Demand action from the USEF (Shelley Browning)

Discussion in 'Horse Chat' started by StraightandTrue, Feb 6, 2018.

  1. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    The Shelley Browning incident has highlighted the serious problems with the current system. There are a lot of passionate members on this forum, and if they direct their voices towards the right ears they can influence change. Discussion on forums and social media is a start, but it needs to be followed up with a call for action from the governing body of the sport. The diverse equestrian backgrounds of the members on this forum are valuable because each person will view the problem through their own lens, resulting in a broader range of ideas and possible solutions. I encourage you to compose an email to the USEF Dressage Sport Committee expressing your concerns and offering your suggestions. Email addresses are as follows:

    Hallye Griffin (Liason for Dressage Sport Committee): hgriffin@usef.org
    Ms Kathleen Connelly (Co-Chair for the Dressage Sport Committee): kathyconnellyavf@aol.com
    Ms Lisa Gorretta (Co-Chair for the Dressage Sport Committee): reg2rd@aol.com

    If you don't have the time to put something together yourself, please feel free to copy/paste or take extracts from my submission below.

    Dear XXXX,

    I am writing in regards to the Shelley Browning incident which took place at the Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival in Del Mar in late January 2018.

    In light of the incident and the backlash from the global horse community, I would like to know what action the USEF will be taking to prevent incidents like this from occurring in future. While I do not believe the actions of the rider constituted outright abuse, the excessive and at times rough use of the spurs provided more than enough grounds for elimination. I also believe the rider deliberately yanked on the reins as she left the arena in order to punish her horse, Vorst D. This sort of conduct at an event should result in immediate disciplinary action by ring stewards, judges and event officials.

    I appreciate that the USEF has no control over the methods riders use to train/discipline their horses at home. However, the USEF can control how these riders conduct themselves at events, and send a loud message that this kind of behaviour has no place in our sport. Riders must be held accountable for their conduct at events, and should not be permitted to hide inappropriate behaviour behind performance scores. I suggest the following measures to achieve this objective:
    • The introduction of a specific training module for judges aimed at identifying inappropriate rider conduct by using real life case studies, and outlining what disciplinary action can be taken.
    • The distribution of an online training video for ring stewards and event staff explaining the code of conduct, providing real life examples of inappropriate rider conduct, and outlining what disciplinary action can be taken.
    • That a minimum of two designated "rider conduct officers" are appointed at each event to enforce compliance with the code of conduct. Their names and contact numbers should be displayed at the warm-up arena and entry to the venue so that other riders and spectators can easily report any instance of inappropriate rider conduct at events.
    • That each rider's competition record also includes a list of any eliminations and disciplinary action taken at events, along with a brief explanation (e.g. incorrect gear, excessive use of spurs, excessive use of whip etc).
    By no means is this an exhaustive list and I am sure the USEF has its own ideas of how to deal with the situation. But the problem I see isn't that a rider was allowed to compete at a level way above her abilities. The problem I see is that a rider was allowed to conduct themselves inappropriately at an event without judges or ring stewards intervening until after the fact. This rider should have been 'belled' as soon as she began repeatedly kicking her horse with the spurs.

    The USEF needs to empower officials and volunteers at events to take action when situations like this arise. They also need to empower riders and spectators to report inappropriate conduct when they see it. And most importantly, riders need to know that inappropriate behaviour at events will go on their record for everyone to see. Recording misconduct will help identify the rotten apples in the horse community, and hopefully put more pressure on these riders to change their behaviour.

    Yours sincerely,

    XXXX
     
  2. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Before you put together a petition, keep in mind that if you are from another country, that has an impact on the relevance of the petition. And keep in mind that you can't effectively make a proposal the USEF can consider, without knowing what the current rules are for the items you want to change. For example, there are already technical delegates who do what you propose.

    I know Lisa Goretta. She's from here and has been a dressage TD for a long time. And I am very sure that she is already working on something to address this. She's incredibly passionate about the sport and she is familiar enough with the rules to make an effective remedy.

    There are two problems here, one is the 'weak FEI rider', the other is the spoiled brat behavior.

    The possibility exists that there is already a mechanism for this sort of problem, too. That means the judges and TDs at the venue would be involved in the solution.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
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  3. Alsosusieq2

    Alsosusieq2 Senior Member

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    Personally I think public opinion here in the states is huge and is going to be on her now and in the future as well as other riders.

    I've no interest in this, but I'm kind of ticked off right now and not at the dressage associations.

    You were defending her, now you're going after the associations that were looking at any and every legitimate reason to get her out of the ring?

    No further comment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2018
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  4. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    For the millionth time I never said Shelley’s actions were ok. I said that I don’t believe what she did was outright abuse, but that doesn’t mean I think it was acceptable. Please can we focus on actually doing something meaningful instead of taking swipes at each other?

    I believe there is an opportunity here to use the momentum from this incident to implement changes that will improve the standard of the sport. But the change needs to come from within the sport. I’m sure the USEF have ideas they are considering, and this might be the push they need to get those ideas across the line. If you’re just going to sit there criticising me rather than doing something that might be actually make a difference then by all means, share your ideas of what we should be doing to stop this type of thing from happening.
     
  5. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    I’m glad to hear there are technical delegates already, but how does one identify them? How does a spectator contact them if they see something happening at an event that shouldn’t be? What training do the TDs receive regarding rider misconduct and disciplinary action? Reading a manual is one thing. Seeing real life case studies is much more helpful.
     
  6. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Most of the dressage TDs are fantastic. Don't impugne them, thanks, you have no idea what their training, function or experience is. Snd no, I don't believe for a moment this is on them. Or the judges. This is about somrone who skirts the rules intentionally or not.
     
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  7. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    They have them in Australia too. National and FEI.

    And in the US and FEI the training is very demanding. People work at becoming TD for years, it's very similar to becoming a judge re time, requirements. Goretta is one of the best in the US.

    Have you shown in recognized dressage shows in Australia?

     
  8. StraightandTrue

    StraightandTrue Senior Member

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    I’d love to understand more about what training TDs receive and why they were unable to act in this circumstance. Maybe the definition of unacceptable conduct needs to change if there was nothing they could do?
     
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  9. ChestersMomma

    ChestersMomma Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    SLC: Why would opinions from outside the US not matter? Dressage is an international sport.

    Even without a concrete proposal, it makes sense to make an outcry to the USEF and to Adequan as well. The organization should be aware of the volume of the displeasure and negative attention this has brought, both nationally and internationally, to their sport. The sponsor should be aware what they are sponsoring and that could result in added pressure on the USEF to be vigilant.
     
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  10. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    I did not say they didn't matter.

    What I said was that proposals from people who are in the US and are members or potentially showing under the USEF, are seen in a different light. And yes, I think specific proposals from Americans - people who are going to be showing under the USEF(national) rules, do carry somewhat more weight, as do proposals from officials from other countries, with helpful comparisons about how their country handles the same problem, are also high up on the scale. So potentially also Canadians and people from Middle America and Caribbean nations as well(most Europeans who show in America are going to do so under FEI - international - rules). And officials from other countries with specific help.

    Comments from other countries communicate outrage and anger, and that is obviously important and puts pressure on the USEF to make changes, but those are not proposals to specific changes, and are not from people who are going to be showing under the USEF's rules.

    The main problem I had with her proposal was that it wasn't just communicating outrage, it was proposing rule/procedure changes, which is not bad at all, but her proposal was made without learning about or understanding the existing rules, and I think specific proposals like that carry no weight.

     

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