Obviously I haven't been blogging much lately, and it's for too many reasons to list. Short version of the past nine months: going grad school in epidemiology, trying to decide between vet school/med school/doctorate program, & Royal is now semi-retired.
I made the decision to retire The Fuzz from recognized competition after Otter Creek HT. Long story short we came in last after middling dressage, one rail in stadium, two refusals & a heaping helping of time penalties on x-c. It didn't help that I was going through a combination of panic attack & meltdown that weekend, so I wasn't at top form mentally. I really tried to get us around x-c with no refusals, but we had a stop at the up bank & a very simple brick-and-blue jump. So, that was surprising. Royal loves up banks, started doing them before I even thought about eventing him. He's never hesitated at an up bank before, so the whole thing caught me off guard. But the other reason I've decided to retire him from recognized competition is his lungs. Since he normally lives outside 24/7, he's not used to the dust from a stable. And the barn I bought him from used sawdust instead of shavings as bedding. He lived there for 3 or 4 years, so all those years of breathing sawdust anytime he moved seems to have affected him in his old age. He coughs whenever the weather changes, especially when it gets really cold. He never seems to be distressed by it, just coughs a couple times & goes back to whatever he was doing, but he coughed constantly at OC, to the point of me nearly scratching him. Luckily he coughed himself out, but it was still worrying. Even more so when the cough stuck around for a couple days after we got back & he was not longer in the stable. Of course, he's 19 now, and I think his age is starting to catch up with him. But now I'm definitely reluctant to stall him for any non-emergency reasons. Obviously I can't know for sure that his breathing problems played a role in our OC weekend, but I can't help but think they may have. And it's a sucker punch to the gut to know that you might done something to cause your horse discomfort. So, I'm not willing to risk it. No overnight shows for us anymore.
If were in Area I or II, we'd have a plethora of one-day HTs where we could show out of the trailer. But those simply don't exist in Area IV, and the last non-stabling HT, my beloved Steepleview, is no more. OC and Roebke's Run both require stabling on show grounds, and everywhere else is too far to go in one day. So, that's it. We're out of options. We can still do a few schooling shows next summer, but I'm not very focused on those either. At this point, I'm too busy with the quarter-life-semi-crisis of WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE?! to focus on shows and such. But still, it's sort of depressing to no longer have that in my life for the time being. I used to love planning out the summer with shows and outings, and it's just not going to be the same without a Big Show goal at the end of it.
The other reason I'm depressed can be summed up in one handy-dandy graphic:
The competition world, while admittedly never really having horse welfare at the forefront of it, seems to be ignoring horse abuse more than usual lately, and it's rather pissing me off. People suing the USEF because they got caught drugging their horses, people getting pissed because they got eliminated for spurring their horses hard enough to draw blood, and this shit:
That's eventer Meredith Little, and that is blood on the mouthpiece of her DOUBLE TWISTED WIRE GAG BIT IN THE MOUTH OF HER HORSE WHICH IS STRAPPED SHUT WITH TWO CHAINS! God damn, that is a horrible bridle and I am stunned at this absolute lack of compassion towards her horses. Absolutely stunned and horrified. Incidentally, that was the first of two, TWO!, incidents where her horses were bleeding from their mouths and competition official did both 1. Jack and 2. Squat. I can't improve on the The $900 Facebook Pony's post of the subject ( http://the900facebookpony.com/2015/10/23/when-does-control-become-abuse/ ) but let me just say that this travesty goes beyond Ms. Little and her depraved indifference to inflicting injuries on her horses. At both these competitions, officials looked at her horses (plural!), who were BLEEDING FROM THEIR MOUTHS, went
and let her keep competing. That is a staggering display of lack of concern for horse welfare. Absolutely unbelievable. And those same people had the gonads to be offended when other competitors and spectators expressed concern over the fact that someone who made their horses bleed from the mouth on two separate occasions was not disciplined in any way. Let someone who injured their horse keep on trucking: meh. Express concern over aforementioned horse injuries: HOW DARE YOU!
In a world where almost everyone is carrying cameras at all times in their call phones, you'd think equine competitions would be very concerned about making sure the sport is absolutely squeaky clean with nothing that could be sent to the press or PETA showing blatant horse abuse, but you'd be very wrong. When you stand by while bleeding horses go undefended, you have no moral high ground and no standing to complain when someone poles their horses or puts shards of glass in their boots. You are no better than they are.
Can you tell I'm mad about this?
So, eventually I'm going to get another horse. Most likely an ex-racehorse or a retraining project. And I'm going to have to decide if I want to compete in recognized competitions or not. The fact that I'm even waffling about that saddens me. I love showing, especially eventing, but the thought of having my money and time go towards support organizations that actively aid and shield horse abusers is sickening. And the USEF has basically rolled over and licked the boots horse abusers because MONEY and MEDALS. Ms. Little can brutalize her horses around x-c courses and place well in shows, so she can pretty much do whatever she wants with impunity, it seems. It's common knowledge that pretty much all high level hunters are on drug regimens that would make Lance Armstrong do a double take, but their owners are rich, so nothing gets done. We can't implement true safety rules, like mandating a full medical evaluation after you crack your helmet falling off on x-c because then the pros may not be able to ride a dozen or more horses every other weekend. Hell, half the sessions at this years annual USEA convention centered around how to make sure the pros could make as much money as possible. Never mind that adult amateurs and juniors make up at least 80% of entries in any given recognized event (or any USEF recognized competition of any discipline, for that matter). Never mind that amateurs buy the horse gear that makes it possible for pro riders to get sponsorships. Never mind all the GMOs that would collapse if all the AAs and JRs took their money and time, and went home. Nope, AAs and JRs barely warrant a mention in the eyes of the USEF and all the sport specific orgs.
I did not renew my membership with USEA, but I did renew it with the Central States Dressage and Eventing Association. I'll still do a handful of local shows with Royal as long as he's still got fire in his feet and spring in his step, and I'll do that with my next horse when they're ready, but I'm not showing in anything that involves the USEF or USEA for the time being. They're going have to work really hard to get my support back.