About my “hastily written blog post”/”witch hunt”

The blog post from one of the Chronicle’s staff writers that I’m sure most of you have seen by now mentions my “When does control become abuse?” post in a backhanded kind of way, calling it a hastily written personal attack. Eventing Connect also published a post today in which the author (who posted many blog comments on my original post, if you care to go read them) says that it’s a witch hunt for ML. Look guys… let’s set a few things straight here so we can get back to the real issues at hand.

happyplace

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Yep… surprise! I’m a blogger! This is a blog! I’m not a journalist. I don’t write articles. Blog posts are OpEd pieces at best. Shocking revelation, I know. I’m not bound by the same politics that the news media is, so I stated my uncensored opinion, the history behind why I have that opinion, and what I think the problem is (notice I said the rules are the problem, not the rider). The post was not hastily written – I spent several days outlining my thoughts, researching, thinking, writing, thinking some more and writing some more. I didn’t post it (5 days after the second incident occurred) until I was 100% ready to stand behind every word I said. We are now 3 weeks post-Boekelo and 2 weeks post-Fair Hill. That’s light years in the world of social media, news, or journalism. The general news media can churn out articles in hours. For one person who blogs as a hobby, nothing about it was hasty.

This is much bigger than just one person. I do not care about Marilyn Little herself. My agenda is not a witch hunt. She was the catalyst for my post, absolutely, because it was the instance involving her and her horses that launched this whole train of thought for me in the first place. If I hadn’t cited her in the post, no one would have understood what the hell I was blabbering on about. But if you think the post was meant to attack her, you aren’t reading it all the way through. It’s about the fact that a horse went around a cross country course at a 3* event with blood dripping from it’s mouth. That it was seen and photographed by spectators in said state. That our current rules are such that the horse was not pulled up – and depending on how you interpret our very vague rules – the way all of this went down is totally legal. That this can happen repeatedly with no consequence. That in fact, when you look more closely, many of our rules (not just in the “abuse of horse” section) don’t really make a lot of sense or are very very vague when you look at them from a horse welfare point of view. And that our sport really can’t let things like that happen, because then it looks like we’re condoning it. I found all of the photos and an already very lively discussion on a European website – somehow they were off and running with this days before we were, and the view of American eventing in general was extremely poor. To be honest, in that moment it felt very hard to defend the thing that I love so much. If you’re focusing on ML or her bit choices here, you’re missing my point entirely.

I will ask you this – even if you DO believe that it was nothing but a “hastily written blog post attacking one specific rider” – does that make my questions any less valid? Does that make the issues at hand any less important? Criticize me if you want to, but let’s not lose sight of what really matters here. The issues are still the issues. The fact that others are trying to downplay the real issues is, to me, extremely disappointing.

I won’t apologize for saying what I felt I needed to say, and you can absolutely bet that I’d say it all again. My opinion hasn’t changed – we need to better define our rules so that things like this don’t happen. To those who have been supportive, which is the vast majority of the general public and eventing community – thank you. To those who haven’t – thanks to you too. We might not agree, but in our disagreements I always learn something (even if it’s just that I’m 100% dedicated to what I believe).

Now, for those who are actually interested in doing something instead of just talking in circles and pointing fingers:

I am looking to put together a small group of people to help draft and submit rule change proposals to USEF and FEI regarding our current rules about visible blood. If you are interested in being a part of this, are familiar with eventing rules, have strong written communication skills, and are willing to make yourself available for a few online brainstorming sessions/discussions, please contact me. Either leave a comment here that gives me some way to contact you, contact me on facebook (my blog’s fb page link can be found in the sidebar) or go to the Contact Page in the menu bar to send me an email. I think we’ve spent quite enough time talking… time to put our money where our mouths are and try to make some good come of all this.

28 thoughts on “About my “hastily written blog post”/”witch hunt”

  1. I guess there are some people who think a cut lip or a bitten tongue are okay to just ride through. I vehemently disagree with those people. I would hope the rules would reflect that any injury to a horse, intentional or not, is grounds for disquslification. If we are not putting the horses first in our sports, then we are wholly unfit for the privilege of riding and caring for these animals, and we don’t deserve their partnership.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Good for you, girl. I didn’t think your previous blog post was a witch hunt of any kind. That article from Chronicle is pretty… awful IMO. Almost like they quickly had to do a write-up of some sort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. It felt much more like a response to the fact that they hadn’t yet chimed in. They were all over the recent drugging controversies, and this should have been no different.

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    2. I can see how the comments turned it into a witch hunt, there were a lot of ad hominem attacks in there, but Amanda wasn’t making them (and obviously can’t control us rogue commenters!). However, that does not reduce the validity of the questions. It will be good to see some logical arguments coming to the table, that are decidedly not targeting a single person and are looking to make real changes.

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  3. The Eventing Connect article is pretty awful.

    Good for you for standing strong. I think you’re absolutely right. These are questions that need to be addressed and conversations that need to be had.

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  4. Your (well written) blog appeared very reasonable to me. You stated the facts clearly: blood was visible coming from the horse’s mouth and this problem is not limited to a single person or incident. A lot of people must agree that this is unacceptable because your opinion had so many views, shares, and discussion. The people who allow this should be paying attention. Thank you for doing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really feel like some rules need to be in place for bitting in jumping phases. Really high ports, anything but a smooth mouthpiece, and twisted wire any things have no place in sports where sometimes you are required to take a strong pull, or accidentally save yourself by balancing on the mouth. I have no issue with bitting up, providing the bit is still humane. It’s really not good enough that any blood is allowable, it’s a pretty obvious sign of trauma that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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  6. So far, the majority of comments on the Chronicle article are critical of the Chronicle’s stance. The author of the Eventing Connect piece stated she was not condemning you, but the typical hastily written jump on the bandwagon face book comment freak-outs. (which are super predictable and annoying imho)

    It might be prudent to wait and see how this all shakes out – you might get the response/results you were looking for after all is said and done. Fingers crossed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. People are just looking to pass blame or take the heat off the real issue at hand if they claim your post as an attack in ML….

    Let’s grow up and address the real issue.

    Again, shame on anyone who is belittling the welfare of the horses and doing what’s best for these amazing animals that do so much for us.

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  8. I saw that comment in the COTH article, and giggled to myself. If anything, their article seemed like a slapped together semi-apology for not having their own timely commentary.

    FWIW, I thought that your initial post was well thought out and EXTREMELY clear that it wasn’t an attack on ML but the situation that the rules have created/allowed. Glad to see that you aren’t allowing the misdirected criticism to get to you!

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  9. Go, girl! So proud of you, Amanda, standing up for the horses by bringing this problem to light, for defending your position, and for putting your time and energy into a resolution. I am not involved in the equine world (except through you), but I am behind you all the way. Take care of those ponies!

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  10. I will admit, I didn’t view it as a witch hunt until I saw the petition – the way it was worded made it come across as far too condemning and mob-ish for my tastes (that is my opinion – please don’t think of it as a personal attack. Most definitely not meant that way). I think the way COTH responded was very unprofessional, and the way EC responded was a bit better, but still missed the whole point of your post: The XC rules are too ambiguous. It is funny to look at the USDF handbook and see such concrete rules set in place for bitting and bridling, but then take a look at USEA’s ‘anything goes’ rules for SJ and XC. I don’t really know where the line should be drawn, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to make that decision. However, the cynic in me dislikes just how corrupt organizations can become and how popular individuals can practically get away with murder all in the name of a sport. I would like to think that Equestrian sports are classier and held to a higher moral ground that common sports such as Football (where convicted felons like Michael Vick) still have a job, but I recognize that there is no such thing as infallibility.

    It is unfortunate that everyone took your post to be a hate post on ML, though I can see how it can happen. People tend to concentrate on a few details rather than the whole picture in an attempt to rationalize their own thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Honestly, very few people outside of the media took it as hate. The overwhelming majority of the public has been very supportive. 50k people have viewed the post in the last week and aside from a few people here and there, who are obviously more than welcome to disagree, the only real backlash has come from a few media sources. I don’t agree with everyone’s reaction, of course, but that’s going to be true in any scenario on any topic. I think that people in general are very capable of thinking for themselves and forming their own opinions, and I don’t think the media is giving the general public enough credit. Some are kinda nuts, but most are very rational and have excellent questions and even better ideas. I’ve seen so much good discussion come from this, like the points you raise above. The fact that the media has been so dismissive about the voice of the people is frustrating.

      FWIW, they’re USEF rules, not USEA rules. Everything we do is under the umbrella of USEF. So if we want change, that’s where we start.

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      1. You’re right – I forgot that USEF encompasses USEA’s rules. My mistake. Thanks for correcting me. And thanks for becoming a catalyst for great discussion. Too often I see complacency in areas that deserve far more attention. I too, am guilty of being quiet when I should have spoken up. As long as the ideas are rational, great things can come from discussions like these.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Of all the condescending and nasty discussions that happen on COTH forums, and they pick your post to respond to? Good for you. Your initial article was very well written and thought out. COTH’s response was unprofessional. As someone else previously mentioned, it sounds somewhat like an article that someone was told they HAD to write in response. Their article sounds like a “hastily” written piece.

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  12. I agree with everything that has been said about COTH writing a hastily written piece. I thought their article was a sucky response. Your article was very well thought and and I think it got people thinking. Whether or not they choose to see the big picture, people were thinking. I agree the rules are too ambiguous and I absolutely agree that one should not be allowed to run around with blood coming from their horse’s mouth, regardless of if they’re ML or running BN at your average show. BNRs should set a good example, not push the very ambiguous rules to the very limit and be upset when they’re scrutinized or questioned. I feel like ML’s facebook post response was nearly offensive in the fact that she, again like the rest of people, looked at only that point and merely defended what happened. I took it as she was only acting concerned because she felt she had to and that’s irritating to me.

    I, personally think this is a major issue that needs to be addressed by USEF, but I feel like on a personal level, I have no dog in this fight. I don’t ride English, and I am not a member of USEF.

    All that being said I want to support this issue an outsider if you will however possible.

    Great job Amanda, I really think you wrote every post wonderfully and stood your ground without personally attacking anyone. Unlike the COTH article and everyone that sent you hate mail. Those are the cowards. While it’s unfortunate that voicing your opinion is considered bravery, it takes someone truly brave to voice an opinion and never attack anyone who chooses to disagree or attack people.

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  13. I thought your blog post was exceedingly well written, and showed a lot of thought was put into it, without being overly emotional. I thought the article today on the Chronicle of the Horse’s website was the exact opposite: a quick reply to an ongoing thread that was very emotional in nature. Kudos to you for standing up for what you believe.

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  14. Your writing is consistently clear, concise and devoid of unnecessary emotional flavors. The majority of nasty protests are of course driven by emotion not fact, as we know will always be the case. I’m a dressager so I know little about the complexity of eventing. However, if you wish to pass along drafts of your proposal when you’ve got it all together I will be happy to opine as to whether there are any parts that are fuzzy to an outsider.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. seriously Amanda, thanks for starting this conversation. you’re spot on that without those pictures or using ML as an example, the reaction wouldn’t have been nearly as strong. i tend to be a very logical and evidence-driven person, and try to avoid basing my opinions in purely emotional/visceral reactions. however sometimes you need to instigate that intense response just to force the conversation and make people stop and think. congratulations for doing that in a BIG way here.

    in any case, i’m not a usea/usef/whatever member, am not very familiar with the rule book, or anything like that. but i’ve got some background in technical writing if you haven’t already got enough folks to help out in that regard. feel free to drop a line at fraidycat.eventing at gmail.com

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  16. I thought your piece was well thought out and raised good points about both the equipment and horse welfare rules. I’m not a USEA member, but I am a USEF, USDF, and USHJA member, and think that all disciplines, across the board, should seriously consider adopting the dressage rules on blood on the horse equaling immediate elimination. This is about more than one rider, and even more than one discipline.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yuck that people think that was remotely a personal attack. I understood your point fully, though I don’t event, so I don’t have more of an opinion than “no blood anywhere” duh. I kind of got attacked (by “friends” on my personal facebook) for my blog post about using lip chains in halter classes. Suddenly everyone had an opinion and it wasn’t the same as mine. They were all halter exhibitors if that tells you anything though… :/

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