an official protest

Show season is slowly winding down for those of us not headed to OKC. At one of the shows this summer, I found myself in an interesting situation and wondered how the other equine professionals of the world would have handled it.

At a local class A show, my horse was showing in a novice horse class. There were only two entered. The other horse was ridden by a “big name trainer”(compared to myself) and was a fairly “big name horse.” I recognized the horse from a previous show and remembered that he had done pretty well at that one.  The other horse rightfully won the class as he was much more suited for the division than my horse was. So that night, cursiousity got the best of me and I cyber-stalked the horse’s previous show results, only to find that he was NOT eligable for the novice horse class. The horse has previously won several classes with the current trainer and a previous one. He had also won many many qualifiers and championships in another division. I know changing divisions reinstates a novice horse status, but I was curious how the rest of the industry feels about this? I ended up not filing any sort of protest. For several reasons…

1. My horse would have ribboned out of being a novice horse. I would rather have him gain the ring experience and stay a novice horse than win a two horse class (by default) and lose that eligability.

2. The trainer is really not someone who’s toes I want to step on. Frankly, he’s a bit intimidating. From my understanding, protests cannot be filed anonymously. I guess I’m just too non-confrontational.

3. Its relatively expensive. I understand that they don’t want to have to investigate everytime someone sneezes and someone else doesn’t like it. But throwing down a couple hundred bucks made me question if it was really worth it. Maybe a rule change should be considered? Something like… you have to pay if its not a legit protest. But making some pay that much makes it hard. We all want to keep the industry honest right?

Any other thoughts/feelings/opinions/experiences about protesting? How would you have handled the sitatuation?

5 Responses to an official protest

  1. snerland says:

    Perhaps I can shed some light on the “official protest” through a personal experience. It happened in 1974, but I feel the experience is timely.
    Back in 1974 it was all about foot length and shoe weight. The AMHA rules had just been entered for the length of toe and weight of shoes.
    I took two horses; one was park and one was English Pleasure. On Friday night my stallion won the park saddle championship. Many were surprised because my small unknown horse came in and beat a lot of well known horses.
    The next morning, I noticed that my English Pleasure gelding was not eating. The in-house veterinarian deemed him unable to compete. I did not want to lose my entry fee so I substituted my stallion. Well, we went in and won not only the open English PLeasure class but the coveted English Pleasure Championship (there were 20+ horses in the class). The judge told me I did a good job of training my stallion to be able to compete successfully in both divisions. With a smile on my face I returned to my stalls for I had beaten the odds and every amateur’s dream.
    Two hours later, one of the trainers lodged a protest with the show committee. In those days one did not have to pay any money so protests were pretty much the norm. The protest was over length of foot and weight of shoe.
    Once again I entered the ring, but this time as a “criminal”, for I had crossed the line; I had won two different divisions on the same horse. My stallion’s shoes were pulled and the shoes were individually weighed. The show steward, the ringmaster, the judge, and the trainer all surrounded me while waiting for the results. I looked each one in the eye and gave the trainer a piece of my mind (which is still remembered to this day).
    The results were more than gratifying: my stallion carried a ten ounce shoe and a 4 1/2″ foot. As the show manager handed me back my trophies he announced that my horse had won the classes fair and square.
    When I got home I wrote to everyone in the Morgan horse world I could think of about my time in the “protest circle”. I’m not saying that I started it, but more and more amateurs came forward telling their stories. I believe this is one of the reasons why it costs so much to protest. Not only does one place his own reputation on the line but one also places his horse on the line. As in civil cases perhaps one “should put their money where their mouth is”.
    If you are truly upset and are convinced that the placing is unfair, then you have a duty to report it. However, remember that your protest might not always be construed as helpful. Like the trainer, you may end up looking like a sore loser. Still, if and when I feel strongly about something, I will protest and I will put my money where my mouth is.

  2. Trisha says:

    Personally, when someone switches their very successful horse from Pleasure to Classic (for example) then puts the horse in a Novice class, it’s quite obvious they are after the ribbon, not giving the horse some more ringtime. I don’t necesarily think it’s wrong, but I don’t think it’s honest. Some horses are not ready for the ring as a junior horse and in my opinion, the novice classes are for those horses, not the former world champion that has switched from pleasure to classic.

    Also, some shows have a section in their prizelist about making a protest about anything and it must be done during the show and with USEF not involved, I don’t believe it costs anything. But if a horse is not eligible for a given class and has shown/ribboned, a complaint can be made to the office. At our first show this year in a junior hunter class, there was a horse in the class that was obviously not a junior horse and the judge pinned him second out of three. So we went to the office and informed them that horse was not a junior horse; they looked it up and took the ribbon when the horse’s entry form showed that it was not eligible for the class.

    Also, winning a one horse class does not count towards a novice horse losing its eligibility to be a novice horse. They must be judged against another horse and win in order for it to count.

  3. IED says:

    Something you have to remember, as well… Novice entry is available to horses who haven’t ribboned out of the Novice classes AT TIME OF ENTRY. So… if the horse entered the horse show (say it was in August) back in early July (which is certainly not out of the realm of possibility), when it had, oh, I dunno, say two blue ribbons, then it is still a Novice horse even if it won thirty classes in between entry of that particular horse show and the actual horse show.

    Just something to remember before you consider lodging a protest.

    Now, if the horse ribboned out last year in the same division, that maybe well be another story.

    And for what it’s worth to Trisha, a horse going around a Novice class in a new division, even if it’s shown in another division and won everything there is to win, may very easily have issues you have no idea about and may very well need that ring time. Even WCs have their problems. I had a horse that was an open reserve national champion and 3rd in the world that needed ALL the ring time he could get… that meant entering whichever classes he was eligible for. You just don’t know unless you are personally familiar with the horse.

  4. Trisha says:

    My thoughts went straight to a show I was at recently involving a horse that was kid broke switching divisions and definately not a novice horse, so I made a bit of a generalization. Though I am certain that many are guilty of it. But you are correct, many times there is more to it than what meets the eye. I have witnessed quite a few successful show horses switch barns/riders/trainers and then they won’t work for whatever the reason.

  5. alpmorgans says:

    wouldnt a non junior horse showing in a junior class be a mistake of the show committee? they should have noticed its age.

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