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News: ‘Sudden death of show pony clouds image of elite pursuit’

That’s the headline from a front page New York Times article that pries into disturbing medication issues within the hunter world.

The article’s jumping-off point is an incident that took place at this year’s Devon Horse Show, in which a pony named Humble collapsed and died in the barn under questionable circumstances.

Visionaire posted this roundup over on Eventing Nation:

“You may have heard about the tragic loss of show hunter pony Humble at Devon back in May.  Rumors swirled about the pony’s death, and after a formal protest the USEF convened a hearing panel to try to investigate the issue.  Unable to obtain enough information, the panel eventually dismissed the protest.  It seemed like the issue was laid to rest, until today.

Today, The New York Times published an in-depth front-page (above the fold) article on Humble’s death and the problem of horse-show drugging.  Raising questions about the USEF’s investigative authority, the story contrasts the regulation of drugs and medication in the horse show world to the sport of horse racing (which after a scathing NYT article this spring, has continued to make strides in its D&M policies).  While its always disappointing to see equestrian sport get a black eye in mainstream media, it’s encouraging to see the issue get the attention it deserves– and hopefully some resolution.

From The New York Times:

Ms. Williams had paid thousands of dollars to lease a pony for Katie to ride in a hunter competition, a 12th birthday present. Soon after arriving, their trainer left to administer an injection to a nearby pony, Humble, that Katie’s friend, also celebrating her 12th birthday, was scheduled to ride shortly.

Moments later, with Ms. Williams and her daughter watching, Humble collapsed and died. The death of a supposedly fit pony about to carry a young rider over hurdles was worrisome by itself, but circumstances surrounding the death made it even more so.

In the three days before Humble died, he had been scheduled to receive 15 separate drug treatments, including anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids and muscle relaxants, according to his medication chart.

Click to continue reading.

The USEF has issued a response here, and a longer, more detailed letter here [PDF].”

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Thank you, Visionaire. Horse Nation–what are your thoughts?

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