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When a win is a loss, and a loss is a win

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Courtesy of the Chronicle of the Horse blogs
Jan 31, 2018 – 1:43 PM

I remember a championship I won in 2016 on my leased horse Andy. It was a one-day county show, and I competed in the 2’3” green rider division. From the get-go I was sick with nerves.

Oftentimes when I’m nervous, I’m better after getting on and flatting, and totally fine after the first jump. Not this time. At every jump I had a mental battle with myself. I desperately wanted to pull out, pull up, pack it up, go home, curl up in bed and never ride again. Even in my flat classes, which are usually my strong suit, I was convinced Andy was going to spook, and I was going to die.

Despite his rider being on the verge of mental collapse, Andy piloted himself to several blue ribbons. (I’m not being modest here; I’m more than willing to acknowledge when I rode well. This was not one of those times.) Then they announced me as division champion, and my trainer and friends cheered and congratulated me.

But I didn’t feel like a champion. I felt like an imposter.

Fast forward to just recently, the last show of 2017, and I entered the Ariat Adult Medal, a long-time goal of mine, on my horse Kingston. I was confident and feeling positive despite it being our first time showing at 3’. However, Kingston woke up on the wrong side of the stall and began snorting at everything as we trotted in. Then he didn’t like the first distance—which was fine, thank you very much—or the second, which was a little close, but his 18.2-hand self could have easily cantered us out in the requisite six strides, had he not been tensing every muscle in his body. I circled out of that line and ultimately tipped my helmet and excused myself.

The class was a total fail from the perspective of any onlooker, and certainly from the judge’s booth. But I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, a feeling that I had just done something I never could have done before.

Historically, my internal dialogue would have gone something like this: “Oh God he’s snorting why is he snorting shorten up the reins there’s the long distance oh for heavens sake there’s no way I’m taking the long one he’ll kill me oh crap we took the long one and now he’s really gonna be mad why is my face so hot feels like fire next fence coming up so close no chance we can get out of this line without dying circle circle circle can’t see everything is blurry we are making a mess out of this we do not deserve to be here I’ll never be a real three foot rider I cannot even handle this horse why didn’t I sell him last year I’m gonna sell him now for sure I don’t care how handsome he is.”

This time? My internal dialogue had much better punctuation and far fewer curse words:

“He’s snorting and tense, something must be bothering him. That’s OK, just keep it steady. First fence a little long, you know that amps him up when he’s already high. Hmm, that was better but a little short into the line I can either move him up, or add a stride. Let’s circle instead; if I keep it forward and positive maybe he’ll relax. Talk to him, tell him he’s OK, then ask for the oxer. Good, good, he did that nicely. Well, he’s still not relaxed, but I know I can execute this two-stride, I’ll just sit way up on landing in case he gets goofy after. He did it, but he’s still not focused or relaxed. Let’s pull up and retire before he has a real meltdown. Just pat him on the neck and meet trainer back in the warm-up area to regroup.”

There’s no doubt that walking out of the ring after falling, being eliminated or retiring is never a good feeling. You feel like you wasted the judge’s time, you’re nervous about what your trainer is going to say, and you know people are looking at you with pity, at best, and with disdain at worst.

But this time all those things seemed inconsequential compared to the fact that I wasn’t mentally panicking. My face felt like a normal temperature. I didn’t even get nervous-sweaty. And that, ladies and gentlemen, felt like a win.

When I look back on 2017, what I’m most proud of isn’t winning a class or moving up in height. Rather, it’s the time Kingston was a wild turkey, and I continued on anyway and finished because I knew I could. It’s also the time he was a feral moose, and I pulled up not out of panic, but because it was the smart decision. It’s the time my mare Aria unexpectedly stopped on course in a class I’d been looking forward to for months, and I put my brain to work figuring out how to give her a better ride, instead of giving in to disappointment. It’s the time I fell off in the warm-up ring but got focused enough to ride respectable rounds minutes later.

I’m naturally competitive; I love winning. I never leave a horse show without collecting my ribbons, and I especially covet tricolors and ribbons with extra long tails or extra fancy rosettes. But I’ve noticed they just don’t shine as brightly if they feel undeserved. And sometimes, the feeling you get for accomplishing something they don’t give ribbons for is the best prize of all.

Lindsey Long lives in Southern California with her one tabby cat, two Great Danes, two hunter-jumpers, and a husband. She recently returned to riding after a 15-year hiatus and is desperately trying to make up for lost time while balancing a full-time job rife with deadlines. Her goals include winning pretty ribbons, finding appropriate distances with some degree of consistency, and not losing her breakfast at the mere thought of a hunter derby course.



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Courtesy of The Chronicle of the Horse


USEF Voids Suspensions Of Kelley Farmer And Larry Glefke In GABA Case
By: Edited Press Release
Jan 17, 2018 – 8:47 AM

Larry Glefke (left) and Kelley Farmer. Photo by Mollie Bailey
USEF announced that it has resolved the litigation with Kelley Farmer and Larry Glefke for their alleged July 2016 GABA violation.

USEF is voiding the proceeding from the outset and vacating all penalties and suspensions, thereby restoring Farmer and Glefke to active membership effective July 1, 2017. They are free to enjoy all privileges of membership including participation in competition.

In January, Farmer and Glefke were suspended and fined after Farmer’s Unexpected tested positive for GABA at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show in a pre-green hunter 3’3″ class on July 28, 2016. Glefke was identified on Unexpected’s entry blank as the trainer. Farmer was identified as Unexpected’s owner and rider. Larry Glefke received a 24-month suspension and a $24,000 fine; Farmer received a 12-month suspension and $12,000 fine.

Farmer and Glefke filed a complaint with the U.S. Olympic Committee, which was later dismissed. Then, on Jan. 4, the USEF lifted the suspensions pending further arbitration.


“The USEF must always treat its members fairly,” said USEF President Murray S. Kessler. “Late in the arbitration discovery process, the legal teams for USEF and Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke learned about errors in the laboratory’s handling of the blood sample in this case, that the USEF hearing committee was unaware of. Simply said, these errors were serious enough that we no longer can rely on the validity of the test and therefore, regret any negative impact that this had on Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke. All our members must be treated fairly.

“Accordingly, we are setting aside the suspensions as the USEF’s procedural integrity must be pristine in order to fairly protect our competitors. I have ordered a thorough compliance audit of the laboratory to ensure that what occurred in this case never happens again and that the proper procedures and checks are in place to be certain of that. I can assure our membership that any necessary corrective action will be taken.”



Farmer and Glefke released a statement through their lawyer, Bonnie Navin:

Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke are grateful that the USEF has agreed today to take this action—reversing their previous suspensions completely—but have issued this statement to clarify what has happened over the last year.

For the last year, Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke have been convinced that the USEF GABA samples in this case were flawed and scientifically unreliable, at least as to their horse’s test in this matter. This was based on their never having administered GABA nor allowed it to be used with their horse and the aberrant test results. Through counsel they have sought detailed information about GABA and the laboratory tests on their horse.

Although complete records were not immediately available before the USEF Hearing in June 2017, what evidence could be collected demonstrated a huge disparity in the GABA level detected in their horse’s samples, which called into question their test results. The USEF Hearing Panel rejected the then-available evidence in June 2017, but Farmer-Glefke continued to press USEF and its lab in the following months for additional information about what lead to the aberrant lab testing results.


In December and early January 2018, the additional evidence was presented to a neutral impartial arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association reviewing this case. On Jan. 3, 2018, that arbitrator—Mr. Lawrence Saichek—reversed his previous ruling in favor of USEF and ruled that evidence had convinced him that Farmer-Glefke would likely prevail in their challenge to the suspensions.

Accordingly, he lifted the suspensions immediately until the final hearing could be held in February.

Today, USEF has accepted Farmer-Glefke’s compiled evidence of errors that occurred in its laboratory and agreed to completely and immediately rescind the suspensions of Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke and drop the case against them in its entirety, effective as of the original date of suspension, July 1, 2017.

Even more importantly for USEF and its many members, USEF also announced that it was going to conduct “a thorough compliance audit of the laboratory” and pledged that it will take “any necessary corrective action” to ensure that what happened to Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke never happens again. Ms. Farmer and Mr. Glefke greatly appreciate USEF’s planned corrective actions that should lead to a better laboratory process, which ensures fair regulation and makes the treatment they received for the last year impossible for other USEF members to have to endure.