I feel like a lot of you have probably been waiting for me to post about the latest bloody mouth controversy, this time at LRK3DE. I’m not going to. I’ve said everything I have to say about that situation, over and over and over again, ad nauseam, since 2015. I’m tired of saying it. I have nothing new to add on my feelings about any of that. I feel a little lost for words, and really cynical, and yeah a bit dispirited too. It’s the same old song and dance, playing on repeat.

Image result for make it stop gif

It does seem like the horse world in general has grown as weary of it as I am, though, because wowzers… the internet the past few days has been on fire. Whether its a blaze of glory or a dumpster fire probably depends on where you stand and what you’re reading. Sometimes maybe it’s a little of both. Either way, it’s burning.

One company did withdraw sponsorship though, and I toddled right over to their website to make a purchase. I will support any company with enough integrity and strength of character to stand firm on their morals in a situation like this. That’s not always an easy thing to do when you could quite easily just “go dark”, slip into the background, and wait for the worst of it to pass. Many other companies have done that, but EnviroEquine didn’t.


I also sent my freshly updated formal letter (which, it’s sad I even have something like this saved, much less that it was drafted 2 years and 3 incidences ago) to the good folks at USEF – integrity@usef.org – and ECIU – report@equestrianintegrity.com. The ECIU is an Independent Body with its chairperson reporting directly to the FEI President or his or her designee(s). Just… adding my voice to the choir, I suppose.

My excitement for Badminton has flagged a bit, but I’m still interested to see how it plays out. I’m really torn about whether to root for Michael Jung and Sam, or a Ramiro B offspring. Kinda partial to both… I’ve been a huge Ramiro B fan since the Ballynoe Castle days. The LK3DE winner, Cooley Master Class, is also a Ramiro B offspring, and Ollie Townend will be aboard yet another another one this weekend in Cooley SRS. How cool would it be for Ollie to win the Grand Slam with 3 different horses, 2 of which are by the same sire? There’s even one more Ramiro B offspring in the Badminton field – Badminton first timer Cooley Earl.

Image result for ramiro B
Ramiro B ❤

Okay, maybe I’m the only breeding nerd that thinks that way, but how could you not love Ramiro B? He’s legendary, and if I had the right mare for him I’d breed to him in a heartbeat.

And, side note, Riding Warehouse has 20% off their Charles Owen helmets and vests right now for their BETA week promotion. Maybe you can buy a fancy new helmet to protect your noggin while you beat your head against a wall about the bloody mouth thing. Safety first.


35 thoughts on “Unsaid

  1. Ooosp, missed the controversy.
    What happened? have you got any links?
    I only looked at the results, and Ollie won. I live in the UK, and he is one of my fav, with Michael Jung too.
    In the UK we have such big 4* and 3* stars event with little controversy. I know Captian Philipp is always whingeing the horses are not as fit as before, but I have rarely seen any abuse. All riders are also feather light. Michale Jung is tiny, so is Mark Todd, or William Fox-Pitt, just very tall and skinny.

    Going to browse the net …

    P.S. I love you rblog, for Presto update and now Mannie update. But because I am a breeding nerd too ^-^


  2. To be honest, I expected your post on the ML thing to be exactly like this. You’ve already written and said so much about her atrocious behavior, both here and on FB and through letters you’ve sent, so if anything I half-expected you to copy/paste one of your older posts about her (which is sad in and of itself…). As you know I don’t event but follow eventing pretty closely, and like you I’m growing tired of seeing the same rider with the same horse with the same problems be cleared by vets and have no consequences handed down by USEF and/or the USEA. I think it’s a bad look for the governing bodies to remain silent and continue to enable her horrendous horsemanship by not suspending or banning her from competition, especially when this has happened at least 3 times with this same horse, in addition to multiple other times. I don’t get it. Each time this happens she claims that it’s “an accident” or that “her horse bites itself”…which, by now, we’re all calling BS. While I’m sure horses do bite themselves on occasion (it is horses after all), there is clearly a pattern of abuse that causes the horses to bleed from the mouth over and over again. Maybe it’s the waaaaay-too-tight flash in dressage. Maybe its the extremely severe bit setups and rough hands she’s got for XC. But when your groom has to carry a red towel and rush to wipe your horse’s mouth as soon as you cross the finish, AND there are multiple photos of blood on course, it’s all too convenient to be “an accident.” Besides, why are there ZERO other horses and ZERO other riders that have multiple issues with blood in the mouth? Say what you want Marilyn, but none of us are buying it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can totally understand that you´re sick and tired of this and that you won´t write another blog post about this. It is sad. Sickening. And really disheartening to see that she is getting off scotsfree *yet* again.
    She really has to be one of the unluckiest riders around because it only keeps Happening to her. Yes, I am getting cynical.
    IMO this whole scenario is a disgrace to the sport. To horsewomen and -men everywhere.
    And we´re letting the horses down badly.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Once I saw the placings after Dressage I started retreating in my interest on the results. once she is on the scoreboard I don’t care any more. I was thrilled Ollie won on a horse that hadn’t done this before. And sorry for Jung’s rail. But as far as I am concerned she is no champion. Not at all. Seen it with my own eyes in person. Don’t need to see it again. thanks tho for always keeping your finger on the pulse with this outlandish behavior. It really is nuts. And if the flash needs to be that tight you are doing something wrong. and should possibly not be showing at that level and maybe go back to flat work 101. HA 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Super disappointed again this year. I think the Course Designer did a great job creating a course that allowed the best to rise at the top without punishing horses and riders that weren’t ready yet. However, I was sick to my stomach seeing the nose-bands, the blood, and the complete lack of response from all the people in place to raise a hand and say “This is wrong.”

    I went over to EnviroEquine & Pet and ordered some shampoo. When it asked what rep referred me to the brand, I selected “other” and indicated that I chose to make a purchase because of their decision to end their professional relationship with ML. It might be a small gesture, but we can all vote with our dollars.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I left a note saying why I made my purchase, too! They have some cool products (and the company is based here in Austin – who knew???), can’t wait to try them out.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Not to make light of this horrible situation with ML but I just watched the video posted on Horse Nation of Elisa Wallace and her horse doing the course and it was amazing. You have to watch to the end. It is so telling of the relationship that a genuine rider has for their horse. Yup, I cried. Thankfully, there are a lot more of the Elisa Wallace’s (and Amanda Chance’s) in the world of evening to really showcase what a genuine relationship with our horses can look like. I will send a letter as well to the USEF & ECIU, not that it will make a difference. But I also can’t remain silent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So many of the rides were amazing! Ollie’s was just textbook too on the winner, his horse seemed quite impressed by the course at the beginning and by the end he was so confident. That’s how it’s done!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I wasn’t blogging for her last few incidents but I did a lot of reading (including the post I linked from your blog) while writing my post on Monday. I can understand not wanting to have to rehash everything that you’ve already said but I do appreciate the fact you’ve shared those email addresses! I emailed USEF, onto ECIU! While it may not change anything, I’m going to be another annoying little bug in their ear.


  8. What is more disheartening to me is ML’s response. She doesn’t take ownership for any of it. Sure, she says that the horse was checked by the vet before it went on course, but I didn’t take it as she feels there is any sort of problem even though this continues to happen to more than one horse she rides.


    1. I agree. IMO her public statements are doing her more harm than good, because she dodges the real issues. She does not acknowledge that bleeding is unacceptable. No statements about what she is doing to make sure it never happens again.


  9. The ML situation is so disappointing (and kind of heartbreaking for the horses). I will definitely be placing an order w/ enviroequine when I get paid next week.
    Also Ramiro B is just droolworthy, such a handsome dude ❤


  10. I was ready this event for something. And yup, didn’t disappoint. That red towel at the end of her run caught my eye. This is just extremely disheartening and frustrating. So glad Enviro Equine pulled sponsorship. Going to buy something from them now, too.

    After last year’s Badminton, I’m a little hesitant for this year. I love MJ and Sam, but I do hope Ollie can make it and win the Grand Slam! I loved his cross country round – so super on a horse that did a 4* for the first time! That’s how it’s done imo. But I’ll be watching the results! (not getting up at 3 am this time lol)


  11. I do have to say that I went back and read an editorial on the previous blood issues with ML and if you compare the previous pictures to the one taken at LRK3DE the blood at KY was mild compared to the others. So in all legitimate concerns Kitty could of had a minor scratch on the outside and everything is as she and the FEI claim it to be. BUT IT’s THE 7th (?) TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED???? WTF??? I do think if she didn’t have such a long history with blood in the mouth or it was different Rider (especially a well known and liked one) most people probably would of accepted this at face value and gone on their way. Typing that out is pretty dang depressing. Oh this time it wasn’t as bloody? Yeah not exactly creating favorable feelings towards ML.
    Going forward I’m really curious if she makes the team of not for WEG with all this controversy. She did finish 3rd but at what cost?


  12. there are a couple things that i’m struggling with during the continuation of this conversation. most importantly? the unevenness of application in calling attention to the issue.

    Scandalous wasn’t the only horse running around Kentucky on saturday with a bloody mouth. i have pictures to prove it. does that make it ok? or not worth further investigation? no, of course not. horse welfare should always reign supreme. always.

    there are members of this blogging community of who have written about their horses injuring their mouths in warm up, who were cleared to compete and did so. does that make the repeated instances with one rider and her string of horses any less suspicious? no, not really.

    but i’m growing a little uncomfortable with the extreme outcry in one person’s case, when other equally visible instances are overlooked or shrugged off. and i’m beginning to honestly believe ML’s repeatedly bloodied horses are a symptom of the issue, not the root cause of it.

    every member of the governing body ok’d her continuation. we may feel like that’s the wrong decision, or like something needs to change. but putting the squeeze on ML and her specific sponsors doesn’t appear to be making a difference all these years later, when the ground jury is still finding her in compliance with rules and regulations, and other riders are still cruising through with blood unnoticed and without criticism.


    1. I agree that vilifying a single person too much is dangerous and delegitimizes the cause. My issue has never been with her as a person (notice there was no mention of her in my post). I will never think that a horse with a visibly bloody mouth running around XC is ok though, no matter who it is. I’ve felt the same on the (granted extremely few) occasions I’ve seen it happen to other riders.

      I DO have a problem with both the frequency and severity with which it seems to happen with this person. And I have an even bigger problem with knowing about the issue in warmup and choosing to run anyway, vet clearance or not. That part is purely opinion though, I will admit.

      What I’m mostly uncomfortable with are the repercussions it has on the sport itself. To me it’s past time to revisit how the rules are worded – which has been my stance from the beginning back in 2015. We’ve left a really big loophole for issues like this to walk right through, unchecked, and that’s exactly what has happened.


      1. One thing Austen brought up to me that I’m now very curious about is the initial horse inspection. How much is the mouth looked at when the horse is first presented? Are they doing a precursory check of the mouth for anything like sores that could be problematic later? As in, an injury that occurred earlier in training that crops up as a problem during the run? Is that even something that would reasonably make a difference? Like a proactive ruling vs waiting for a bleed on course?


          1. I looked up the FEI vet rules for inspections for eventing (which are much less vigorous than for other sports, including dressage). Vets only perform cursory lameness exams in trot ups. If a visible injury is there, they can look at that. They don’t put their hands on the horse at all, and wouldn’t look in the mouth. The rules are also very clear that inspections and other decisions don’t take into consideration other events. That means they can’t make decisions knowing ML had a horse with a bleeding mouth at several other events.

            I think those rules definitely need revised, but we also need to keep in mind how those changes can effect others. Like a previously chronically unsound horse who has become sound now but is poured over with closer scrutiny than another horse. For example. An equal playing field is important to competition. I think there’s a way to serve both.


    2. I am sorry, but I’ve read your blog. Aren’t you the person who puts poultice in a puncture wound and also rode your horse the day after it broke a splint? You are hardly an authority on proper horse care and I am not surprised you’re coming to her defense.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Denise – I’m ok that you don’t respect my horse care, even if your memory of what I’ve done isn’t exactly true and seems oddly designed to be mean. That’s the beauty of anonymous internet commenting tho and I’m ok with it.

        I’m also not coming to MLs defense here and tried to choose my words very carefully. Horse welfare first. My concern is with the personal attacks or with the impotence of misplaced rage. Or with missing the forest for the trees.

        These are difficult conversations to have in our sport. But I care about this sport and I care about the outcome. And I choose to comment bc they are important conversations to have even if they are difficult and often elicit strong responses. And honestly I don’t know the answers.

        But my guess is there will always be competitive ppl who operate to the very limit of what is allowed or even ethical, and that our best chances for protecting our horses lie not in addressing those ppl (bc there will always be more like them) but in fixing the system to make it less easy for them to operate in these ways.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hey Denise. Ad hominem attacks seem pretty off base here. I think I speak for most horse bloggers when I say dissenting views voiced openly and respectfully are always welcomed. Yours falls a bit wide of that mark. Try again.


    3. If you have photographic proof of other horses running with bloody mouths, please please follow up on it with official reports to LRK3DE and the FEI. Our officiating is inadequate if horses are going around like this and no one is noting it or inspecting it.

      This is the first I’ve heard of any other horse with blood on the mouth at Kentucky.


  13. Even if you could ignore the bloody mouth for the 7th time (I can’t, but if I COULD) how does that noseband look acceptable in dressage?! Ugh
    That aside, Ramiro B is a hunk! Same line as my very special ex-stallion. But mine is super inbred. Still handsome. Missing a few neural pathways.


  14. Sad sad sad sad. Despicable. I shudder to think what’s going on behind closed doors, if this is what they think is appropriate in public. It breaks my heart that our industry is full of this bullshit, across all disciplines. I tune a lot of it out because my heart just can’t take it, and I do my small part by teaching young equestrians in my little corner to do better and be better than the bad examples out there. My students give me hope…they’re compassionate, empathetic, and KIND. The horse comes first, period, at our barn…anything even remotely less than that is not tolerated, but thankfully I’ve never had to actually enforce that rule because my students are great humans. Still, news like this is extremely disheartening and makes me feel ashamed of our industry.

    I enjoy Rolex/LR, but I can’t watch Badminton…too many rotational falls.


  15. I love that we are all on the same page when it comes to the welfare of our horses. I have only recently read about this incident and I was a bit shocked. I like that sponsors and riders have the guts to stand up for what’s right. This kind of behaviour is in the industry and i have to wonder what’s wrong with people at times. If that’s what it takes to win, then perhaps time to not do this fine sport. I love how you wrote this post
    Mel x


  16. Kentucky 4* 2018 has to put the focus on the officiating, equally with the individual rider. From his own account, the inspector at the finish line did not adequately suss out the situation, partly due to lack of cooperation from the groom.

    If there was nothing bleeding so badly as to make it obvious in most photos from around the course (and multiple people have said they didn’t find blood at this or that fence), then maybe it was the slight outer cut that got messy with saliva and snot, later to be brushed away, and no re-bleed. But the fact that it bled at all, with the history of this horse and rider and blood, means that it **has** to be far more thoroughly investigated. Photos of the inside of the horse’s mouth, and things like that. The reason for the blood has to be nailed down to prevent a reoccurence.

    The blood reported on course by the jump judges came from somewhere. Even if it ceased to bleed, this case is not done until the officials on the day figured out the how and why of the bleed.


    1. Wait – where is the information from the inspector at the finish line?? I haven’t seen this – I heard a few statements here and there about the groom wiping the horse’s mouth despite being told not to, but is there more information that confirms the inspection was interfered with? That would be really interesting….


  17. P.S. I bought hoof goo from EnviroEquine. Never heard of them before today. But I also included a comment about supporting an ethical stand for horse welfare. 🙂


  18. I finally caught up with the drama. There was nothing in the British eventing press. However, it looks like corruption. I remember a French rider having a speck of blood in his horse mouth at the dressage at Badminton 4* event. He was disqualified here and then. The fact that your officals are not able to enforce a basic rule, shows a deeper problem of value and ethics in your federation.
    Good luck changing the trend.


  19. I sent an email to my employer. I hope it has an impact but I rather doubt it, given I’m a nobody and more relevant, ownership and loyalty are complicated. 🙂 But I said what I needed to say and submitted it to the right people so we shall see.


    1. ETA: They’ve responded and I have a meeting next week to discuss my concerns. Which is encouraging they are willing to at least listen.


  20. So ANY blood on ANY horse should result in instant on the spot elimination? I’m not sure I agree that the equivalent of a minor graze that could easily be picked up from glancing off a solid cross country jump should be enough to end someone’s entire competition. I agree more with the balanced and reasonable argument here: http://badeventer.com/2018/05/dont-buy-a-grey-horse.html than the FB link you posted.


    1. I definitely never said that, you’re making a big leap there. I do not support that at all. I merely posted a link to the controversy that I saw (which, btw, the particular link I posted refers specifically to blood on the head/mouth, not blood anywhere on the horse). I haven’t seen anyone that wants any blood anywhere to equal an automatic E. I HAVE seen people wanting the same blood rule as dressage and sj – blood on the mouth or sides. I can’t think of a single eventer I know who would want any speck of blood anywhere to equal an E.

      I prefer the solution that Sara Kozumplik Murphy has put forth – an automatic yellow card system for blood in the mouth. It would be effective, and it offers some leniency.


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