications that were approved were able to be laid out there.

                                I was sooooooooooo disappointed....

                                http://www.foxpointefarm.com
                                http://www.go-sho.org
                                [url]http://www.horseshowbiz.com
                                [url]http://www.ijumpsports.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  And that approved bunch of mags and newspapers included the Horse of Delaware Valley??? (PLEASE, tell me it DID NOT!!!)

                                  Again, great letter, WA!!!

                                  It's OUT! Linda Allen's 101 Exercises for Jumping co-authored by MOI!!!
                                  co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    No, no HDV. As far as I could tell (without asking anyone official about it), the publications on display were all from sponsors of the Annual Meeting, such as Equus, the AAEP, the Andalusian/Lusitano Association, and the Pacific Coast Horse Association (or whatever it is called). It looked like it was a perk of being a paid sponsor.

                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                    I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell.
                                    "I don't want to sound like a broken record here, but why is it that a woman will forgive homicidal behavior in a horse, yet be highly critical of a man for leaving the toilet seat up?" Dave Barry

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      When I called to ask if we could send The Equirer to the convention I was told just "yes"...no strings attached, no sponsorship, no approval needed- nothing of that nature was mentioned.
                                      I am waiting to talk to Scott at the USEF when they open tomorrow for an explanation as to why The Equirer was not put out. It arrived in LA and was signed for(I checked the Fed Ex tracking).
                                      Someone that asked at the registration desk about The Equirer said they were told that all "approved" magazines had been put out.
                                      I am hoping it was just an oversight on the USEF's part...not an attempt to restrict freedom of press.

                                      Cindy

                                      Cowboy Logic
                                      Walk In The Park
                                      Blue
                                      www.theequirer.com



                                      Cowboy Logic, Walk In The Park, Blue, Jacob & Missy- and now Junior and Betty too!
                                      www.theplaidhorse.com

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I did not see the Equirer any where available as a give away. I was disappointed because I felt that the Letter which was quoted and the wonderful article quoting Lori Rawls should have been read by everyone at the Meeting. I don’t know of any Committee that would discriminate those choices my guess is that it would be more likely the staff itself that would either have forgotten or misplaced the magazines. It is true that there seems to be a very murky line between those who are the Members of the Staff and paid for their services and those of us who are Members of the USEF and pay the salaries with our membership fees on the fee for service basis.

                                        I think Portia could be right and the Staff may have determined that only Sponsoring Groups could have their material there as a perk. But, then how do you explain the population of material from the Moroney Group which is still in the organization stage and not even an Affiliated member of the Federation. And, why wouldn’t someone have told the Editor of the Equirer what was required to have that publication available. It seems to me and my long term memory from many years is that there was always tons of printed material made available as long as it was equine related.

                                        As to the issue that started this thread, I was very pleased to learn that Karen O’Connor seemed as concerned as we all were about the problems with enforcing the penalties regarding the violators. Dr. Lengel did make all of his forums and meetings available for discussion and to answer any questions. By the way for those interested I did find out from him that there is no different reaction and testing of mules which would be just as complete as it would for any other equine because their metabolism is the same. Chalk up a small victory for the Mule Group. I wonder if any of the Mule Associations have considered joining the Federation as an Affiliate Association.

                                        I was very disappointed that the Hearing Committee did just that, and they were very unresponsive to all the emails. The only reaction that I heard was that they would consider our thoughts in further decisions. All of the establishment from John Long on down were very well aware of the great campaign to get them all emails, and they were fully aware that there is a ground swell of strong feeling out here. That was verified by the Opening Speech of David O’Connor where he emphasized their intention to put the welfare of the horse first and to not tolerate any abuse to horses. You did get your message across but to get consideration on more serious penalties and sharing the costs with those who are found in violation will take much more action, you will need to keep the pressure on the various members of the Board and Committees. There is a consensus that the Federation should police itself and I think a sense of security that outside agencies are not interested in interfering in the activities of a private corporation.

                                        Kathy Hofstetter can tell you about the conversation we had with a member of the USET and now USEF and his views of setting mimimal levels which can be acceptable. He seemed to feel that there are frequently good reasons and accidents that the rule does not use as a mitigating circumstance. This gentleman was very responsive and we had an in depth dialog about the issues of how this affects the reputation of the professional or trainer and also how it affects the welfare and respect of all of us in this sport. I explained that to me as a Mom and a Grandmom would not accept less than zero tolerance for anyone in my family because once you go down that slippery slope the accidents and excuses magnify. But, I’ll leave this for Kathy to write.

                                        One of the big problems that I sensed is the definition of a sports activity, because I think of this more as an agricultural activity and the impact of bad publicity on all the individual farms and teachers and the effect it might have on future portentiakl riders and students.

                                        I think something that will need to evolve is the effect we have as a sport and an industry on the Gross Domestic Product of this country, as well as our open green spaces in every community. This impact will need to be considered in conjunction with that of the High Performance Competitors. They will need us to fill those seats so they can get those wealthy corporate sponsors to give them all that extra prize money.

                                        This is why the "Conflict of Interest" issue, and the Ethics issues are so important. Too often rules are proposed for one or two people with a special interest and they are not considered for the full impact on all the members and their horses at the various levels and types of horse competitions.

                                        By the way the hot wired teeth was frequently my opening of a dialog as to the horror of cruelty based on the fact that I personally could imagine no worse punishment if it were done to me. They all probably heard about those teeth at least once during the week.

                                        Battle Scarred Veteran

                                        [This message was edited by Snowbird on Jan. 19, 2004 at 05:46 PM.]
                                        http://www.usAHSA.org and http://www.noreinstatement.org

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