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Spin-off from Drug Land: Who are these clueless owners, exactly?

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  • Spin-off from Drug Land: Who are these clueless owners, exactly?

    I'm not one of them, as I have frank discussions about drugging within legal limits at shows before Trainer and I get very far. We talk about what I'm willing to do, who signs the trainer line, who medicates and how all involved in horse care communicate so as to make sure there are no f-ups.

    So I don't know who the "But I didn't know!" HOs are.

    And another thread discussed AAs and AOs. It seems to me that by the time you have been around enough to be in the AO division, you are *not* that clueless owner anymore. Am I wrong? If you own a GP horse which you never ride, I can see some cluelessness.

    But in general, what part of the HO demographic is contributing to our little problem?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    From my experience, it's been the pony moms who weren't involved with horses themselves. I remember one specific incident where I overheard a trainer comparing it to the daily multi-vitamin that the owner took. However, the trainer was NOT putting a horse multi-vitamin in that bucket; it was something a little bit stronger...

    However, it can really be anyone. When I was a junior, my parents were pretty oblivious that other barns, or really any barn, were doping their horses. Why? Because USEF has made NO effort WHATSOEVER to educate their members on DRUGGING.
    I was definitely ignorant of all the drugging until I was in my later junior years. The reason owners (I really don't want to write HO over and over again ) are ignorant is because NO ONE tells them about it. I feel that the people who DO know about the drugging in our industry are people who grew up in the horse world or have experienced it first hand. But if you're at a barn where there is no drugging, how are you supposed to know about it? Lemme tell ya, there are a lot of USEF members who do not read the suspensions list (myself included - just don't have time).

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, I once boarded somewhere where I made it absolutely clear that my horse was not to ever receive anything without my prior consent. One day, Medroxy showed up on one of my bills. I hit the roof. Trainer said it was a mistake, and that they didn't really give medroxy to my horse, mixed up bills, etc. Okay, fine.

      Then, while at a show with this same barn, I witnessed the same trainer go down the line of horses and administer Dex to all of them. I only know this because she loudly called out to another nearby trainer friend "how much Dex for a large pony?!" as she went down the aisle with the bottle. My own horse had been injured earlier that morning and was not showing, so he received nothing. Had I not been there, and had he not been injured, I have no doubt she would have given it to him too. I left the barn after that.

      A friend had a similar experience with another trainer/barn where her horse was getting medications without her knowledge, even after she talked to the trainer about it and cleared up what she *thought* was just confusion. Horse ended up tying up at a show, no doubt from the combination of crap he was getting. Granted, probably all of the stuff was "legal," but still not something the owner was comfortable with.

      So there are two stories about knowledgable, competent owners being fleeced by trainers. I don't think there is anything more either of us could have done to prevent what happened, and both of us left our respective trainers immediately when we figured out what was going on.

      I also know of more than one situation where there are young kids showing with well known trainers and the parents are non-horsey but more than happy to bankroll the whole thing so long as the kids are winning. I know of at least one situation where the trainer of such kids has in the past given IV magnesium to a horse owned by yet ANOTHER knowledgable owner without the owner knowing about it in advance. The knowledgable owner left the trainer as soon as she found out about the IV mag, but the parent of the kids wouldn't even know enough to leave if she found out that her kids horses are receiving IV mag (I have no idea if those horses are receiving it - I just know that this trainer has given it to at least one horse in the past).

      SO. It is certainly possible for knowledgable, ethical owners to have this happen to them. If they are lucky, and perceptive, it will only happen once. But it will still happen. And I think it happens a LOT when you have riding kids and non-riding parents.

      Comment


      • #4
        I board at a show barn. Decisions about medications are left up to the management. Most of the owners are not educated and not terribly involved. Given the amount of money they've spent on purchasing quality horses and the amount of time they've spent in the horse world this seems to be a choice not to be educated rather than "oh, they're new."

        Routine show prep medications include dex, anti-inflammatories used singly in the legal doses, Robaxin, Perfect Prep.

        I know this because I had a frank discussion with the trainer about it. I made it explicitly clear when I moved in that I am the only one who will ever medicate my horse for any reason barring emergency veterinary work and that if I find out otherwise, not only will they be losing a client, but I will also not be quiet about why I'm leaving. If he is ever medicated for any reason at a horse show they know about it, the appropriate vet paperwork is filled out if necessary, and I scratch him if necessary. I am not the typical client at this farm.

        ETA that I referred to anti-inflammatories as "prep meds" but I think the legal limit of bute given to a horse who's just done a good day's work and isn't going to get turned out or stood in the creek is no problem.

        Comment


        • #5
          Alot of them are parents of kids who pigeonhole riding into a set schedual with a time limit and then they vanish along with the kid. No barn rats always hanging around with eyes and ears open. No groups of parents and other students watching the lessons of others. You ride your horse and go away in alot of these barns where they really don't want anybody around. It works because the parents are too busy with other siblings activities and their own careers to really take the time to learn about horses, especially when they are not welcome at their own barn without an appointment.

          Same with the adult riders in the lower division. They work, come to the show, stay for an hour to take a lesson the night before, go out to dinner and the hotel, show up, ride and go home. Have no opportunity to really learn what's going on and that suits some trainers.

          Once you get up to Juniors or the Ammie Owners and the really experienced Adults, they DO know what's going on and tend to take a more active role in both selecting a trainer and keeping an eye on what goes on with their horse and question their bill.

          The absentee non horsey owner duped into an "investment horse" shown in the Pro divisions who doesn't even know what the bill notations mean? That's a real sitting duck too. They really just want results and an ROI (return on investment).
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

          Comment


          • #6
            I was one

            I came up through the horse in backyard/4H/PonyClub system. Clueless parents, nobody doping their $300 horses, and I thought all those people winning were that good.

            As soon as I'm grown up eaning my own money I go to a BNT barn (this is 15 years later) and I'm still clueless. BNT definitely has a fun, brilliant Pied Piper thing happening. How could this guy hurt a horse? Another volunteer at a therapeutic riding center started talking about the drugs another BNT from the area used, and my eyes were opened.

            I start chatting with vets & farriers and listening to the grapevine and watching. I conclude the only thing these BNT are interested in is money. As an owner or AA/AO, you only have to have the price of admission. You don't have to be a good rider or horseman. In fact, they want you dumb enough not to ask questions, athletic enough to ride as you are told so you can win so their commission goes up, and rich enough to buy lots of horses.

            I have no idea if it was always this way and I was just sheilded as a kid due to the ignorance of my surroundings, but , man was I heartbroken to see the horse world this way. Not everyone is doing this, but to protect your horse, you have to be willing to assume the worst about people until proven otherwise. There are times when the correct use of the correct drug can get you through an issue, or rehab, or some other circumstance, but that vet better be talking directly to you.

            PS - perfectly happy doing the backyard thing again. Life is a circle.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks for your thoughtful replies!

              I ask because I have had plenty of noobs ask me about how to find a good lesson program or barn or whatever. I feel I could help, too, with the decision to pick a show barn or even a new trainer if the last one disappointed them.

              Of course, people ask less for this kind of help than for finding the lesson program. That's too bad, because there's no reason we should expect anyone new to showing to know how to learn what's what about trainers who use medication responsibly and those who don't.

              A lot of suffering would be prevented by that clueing-in type conversation, not so much about what the worst folks do, but what the stakes are and how to have a conversation with a new trainer about the way they do things and communicate with owners.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

              Comment


              • #8
                Maybe I should start a different topic, but once people have had their eyes opened, do they ever take their nice horse out of the drugging barn and find someone who will work with them/ their horse minus the "prep?" Sorry, just adding a little because I wasn't clear. Do people end up disillusioned and stop showing all together, or continue showing but find a trainer who will be "clean?"

                I have a young horse that is pretty nice and talented, and I am an ok rider. I don't have the time or money to try to be competing at the national level, I just do the best I can in my zone/ locally. My horse is sensitive but very athletic- I often think that in the wrong hands she would be "prepped" into submission. I have had people ask me if I ever considered using dex to take the edge off, or lunge her more. My horse isn't high or spooky IMO, she just needs exposure. I've actually discussed all of this with my trainer (who is certainly not a BNT, not even a local BNT) and we agree that we'd rather "do it right." I think if I were in a lot of barns (even locally) I'd be getting a lot of pressure to try at least perfect prep, if not dex or something more. BTW, I keep my horse in a coop/ rough board situation, so I know exactly what is going on with her and sign the trainer line myself since i have that level of control.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think it can also be the rider who has spent years at a C-show level and is just starting to have their first experiences with an A-show barn. Its not necessarily willful ignorance, but a lack of knowledge or experience with what goes on at that level.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I guess I started riding and showing in the dark ages, and while most of my career was spent eventing, I did spend 4 years in a H/J barn that did B and some A shows (maybe a week at what was Indio back then, but never the whole circuit- Not a “BNT”)

                    Anyway, our horses were not drugged. At all. Not even for clipping (and I know, I was a working student doing all of the vet handling / feeding etc). Sure, a few were administered joint injections by the vet – but no “prep” for shows, no sharps bin, no calming potions, no going down the line with Dex.

                    There was very early morning riding at shows (rather than lunging which trainer frowned upon). But none of this better riding through chemistry.

                    Honestly, it is depressing how acceptable and common place it has become (why is a trainer charging for medications, shouldn’t that be on a vet bill?).

                    I feel that just about every horse sport has now gone to the extreme, be it drugged hunters, 2 year old WP horses, Big Lick walkers, eventers racing around bizarre courses that look like amusement parks – to the detriment of the horse.

                    Ego, Money, Fame, Glory – but what about the horse that has to bear the burden of our pursuits?

                    If they cannot do what we ask of them without help of the needle (be it for pain or temperament), I believe it is immoral to use drugs to accomplish the rider’s / trainer’s / owner’s desires. Its not putting the horse first.

                    The more I hear, the less I EVER want to get back into “horse showing” (I will stick to hunter paces for now thanks!)
                    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hidden Acres , this says it all:

                      I start chatting with vets & farriers and listening to the grapevine and watching. I conclude the only thing these BNT are interested in is money. As an owner or AA/AO, you only have to have the price of admission. You don't have to be a good rider or horseman. In fact, they want you dumb enough not to ask questions, athletic enough to ride as you are told so you can win so their commission goes up, and rich enough to buy lots of horses.

                      This is the culture of the elite horse world and anyone , rider, trainer, or owner who aspires to play in this sand box plays by these rules "pay up and shut up "
                      the USEF has promoted this culture and the proof is in the fact that you can OPPS kill a pony at an Elite show and nothing will be done about it, the USEF hands are tied or is that thier blindfolds are tied . The only ones who can do ANYTHING about this is YOU the rider and YOU the Owner. Those of you with the money call the shots. You have to be willing to stand up and say no more even if it means I don't win ... You have to be willing to walk away from the FABULOUS BNT who states if you don't like how I do things hit the road , fine Bye, Bye. Will it happen NO it won't , Why because the majority of owners and riders and their parents want to win and it doesn't matter what it takes , Hell look at the kids who die on the courts and fields due to preformancing enhancing drugs. If they don't care about their kids health why would they ever care about their horses. New money breeds indifference and that won't change as long as there are two sets of rules

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When I was in college, I spent some time grooming for a couple of medium sized (locally) barns that went to A/B shows during the spring/summer/fall. One or two of them went to Florida for the winter.

                        The parents of the juniors were not previously involved in horses. They were very supportive of their children and were goal oriented. They knew how much money they were spending, and expected results. They placed a lot of pressure on the trainers to deliver those results, but didn't know the difference between bute and magnesium, and wouldn't if it had slapped them in the face.

                        For a lot of these parents, the measurement of whether or not their trainers were "doing a good job" was whether their kids were coming out of the ring with a ribbon. Not all of them were like this, obviously, but none of them knew why their kid's slightly deep spot, or missed lead change, or pony's open mouth around the ring cost them a ribbon. These were the things the trainers I worked for were standing at the in gate during trips trying to get the parents (owners) to focus on and learn about. There was a lot more to being a "clueless owner" than not knowing about drugs/meds rules. And for the record, during those summers I was working for these barns, I held ponies/junior hunters for testers about 5 or 6 times.
                        Here today, gone tomorrow...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by M. Owen View Post
                          Maybe I should start a different topic, but once people have had their eyes opened, do they ever take their nice horse out of the drugging barn and find someone who will work with them/ their horse minus the "prep?" Sorry, just adding a little because I wasn't clear. Do people end up disillusioned and stop showing all together, or continue showing but find a trainer who will be "clean?"
                          Responding to this in relation to myself and the folks I know (see my first post in this thread):

                          Me - I left and dropped off the h/j grid completely. I spent a year at an interdisciplinary place going it on my own, and am now at an eventing barn. Have not looked back, and likely never will. Not sure if I will show, but if I do, I might go to some local h/j shows with the eventing trainer.

                          Friend Number 1 - Left the situation where horse was being drugged and joined another h/j program with a trainer reputed to be anti-drugging and honest.

                          Friend Number 2 - Left the situation where the horse was being drugged and went to a h/j barn that doesn't do a lot of showing. I don't think her horses are showing at all anymore.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            In short, this is why I trailer in.

                            I am happy to work with high level trainers but I do not board with trainers anymore. I keep my horses at a regular boarding barn and ride with trainers who come in to teach, or trailer out to trainers who don't. If I go to a show, I do my own day care and meet whatever trainer at the ring.

                            Sure, several programs wouldn't take a client like me, but guess what? Sale horses don't get shown to buyers without me being there, horses don't travel anywhere without me personally driving them, longing never happens unless I do it (so, ...never, basically), every horse goes in the tack and equipment I bought for it, and it would be pretty difficult to sneak a medication into one of mine unless you deliberately waited at the stall for me to go take a bathroom break.

                            The buck either stops here or it doesn't.
                            You can "say" and "tell" all you want, but the buck stops at what you DO.
                            The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
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                            The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lrp1106 View Post
                              From my experience, it's been the pony moms who weren't involved with horses themselves. I remember one specific incident where I overheard a trainer comparing it to the daily multi-vitamin that the owner took. However, the trainer was NOT putting a horse multi-vitamin in that bucket; it was something a little bit stronger...
                              Hopefully you reported it. We seem to hear of a lot of "when i was at this show i saw this trainer doing x with this med to this horse", but we dont hear nearly as much of people reporting it.
                              "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                                In short, this is why I trailer in.

                                I am happy to work with high level trainers but I do not board with trainers anymore. I keep my horses at a regular boarding barn and ride with trainers who come in to teach, or trailer out to trainers who don't. If I go to a show, I do my own day care and meet whatever trainer at the ring.

                                Sure, several programs wouldn't take a client like me, but guess what? Sale horses don't get shown to buyers without me being there, horses don't travel anywhere without me personally driving them, longing never happens unless I do it (so, ...never, basically), every horse goes in the tack and equipment I bought for it, and it would be pretty difficult to sneak a medication into one of mine unless you deliberately waited at the stall for me to go take a bathroom break.

                                The buck either stops here or it doesn't.
                                You can "say" and "tell" all you want, but the buck stops at what you DO.
                                Bingo. If you want it done right do it yourself. The number of uneducated owners boggles my mind. That being said, I trust my trainers completely and know that I can (and have) leave my horses in their care and the right decisions will be made. I would not ride with them otherwise.
                                Originally posted by EquineImagined
                                My subconscious is a wretched insufferable beotch.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I agree with meupatdoes but it is sad that the industry is in such a state that many trainers can not be trusted, and that drugs are rampant.
                                  APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    The clueless owners are ALL of them who allow trainers to administer prescription medications in varying amounts and combinations whenever that trainer thinks it's necessary. This is illegal, of course, because prescription medication is to be used as directed, and most vets won't prescribe all these combinations of medications to be used prior to showing.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Cluelessness happens for a multitude of reasons. Here are the ones that I have dealt with...

                                      1) Owner is aware that their horse is receiving a supplement but does not put the effort forth to read through the product label NOR do they read through the list of forbidden substances. I have had new clients come into the barn with meds/supps in hand and I have to explain that they are illegal and that I absolutely will not administer those if they show (yup, I don't want a fine and bad rep as a trainer).

                                      2) The trainer gives the horse something without telling the owner at all. The drugs are usually listed in the bill as miscellaneous charges or is just part of the flat training fee (most common). Even a very involved horse owner is usually only at the barn a couple hours a day. They don't see the majority of horse management that goes on and so its not hard for them to be kept in the dark.

                                      Don't forget many of the vets are kept in the dark too. I know some barns have two sets of vets. One that is at the top of their field who treats all the major issues and another who is likely a less than honest vet who is happy to prescribe meds in any quantity for any horse without reason. A good vet should be judicious about prescribing meds no matter how big of a BNT it is.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        In my mind there are two types of clueless.

                                        1. The naive horse owner who be-knownst or unbeknownst to them their trainer is drugging their horse. Trainer may tell them the monthly surcharge is for supplements when they are actually acing/mag/resprine/bute/robxine/god knows what else they are giving their horse. The parent or adult owner is lead to believe or brainwashed, which ever you prefer, that their horse/pony is doing good in this program and trainer will continue. Its not until some one with knowledge of how our lovely industry really works informs them of what is really happening and they don't or do make the decision to make a change in their horses care.

                                        2. Is the owner who knows what is going on and doesn't care as long as they are getting results. We see this all time. After all these are the owners with horses that are on the circuit that go to at least 20 to 30 shows a year and as long as their horse is "sound" or "calm" and is producing then they look the other way. Once said horse is to lame or fried they get replace and the cycle rinses and repeats itself.
                                        I want to be like Barbie because that bitch has everything!

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