McLain Ward and Sapphire

Instead of doing my homework, I was checking out the results for the World Cup in Geneva.  I know this has nothing to do with our world – my horse looks a a jump and runs the other way – but I was curious to what everyone thinks of this unfolding situation.  I have a few friends in the hunter/jumper world, so I do know the big events that go on, and was very shocked to find this out.  It just made me think about what would happen if this happened in the US, or even in our industry..

At first, I thought “how can you go against a vet’s word?” But reading further into the situation, my mind changed.  How could the vets and FEI refuse more testing, simply saying “you’re done.”???  Does someone really have it out for McLain and Sapphire, and how will the affect the rest of the Equestrian world??

If you do not know the situation, check out the USEF website – the are updating press releases as more information comes out.  This is also very buzz worthy on Facebook, many groups have been added, and a petition is going around.

6 Responses to McLain Ward and Sapphire

  1. leslie says:

    I’m not a fan of McLain Ward. The first time I heard of him was about 11 years ago when he got suspended from competition for allegedly having plastic chips in his horse’s boots to increase pain should the horse hit a rail. He denies it to this day, and I suppose it’s possible he was framed because of who his father is, but that’s still my first impression of the guy, and I have trouble shaking it.

    However, this Sapphire thing is fishy. Ward has competed with a clean record since the aforementioned incident. Sapphire is a phenomenal horse and Ward is having the best run of his career with her, so why would he run the risk of destroying this by doing something illegal? I really don’t think he’s done anything intentionally wrong.

    Then again, the FEI doesn’t think he’s to blame either, or at least that’s what they’re saying for now. They say they just have to protect the horse, so regardless of why she’s hypersensitive, it is their duty to not let her compete. Well, okay, except that after she failed the first sensitivity test they went ahead and let her jump, so how exactly were they protecting her health and well-being by retroactively DQing her after that round? Makes absolutely no sense. If they genuinely thought the horse was in pain, they shouldn’t have let her jump.

    I don’t think the FEI is targeting Ward, really. I do think they’re struggling to cover their butts these days after the Olympic doping scandals, the ongoing rollkur thing, that viral video with the show jumper beating his horse a couple of months ago… They’re trying to prove that they’re putting the horses’ welfare first, but I think they’re shooting themselves in the foot in the process.

  2. alpmorgans says:

    I personally believe that they have something against him. His horse was dq-ed for “hypersensitivity of the leg.” For those who do not know, hypersensitivity comes from a pepper like substance injected into the leg to cause extreme pain when the horse hits a rail. Sapphire was randomly tested after winning in Switzerland, and passed the drug test. She also passed the soundness exam, so she was tested for heat in her leg. The vets poked her in the leg 57 times, and she lifted her leg up 3 times. She was never tested for hypersensitivity, it was just assumed. They ignored Ward’s request to take a swab of her leg to test for the pepper

  3. Gomers Girl says:

    Leslie – I find it interesting that you pointed out what McLain was charged for years ago – I read about that as well, and I read that his father has been banned from showing because he tried to kill horses for insurance money (definitely not a great horse family in my book either..) I had no idea that these things were done to make a horse jump higher – and I get picked on by the quarter horse and hunter people around my area because I put “cruel” chains on my horse with a pad and shoe to make him trot higher, and they call that abuse…I just find it very interesting, this has really opened my eyes to injustices in other disciplines.

    I just feel bad for Sapphire in all of this. She obviously loves what she does, and because of people and their politics, a title she deserved was taken away.

  4. leslie says:

    Alpmorgans, they did test her for hypersensitivity. That’s what the 57 pokes were for. And the FEI has made the point of explaining that hypersensitivity doesn’t have to be caused by some kind of doping or intentional method. If the horse got stung by a bee, or hit her leg while rolling in her stall and became hypersensitive, she’d still fail the test. At this point, the FEI is not accusing Ward of any wrongdoing.

    But again, where it gets weird to me is that they let her jump. Supposedly this sensitivity test is in place to protect a horse from getting hurt, but that doesn’t work if you let the horse jump and DQ her after the fact.

    Gomers Girl, there are definitely some unsavory characters out there. You have to remember, though, that most hunter/jumpers don’t do this kind of stuff to their horses, and if they do, it’s very much illegal. But chains and weighted shoes are totally legal and normal for saddle seat horses, which is part of the reason why riders from other disciplines think there’s something wrong with saddle seat.

    For the record, I know that chains and show shoes aren’t inherently abusive, but many from outside the sport would disagree.

  5. Flmorgan says:

    Sappire is a incredible horse. I have never seen a horse jump like her. last year at the Budweiser Invitational here in Tampa a storm blew in while she was jumping in the Stadium and caused a Twister in the Stadium which blew the jumps down as she was jumping them and she kept right on jumping as they were falling down underneath her. It is a shame. she is a fiece competitor and is Ward. Don’t know much about his father.
    Beware all of us that think we won’t be subjected to this type of abuse critisism. We were targeted this weekend at a Regional show for “abusing a Park horse”, because the horse [a baby] was not riding well in the ring and fussing alot. The woman was not known to us until afterwards and this situation is not resolved even though USEF judges and officials came to mediate. The Officails sided with us. This woman is targeting Park Classes in particular. She had no basis for her accusations and the horse was in perfect health. No whip marks of mouth sores of any kind.
    Sapphire is a great horse.

  6. RaeOfLight says:

    UPDATE 5/26/2010: Tests on Sapphire have come back negative. Seems too little too late…

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