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A Question Regarding Witnessing Violations...

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  • A Question Regarding Witnessing Violations...

    This is a bit of a spinoff from several threads that have been posted here lately, and I would like to start a discussion regarding the topic.

    What do you all consider SOP when you've witnessed a clear violation of USEF rules at a horse show? Whether it be a rider unqualified for a certain division, a horse unqualified for a certain division, a trainer violating coaching rules (see earpiece thread), witnessing drug/meds violations, etc... What do you do, and why?

    Specifically, I am wondering why more people find it unnecessary/uncomfortable/impossible to report this type of thing to the steward. I've never reported anything to a steward, mostly because I've never been in a situation to do so, but it seems like there are an awful lot of threads on which people pipe in regarding their first person accounts of blatant violations, and few have an explanation for not reporting the situation to a steward.

    I know the previous paragraph sounds provoking and inflammatory, and I would be lying if I said it wasn't, but I am truly interested in the responses. Again, I've never been in this situation, and I don't claim to be the "go to gal" regarding the issue, but it seems kind of clear cut to me. I want to know why it's not, and in what regards it wouldn't be...
    Here today, gone tomorrow...

  • #2
    I have gone to a steward (about abusive behavior to a horse) exactly twice. Steward was great and handled the situation appropriately. In the first instance, a young kid was taking their frustration out on their pony; in the second, I watched a young adult so aggressively spurring a jumper that it came out BLEEDING from the ring (unfortunately with the winning ride.)

    However... most people I know choose not to formally protest another exhibitor for two main reasons. Formal protests mean the payment of $200 and putting your name on the accusation/protest form.

    Plenty of people would probably protest if they could do so anonymously - and for free. It seems that when there is the potential for someone to know who launched the protest/investigation, there is too much fear of reprisal.
    **********
    We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
    -PaulaEdwina

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Isn't it true, though, that you get your money back once the protest is upheld? I suppose I understand this in the case of questionable measurements or meds violations because if the protest proves fruitless, you're out $200. But I don't see how protesting clear violations (as in your case!) you would be losing anything...
      Here today, gone tomorrow...

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by FrenchFrytheEqHorse View Post
        Isn't it true, though, that you get your money back once the protest is upheld? I suppose I understand this in the case of questionable measurements or meds violations because if the protest proves fruitless, you're out $200. But I don't see how protesting clear violations (as in your case!) you would be losing anything...
        Yes, if your protest is upheld you get your money back.

        But sometimes you don't even have to file a protest. A brief conversation with the steward often produces results without a need to do any paperwork.

        I'd rather you have to pay to file. It prevents people from filing protests to 'get even' or just to start trouble.

        Comment


        • #5
          What do you all consider SOP when you've witnessed a clear violation of USEF rules at a horse show? Whether it be a rider unqualified for a certain division, a horse unqualified for a certain division, a trainer violating coaching rules (see earpiece thread), witnessing drug/meds violations, etc... What do you do, and why?
          Blatant abuse should always be taken to the steward. Other types of violations that you mention, like qualification issues, I would personally begin by going directly, and politely, to the professional involved. Mistakes are possible, on both sides, and sometimes an honest heads up is appreciated. If it's not, then, if the protester is certain of their information, by all means it should be addressed through official channels.
          I don't know how one can "witness" a medication violation with any certainty, and I don't think there is much that can be done about it officially anyway. You can't request that someone else's horse be tested, for obvious reasons.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by FrenchFrytheEqHorse View Post
            Isn't it true, though, that you get your money back once the protest is upheld? I suppose I understand this in the case of questionable measurements or meds violations because if the protest proves fruitless, you're out $200. But I don't see how protesting clear violations (as in your case!) you would be losing anything...
            Yes, it is true that you get your money back IF the protest is upheld. But then there is the whole burden of proof, etc. There is no guarantee that the person you are protesting will actually be found guilty (even if they ARE.)

            In my second example, the steward waited until SEVERAL people complained about the horse that was bleeding from the spur marks before taking any action. And really, it took the voice of a TRAINER in addition to the two of us amateurs for him to take any action - and it was a trainer that brought quite a lot of horses to that particular show. I thanked the trainer afterward, and his comment was, "a few years ago it would have p*ssed me off to see that but there wouldn't have been anything I could do because I was kind of a nobody in this area. Now that I have a big string of horses here all the time, I can say something about a situation like that and they will do the right thing."

            And by the way - "the right thing" meant the steward voiced concern to the trainer of the rider in question. The rider still won the class ($$$) and although she had the grace to take her spurs off to ride for ribbons (and to throw a scrim over the horse to hide the marks) ... she wasn't sanctioned.

            I think most people carefully consider the ramifications of protesting another exhibitor and decide that the downside risk it simply too high. The show world is a small place.
            **********
            We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
            -PaulaEdwina

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm gonna start by saying that I have never been in the position you are describing, however, if I was, depending i suppose on who was breaking the rules, there is a certain fear associated with turning someone in. Especially in my neck of the woods. And its not a ridiculous fear.
              www.millcreekfarm.net
              **RIP Kickstart aka Char 12/2/2009**

              Comment


              • #8
                You don't always have to go through with a protest. I'm at a lot... a lot... of horse shows, and really can't say I've seen a huge number of problems.

                *Warning: NOT a bash of any sort. Trainer and Kid are lovely, only time i've ever seen even a remote problem with Trainer and any Kid*

                One time I saw a horse, completely across the ring, with spur rubs (we're not talking a small hairless patch that you might get from a sensitive skinned thoroughbred, we're talking open, gaping, oozing sore, atleast 3 inches in diameter.) so bad that I could see them 100 feet away. I was horrified that noone was doing anything. I understand that some horses are really thin skinned, and get rubs, but if this occurs, wouldnt you logically think, we need to treat this, and not show this horse, let alone let the kid ride with spurs.

                I went to the steward, took her aside, and quietly mentioned that she might want to go have a chat with said trainer. (Not what I'd call a BNT, but more of the BNT's underling..) She approached the trainer, who was appropriately horrified. Said trainer pulled kid out of show (Big Eq kid) and didnt return horse to showing until horse had healed appropriately. I've seen horse/rider combination, many many times again, and have never ever seen anything I would consider a problem or a protestable offence.

                That being said, I've seen things go the other way. (Rider does not heed warning etc) (Also, rare occurence)

                Watched a kid jump around a 3'6 Big Eq course, who was WAY overfaced. (ie: dangerous) Horse was an absolute saint despite her burying him into jumps, and being borderline abusive with the curb on said horse's Pelham. BNJudge pulled kid aside, and politely told her that if she planned on continuing riding in front of Judge, she needed to (i'm sure she phrased this better, but its been years..) "stop being violent with his mouth" or she would be asked to leave the ring and not return. Needless to say, said child walked back into ring, and continued to violently rip on horses mouth. Judge followed through and kicked Kid out of ring. Best part was, Trainer came up to Judge and thanked her, as she had had about enough of said kids behavior.

                So.. long story short. Bring it to the Steward. They can decide what they can do without an official protest. Often times, many Trainers etc will just about pee there pants when an angry and imposing Steward approaches them. (Your SOL if the Stewards a weenie who couldnt scare a mouse.) Some times they may tell you theres nothing they can do without an official protest, BUT, atleast you know that you brought it to someone elses attention, and the Steward will hopefully keep an eye on them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                  Plenty of people would probably protest if they could do so anonymously - and for free.
                  You can, and you can. I have done so (to USEF).

                  The only difference is, you cannot attend the hearing, you cannot present arguments against the accused when they defend themselves, and you do not know the results until they are published if your protest was upheld.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by CBoylen View Post
                    Blatant abuse should always be taken to the steward. Other types of violations that you mention, like qualification issues, I would personally begin by going directly, and politely, to the professional involved. Mistakes are possible, on both sides, and sometimes an honest heads up is appreciated. If it's not, then, if the protester is certain of their information, by all means it should be addressed through official channels.
                    I don't know how one can "witness" a medication violation with any certainty, and I don't think there is much that can be done about it officially anyway. You can't request that someone else's horse be tested, for obvious reasons.
                    I agree regarding meds violations- I was simply referring to a bizarre thread a few months back in which a poster claimed she witnessed a previous trainer injecting her horse with "something", yet didn't report it to a steward. My personal belief is was that the story she relayed was completely fabricated.

                    I suppose everyone is clearly confirming my implied opinion on the subject. When I was 11 or so, I was showing at a local show in MD in the middle of the summer. The series was relatively "big", and attended by a lot of people that regularly went to the AA shows in MD/VA/PA/FL. I remember that my horse was *very* sweaty because it was mid-August during an Indian summer, and an "official" (for what that's worth at a local show) approached me regarding the water I was offering my horse. I showed her the two buckets he had available to him at all times at the trailer, and she and my trainer checked his respiration, etc. to demonstrate he wasn't in any kind of distress. I thought that was an appropriate way to address that kind of situation.

                    I fully agree that the first person to approach regarding ammy violations is the rider- there are a lot of situations in which a successful amateur rider could be perhaps interpreted as a professional of sorts despite careful measures taken to be sure they aren't in violation of the rules. If that's the case, it shouldn't go further than that.

                    I guess my post is more in reference to the recent thread regarding witnessing a trainer using an electronic device to communicate with a rider in the ring. I would have asked the trainer why she was using the device (since it's permitted in the case of hearing impaired riders who've presented management with prove of their impairment), but beyond that, it might have been a situation to mention to the steward. I was a little dismayed that no one suggested that on the thread.

                    I think there have been a lot of threads on the boards in which a poster discusses witnessing a shady incident without *doing anything* about it. That's where I think my question lies. I applaud the people that actively take a role in approaching a potential problem, even if it turns out to be misguided. That being said, I'm not sure I quite understand witnessing black and white situations (like excessive use of the whip/spurs/etc) without acting on it in some way. I'm not sure I can fathom the idea of feeling intimidated...
                    Here today, gone tomorrow...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by FrenchFrytheEqHorse View Post

                      I guess my post is more in reference to the recent thread regarding witnessing a trainer using an electronic device to communicate with a rider in the ring. I would have asked the trainer why she was using the device (since it's permitted in the case of hearing impaired riders who've presented management with prove of their impairment), but beyond that, it might have been a situation to mention to the steward. I was a little dismayed that no one suggested that on the thread.
                      Pardon?

                      On that thread, I suggested the OP tell the steward, as did several other people.

                      I wouldn't approach the person myself in that case, since that would just give the presumed rule breaker a chance to ditch the equipment before the steward had a chance to verify its use. If there is a legitimate medical reason for the equipment, there should be written verification for the steward to see.

                      The steward is there to make sure the rules are followed, but the steward can't be everywhere at once. If you see something, speak up.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Not a USEF Sanctioned Show so I guess I got what was coming to me....

                        I once wrote a written protest about a show after approaching steward and management about what was going on in clear violation of the rules of the organizations rulebook, and all I got were harassing emails and phone calls from the people I complained about because the Show Management really had no tact and gave out my contact information.

                        Probably one of the most anxiety ridden weeks of my life
                        If only horses would use their athletic powers for good instead of evil. ~ MHM

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          CBoylen and others make a good point: How you handle it depends on your "stature" unfortunately.

                          The right thing to do, no matter who you are, is to presume innocence but to ask the violator about what you saw directly.

                          If that is impossible, then this ought to be done with the steward. It is their job to follow up on possible infractions and handle them in the appropriate way. They can't police everyone at all times, so the average joe competitor's job is to bring up instances of abuse or cheating they see.

                          Stewards know that they are the "buck stopper"-- the person officially in charge of having these uncomfortable conversations or doing what it takes to prevent infractions and enforce rules. Sissies need not apply, but when they do hold the position, it can help to have more than one person approach the reluctant steward about the problem.

                          I think that if you don't like to see illegal and abusive stuff at horse shows and you don't follow up, you consented to it.
                          The armchair saddler
                          Politically Pro-Cat

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Most stewards will check out cruelty violations right away, all you have to do is have a quiet word with them. No one needs to know who was talking to them so fairly safe to do.
                            There is an amateur rider on the circuit I show on who teaches and rides at her parent's facility but still shows as an ammy. No one will protest because they have a justifiable fear of repercussion from the parents.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              this was a few years ago now when i was still doing the pony divisions:

                              We were at a smaller show with green ponies showing them in a few divisions just to put some miles on them. I think it was the children's hunter and the children's eq. I was riding against a pretty well known rider in the northeast who was also using this show to school some of the more "green" ponies she had at the time. one of them went on to win at WEF i think.

                              anyways: we were standing at the ingate together getting ready to go in for a hack. i was standing slightly behind her when my wandering eyes noticed that she had her stirrups tied to the girth with very fine fishing line. It was barely, barely noticeable unless you were standing right next to her and only if she moved her foot and stirrup in the right direction.

                              My parents and trainer were pretty upset over it but since it was a smaller, non-rated show, they decided to just leave it be. there was no USEF steward here so who in the world were we going to report it to?

                              we pretty much just sucked it up and moved on. felt better about ourselves for not even considering such measures of cheating, especially at a smaller show. its sickening to think people would take such measures over a ribbon. for petes-sake, learn to ride correctly or just dont show if you're going to take it as far as cheating.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                "One time I saw a horse, completely across the ring, with spur rubs (we're not talking a small hairless patch that you might get from a sensitive skinned thoroughbred, we're talking open, gaping, oozing sore, atleast 3 inches in diameter.) so bad that I could see them 100 feet away. I was horrified that noone was doing anything. I understand that some horses are really thin skinned, and get rubs, but if this occurs, wouldnt you logically think, we need to treat this, and not show this horse, let alone let the kid ride with spurs.

                                I went to the steward, took her aside, and quietly mentioned that she might want to go have a chat with said trainer. (Not what I'd call a BNT, but more of the BNT's underling..) She approached the trainer, who was appropriately horrified. Said trainer pulled kid out of show (Big Eq kid) and didnt return horse to showing until horse had healed appropriately. I've seen horse/rider combination, many many times again, and have never ever seen anything I would consider a problem or a protestable offence."

                                This bothers me even more than someone not protesting a rule violation - COULDN'T THE TRAINER SEE THE SPUR MARKS??!!??!! Good Lord - as a trainer if I saw that happening on one of my horses all he** would break loose from me! I wouldn't be waiting for a steward to let me know.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by S A McKee View Post
                                  But sometimes you don't even have to file a protest. A brief conversation with the steward often produces results without a need to do any paperwork.

                                  This is what happened the only time I've had a protest. We taked to steward, steward pulled exhibitor aside, problem never happened again.
                                  There's coffee in that nebula.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    The only time i have reported something to the steward was when a friend of mine who rides at a different barn, she cross enetered in to a division with lower fences, just so she could win because she wasnt doing well at the higher height. I went to the steward and they told me a person from the division she cross entered to must complain. There was a family there who have a tack store trailer that goes to the shows, one of her daughters was in the division, so i told hre my friends name, number, and the name of her horse, and that moment she walked right off to the steward and they fgave the points to the right person and reannounced it. My friend was pissed off at me, but it was the right thing to do.

                                    I think it is ridiculous when people wont go to the stewards becuase they dont want to be classified as the show bitch. It isnt being a bitch, its being fair!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Tackpud View Post
                                      "One time I saw a horse, completely across the ring, with spur rubs (we're not talking a small hairless patch that you might get from a sensitive skinned thoroughbred, we're talking open, gaping, oozing sore, atleast 3 inches in diameter.) so bad that I could see them 100 feet away. I was horrified that noone was doing anything. I understand that some horses are really thin skinned, and get rubs, but if this occurs, wouldnt you logically think, we need to treat this, and not show this horse, let alone let the kid ride with spurs.

                                      I went to the steward, took her aside, and quietly mentioned that she might want to go have a chat with said trainer. (Not what I'd call a BNT, but more of the BNT's underling..) She approached the trainer, who was appropriately horrified. Said trainer pulled kid out of show (Big Eq kid) and didnt return horse to showing until horse had healed appropriately. I've seen horse/rider combination, many many times again, and have never ever seen anything I would consider a problem or a protestable offence."

                                      This bothers me even more than someone not protesting a rule violation - COULDN'T THE TRAINER SEE THE SPUR MARKS??!!??!! Good Lord - as a trainer if I saw that happening on one of my horses all he** would break loose from me! I wouldn't be waiting for a steward to let me know.
                                      sounds to be like said trainer was perhaps "playing stupid" when confronted by the steward. There's no possible way, as a trainer at a show or ANYWHERE, would miss those marks or "not know about them". The trainer stands next to that horse within touching distance pretty much all day at a show; I'm sure those marks didnt go un-noticed. Once confronted by a stweard, I'm sure that trainers wanted to play nice-nice and also stupid as to not get in even more trouble. "if you pretend you know nothing; the stewards will most likely be just as nice and be less likely to be judgemental. " Its like anything else; if you were called out on something, would you fess up and be like "oh well yea, they're spur rubs, horses get them all the time, the horse is fine, he will suck it up!"....i don't really think so.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Sometimes protesting and talking and asking don't get results...as I have seen. So, this year, when I saw yet again, for the 3rd year of a person with her draft being abusive, instead of going to the show steward, I gathered my proof, I got a dvd of her using a set up stick to slap, hit, and poke the animal in the chest, across the bridge of his nose, the legs, under the jaw etc. The first time this came to our attention was the same year that their stallion got loose, viciously attacked another gelding, then kicked and injured my husband and tried to mount my mare several times. I also got several letters of complaints and when I had gathered all of this AND the USEF rules and regulations regarding show abuse, then I went to the board of directors with what I had.

                                        This has been 4 months ago, in this time I have lost friends over this, I have been accused of being a bitch, others have made very snarky remarks about my team and myself, these people had a junior lawyer write me a letter saying to stop talking about them, and I doubt that anyone will admit that what they saw was more than being "heavy handed". These people are ignorant in the handling and showing of a stallion, I have had A rated judges tell me this after viewing the video we have and given me some great insight. Will they change? No because they think they are doing it right..

                                        What you also need to understand is that many people are afraid to say anything or stand up and point out the abuse. Others cover themselves by saying that they saw nothing wrong or they were busy or downright lie to cover their over sight.

                                        Comment

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