Friday, December 28, 2012

A Pony's Death at Devon

There was a lot of chatter in the horse world last spring when a fancy show pony named Humble died immediately after getting an injection at the Devon Horse Show, one of the most competitive shows in the country.  For those of us who have been in the horse show world for a while know all too well that drugs are a big part of the routine at many barns.  Like any sport that involves a lot of money, sometimes the playing field, well, let's just say that it's not all that level at the upper levels of the sport. 

Glad to see the New York Times tackle the subject.  I can also say, that as a licensed Horse Show Steward (the officials of the sport and we are are licensed), there is little that you can do under the current rules as the article clearly points out.

You can see the article here.

Here is the drug list that has the pony's name on it.  Most of these drugs are used for calming. Legend and Adequan are used to "juice" the joints so to speak, more of a wear and tear issue.  My own horses get them, mostly due to age and use.   That pony was getting a lot of Banamine.  I keep Banamine in my barn and use it in emergencies when a horse has a sudden injury and needs to be relaxed or for colic.

(New York Times photo)

A pony needlessly died and maybe something good will come out of all this.  I'm not holding my breath though.  There are a lot of politics in the horse show world and lots of money with lots of influence. Sounds a bit like our Federal Government don't you think?


  1. It's sad. Horse shows are not what they were, or what I thought they were. Part of why the fun of it left me early on.
    Part of it though is that we are not training good horseman. Instead we're putting kids up there and letting their egos and ambition guide the course of their 'career;, instead of the time they spend in the study of horsemanship and the skills they acquire over time. Kids, or their parents, want to take a lesson Tuesday, and enter a show that Saturday, in over fences classes... and they want to win. Take your time, and spend years studying and working your way up the ranks? Ha!
    I do find it odd to dose Adequan and Legend at the show... never found it to do much until well after the loading doses were started, say week 2 of 4 weeks of dosing. Never noted much help after 1 injection, but that's in a study of one [older] horse, so maybe that's why?

  2. Yes, I agree. Instant gratification is alive and well in the horse show world, just like everywhere else. Sad but true. How many of these riders actually know their horses?

  3. I'm not a fan of any sport or activity that uses animals to get ahead. The monetary stakes are too high to trust people to do the right thing. These incidences have gone on far too long and anyone that sees this activity and does nothing about it is as guilty as the ones who do it. People don't seem to have a concious any more...and animals suffer because of this.

  4. Anonymous, I agree with you to a point.
    But if you've ever been on a horse who loves to jump and felt them 'take' you to a jump... well it's the most incredible feeling. Some of them truly love what they do, and are great at it, and some riders are real horsemen who care about their horses as much as the sport they 'use' them for.
    My horse carried me for about 17 years, and for the last 4 [and however many are ahead of us] that he could not carry me I continue to care for him,... because of what he did for me in my sport, but also because he was my partner and that partnership doesn't end just because I no longer can ride him. The farm he is at is full of horses who are similarly done with their sporting careers, but are still much loved and well cared for.

  5. Late Bloomers, I'm glad to read about your farm. You are an excellent horse mama and so are the other folks who have retired their former partners. The whole Humble incident is so disturbing and you have hit the nail on the head: our society is all about instant gratification and making money... unfortunately, in the show world, often at the expense of our wonderful equines. Heck, over 20 years ago my then-BF wanted to learn how to ride and he went from never sitting in an English saddle (been on a couple walking-only Western trail rides) to JUMPING in like four lessons. I was appalled! NO foundation at all. The barn was interested in his $$$ and that was about it. He didn't stick with riding for long, although he never fell off, but I just couldn't believe the accelerated pace. I know plenty of places do that with impatient little kids and their even more impatient mommies and daddies nowadays.

    While I am not the biggest fan of Joe Drape, I'm please that the NYT shined their light on this ugly side of horse showing. Now, would they like to tackle Western (Dis)Pleasure and especially Big-Lick TN Walking Horses???


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