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.
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.