My reaction to the cheating scandal and random drug testing.

It won’t work.

Cheaters don’t simply stop cheating because of one major penalty. It is not in their nature, they can’t help it. We are not exactly condemning cheaters to rehab here. We aren’t making them do community service are we? These are horse shows. The USEF commands ‘stop coming to horse shows for a couple of years, please’. And the response is ‘ok, no problem, someone else can sign the paperwork. Someone else can ride in Kelley’s saddle’. Well, maybe Erica’s legs are too long and she needs her own, but whatever, so what?

Change jockeys and life goes on.

What happens at home behind closed doors might be more disturbing than what we are seeing at the shows anyway. The experimentation that takes place, and the borderline torture tactics are what has me concerned, because now these horses will have nothing but two people with a whole lotta free time throwing poles at their legs and inventing new ways to to make them super careful, super powerful, and super allergic to wood.


How do we stop that part? Ask lumber companies to stop making 4 x 4’s? Ask carpet companies to stop making carpet tack? Boot companies to stop making weighted boots? Then do we start considering what we do with tack nosebands?


this oughta make them careful!


This new development will simply be a new challenge to set up the chess game with the USEF, (excuse me, I mean US Equestrian). Cheaters love a new challenge. And what happens when, within that new challenge, his horses are still winning, even though he is not setting foot on sanctioned property? He can stand on the roof of his Maserati from the road and his whooping can still be heard form across the street?  Will he become even more belligerent against the establishment?

I guarantee you someone will step up to the plate and offer to sign the entry blank as trainer for Lane Change Farm. I assure you other riders are already being considered, and I assure you the silence you might be witnessing from other riders comes from knowing they could be getting the phone call any moment to take the ride on the next ‘sensational’ hunter. Would you turn an offer down to ride one of those horses? Is this why the horses need to be suspended, too?

If they need to rationalize how they cheat or bend the rules, or medicate, then they need to do it, for some reason, and it will never change for them and it is not like they need sustainability at this point. When you are emboldened by winning, and have no ambition to do anything else, what does it matter? It is not like they will ever consider running for head of the USHJA or USEF any day. What position would they ever hold in governance?

This article was interesting

When people have power, they act the part. Powerful people smile less, interrupt others, and speak in a louder voice. When people do not respect the basic rules of social behavior, they lead others to believe that they have power, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

Larry Glefke has been considered by MANY a gifted horseman, arguably one of the best we have ever seen, and his ability to extract athleticism out of normalcy can be, at times, impressive. What once looked like, dare I say ‘cart horse of a warmblood’, suddenly has a technique you never thought possible, the canter is coordinated, and it pops off the ground in an unmatched display of tidiness, causing Larry to slap his hands together in sheer admiration for his own ability to create this.

Kelley rides for the gold medal with every ride, her muscle memory enacts this weird, almost perverse command to the horses to give her the impossible without the horses even knowing they are giving her the impossible. The combination of Larry and Kelley creates this ‘all or nothing scenario’. They are not giving horses ‘experience’ in the ring. They are in the ring to do one thing and one thing only. WIN.

Everything. or Nothing. If you happen to witness a horse give them nothing, the next day it will come back and give them everything.


I am not sure I would consider them powerful, exactly, maybe just really annoying, but certainly they have produced some amazing results in the hunter world, and in that world they created for themselves there are fewer rules to follow, and the need for a conscience is not required, because the horses sell regardless. Or they get donated, and a few weeks later they stop eating, their hair falls out, and the muscle tone diminishes, because….withdrawal.  We are not policemen and these are not real world crimes being committed.

We can’t enforce training methods at home.

We can’t prevent him from standing on a public road across from the horse show.

We can’t prevent ship ins, unless it is an International Derby, then the requirement to be on the grounds is only 24 hours.

However, welfare issues are getting pushed to the forefront more and more and will continue to do so because we have asked for it.


Every horse cannot be tested who wins a tri-color. They can barely get half a dozen horses tested at each horse show. They just take soooooo long to peeeeeee. Can you imagine trying to test every Champion or Reserve Champion? And what about the divisions without championships awarded?

I picked up a random ‘national’ rated horse show prize list and counted 45 divisions which offered a champ and reserve. That is 90 horses right there, should we allow testing of the tri-color winners.  Even if we only tested the winners each day? 40 blue ribbons are awarded the first two days of the show and up to 70 blue ribbon winners by the weekend. Each Day.

What if you just brought an equitation horse? 18 equitation classes are offered for horses and ponies which may or may not ever step into a hunter ring or see a tri-color. Some people might find it more important to test an equitation horse that day. Some people feel equitation horses should NEVER be exempt from drug testing.

Jumpers? This horse show has 24 classes offered in the jumper ring, from schooling to Junior/Amateur Jumper, and only three divisions offered championships.

What if you are just doing a derby?

What if your horse does three rated divisions and is champion in all of them? Test it three times in one week?

What is considered a big class? Important class? Older Adult Amateur division or Hunter Derby? Green? Or Small Pony? How do you decide who should be deserving or undeserving of being tested? Actually, who should be deciding this?

Don’t these vets have day/other jobs? How can a local vet and a few technicians be at a horse show from Wednesday to Sunday testing all the winners? Who pays for that? Well, if that is what you want, take a very hard look at the logistics and cost, and start tripling your membership dues and drug fees. It is just not possible.

There are 2,500 USEF sanctioned horse shows each year. ALL shows are subject to horses being tested, whether it is hunters, jumpers, Arabian, Endurance, Western, Eventing, or Endurance, or whatever.

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So why did the Federation do it? Why did ALL of the hunter/jumper members receive an impeccably timed press release which coincided with the very first day of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the first day of the 2017 USEF Annual Meeting in Kentucky?

They did it for us. The members. It was deliberate to make us feel better and to win our trust back, and it was brilliant. This week has been hyped up for months and months, a huge new plan with renewed commitments to fair play, huge new strides by an incredibly motivated leader in a stagnant industry. Maybe to give more members and riders hope.

How many riders by 9 am were going “Holy crap! I need a derby horse stat!” (Please, God, tell me I wasn’t the only one.)

How many of us took a huge sigh of relief and thought “Finally!”

How many show managers are calculating their estimated loss in revenue?

Are Regional Show managers going…….hmmmmm, I have a nice show they might be interested in. I should add them to the mailing list.

How many of us are suddenly wondering what else is in that launch of the Federation’s Strategic Plan?

Murray Kessler is insanely clever and calculating, has a convincing voice people can’t stop listening to,  but I still wonder if the devil remains in the details and you should be careful what you wish for. Fair play may come at an incredibly high price. But one thing I am sure of, change is a-coming. And we all will be paying. And paying. And paying.

Is it bewildering to anyone else that none of these cheating tactics is actually necessary? At this point in time, they have made enough money selling horses to be buying the best new young talent out there, and with his skills and Kelley’s ability to ride anything, they will probably win just the same without all the weird shit that they do. I wonder, at this point, if they even realize it?

I would also place a healthy bet if you instilled a community service requirement for any suspended horse person, we would see a drastic decrease in infractions. Real world community service. like, in the real world. Does anyone know what the real world is anymore?


8 thoughts on “My reaction to the cheating scandal and random drug testing.

    • sure, yesterday USEF sent out a press release to hunter/jumper members in an email. This is it:

      January 11, 2017

      USEF Upholds Horse Welfare and Fair Play with
      Stiff Penalties for Doping

      From the USEF Communications Department
      Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Hearing Committee has issued its first decision imposing penalties pursuant to the Equine Drugs & Medications Penalty Guidelines that went into effect January 1, 2016. The Penalty Guidelines recommend ranges of penalties for violations of the Drugs & Medications rules with regard to particular categories of forbidden substances. Substances in Category IV, which include GABA, contain the most serious penalties. The Penalty Guidelines also take into account whether it is the respondent’s first, second, or third offense.

      Larry Glefke received a 24-month suspension and a $24,000 fine after Kelley Farmer’s horse, Unexpected, tested positive for GABA at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show in a Pre-Green Hunter 3’3″ class on July 28, 2016. Glefke was identified on Unexpected’s entry blank as the trainer. Farmer was identified as Unexpected’s owner and rider.

      The Hearing Committee also found sufficient evidence to support imposing a 12-month suspension and a $12,000 fine against Farmer in her capacity as a “Person Responsible,” and thus accountable for the condition of the horse under General Rule 404 of the Drugs & Medications rules.

      In support of the penalty against Glefke, the Hearing Committee referenced his prior reserpine violation, also a Category IV substance, a recent violation involving the sedative acepromazine, and a violation for filing false Medication Report Forms. These are factors considered under the Penalty Guidelines for enhancement of penalties. Likewise, the Hearing Committee noted Farmer’s prior reserpine violation as a factor that attributed to the penalty awarded against her.

      The Hearing Committee expressed concern that despite their awareness of the charges against them and of the scheduled hearing, neither Glefke nor Farmer attended the hearing or submitted any witnesses or evidence to rebut the charges against them.

      Bill Moroney, USEF Chief Executive Officer, said, “We applaud the Hearing Committee’s decision in this matter. We are focused on ensuring safety and fairness in equestrian sport. The use of GABA in horses competing in USEF competitions compromises these priorities. Our Equine Drugs & Medications program is designed to protect our horses, as well as the participants who compete clean horses. It’s clear from the penalties issued in this decision that the Hearing Committee takes the purposes of the program very seriously.”

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks. And more thanks for talking about this issue openly and without reservation. I’m a little shocked, because I don’t follow horse news like I used to do, but Kelley Farmer?? I was just watching a recent winning round of hers on youtube.
    I’m in agreement that none of this drugging is necessary, and certainly going forward I’d think they’d be looking for a prospect they won’t have to drug. Maybe it’s just too hard to pass up on super-fancy potential derby horse when you know you can adjust the attitude at a show.
    Keep it up! I love your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just read your article. I’ve taken a keen interest in this having just reviewed the USE upcoming dues increase and Drug Testing fee increase. Like you I’ve been wondering how many horses are tested? What is the efficacy of the program? And in particular the comment in the USE letter about having to raise the fee to defend their actions in court. I’m only an amateur Rider and have only been riding for a couple of years. But right now I am more inclined not to renew my membership because of this.

    I’ve been reading the USE emails all year and they have made a big issue out of drug testing and enforcement. I suspect this has been the carrot to justify the rate increase they knew they were going to push on the members later in the year. The cynical side of me says this has more to do with their new headquarters even though they say it doesn’t (money is fungible after all) as well as fundraising because they may be having a hard time getting sponsorships.

    The small clubs in our part of the country are suffering a lot. A couple of our clubs have a significant number of members over 60. It does not speak well to the viability of the local sport.
    Increasing dues is only going to make it tougher for the local enthusiasts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not very many horses can be tested at a normal recognized show. It’s a slow process if you have never been through one. Horses don’t pee in a cup on command all the time. They may get 5 or 6 a day and they don’t show up every day of every show. It’s sometimes a Wednesday or sometimes a Sunday or any day in between. The emails we have received have been really deliberate in timing and content. I’m very concerned when I read them that there is a lot of information left out. Like we are being told just exactly what they think we should know. I understand this is normal for a corporation but a riding club like USE is not really a corporation. And the customer is not always right here, although some would argue it’s not a service industry. I like a sports industry which really plans for the future and people can easily see the vision and incorporate it into the real lives of the future generation but we haven’t created that yet so I’m not exactly sure where we will end up in the next five years. I hope USE understands that the value of national championships is also not what it used to be. But that’s probably an argument best saved for another day. Anyway that is for the thoughts! And thank you for reading. Happy riding


      • Thank you for your response. I agree the timing and content of the emails is highly suspect. I get that the CEO has a job to do and that the board supports him, I’m not sure that this is the way to go about it but who am I to say, I’m just an amateur Rider, not on the shortlist for the Olympic Training team or dressage team. I am very fortunate to be associated and very close friends with somebody who has been a longtime writer in the hunter-jumper world and then into dressage World, silver medalist, judge, she knows her stuff. She has been transitioning to the Western World of Western performance because one it’s a different world and she gets to test her skills and two unfortunately she lost her FEI horse earlier this year to a broken leg. We can only take what the universe gives us. It sucks but somehow the universe just does not want to read the memos that we send it. I am but one lone voice in the wilderness. My only hope is that enough people read this any and enough feedback gets to the big dogs that maybe they will rethink their plans. I doubt it but Hope Springs Eternal. One of the club’s I was referring to had a meeting recently, and the president asked everybody to raise their hands if they were under 60 years old. Two people out of 40 raise their hands. We are in Oklahoma but that is not uncommon for the local clubs. Yes we do not have access to six rings and multiple warm up rings. But we’ve got some pretty good horses and some pretty good Riders but there is zero support from National. It’s not that I don’t believe what’s in their email but I don’t believe it. I was especially struck that one you ran the numbers about the number of shows and the futility of testing. And 2nd the sheer percentage of budget spent on this endeavor which could be used for scholarships and promoting events at the local level. I’ve been around long enough in other worlds to recognize a con game and that’s exactly what seems to be going on. Happy riding to you as well, enjoyed your size, I hope you do well but this shit is really hard LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is the most informative in a real way article I have read concerning Kelley Farmer, and others, and what may be required to have a top performance horse. So, when she and Larry sell these horses, do they inform the new owner/trainer what it takes to get that horse to perform at that level other than training?

    Liked by 1 person

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