Horses, welfare–theirs and ours

25 Feb


This space should be filled with the glowing review of The Global Dressage Forum-North America that took place last week: it was a meeting for lovers of the sport, the horses, the principles, the WHY of dressage. Soon, this space will be so filled..

But the overriding principle for horse sport, at this Forum as elsewhere, must always be, ‘welfare of the horse.’


And in that spirit–  and in memory of all the nameless, unknown horses who suffered heart attacks, fractures, and other life-ending and competition injuries on various endurance tracks around the world but mostly within one FEI Region  which must go nameless so as not to sow discord—


here once again is a link to one of the few images/videos we have of truly perverse sport:


And what bothers me most is not this one horse but rather our International  Federation’s  almost non-existent response, so busy are they handing out yellow cards, etc., for improperly strapped helmets.   It is as though welfare of the horse is the least of their concerns.

So as not to heap all negatives on one organization, the recent shenanigans in Florida prove that USEF does not care much about the health of its  horse shows or the competitors, at least in dressage.

Ironic, considering  that USEF (U.S. Equestrian Federation)  was born as AHSA (American Horse Show Association) , devoted mainly to the governance of horse shows. In the ensuing battle to lead horse sport in the U.S., the high-performance USET (U.S. Equestrian Team) fought with AHSA  and eventually won the right to rule, thus creating umbrella organization  USEF.Which leads to this:


Basically, the U.S. has a 75-mile rule that requires that much distance between  CDN dressage shows on any given day, so as to give organizers and riders the best advantages for competition.  There is also another USEF rule, however, that allows an approved CDI to add a CDN to its prize list, no matter what the distance from another already-approved national dressage show.

In the battle for not merely supremacy but monopoly that is South Florida, one organization has tried to be given all dates and put all competitors out of business—both by invoking the mileage rule for one of its shows  AND filing a formal complaint to suspend the mileage rule for another of its shows.

How can it be good for competitors, let alone the health of competitions,  to only have one venue available for all shows?

How can it be good for horses to have organizations whose understandable worries about lawsuits and income seem to have replaced the need to always keep paramount the welfare of the horse?


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