Sudden Death Of Show Pony Brings Drugs in the Horse Show Community Into Question

Humble's Medication Chart - Source

The sudden death of a hunter pony “Humble” at the Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania brings the Equestrian community into question.  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.  The day before Humble’s death, a parent in the barn came across a list of 15 scheduled drug administrations. All the drugs were legal. Saying she was shocked to see the horse so heavily medicated, she  snapped a picture of the list with her cellphone. The following day, Humble collapsed and died after receiving another injection, this one not listed on the chart.

Humble’s trainer Ms. Mandarino, who is not a veterinarian, told the police that she had given the pony the final injection. But according to a report filed by a federation steward, Carrie Ray, the mother of Humble’s rider, said Ms. Mandarino implicated a groom, saying he must have missed the vein and hit an artery. Ms. Mandarino has said the medicine was Legend, used to treat joint problems.

Since 2010, random drug tests at various equestrian events, including the Olympic trials, have uncovered dozens of violations for substances like cocaine, antipsychotics, tranquilizers and pain medication — even ginger placed in a horse’s anus to make its tail stick out.

“This is only a ticking time bomb,” said Julie Winkel, who runs a stable and has judged major shows nationally. “It’s not only the wrong thing to do for the horses, but I think it’s a very dangerous situation that we have created for the rider, handler, even grooms.” Are we over medicating our horses and risking both their lives and the riders lives so we can stay competitive?  I’d like to know where you draw the line.  Do you strictly follow the standards set by your show association?  Do you try and get around those standards?  Do you follow those standards and then some?  What happened to the days when the good horses did well and the horses that weren’t fit to show just didn’t show?  I would love to know everyone’s thoughts on this.  What do you do for your show prep?

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