I’ll admit, I didn’t really know who Marilyn Little was, besides an upper level rider and a possible team rider, before last week. But when those pictures surfaced of two of her horses both in unbelievable get ups and blood in their mouth, I took notice. I felt sickened. I can understand using an unconventional bit set up for a really strong horse. But when every horse in your barn goes in that? Something’s wrong. And when that horse comes back with blood in their mouth? Something is wrong.
If you want to read more about it, I recommend this post from The 900 Facebook Pony.
Despite not being a current member of USEA or USEF, I emailed them to express my disappointment that ML was not being disciplined for this. I encourage everyone who believes in good horsemanship to do the same.
But what else can I do?
Well, you may remember, I’m not just a rider, I’m an owner. And I have a responsibility as an owner.
JLE is a good rider and more importantly, she’s a good horsewoman. She cares about all of her animals and I don’t believe for a moment that she would ever do something to purposefully hurt any of her horses (or her dog). I’m so thankful that she is a good person, and it’s part of the reason that I agreed to go into a syndicate with her. I could have sold Dandy for good money to a jumper home or even to a talented young rider who needed something they could bring up the levels. Instead I took a pretty big loss on Dandy to a) keep a part of him and b) know that he would be in an amazing home.
In dressage, JLE rides Dandy in a loose ring snaffle with a flash noseband. About as benign as it comes. You’ll have to forgive me that I don’t know if it’s a single jointed or a double jointed. It was double jointed when I was his full owner and I wouldn’t be surprised if it still was. She’s tried him in a baucher but eventually went back to the loose ring.
In XC, JLE had to “bit up,” as it were. She switched from the loose ring snaffle and figures 8 she was riding in at BN to a gag. I can’t blame her for this, I know from first hand experience that Dandy is STRONG. She needs that at this point of his career and may always need it. But you know what is not inside his mouth? Any sort of twisted wire piece. The gag is completely for extra stoping power… she needs it!
But there are some bits and combos that if I ever saw on Dandy, I would be on the phone with JLE immediately to ask “Why?” And she better have a good answer. And there are cases that I’d pull my support.
I have a responsibility to Dandy, even being 3,000 miles away. And I promise that I’m going to always honor that. I’m just glad I won’t ever have to.