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Doping Takes Center Stage At USEF Convention

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  • We continue to look at this as a drug problem when in reality it is a business model problem. Our current business model dictates that the majority of revenue generated for a trainer is derived from horse shows through "training fees" . A short time ago, much of a trainers income was derived from re-sales, a horse would be purchased at a one price than resold or skip sold to a client at a 500 % mark up or more. The original owner and buyer never knew the real prices. Some make think so what however the original owners were being ripped off as were the buyers . Agents and trainers were making a fortune and for a 10 or 15 year period this game continued.... until laws caught up with the game, does it still go on yes but not so blantantly. My point is , this "sport no longer generates it's revenue form teaching riding or training horses .. it generates through illusion, smoke and mirrors. a child goes into the ring for the first time on a drugged out pony and wins.. voila the parents believe the child is the next olymic rider, that child comes from money so it is paramount that the trainer keep up the illusion, this child will like most be done riding by the time it's 18 . That is aprox 12 years of income generating client. Over those next 12 years that 1 child will be worth anywhere from 1/4 to 1 million + dollars in income IF that trainer can keep THAT child in the ring winning. How do you do that with a child who has never actually been taught to ride because most of their saddle time is spent in the actual show ring rather than the schooling ring. They must continually move up to different horses eventually competeing at 3'6" but they don't know how to ride , they can steer , and they can pose but at the first sign of a spook or a horses ducking out they are on the ground so those potential senarios must be eliminated in order to keep that kid and their parents happy.. If trainers actually had to teach riding they would loose the majority of their income . Everything about horse showsd is geared to the 2'6 - 3'0 amatuer rider big classes big prises big purses, you can fake most riding up til 3'6" I wonder what would happen if the Maclay and Medal was 4ft, IF no purse money ( ala Chris Kappler) exsisted in Amatuer classes and the money didn't start till 3'6" in any division

    Comment


    • Although I agree with you with most of what you say, trainers make the most money for leasing and sales of horses. Training fees($100 to $125 per day) are not that much considering they spend the whole day waiting around.

      Comment


      • MIKES MCS,

        I appreciate your thoughtful and well-informed post.

        Some USEF speaker was quoted as suggesting that the drugging stuff comes from a "cultural" problem in the Hunters. That could be true, but so, so many trainers follow the money and-- culture of horsemanship, clean sport or responsibility or not-- they don't see how to do something different and still make a living.

        We do have a problem when the who business revolves around convincing new or unpracticed riders that they can go to a horse show.

        Some of my trainer friends tell me about how hard this is for them:

        They feel pressure to find the horse that will do the impossibly great packing job for their kiddie or ammy riders.

        They want to teach the horse to go better and be fair to him (usually, they like these kind soul packer sorts). But they discover that lots of their job involves making the horse a little dull and tolerant of mistakes. They don't like this training assignment.

        They don't love the process of shopping for horses whose combination of price tag, looks and value as a tolerant packer make the horse a rare commodity. They don't like the process of convincing the buyer to get the older, perhaps not so pretty, won't sell for as much horse that they know the client can actually ride. That's because they don't like being in the position of telling the eager and paying client that her lack of talent or saddle time is a large impediment.

        So, yeah, we need to go back to an older (pre-HITS franchise) business model, IMO.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

        Comment


        • Originally posted by MIKES MCS View Post
          ... this sport no longer generates it's revenue form teaching riding or training horses .. it generates through illusion, smoke and mirrors. a child goes into the ring for the first time on a drugged out pony and wins.. voila the parents believe the child is the next olymic rider, that child comes from money so it is paramount that the trainer keep up the illusion, this child will like most be done riding by the time it's 18 . That is aprox 12 years of income generating client. Over those next 12 years that 1 child will be worth anywhere from 1/4 to 1 million + dollars in income IF that trainer can keep THAT child in the ring winning. How do you do that with a child who has never actually been taught to ride because most of their saddle time is spent in the actual show ring rather than the schooling ring. They must continually move up to different horses eventually competeing at 3'6" but they don't know how to ride , they can steer , and they can pose but at the first sign of a spook or a horses ducking out they are on the ground so those potential senarios must be eliminated in order to keep that kid and their parents happy.. If trainers actually had to teach riding they would loose the majority of their income .
          Originally posted by mvp View Post
          Some of my trainer friends tell me about how hard this is for them:

          They feel pressure to find the horse that will do the impossibly great packing job for their kiddie or ammy riders.

          They want to teach the horse to go better and be fair to him (usually, they like these kind soul packer sorts). But they discover that lots of their job involves making the horse a little dull and tolerant of mistakes. They don't like this training assignment.

          They don't love the process of shopping for horses whose combination of price tag, looks and value as a tolerant packer make the horse a rare commodity. They don't like the process of convincing the buyer to get the older, perhaps not so pretty, won't sell for as much horse that they know the client can actually ride. That's because they don't like being in the position of telling the eager and paying client that her lack of talent or saddle time is a large impediment.

          So, yeah, we need to go back to an older (pre-HITS franchise) business model, IMO.
          Ding ding ding ding ding.

          As a former full-time trainer, who largely got out of it because I could not stand what it took to get the horses dumbed-down enough to deal with their riders, THIS is where the "culture shift" needs to begin.
          EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

          Comment


          • I feel so sheltered reading these threads. I think I've been very lucky not to ride with the types of people described here
            They don't love the process of shopping for horses whose combination of price tag, looks and value as a tolerant packer make the horse a rare commodity. They don't like the process of convincing the buyer to get the older, perhaps not so pretty, won't sell for as much horse that they know the client can actually ride. That's because they don't like being in the position of telling the eager and paying client that her lack of talent or saddle time is a large impediment.
            What a sad statement this is, really. I've never been at a big name farm, or shown at high levels. I am thinking maybe there is a divide there, where us lower level schlubs enjoy the process (i.e. learning how to ride and training) more than the show. Maybe that is part of the cultural change also, trying to somehow interest people in horsemanship rather than just becoming a show client. Even in my lowly circles, I have witnessed the scenario where a parent has pushed for their kid to ride at a higher level than the kid is prepared for, and leave the trainer who says little Susie isn't ready for that yet, she needs to spend more time doing X and prove she is ready for that level.

            I have the impression, however, that many of the big farms do not encourage people to be involved and want people to just show up and ride, then chuck the reins to a groom.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by leyla25 View Post
              Although I agree with you with most of what you say, trainers make the most money for leasing and sales of horses. Training fees($100 to $125 per day) are not that much considering they spend the whole day waiting around.
              By itself , no, but times that by your average AA show at 6 days of schooling fees , then by just 7 clients going to 25 shows per year and you have a 6 figure yearly salary . I am not disputing that they work hard , I am only saying that this is where the majority of their income is derived from. If these same 7 clients were to stay at home and take 3 lessons per week @ $50.00 per lesson for the same year the trainer would not make even half as muchThe incentive is to go to shows becuase that literally is where the money is. Even if the trainer is a lower level C show trainer he/she woudl not be able to make it without going to shows.. their livelyhood depends on schooling fees.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by mvp View Post
                Oh, lordy, please don't cap the price on horses. Let me be clear: I am priced out of the really competitive A/O hunter market, so my wallet would like that.

                But! It screws especially the folks who get to a winning horse by putting in the training it takes. That cost way, way more than 5 Grand.

                Oh sorry, I wasn't being serious. I was merely trying to joke....my point was in response to the questions of how to to clear up the doping/win at all costs mentality. I don't think you can until you take the financial gain out of winning. People don't pay $700k-1million for the horse that came in 4th. They pay it for the horse that wins and wins consistently. So people who make their living selling horses are going to try to make their horses as close to perfect as they can get them because it's the difference between making a couple hundred thousand dollars or not. If winners weren't worth anything and winning didn't pay the entry fees, then there wouldn't be the pressure to win. If there wasn't a Nike sponsorship and an Oakley sponsorship and whatever else sponsorships for winning the Tour de France, if you still had to keep a day job and just did the race for the glory, you wouldn't be spending all that money buying drugs and covering up drugs.
                www.quiethavenfarm.com

                Comment


                • Take a look at the FEI rules, both their EADCM rules and their veterinary rules. They were first instituted in 2010, so are still new and without many precedents to look at.

                  The FEI requires each horse to have a medication passport with it at all times. Controlled Medications can only be given in genuine emergencies at competitions by vets; and declarations must be filed and reviewed by the Competition Vet who has to approve the horse to continue competing. There are 4 different declarations, including one for Adequan and Legend which may be administered on show grounds without limit, but they must be declared. The FEI penalties have real teeth and multiple instances of rule breaking can suffer suspensions of several years all the way to a lifetime suspension. For some reason, eight years sticks in my head. There are built in ways to reduce the penalties if someone can show (against the presumption) that s/he had little or nothing to do with the violation.

                  But the real teeth of the FEI system lies in their determination to hold the RIDERS responsible regardless of the involvement of barn personnel--vets, grooms, trainers, barn managers. Those riders and their horse or horses WILL be suspended for periods that BITE.

                  The Germans went through a drugging crisis a couple of years ago over the Beijing Olympics, I believe. Ludger Beerbaum was quoted as saying that if it didn't test, he'd use it (paraphrase). Other athletes were involved. The German response was to suspend all of their ranking athletes from participation on international teams and, IIRC, hold interviews with each athlete before they could show for Germany again. Isabel Werth was suspended for a hefty amount of time, but she was pregnant so it really didn't matter much to her. The Germans seem to have changed their culture on drugging at International competitions, since AFAWK, none of their athletes (or anyone else's for that matter) have produced drug positives of any kind at London.

                  If you want to change the culture have rules that BITE. Test many, many horses for apparent cause as well as winning and random choice. If a horse looks drugged in the ring, test it. Adopt the FEI rules and suspend the trainers, all their horses, and the rider, no matter what age, who sits on a drugged horse.
                  "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                  Thread killer Extraordinaire

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Lion1024 View Post
                    Why not simply ban posters who cannot follow forum rules?
                    COTH has suspended or banned posters who have been abusive and violated Forum rules in the past. In the past, some were suspended for two weeks for the first violation, then banned after repeated violations.
                    "Socrates was a very wise man who went around giving good advice. They poisoned him." Anonymous...

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by skydy View Post
                      Can't you see?

                      You haven't yet reached the point in your thought process where it (slowly, in my case), dawns on you that it is not for lack of intelligent ideas that USEF can't clean up their house, it's that they WON'T clean up their house.
                      No, they won't. The powers that be at USEF can't clean up this house until anyone who has ever been found guilty of violating the D&M rules is not allowed to serve in a leadership position, particularly NOT on the Board of Directors or allowed to be a licensed official. Why would a board vote for rules that are not in their own individual self-interest?

                      This statement may set off a firestorm, but it's true. If you go back & look up threads about suspensions & fines, the list of names is long and distinguished.

                      So until the rank & file start to vote for leaders who practice and follow the D&M rules, we're all going to be disappointed by the lip service being given to this issue.

                      Maybe we need to find our industry's Lance Armstrong if we're going to turn this issue around.
                      "Socrates was a very wise man who went around giving good advice. They poisoned him." Anonymous...

                      Comment


                      • Yes, and by the same token, at the bigger shows they can sell one more and better horse because they can't win as much against the competition so training fees plus commissions. 10% on a 250K(average price for a good eq. horse(not a finals winner) or a top hunter) plus some kickbacks here and there makes up for a lot of waiting around at the ring. Some trainers only meet you at the shows. Some prefer to school the horses themselves and just meet the pilots at the shows. Taxi!

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by amberhill View Post
                          Actually, I have been silent for way too long.
                          You might want to rethink that position just a bit, honey.
                          "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                          ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by searching12321 View Post

                            What about the horse who has a spider bite or a reaction to the shavings and gets hives? Should they not be allowed to show if the dex took down the reaction and they are perfectly fine?

                            We need some common sense. The antibiotics are not the reason we are having this discussion.

                            Dex is a little bit of another story but there are reasons to give dex which do make sense for a horse to show on it.
                            Personally speaking-- a couple years ago, I was in the position of being the owner of a horse who had a reaction to the shavings and broke out in hives.
                            I was also the show vet.

                            I scratched my horse (and the trainer scratched another of the horses in his string who also had a reaction.)

                            I administered dexamethasone, and I filled out a D&M report.

                            A horse suffering from a reaction serious enough to merit medication on tat level does not need to be additionally stressed by being expected to perform, and is unlikely to perform at his best.
                            "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                            ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by jn1193 View Post
                              The powers that be at USEF can't clean up this house until anyone who has ever been found guilty of violating the D&M rules is not allowed to serve in a leadership position, particularly NOT on the Board of Directors or allowed to be a licensed official. Why would a board vote for rules that are not in their own individual self-interest?

                              ....

                              Maybe we need to find our industry's Lance Armstrong if we're going to turn this issue around.
                              Good point, sadly. I don't see how any of the powerbrokers on those committees who have also trained horses/clients can pretend that they are surprised, as the head of the USEF did at the convention.

                              IIRC, this has been going on Fo Evah, too. Young pro friend of mine complaining that BNT of NorCal had plenty of pharmaceutical help, was on plenty of committees and somehow never got set down. I didn't pay a whole lot off attention as it wasn't my business. But boy, was this young pro frustrated (and eventually left our branch of the industry).

                              Having been around one or two BNTs in their show barns early in the AM, I know they know. And I think the MNTs do, too, as they discover that they already can't beat the thick wallets of the BNT's clients who provide superlative horses (and perhaps that trainer's talent), those guys feel forced to follow suit.

                              Let's see what the American public and USEF membership does with Armstrong's thing before we expect anything substantial from the USEF. I hope folks give a damn.
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                                Which is why the Canadians use a lot more of ACTH. Can one of the board vets weigh in on which is safer? My first reaction is that measurable amounts of Dex is the safest and easiest approach to regulate.
                                Ok.
                                Which is worse--
                                getting pecked to death by chickens

                                or getting nibbled to death by ducks?
                                "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                                ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                                Comment


                                • At the USHJA TCP Clinic in December, the round table discussion at lunch opened up the topic of drugging. Our clinicians were Stacia Madden and Max Amya (sorry if I spelt that wrong).

                                  Max explained that he had been asked by USEF to be part of a panel of USHJA peeps to address D & M issues. I am probably not getting all that verbage right, but you get the point. I believe this meeting was being set up for Feb but maybe it was for the USEF convention...I am not sure.

                                  Anyway, I *POINT BLANK* asked what was going to be done about repeat offenders, particularly those who keep using the "mixed up bucket" excuse. I *POINT BLANK* asked what my incentive was to bring clients to USEF sanctioned shows when persons like these continue to cheat the rules with little to no disciplinary action, putting my clients at a disadvantage before we even step in the ring. I did not use names, but then again, I didn't need to.

                                  His response was that they absolutely were addressing harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

                                  My question is: to those at or following the USEF convention, did that ever come up? Does anyone know if this USHJA D & M panel is meeting now or in Feb?

                                  I will send an email to Max if it appears the group met without discussing those issues.

                                  Thanks.
                                  www.englishivyfarms.com
                                  Hunters, Jumpers, & Welsh Ponies
                                  All I pay my psychiatrist is the cost of feed and hay, and he'll listen to me any day. ~Author Unknown

                                  Comment


                                  • Originally posted by englishivy View Post
                                    Anyway, I *POINT BLANK* asked what was going to be done about repeat offenders, particularly those who keep using the "mixed up bucket" excuse. I *POINT BLANK* asked what my incentive was to bring clients to USEF sanctioned shows when persons like these continue to cheat the rules with little to no disciplinary action, putting my clients at a disadvantage before we even step in the ring. I did not use names, but then again, I didn't need to.

                                    His response was that they absolutely were addressing harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

                                    My question is: to those at or following the USEF convention, did that ever come up? Does anyone know if this USHJA D & M panel is meeting now or in Feb?

                                    I will send an email to Max if it appears the group met without discussing those issues.

                                    Thanks.
                                    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I don't believe the USHJA has any D&M rules, nor do they test horses or punish D&M rule breakers, that is all done by the USEF.

                                    I have even LESS faith in the USHJA than I do in the USEF! And that's not very much.
                                    ******
                                    "A good horse and a good rider are only so in mutual trust."
                                    -H.M.E.

                                    Comment


                                    • Considering past presidents of the USHJA were both offenders one for doping and another for behavior how can you expect them to stand up to any rules?

                                      Comment


                                      • Originally posted by Renn/aissance View Post
                                        Maybe some of our chem-savvy types can chime in here.

                                        Magnesium is naturally occurring in the body, hence it does not test (right?) Would it be possible to test blood levels of magnesium?
                                        It's analyzed in blood tests, but I don't know enough about it to even start to figure out if it would be useful. If a given horse's normal range is greater than the range between horses and/or injecting it doesn't raise the Mg level much or for very long, then it would be difficult to use it. You'd have to do what they do with elite athletes in some sports and have a profile on file for each horse, as someone mentioned (I think) on this thread.

                                        Is the judging issue (rewarding the dopey look and being concerned about not getting hired if you don't) as bad at county-level shows, or the equivalent in other parts of the country? I don't think it is? For one thing, I don't think a slight bit of expression on the horse's part is penalized as much in hunters or eq. Also, there are more individual show managers so it's harder to convince someone that they'll "never work in this town again." If so, maybe a change in judging standards could start at that level, with the (ahem) "rubber boot and plastic helmet crowd." (reference - USHJA meeting on EAP)

                                        Finally, someone on the thread commented that parents don't generally drug their kids for little league games. Not sure about that, but a few years ago brothers who played a marquee sport at a local university took my winter class. The rumor was that they had been recruited to raise the average GPA of the team. Really nice kids. Smart. Worked hard. A year or so later there was a mild scandal when one of them tested positive for something and was thrown off the team. It turned out that one of their parents was a supplier for one of the BN pro athletes. It was with great sadness that I realized that the parents could have been supplying the kids with steroids when they played in HS.
                                        The Evil Chem Prof

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by leyla25 View Post
                                          Considering past presidents of the USHJA were both offenders one for doping and another for behavior how can you expect them to stand up to any rules?
                                          There are no "past" presidents of the USHJA.

                                          There has only been one president since the organization started, and he's still there, so he is the current president.

                                          Comment

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