This week’s post was meant to be a final wrap up of the trip to Costa Rica. It was to be titled Judges Behaving Badly and it was going to be about the perils of dressage judging in the microscopic DQ universes of Latin American countries. In some ways the politics and tribalism of the Latin American dressage world are not so different from the problems right here at home. I do have some theories but I’ll save them for a more DQ politico-inclined post.

So, who’s out? Well, Michael Morrissey is, for three months. I heard the rumour last week, and followed up with an inquiry to the FEI, who said they weren’t done tribunalizing yet. HQ advised me to contact USEF, because that was who had handed out the suspension. So much for the FEI and USEF pursuing the abuse charges together…though if it means double the penalties, I’m all for it. Before I emailed press release scribe extraordinaire Joanie Morris I scoured the USEF site for any announcement – and came up empty. It seems USEF is even better at burying their bad news than I had previously thought. Joanie very helpfully sent me the link to the results of the hearing in the case of Michael Morrissey vs. his horse.

This link merits a place in my ‘favourites’ tab. All kinds of goodies (and baddies) here. Before you even get to MM there is a lovely bit about Mark Bellissimo et al and that silliness they got up to when they tried to press trespassing charges against Gigi Stetler while she was COMPETING at the WEF. Not only did Gigi win her law suit, but USEF followed up with a little iodine on the wound. The fine was only $500 but the sting is in the publicity. Whoever declared there is no such thing as bad publicity must have said that in the days before blogging. 

MM received a three month suspension for the crime USEF decided to define as follows: ‘he was observed excessively striking, with a crop, the horse Crelido’. MM is not to set foot on a US show ground until August, when his three month sentence in purgatory is up. He has also been ordered to part company with $3000. It seems someone on that hearing committee likes the number ‘3’. Must be some Joules fetish. The USEF abuse rule which was applied in MM’s case lists a number of forbidden activities besides excessive use of the whip, the most fascinating of which is the following:

 ‘Use of any explosive (e.g., fire crackers, torpedoes, fire extinguishers except in case of fire, etc.) or laser beam devices anywhere on the competition grounds, except in an exhibition or if required in class specifications.’

Unless required in class specifications? Torpedoes? I haven’t been to an Arab show in 25 years but even those folks didn’t get up to anything quite that wild back then. I love how the rule lists several sources of fire and the means to put them out on the same forbidden list.  I really should spend more time reading rule books. They are sometimes almost as funny as Chelsea Handler.

Back to the case of MM: I have been assured that the FEI tribunal will make its decision in the coming weeks. I sure hope they haven’t forgotten about those judges. In some ways they are even more guilty than MM – and if they get away with this, you can take all those fancy diagrams of horses in a deep frame and use them to start a campfire. Because if an FEI ground jury can ignore blatant abuse at a WEG Team Trial, the logical conclusion must be that the rules are there to be broken, not enforced.

So who else is out? Well Anky is, from WEG. I’m not terribly surprised, and I suspect her fans at WEG will get a chance to see her in some Anky Western Wear. She now lists Whizashinginwalla BB (and I thought Arab names were stupid) as one of her current ‘show horses’. Just you wait – reining freestyles are going to become just as big as dressage freestyles if Anky sticks around in that discipline.

Anyone else out? Well, yes but I can’t talk about that yet. I promised. Check in late next week – I will not be posting on Wednesday next week (just to pre-empt any whiny Thursday morning messages in my inbox), but I will share the big news as soon as I can do so without being lynched.