May 29, 2009

In Which I Gloat...A Bit


You know what, just go ahead and call me an evil, gloating bitch for this -- but I am a bit gleeful at seeing the German National equestrian teams disbanded over doping scandals. I don't care if it's a bit of a power play on the part of the FN. I don't care if it isn't 100% warranted. I am so over seeing riders and trainers over-medicating and protesting that they are simply keeping their horses 'comfortable.' Whether they are high-profile riders and trainers or just backyard riders - it has just become too easy and accepted to do this. I know. I have seen it. I have felt the pressure to do the same thing. When everyone around you is administering two bute or a naproxen after a hard workout like it's candy, well, it becomes difficult to remember why it sounded like such a bad idea in the first place. A muscle relaxant for the back, a bute for the sore hindquarters, a shot of adequan for stiffness, a muscle-builder supplement for the young horse just starting work, a course of steroids for the older schoolmaster who needs to bulk up for a show season. The list could be endless. And it is always proclaimed as 'for the good of the horse.'

No. It's simply not. There is absolutely no need for the degree of medication and supplementation that we have come to rely on. It mainly feels like a good idea -- warm fuzzies about really keeping the animal from feeling any discomfort, real or imagined. Encouraging our notions of having an edge on our competition. Feeling enlightened about using only the most ultra-advanced techniques to keep our animal athletes at peak condition. It's an addictive feeling; I know this firsthand. I would love to remove that bubble and make people step back and rationalize some of the things they are doing. They often make no sense at all.
So, I say all of this knowing just how easy it is to suddenly find one's self deeply entrenched in that mindset. Change isn't going to happen from within this bubble, it has to happen from the top. And that is precisely why I applaud the FN's decision.

Now, I am a bit sneering and gleeful about it because I am frankly very irritated with reports that Isabell Werth made comments such as, "my horses belong to Madeleine Winter-Schulze. What I give or not give to my horses only concerns me, the owner and my stable crew," in response to the suggestion that German riders should record every bit of medication that is administered to their animals. That, to me, shows a disregard for authority and a sense that her practices are beyond reproach. I hate to break it to you, but if you are an international athlete all your business can and should be on display to the public. Sorry, them's the breaks. I don't think it's such an unfair system.

And apparently, Ludger Beerbaum gave an interview to a German newspaper in which he stated, "in the past everything that could not be detected was allowed." How lovely -- I mean, everyone knows that's true. To say so is utterly stupid. To speak in this manner is just patronizing to the public -- I can't even fully explain it, but anger boiled up in my chest when I read these comments. I would kill to be him and to see him speak to the fans (me) with such a moral superiority; it enrages me. And in response to the medical log proposal, he said: "You run the risk that a buyer of a million dollar horse wants to see all the information in the log." Jesus, we wouldn't want that. On the off-chance that I could ever buy a million dollar horse, I certainly wouldn't want to know about that month he was on Robaxin for back pain. No way.

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