I woke up this morning to numerous Facebook messages.  From various people.  Various industry affiliations.  Various ways in which they were connected to me.

And all were writing of the same thing:  The Denny Emerson Drama.

And I clicked on the links sending me to his Facebook page, or Doug Payne’s status and just sat at my desk with my jaw dropped. I slowly tucked my hands under my ass and twitched for a few moments, demanding my brain to stop writing.

Do not blog.  DO NOT GET involved.

And then in true Carleigh fashion, my anger level rose, and my willpower diminished.

So here we are. 

For all of you out there blissfully unaware of the events which happened this weekend, here is the cut and dry.

Pau – a 4* event in France – was underway.  We had three Americans contest the windy and intense cross country course overseas, and all three were competent and skilled equestrians.  Boyd Martin, one of our best cross country riders to ever grace American soil, kicked off from the start box and put down a nearly flawless round.

…until just a few fences from the finish.

Because – as part of this course – the riders leave the fresh grass of the French countryside, and enter the dirt dressage complex.  And as his mount Crackerjack’s hoof hit the differing surface, he stumbled, and Boyd quickly pulled him up.

For any of us who work in the thoroughbred racing industry – it was quite obvious what happened.  We see it occur time and time again in the training and racing of our precious young stock, leading us to turn away from the rail thinking “not again.”

Many of these end up as fractured sesamoids – which are the small supportive bones in the ankle.  Some are condylar fractures of the cannon bone, which can spiral up to the knee. And sometimes, just sometimes, the rider or jockey can get off quickly enough to maintain the infrastructure of the leg and prevent further damage.  This leads to the best prognosis and outcome.  But continue to run, and you devastate all of the tendons and ligaments which attach the lower limb to the body.

But that is exactly what Boyd did.  He swung off and screamed for a medic.  He supported his mount while waiting for help.  And all of us watching the live stream, or worse – present – just closed our eyes and sent a prayer up to the Horse Gods.

We heard soon after that it was in fact catastrophic.  There was no chance in saving Crackers life, and he was humanely euthanized with both Boyd and his owner Lucy there.

It was, quite simply, devastating.

So many of us in this sport feel a legitimate connection to these riders and their mounts due to the invention of social media.  We watch the live stream, we stalk the live scoring, we peruse Eventing Nation, and if we are lucky, we even Facebook friend the riders.  It is the beauty of this sport – the nearness we get to the greats.  Walk around any event, and you will find a 4* rider with a smile and a helping hand.  It is awesome.

And as the outpouring of sympathy and well wishes for Boyd and the horses connections began, there was one person who deterred to the opposite spectrum.  Who went into the situation with cat claws instead of sympathy: Denny Emerson.

Denny, who posts under his Tamarack Hill Farm, has quite the social media presence and following – and thousands upon thousands of equestrians turn to him for guidance and information.  He never sugar coats things, he cuts to the chase, and he calls it like he sees it.

And 90% of the time, I appreciate that.  Because I truly believe that criticism is key to progress.  It does not mean that you do not love something or someone if you choose to call it out for a flaw.  I always refer to this as my “Fatherly Advice.”

I don’t know how many times during my teenage years that my father would sit me on the couch and tell me that I was epically screwing up.  That I was to be punished.  That I needed disciplined.  Whether it was for simply staying out past curfew, wrecking his  car, or *possibly* underage drinking, he was quick with a verbal lashing and a grounding.

Did it mean he didn’t love me?  Hell no.  It meant the opposite.  That he expected change. That he expected improvement.  That he expected better from me. And 99% of the time, that Come to Jesus talk worked.

And the majority of the time, that is how I see Denny Emerson.

But this time,  he took it too far.

He posted that Boyd treated his horses as disposable – as many upper level riders do these days. 

He posted that the upper levels were a bastardized version of the sport he used to love, leaving horses and riders crippled and dead.

And he posted that it was the removal of the long format which led to this demise. 

And as comment after comment under his page supported these statements, I watched as my jaw dropped lower and lower. I am but a measly lower level rider, but one who has gotten to befriend and follow many an upper level rider in their journey towards success.

And I have watched grown men cry as their Rolex dreams are shattered due to a horse tripping on the cement on the way in from the paddock a week out. 

I have seen young girls place their dreams of Team victory to the side after seeing one lame hiccup in a dressage school. 

I have witnessed grooms stay awake for 72 hours straight in order to see their mounts get to the final day of stadium in tip top shape.  

And I have watched young women wake up at 5 am in order to ride all 10 of their horses before throwing on their khakis and black shirt to go waitress the dinner service – just to pay the bills for that next FEI event. 

And do we all acknowledge the fact that this sport is dangerous?  Hell yes.  We do.

But what is Denny doing? Nothing.

Because while he bemoans on Facebook of the dangers of upper level riders, he is still training them. Breeding their mounts.  Actively teaching, clinicking, and riding.   Profiting off of the sport he degrades. And at the same time that he incites his followers to attack grieving riders and owners, his “opposition” is hard at work to physically improve the sport.

His supporters are enraged that Doug Payne, Dom Schramm, and Will Faudree (among many others) are pointing out the flaws in Denny’s arguments through quotes from his own mouth, claiming that he ran his upper level mounts injured and lame just for fame and glory.

But the difference between the two? While Denny is lashing out on Facebook, Doug is designing tables with frangible pins.  While Denny is lamenting over the good old days for the long format, Dom is attending the annual conference to improve the short.  And while Denny is hypocritically and CONSTANTLY claiming that he is done with the upper levels, all three of these men are training students to improve their skill set and therefore safety.

Denny’s most recent post claims that he is “done with upper level eventing and the upper level riders who watch and do nothing.” And I can’t sit here without writing of the hypocrisy in this.

Denny has both trained upper level riders (many of which I am friends with and respect to the highest degree) as well as bred upper level horses.  His livelihood has depended on this connection to the upper levels, and his bread and butter is in his showcasing of these success stories.

I am sorry that he stood the sire of Crackerjack and that this is taken an emotional toll on him. I am sorry that he feels pain over this loss, even though he has not personally handled the horse himself.

But just like any political discussion in the past 12 months, unless you are doing, you are just spewing.

We cannot make progress without change – something that many of the upper level riders are heavily invested in. And we cannot make these changes without funding and grants given to these brilliant men and women who want to progress the sport, not just throw it in the trash.  There are so many things that can be, and should be studied.

This horse did not “succumb” to the sport as Denny would like you to believe.  He had a catastrophic injury to a forelimb that researchers have been attempting to preemptively diagnose for the last decade. It was unrelated to a jump, and honestly had nothing to do with “The Sport.”  It could have happened in a field, or even in the dressage arena.

And had it been due to a jump, there are talented course designers and engineers which are attempting to make those safer.  Had it been to a cardiac event, there are brilliant scientists and practitioners studying that as well.  We have the people that want to learn. That want to improve.  That want progress.

With the key word being progress.  Not degradation.

I am horrified that Denny used this specific injury as his basis for the demise of this sport, and his ammunition for why the long format was so necessary.  The long format which left us with no data to even find a correlation on safety, something that the current generation of leaders in our sport are attempting to fix.

We cannot make progress without change.  We should not make change without science. Without data. And we cannot do either without this sport coming together instead of tearing itself apart.  

This divisive rhetoric needs to end.  And it currently looks as though it is the informed masses against one.  So maybe that one, and I mean you Mr. Emerson, needs to respectively bow out. Mind your manners. Wind down your social media and screw on your constructive thinking cap.

And find a way to make progress.

Our thoughts and prayers are needed.  For Boyd. For Crackers. For his owner Lucy. For the entire Windurra team.

Our skill sets and abilities are required.  For researchers. For USEA. And for a damned good epidemiologist and engineer.

And finally, our manners need assessed.  Rehabilitated. But that just goes to you Mr. Emerson. 

Research 4

 

 

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53 Comments on “Mind Your Manners

  1. I can’t thank you enough for PERFECTLY stating how I feel. Really. I’m also a recent student of Lillian Heard and she is super – your blog post on her was great.

    • Dang, girl. You are a really good writer (as well as rider, I would assume) and you have stated eloquently what I’ve seen many equestrians struggle to say since the weekend. Well done.

  2. You can add writes well, really well to your skill set. Horses seem to be built to break the human heart, then restore it stronger than ever if you will let them.

  3. Bravo! I was saddened and sickened by Mr. Emerson’s thoughtless and callous remarks. Thank you for clearly articulating what I could not.

  4. I told myself I wouldn’t blog about it either, but I’ve got a hell of a draft sitting in my folder. Like you, I am MAD. And disappointed. And disgusted.

  5. Having been a barn manager for Denny a good while back, I am irritated by his insistence that his is the only correct viewpoint.

    Despite what multiple vets said. HIS vets. Despite all the lame horses.

    I feel especially terrible because I have met riders that have been to Tamarack and returned with lame horses. If I had spoken up then, or ever, really, I would have been discounted and ridiculed. But I still should of, for the horses, and damn trying to respect Denny.

    Because he doesn’t respect views different from his.

  6. thanks for tackling a difficult and unnecessarily politicized subject. as far as I can tell, Crackers’ injury has about as much to do with eventing as that time I broke my leg stepping out of my horse trailer.

    • Sorry to hear about your trailer mishap. My sister currently has a walking cast on her fractured ankle. She was walking home from work one night and fell 4′ down into an unmarked construction hole. She’s lucky she didn’t break her neck. Life does seem to be one big freak accident waiting to happen. Like everyone else, I’m just so so sad and sorry to see it happen to such a brilliant horse. I have no connection to either Boyd or Crackers, but I’m truly grieving for them and the rest of Team Cracker Jack. And hoping that months or years from now, we’ll all be able to look back at the horrific accident and see that it helped the eventing community come together for the better.

  7. Thank you for expressing, far more eloquently than I, what Denny just blocked me about.

  8. Thank you for putting all I am thinking down to paper so eloquently, you need to be thanked for such direct comment on this situation! So many are trying to use all modern advances possible to increase the safety of the horses and humans in this sport, a push to all to keep looking for other ways to keep everyone safe, and to help our fellow sportsmen stand beside each other through the good times and the bad, not ripping anybody, friend or foe, apart…

  9. I have chills reading this, I know it isn’t easy to say what is difficult and may be contentious. All sports have inherent danger and injury in them. I watched Boyd Martin for three days at Jersey Fresh International on multiple horses, during warm up and competition, and on the sidelines. It is visibly apparent what a great, caring horseman he is and I know this was a devastating blow. Denny should get off his soapbox and do something to improve the lives of horses in the sport, if he really sees a problem. But even with changes, accidents happen.

  10. I really know nothing about this sport, but I am still glad to read things in the news from your point of view. And I believe you are right. What good does condemning a rider for something that was not his fault, do to make the sport better? Thank you for speaking out when others need to be put back in their place!

  11. Thank you for your clarity and insight. Thank you for saying this so well. The charge that those at the helm are unresponsive and have lacked action in keeping our horses and riders safer brings me to despair. I so appreciate a voice of reason.

  12. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You said what so many either don’t have the words or courage to say, and you did it with class! Watching Boyd ride my horse was one of my biggest highlights! He was thoughtful and very careful of my horses abilities at the time. That man has a heart of gold and truly loves horses and the sport he competes in.

  13. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! You said what so many either don’t have the words or courage to say, and you did it with class! Watching Boyd ride my horse was one of my biggest highlights! He was thoughtful and very careful of my horses abilities at the time. That man has a heart of gold!

  14. As someone who was watching the live feed, and devastated by what happened to Crackerjack, what I saw was a bad step and stumble as the ground changed. This was an injury that could have happened to anyone, anywhere. I was very upset to see Mr. Emerson react like he did, because I too, have looked at him as a elder statesman of the sport. I’m sure, that standing Crackerjack’s sire made this feel personal to him, but to fire off as he did was insensitive, as well as just being wrong. I was watching a horse with his ears pricked, looking ahead for the next fence, who suffered a horrible accident. The sport does need to be made safer, and I think everyone knows that–and people are working on it. I suppose hoping that Mr. Emerson will ever apologize is wasted time, and that makes me sad. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful, and respectful blog!

  15. Great reply. My only twitch was reading “The long format which left us with no data to even find a correlation on safety, something that the current generation of leaders in our sport are attempting to fix.” as a knock against the long format. Is it the fault of the format or the fault of those in the sport at the time that there is no data? Should someone have wanted data, I would think you could have gotten it. Regardless… thank you for writing your thoughts. I LOVE and bemoan the demise of the long format, but the comments being made are too much.

    • That’s actually not true. Many of us have asked for the data from the long format data to do a mega analysis and they’re unavailable. Whether USEA (USCTA) actually doesn’t have them, or worse, doesn’t want us to see them, I do not know, but they do not exist.

  16. Well written. Our sports need to be freed of these old time riders who lost touch with the reality and understanding of the love and dedication to horses that the real riders like Boyd are today.

    • So because Boyd chose a profile picture of a scary incident that his horse walked away from perfectly fine, while he himself was very injured, Denny is allowed to say he treats his horses as disposable?

    • We are minding the safety. We all wear better equipment. Fences are made with collapsible pins. We are educating ourselves on fitness and planning. And the USEA is funding studies on cardiac events and fence safety. How does reminiscing on the “good old days” help progress? It doesn’t.

  17. I have evented since the late 60’s, though at prelim and below. Horses died then, as they do now. Horses were injured then, as they are now. What is different? The attitude of the competitor. Then it was a process, a way of testing soundness, stamina and courage in both horse and rider which resulted in better horses and stronger riders. Now, it’s a business – which rewards speed and technical accuracy – stamina and soundness, not so much. Cross country courses are like extended stadium courses, trappy and twisty which test the eye of the rider, but fool the horse. Making excuses and shrugging our shoulders while vilifying past champions is shameful, Tell me why there are so many more rotational falls now than before. Tell why what you are doing is so much better than before. Because I don’t see it.

    • We do not know if there are more rotational falls–we just now actually record them as rotational falls and call them as such.

      We can’t “go back to the good old days” and have it fix everything. Like you said, horses died. Riders died. We must got forward to make progress.

      And it’s not “a business”. Are you kidding me? Who actually becomes rich off of eventing? No one.

  18. I just feel like you’ve completely missed the point Denny and many others have been, as you would say, bemoaning, all these years. You speak with such authority on subjects I really question your knowledge of. How do you know Denny has “done nothing”? Do you have access to his emails and phone records? He’s a pretty old dude, who really isn’t physically well enough to even be riding anymore (though he still does), so no, he isn’t going to be out there with a hammer and nail building new jumps. That, however, does not mean he’s done nothing to voice his concerns and try to change the direction in which our sport is going. I don’t think everything Denny said about Boyd was fair, but even someone with below average intelligence should be able to see our sport is going through a dark time. It seems as though every major event results in a catastrophic injury to either the horse or rider- don’t you think that requires some re-evaluation? I don’t think you have the knowledge to definitively say Cracker’s injury wasn’t a result of extreme stress and inadequate warm due to the new way our cross country courses are designed.

    • Do you have the knowledge to say it does?

      Do I? I’m not sure. But I do have a doctorate in veterinary science, and therefore am immersed in the current research being done. I have an inside look into the “one bad step” hypothesis and it’s debunkment by Laura Kennedy. I work in the lab that is trying to formulate biomarkers to predict breakdowns.

      So am I God? No. But I have the methodology and background to help. Which is a lot more than Mr Emerson is doing on Facebook.

      His last post just asked for people to boycott USEA. Sounds like progress, huh?

    • Just to be clear… Denny’s original posts did not say anything about Boyd Martin. Only about his concerns for the loss of the horse and the contributing causes.

    • Purely out of interest in the subject I recently read several articles about Laura Kennedy’s work and was somewhat horrified to find that her necropsies appear to show that, in the case of catastrophic fractures, there is generally pre-existing damage in the same general area on the other leg. This seems to indicate at least some prior stress as a contributing factor. It made me wonder if the necropsy on Crackerjack included the other legs to see what might be there. As a breeder, I am also interested in the quality of bone laid down in young horses and the effects of modern nutritional practices on the quality of bone. There is so much to learn. I do hope this will turn out to be a teaching moment instead of just another tragedy.

  19. Very well written article.
    @Bif, I sympathise, it’s so hard to speak up against The Industry. You’re right, you would have been attacked for it, dont be too hard on yourself.

    • Oh please! The upper level riders today are nothing more than over blown over- rubbed ego maniacs! I stand with Denny Emerson! And screw you!!!! Whoever you are that wrote this! The bottom line is!!!!!! Its about the horses!!!!! Always and forever. Get your head out of your ass.
      Go ride bare back for an hour or so….say a prayer and know for sure that all the “lower level ” riders are paying close attention…..and they don’t like it!
      And THEY ARE THE FUTURE OF THE SPORT!
      phew …
      Peace out
      Terri Ann Clay

      • Terri,

        Maybe you need to take a moment to go calm down. How many “upper level riders” do you know? Because I know probably 50, and maybe 3 of them are “rubbed ego maniacs.”

        We don’t win money. We don’t win crap. We win $3 rosettes and a pat on the back. If they all were in it for the money, they’d be Grand Prix jumpers, not eventers.

        Now, unlike Mr Emerson, I let people who disagree with me to comment on my things, and then I respond calmly-I don’t delete and block. But with that being said, make a threat to me, or use name calling or BS reasoning, and your comment goes away. So there’s your warning.

        Ps–I rode bareback yesterday. Bridleless jumped last weekend. Went for a long road hack three days ago. You might want to investigate your target before slinging mud.

        And yes, it’s about the horses. Always has been, always will be. Which is why I returned to school and got a doctorate in veterinary science. To improve equine welfare. To cure diseases. To improve their lives.

        Or maybe it was just to get my ego rubbed? Must be.

        Lovingly,
        Dr Carleigh Fedorka
        “The Writer”

  20. I sent my favorite mare to be bred to Reputed Testimony in 2000. They turned her out for the first time at night, on a steep hill, in a thunderstorm, with a herd of horses she (obviously) had never been with before.

    Her leg was shattered by a kick, and she had to be euthanized up on that hill. I couldn’t even bring her body home.

    He was an exceedingly calous asshole to me then too. I couldn’t believe the way I was treated.

    • I was there for then, and I was the one who spoke with your parents when they came to pick up belongings. IIRC, she had been there a few days, because she was cultured and flushed.

      I saw her in Southern Pines on her first breeding attempt, too.

      Know that your mare was not alone at the end. I found her in the field, and got help to her as quickly as I could. I cared very much for her and soothed her as best I could. I am so sorry you had to relive this every time his name comes up.

  21. I sent my favorite mare to be bred to Reputed Testimony in 2000. They turned her out for the first time at night, on a steep hill, in a thunderstorm, with a herd of horses she (obviously) had never been with before.

    Her leg was shattered by a kick, and she had to be euthanized up on that hill. I couldn’t even bring her body home.

    He was an exceedingly calous asshole to me then too. I couldn’t believe the way I was treated.

  22. “I know about 50 upper level riders”…
    Same here. Most of the old school ones are price less and sage. Not today….Denny is a gem.
    I learned to ride on a scrappy, ottb. Mummy and daddy didn’t pay my way. And because of my work ethic and gym time….ID could run circles around Boyd and the rest of them. They rely waaaay too heavily on their mount and not skill.
    And sweetheart….my working pulse rate is your standing one. Sooo…..

    • Good for you Terri! Hopefully you’re trying to teach this up and coming generation how to do such things. Like selecting OTTB’s, improving fitness in your horse and yourself, and finding ways to finance events without mommy and daddy.

      With that being said, I need to go work on my lesson plan for my Event Horse Exercise Physiology class that I’m teaching at Asbury next week.

      Ta ta for now!

  23. You lost me at this: “But what is Denny doing? Nothing.”

    If you think this is true, you really have not been following his pages.

    As for the call to boycott USEA, and, I’d add, USEF, I say it’s about time. Both are way too beholden to the FEI. Both are a whole lot of talk and whole lot of committees formed, and yet, where is the sense of urgency? What is ACTUALLY getting done? All I see is a whole lot of spewing and really very little doing,

    • But what is he doing? He’s inciting a protest for the very sport HIS HORSES and HIS STUDENTS are competing in. Is he going to stop letting Rosie compete? Stop training his countless students who are competing?

      Until that happens, to ask for a boycott from him is just hypocritical.

  24. I thank you for speaking out. I agree with you. Judgement was harsh and taken too far. I am also a low level eventer and love this sport and all that it nurtures. I really want everyone to stop fighting and start doing. If you are concerned with the danger of the sport help to fix it. Don’t degrade it and help to kill it. I know many upper level eventers and their mounts are more important to them than even themselves. They forgo sleep to make sure their mounts sleep well. We need to get back to banning together for the sport instead of taking sides and tearing each other apart. 😳

  25. We are fortunate enough to live near Windurra, and my 3 teenage girls have benefited from the ability to XC school there at an affordable price (paid via the honesty pay box), have seen several free clinics taught by Boyd and other local (and high level) Eventers, had Pony Club lessons (again, at a reduced price) from Boyd & others, and have an upper level Trainer who “builds her own” mounts from the bottom up and allows my girls to work off much of their lesson fees through grooming & mucking.

    We are not rich or snobby, we are working hard for what we get, we have not spent more than a few thousand dollars on a horse. AND we are so grateful to live & compete with a community of Eventing riders who are generous & giving of their time for the next generation. Thank you Carleigh for a balanced and thoughtful perspective, and for all you do for the sport and the health of our Equine friends.

  26. After another one of Denny’s negative rants a couple of years ago, the USEA Board of Governors invited Denny to work with the BOG on safety issues. He never showed up. I think the criticism of his failure to do anything, other than complain, in the last 10 yearsbis completly valid.

  27. I hesitate to comment because I number Denny among my true friends so I am afraid folks will think I am some kind of sycophant. But, if you read what I write, you will see that I actually argue with him quite a lot so I hope you will take what I am saying seriously… I saw the original post. Obviously, from the misquotes and misrepresentations here and across the Internet, the writer did not. Nor does it appear that most of the people commenting actually know what he said.

    In his original post he made a sad and angry comment but not about Boyd or anyone else. He did not accuse anyone of poor horsemanship or of not caring about their horses, but rather, as he has repeatedly, called into question the toll the sport is taking on good horses and riders. He expressed an appreciation for the horse, having bred the mare that produced him, and anger at the fact that the sport continues to lose great horses like this and the people at the top of the sport seem oblivious.

    In a follow up comment he stated that he does not know Boyd Martin nor does he doubt that he cares for his animals. He did not say much of anything about anyone or anything he has not said a hundred times before. But, perhaps because it hit close to home, he was just a little more upset about this one.

    Perhaps, because this death was not the result of a rotational fall but the result of a mis step, people felt he was overly upset. Perhaps many do not understand that even this kind of accident can have a component related to constant stress. But, whatever started the ball rolling, it has gained a momentum that I find truly disturbing.

    Denny’s a big boy. He’ll take his knocks, stand up for what he believes in and live to fight another day. What I find disturbing is that so many people have chosen to believe a completely erroneous, second hand restatement of his post and decide they know what he said. I saw a reaction from an upper level rider I know and respect which was so far and away completely uncalled for that I have to assume he, also, had not seen the original post.

    I think everyone, including Denny, is so upset about the loss of this wonderful, talented horse that they are simply reacting. Denny just happens to think that these losses, even the mis steps, might be far fewer if the sport were safer while current upper level riders look back at some of the crazy fences of 40 years ago and think it already is safer. The truth, as always, is somewhere in the middle.

    • I agree that my quotes might be slightly off, and actually clicked back on Tamarack to get full quotes from his first two posts only to find them deleted.

      Now explain that. If he is so impassioned about change, and how his voice can bring it, why were they deleted? I thought maybe it was because he saw how crass he came across and maybe realized the error of his ways, and then WHAM, he posts the picture of Crackers rotational fall and calls for a boycott of USEA and USEF.

      So which is it. Is he a champion of the sport? Does he want change? Or does he want to incite the masses but only when it pleases him? Because when he starts to get called out on his inaccuracies and his stepping over the line, he deletes them.

      I thought about not accepting your comment (I have that ability) simply because it disagreed with my blog, but decided that people reading needed to read comments as this. And because you were eloquent in your argument and didn’t name call or flip, I hit accept.

      And I agree, the truth is in the middle. But Denny isn’t standing in the middle, unless it’s the middle of hypocrisy. He is calling for a boycott of this sport while coaching his girls. Still having his horses campaigned. Do you think Rosie will be suddenly be retired? No.

      But others will liSten. They see him as a God. They don’t take him into considerAtion and then make their own decisions. And that’s the scary part. That’s not the middle. That’s why he needed a rebuttal.

      • Thank you for recognizing that I do know how to mind my manners and not just react on either side of the question. I cannot speak for Denny but I can tell you this… I suspect that he deleted it, before all the screaming started, because it was an overly emotional response and open to misinterpretation. He later, when things blew up, reposted the gist of it in a comment, and it did correspond to his initial post, with the additional information that he had not intended to call out anyone. He was restating his personal position on the safety of the sport for horses and riders.

        Denny is definitely not a god. He has made many mistakes and, to his credit, is very open about his mistakes and takes them as teaching moments. He would tell you that he still makes mistakes and still learns from them. In my experience, if he is anything but kind to people there is another side of the story. Not to say that he is unfailingly kind but rather that no one is perfect.

        Sadly, the comments which were not made publicly but reposted on Facebook were obviously not reacting to his words but to his position. and those people have chosen to get extremely personal and pointed in their comments while Denny’s were not at all personal. This is the danger of social media. It is a giant game of operator and no one knows what was really said in the first place.

        I agree, rebuttal is healthy and necessary. But the scathing personal attacks seem unwarranted to me. The excuse is that “he started it”. But I don’t think he did. and I think we all need to be very careful about putting anyone, Denny, Boyd or any of the others who have weighed in on this, on a pedestal. We are all, unfailingly, human and the loss of our human and equine partners is, unfailingly, devastating.

        Thanks for your consideration and respect. At its heart, the exchange of viewpoints is the best of social media.

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