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Letter To The Editor

Dear Friends of the Morgan Community: I am writing this letter, so that you will hear directly from me the facts relating to the suspension by US Equestrian Federation of myself, Debi Jeppesen, and Blackridge RJH, from September 1, 2004 through November 30, 2004. There were two horses that won World Championships in Oklahoma that tested positive after their classes for fluphenazine. Due to the stress of shipping and the unavailability to obtain double stalls for shipping for all the horses, I had requested that our veterinarian recommend a tranquilizing drug that would last the entire twenty-four hour trip to Oklahoma for some of the horses, one that would not require repeated injections during the trip. Our veterinarian, Dr. Barone, recommended fluphenazine and assured me that there would be no problem showing these horses in Oklahoma, because it would be clear of their system by then. The veterinarian assured me two weeks would be safe. However, to be extra cautions, three weeks were allowed. The drug was administered by the veterinarian on September 15, 2003, three weeks before the horses were to show. On March 3, 2004, Debi Jeppesen, Dr. Barone, the owners of the two horses that tested positive, and myself attended a USEF Hearing in Lexington, Kentucky, to explain how the drug was present in the two blood samples taken from the two horses in Oklahoma City. At that hearing, we demonstrated the following: 1. There was no intent. Since the horses were both park horses, there would be no enhancement of the performance of the horse, as fluphenazine is a drug to sedate. 2. The expert pharmacologist of USEF testified that the physical evidence supported the scenario that we presented to the Hearing Committee. 3. Dr. Barone, our veterinarian, testified under oath and took full responsibility by USEF of 6 1/2 weeks time to allow the system to clear of the drug. Until 2001, AHSA recommended not using the drug within fourteen days of showing. In 2001, AHSA changed the abstinence period to forty-five days. Dr. Barone testified that I asked her for assurance that the drug would not be in the horses' systems at the show. I fully expected both horses to perform well, be contenders to win, and then be drug tested. The USEF states that the use of fluphenazine to affect the performance of a horse at a show is illegal. Although I feel we demonstrated no motive, intent, or effect on performance, the Hearing Committee is treating all usage, regardless of circumstance, the same. We are all disappointed by the finding of the Hearing Committee, however, the decision is final. Although we will not be in Oklahoma this year for the World Championships, we look forward to showing this year during the regular show season, and, of course in 2005 at the World Championships in Oklahoma City. Sincerely, Robert J. Hughes Blackridge RJH, Inc.

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