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Spin-off re: drugs in Hunters: Who does it? Big, Little, Medium?

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  • Spin-off re: drugs in Hunters: Who does it? Big, Little, Medium?

    What level trainers in your rich and anonymous experience is doing all this drugging?

    Also, how do they manage clients who probably would not co-sign the use of drugs or cheating explicitly?

    IME, LNT don't have enough control over clients to bill them for random "vitamins" and such. We (the clients) are just too cheap!

    Also, I don't see the same tight relationship between LNTs and vets as with the Mediums and Bigs. My suspicion, then, is that the LNTs don't have access to all they need in order to drug show horses.

    What do you guys see?
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat

  • #2
    I don't know about the A circuit, but I know many many horses at the local level getting SmartCalm or Magnesium supplements. Does that count?

    Comment


    • #3
      My vote would be that MNTs would be the more likely to start with drugging, which may move them up to Medium/Big names, at which point it is hard to give up the drugging.

      A story:
      Trainer does well without drugging their horses on a smaller scale. Has a few clients and focuses enough time and energy onto them that they are able to be suprisingly competitive sans drugs. Lures clients from a barn that perhaps has too many clients per trainer and the clients feel unattended and are aware and unhappy that their horses are being drugged.

      Trainer still has smallish program and is able to really ride the horses and focus attention on clients, so horses do well. More clients jump ship to this trainer. Trainer is now overwhelmed and feeling need to keep these new clients at the top of the game. Starts feeling out vets for their idea of drugging. Finds a vet that regularly travels/works over seas an is on the cutting edge of new medications. Starts using drugs and billing as therapies, training session and so on. Builds some drugs into their prices as part of coaching fee. Drugging becomes almost a game.

      Trainer starts to get lazy and uses more and more short cuts in training and does more and more drugging. Clients like winning and like feeling that they put one over on their old barn. Trainer never moves to the level of BNT though as they get lazy in their methods...so riders win at lower levels (under 3'6") (particularly in hunters) but reach a ceiling where they don't move much past that.

      All purely hypothetical of course.
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

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      • #4
        As far as drugging expensive show horses? I would say MNT and BNTs as the LNT probably doesn't have the clientele $$ to be spent on drugs. They also likely have a little less pressure to perform flawlessly at those higher levels.

        Now when we talk about ALL the other ethically shady practices, I don't think any level of trainer is completely immune.

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        • #5
          Locally well known but nationally small-fry trying to get to be nationally big-fry without the client base or really the expertise to do it. Mag, dex, etc.

          ETA that I'm not characterizing the group; this is how I would describe the individuals whose pharmaceutical programs I can personally confirm.
          Last edited by Horse Lost Another HAlter; Feb. 13, 2013, 08:50 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mvp View Post
            My suspicion, then, is that the LNTs don't have access to all they need in order to drug show horses.

            What do you guys see?
            In the pre internet era I might have agreed with you, but the internet is the great equalizer for better and worse.
            Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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            • #7
              You know the local barns that show up at the shows with hot horses and riders that can't handle them? Yup, they're not drugged.

              (By the way, I'm not saying that all local barns are like that. There are some great ones out there. But I feel like everyone always knows that one barn whose riders are going to have some scary rounds...)

              Comment


              • #8
                I know of a trainer who I believe does mostly C shows, maybe a couple small A's, who will walk around the showgrounds with a cooler of drugs.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Does it matter what level the trainer is? I think there are certain situations or circumstances where showing on bute or calming supplement are OK - and at the local level. I started my showing career w/ a trainer who rarely if ever used any drugs. She made sure her horses and riders did their homework before showing. As a result we never needed to school in the ring / sometimes did a warm-up class. Ridin

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                  • #10
                    Ace is cheap, and LNT's will use it. I never have used it for that reason and never will. I don't have any clients, I ride for myself. They also use some sort of cocktail at AQHA shows. I never showed AQHA, but I tagged along to a lot of shows in my teens and I observed this being done by more then one trainer. Gets that head lower and those legs slower.
                    Derby Lyn Farms Website

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by CHT View Post
                      Trainer does well without drugging their horses on a smaller scale. Has a few clients and focuses enough time and energy onto them that they are able to be suprisingly competitive sans drugs. Lures clients from a barn that perhaps has too many clients per trainer and the clients feel unattended and are aware and unhappy that their horses are being drugged.

                      Trainer still has smallish program and is able to really ride the horses and focus attention on clients, so horses do well. More clients jump ship to this trainer. Trainer is now overwhelmed and feeling need to keep these new clients at the top of the game. Starts feeling out vets for their idea of drugging. Finds a vet that regularly travels/works over seas an is on the cutting edge of new medications. Starts using drugs and billing as therapies, training session and so on. Builds some drugs into their prices as part of coaching fee. Drugging becomes almost a game.

                      Trainer starts to get lazy and uses more and more short cuts in training and does more and more drugging. Clients like winning and like feeling that they put one over on their old barn. Trainer never moves to the level of BNT though as they get lazy in their methods...so riders win at lower levels (under 3'6") (particularly in hunters) but reach a ceiling where they don't move much past that.
                      That sounds plausible to me. I'd leave out the trainer getting lazy, but I can appreciate the problem of getting more and more clients and not being able to do what had worked in the past. Sometimes that's about not being able to do all the teaching and training that kept things working in the past. Sometimes that's not about being able to manage clients' expectations as more and more of them flood in.

                      I have a good pro friend who was/is the non-drugging type and right at that level where she could have made her barn leap up into the bigger A shows. Man, she had worked long and hard to get there. Man, the clients got whackier as she reached that cusp.

                      And the woman instead left the H/J industry. She could see the writing on the wall. She had worked for a BNT on the West Coast who had a reputation for using drugs to get the job done. This guy was skilled and she learned a lot about making hunters from him, taking the training and leaving the pharmaceutical cures in her own business.

                      What makes this a shame is the time, effort and talent lost when this one pro left the biz after 20 years of getting pretty good at it.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My guess would be some medium- and big-names and fewer little-names. But there may well be more difference between individuals than between the sets.

                        Here in CA the state tests horses at shows (all types of shows, from local through county to USEF) so your non-USEF drugging has to be as sophisticated and/or sneaky as your USEF drugging as the rules are kind of the same (but not quite). I'm going to guess that not too many of the LNT at local shows are doing a lot of heavy duty drugging as they and their clients lack the resources (financial and/or pharmaceutical). Indeed, the hunters at these local events often look a tad livelier than the ones at Thermal right now.

                        I have been told that some really BNT and wanna-be BNT have pharmacists on staff.

                        So that leaves some BNT and MNT and I don't know that there is a lot of difference between the sets. Some do. Some don't. Some really do. The BNT or near BNT types will show up at the county shows sometimes and I figure that their drugging regimen is probably the same there as it is for USEF
                        The Evil Chem Prof

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mvp View Post
                          What level trainers in your rich and anonymous experience is doing all this drugging?
                          Really, I have no idea. A lot of rumor, inuendo, opinion and gossip. Actual proof? First-hand experience?

                          I've been to a lot of big shows...I've rarey SEEN actual drugging, and I have no way of knowing what's in the needle when I have seen it. It may be a perfectly legal substance.

                          I'm sure there is some level of illegal drugging going on. There always, always, ALWAYS has been. But how much, where and by whom, I really don't know. It's not like some BNT puts a sign on their show barn that says, "WE USE ILLEGAL DRUGS WHEN WE SHOW OUR HORSES."
                          Surgeon General warns: "drinking every time Trump lies during the debate could result in acute alcohol poisoning."

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                          • #14
                            Some LNT use pharmaceuticals for their horses (Ace for example). Some BNT use pharmaceuticals BETTER (as in tricky, perhaps more refined).

                            Example: a local trainer, with a past of getting caught forging and switching coggins at a local series, showed up at a show with a close friends young horse (don't get me started, friend should know better, I bitch all the time) Friend had to work and agonized over letting horse show. I was impressed at how he was doing until I saw the big bubble on his neck, even still had the pinprick blood.

                            Yes, I called the owner and told her. Friend shows up, hematoma is still there, questions it and is told he got stung by something. Management doesn't drug test (it's a schooling show)and owner "believes" trainer.

                            Hence the problem, the owners who turn a blind eye for a 3$ ribbon, owners who don't know it's going on or are too naive to believe it.(they are funding the trainers and basically saying its ok).

                            Same season, trainer horse etc...want horse to show at Devon in YH. Owner is suspicious, I think, insists on trailering her guy herself to a show prior to Devon. She is usually pretty hands in owner. Trainer tries to ride horse and horse almost dumps her. Scared the "trainer" so much she rode him in a Pelham at Devon (with one rein and no connector). Don't know why friend is still with her, we stay off the topic 75% of the time because I have nothing good to say about trainer. Yet trainer has a following!!! Winning year ends schooling series (ribboning, not champ), doing local parades, shows. It boggles the mind!
                            Come to the dark side, we have cookies

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by gottagrey View Post
                              Does it matter what level the trainer is? I think there are certain situations or circumstances where showing on bute or calming supplement are OK - and at the local level.

                              It matters to me because the BNTs set the bar for acceptable performance from horses and, perhaps indirectly, from trainers.

                              If the top horses were never drugged--- still lovely but capable of swishing a tail during the lead change-- a whole lot of other people with slightly lesser horses would have a shot. Were that horse to have a rock star day and the tippy-top one an off day, you'd have a competition. But when the bar moves such that top horses become robots, it's tougher for everyone else.

                              Also, it would help to keep the two kinds of drugs we are talking about here separate. Legal levels of bute and the like to keep horses from competing in pain isn't what I'm talking about. The stuff that makes horses quieter and is categorically outlawed is what I am talking about.

                              Last, I don't think any trainer deserves more or less praise because he/she used legal levels of NSAIDs or whatever at a local show versus a rated show. For the purpose of breeding sounder horses, I'd love it if no horse could be shown on any pain killer. Of course, most of us, most of the time would be SOL were that rule put into place.
                              The armchair saddler
                              Politically Pro-Cat

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I don't mean to sound vague in my response, but I am going to out of respect for the persons who had the conversation with me.

                                It's many more people than you think.

                                It's the higher ups just as much as the "common folk".

                                The upper elite that drug are saying to our "old timers" who question it: "you are old, things have changed, this is how it is done now."

                                These shocked "old timers" are people that us "common folk" still respect and look to for guidance and wisdom.

                                The all mighty dollar is much more persuasive than the USEF drug and meds policies.

                                Not much will change as long as the foxes run the hen house.

                                I see only two options for the future: an overhaul of our sport from the uprising of the commoners, or the downfall of our sport as the USDA or PETA catch wind of all of this. But I do not think showing will continue as is for much longer......
                                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

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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by englishivy View Post
                                  The upper elite that drug are saying to our "old timers" who question it: "you are old, things have changed, this is how it is done now."
                                  I'm always amused when I read statements like this. Nothing's changed. It's always been a problem. The level of science/testing, types of drugs, more sophisticated users, etc., has changed. But that's the way of the world, generally speaking.

                                  I've been in the horseshow business a long time and have mentioned this often: drugging horses is not a new phenomenon. People expressing disappointent or even outrage about it need a history lesson.
                                  Surgeon General warns: "drinking every time Trump lies during the debate could result in acute alcohol poisoning."

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                                  • #18
                                    Yep. Just read The Monday Horses and you will see it is not a new phenomenon
                                    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"
                                    carolprudm

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Go Fish View Post
                                      I'm always amused when I read statements like this. Nothing's changed. It's always been a problem. The level of science/testing, types of drugs, more sophisticated users, etc., has changed. But that's the way of the world, generally speaking.

                                      I've been in the horseshow business a long time and have mentioned this often: drugging horses is not a new phenomenon. People expressing disappointent or even outrage about it need a history lesson.
                                      Just to clarify, the "old timers" and myself are very well aware that drugging has always been a problem. And it will continue to be as cheaters gonna cheater.

                                      But what IS NEW is campaigning horses week after week, to the point that either they a) can't show without some sort medical assistance or b) trainers/owners/riders feel better putting them on something "just in case".

                                      And then you have a justification for drugging, followed by the effect of a collective consciousness believing that drugging is par for the course and acceptable. THEN you have the upper echalon saying to our "old timers", you are old, things have changed, blah blah blah."

                                      It isn't that drugging is new, it's that this wide spread perverse attitude towards drugging is new.

                                      But that's just the opinion of myself and my circle of folks.
                                      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

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                                      • #20
                                        We have a small handful of what I would call "Big" name Hunter trainers in the area, and I know from personal observation that the one drugs horses. I was standing in between the trainer, her rider with the rider's mother beside me in the hitching ring when they discussed giving something illegal to a nice Hunter gelding who, I think, tossed his head once and possibly swished his tail. I know this was illegal because most of the conversation surrounded whether or not the mother was SURE that the EC drug-testers had, in fact, already pulled off the show grounds. The mother had personally monitored the EC representatives through to the end of Pony Measurement, and had SEEN their truck leave, so the trainer sent a groom to take the horse and give it some dosage of a particular syringe in the barn.

                                        This Hunter and his excellent rider would have won in our bottom-level class at a barely rated show, drugged or "fresh." The horse had placings in California that year, and I've no idea why it was slumming in the same hitching ring as me. All I could think was that my division was unrated (but at a rated show) and they could probably compete in it without impacting eligibility for whatever rated thing they wanted to do at Thermal over the winter.

                                        I'm not usually in contact with "Big" or even "Middle" name trainers, and I show pretty far from Hunterland and I've only just entered the very bottom levels of the rated Hunter world. My horse is, at best, about a 65 Hunter and our placings reflect that. My feeling is that if someone with as little exposure and experience as ME has witnessed drugging in competition...it must be fairly prevalent. I'm not even very observant at shows! This conversation happened, literally AROUND a number-wearing competitor, in the hitching ring, immediately before the class, IN FRONT OF THE STEWARD.

                                        And before anyone asks, no, I didn't lodge a complaint. My immediate concern was "crap, what's after the diagonal line? Which course are we doing this time?" and my later concern was "wow, it's really sad that a nice rider like that girl, on her nice horse, have such a twisted outlook that they resort to illegal drugging at a podunk little show like this one...I can't imagine anything more pathetic."

                                        Perhaps more worrisome are some of the no-name trainers in the area, most of whom have little flocks of children mounted on sort-of-trained auction finds of debatable soundness who liberally apply all sorts of drugs to these horses. Bute makes lame horses sound! Ace makes hyper horses quiet! Etc.

                                        Last in my direct experience with drugging in the Hunter ring is a former coach who also holds a judging card. Her knowledge of horsemanship is appalling and she can't see lameness in a horse to save her soul. She insists on controlling ALL supplements and feeds for horses in her program, and truly, as a rider I'd have had no clue whether or not my horse was drugged. She didn't feel accountable to her clients that way, and regularly handed products off to riders with instructions to go immediately use them. Questions not welcome. It used to drive her nuts that I refused to wrap my horse's legs on the same program she had all the other horses on...it shouldn't have surprised me to find that a horse in her care had been blistered so badly that it left lumpy scars on all four that you can see from ten feet away. A few times I questioned her on the ethics of some of the supplements and "medications" that were being used and she pretended to be unaware that they were controlled or contained banned substances. Her MO.

                                        If there's one thing I've learned about horse people, it's that you can be staring into the face of a morally bereft individual and they will smile and proceed to justify, sincerely and wholeheartedly, every single action they've taken. And they will expect you to accept the justification. If you don't? Well, screw you. Go somewhere else.

                                        Anyway, mvp, I think that most trainers DON'T use drugs in the Hunters. I think that the chemical cheaters are in the minority. MOST horse professionals I've met feel that drugs to make a horse "quiet" are likely to be drugs that could make the horse very dangerous over fences. Most horse professionals IME appreciate that jumping is difficult and they want their horses engaged, with all self-preservation instincts firing. I agree with this school of thought. My hot little TB Hunter's biggest asset to me was his quick decision-making to bail out when there was no way he could deal with the joke I told him. I would get so wound up at shows that at least ONE of us needed to be willing to save both our lives
                                        Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior

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