Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In which Fiddle visits Doctor Dear again and the garden greens up

A bit of "ketchup" before we head for Renegade ridecamp 
at the end of the week.


A week or so ago, Fiddle had a re-check appointment with Dr. Fehr.  Spellcheck refuses to recognize our vet's last name, and constantly changes it to "Dear" which is rather apt.

Chiro adjustment feels good, Dear Doctor!



We did the usual walk-out and trot-out.




(Wonderful Rebecca is at the wheel again, so I could film and not be a limping distraction)








Bottom line:  Fiddle is better.
Fiddle loves Dr Dear

Not ready to start Tevis, or anything.


The "short" loop: 7.28 miles in about 90 minutes

But certainly sound enough to start increasing the duration and speed of the weekly rides.

We had new/green horses with us on Sunday, so we went slower:
9.45  miles in 2 hours 40 minutes.


Here's the vet's report, biggify to see deets.


"RH still swinging in-and-out, still jiggy but jogged okay.  Short RH when outside of the circle.  

We are back to the point we were at our first visit [June 2015].

Fiddle shows some sensitivity with pressure placed over the medial aspect of the lower hock joings.  Therefore we will keep in mind her hocks may need to be injected.  Will assess in early August and decide if we inject hocks or stifle."


The line below the bottom line: 

Fiddle and I are cleared to go to camp and build trails together for a week at Renegade.  We will have the ride vets assess her after the work is finished.  We won't be competing, but that's okay:  we will be back where we belong, with our trail tools and our friends.

This is what Fiddle and I look like inside our heads when we are happy


Elsewhere on the Farm, it is Summer.

We didn't plant California poppies, but some sprout up randomly each year
and we welcome them

Very few strawberries now remain--the bushes have been thoroughly
plundered by the residents of Haiku Farm, especially the Floofs.


Squash plants got pummeled in a hailstorm a few days ago,
but seem to be rallying


I fear the blueberries will all come ripe while we're gone

The hens have offered to help with blueberry disposal if
the berries all come ripe while we're gone

The "new" garden is filling up with pea vines


Somehow I planted PURPLE PEAS...and I don't remember doing it!
They are prettier than green peas, but not quite as tasty

The basil plants deeply resent the rain we've had recently...
but since the basil was planted as a companion to the Tomato Curse,
I ignore the little whiners.

Speaking of the Tomato Curse, it's been raining.
So, that's working!


Monica transplanted the rhubarb this spring, and it's still a little pouty.
But we've gotten rhubarb from friends this year, so we will survive.

We could plant 4 acres of garlic and it still wouldn't be enough.
Our town used to host a Garlic Festival.


Leetle baybee grapes!

a few raspberries from young bushes

This blackberry bramble keeps popping up under one of the cedar trees.
I will harvest the berries this summer and then cut it back to the ground
...again.

Not on the Farm, but nearby:  Dory rescued a dying tree
from Fish Creek Farm many years ago, and it has
a bumper crop of pie cherries in her yard this year!

MmmmmmMMMMmm, cherries!

The Dragon prefers grass.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

In which we call in an expert adjudicator : Miss Ann Davis

Regarding the grievances currently facing my friends the Summers,
I'm calling in an expert arbitrator:

Miss Davis.

Not my photo.  Mine, alas,is lost to the ravages of time.
I stole this image (and Miss Davis herself) from the internet.  

I did not have Miss Davis as a first grade teacher, but I was taught by one of her soul-sisters.

If you are above the age of 7, it's likely that you, too, have survived the rigors of first grade, probably taught by a person similar in appearance and values to the esteemed Miss Davis.

Presumably, we were all able to satisfactorily demonstrate the skills needed to move on to higher grades and more complex situations.

And yet, with the grievance at hand, I see a return to elementary school behavior:

"He said"  "No, SHE said!"  "I did not, you pushed me!"  "You cheated, you must have cheated."  

"Miss Davis!  He got mad at me!"

Since the expertise of Miss Davis is needed, I shall ask Miss Davis to weigh in...or rather, the spirit of Miss Davis, since the sainted lady herself has been long since released to the Ultimate Recess. 

You can do this too.  You learned stuff in kindergarten and first grade that remain part of your daily life.  Even if your first grade teacher isn't easily accessible, you can access her/his spirit if you think for just a moment about what your "Miss Davis" would say.

The situation spun out of control in January, Miss Davis.  Did you see any of what happened?

MD: I did not.  The first I heard of it was when the children in my class returned from recess and it was clear that an incident had occurred on the playground.

How did you proceed?

MD:  I brought each child into the hallway individually and asked a few questions.  

There were accusations of pushing, of yelling, and of cheating.  The children did not all agree upon what had happened.  Some said that Peter pushed Sue and her friend.  Others say that Dennis pushed Peter.  Others said that Dennis just touched Peter, or merely yelled at him.  A few children were frightened by yelling between the two boys.

Dennis was very angry because he believed that Peter had pushed Sue and their new friend.  He said that Peter and some of the others have been "out to get him" since he and Sue moved to our school from their old school.   Other teachers in our school remember of accusations of cheating in class last year, but they also remember that the Summers proved that they had not cheated.

So, what happened on the playground?

It appears that there was some kind of incident on the playground in which Peter joined Dennis and some others for a while, and then suddenly left.  He may or may not have pushed Sue and her friend into the cactus.  Sue had cactus spines removed by the school nurse after recess, and said that Peter had pushed her.  I do not think that Sue would have fallen into the cactus on her own.  She has never done so in the past.

Then what happened?

The children were excited.  Dennis was very angry.  He left the group for a while, but when he returned, he was still angry, and says that's when he went nose-to-nose with Peter.  

Some children report that Dennis hit the other boy, others say that he merely touched Peter.  Dennis himself says he did not hit Peter.  Both of the boys thought the issue had been "settled" on the playground, but some students and teachers think that more action is needed.

What do you think?

There are several issues here:

Peter and his friends have certainly provoked Dennis and Sue in the past.  That made Dennis mad, but he did not act on that anger at first.  That was a good choice for Dennis.

Dennis is a boy who often helps other kids, especially younger kids and students new to our school.  He feels protective of these others, and advocates on their behalf.  At our school, we encourage our first graders to take good care of each other, and Dennis does this, often without being asked.

During the playground incident, Peter left the group, possibly pushing the girls into the cactus as he left. In first grade, we do not push other people.  First graders must learn to leave a game politely so that other players will not be scared or hurt.

Dennis got mad again when he saw pushing.  He chased after Peter, and when he caught up, he used his words to express his anger.  Using words is a good choice.  We teach our first graders to use their words.

Dennis may also have "gotten into Peter's face."  Dennis agrees that he did not make a good choice when he did this.

Some, but not all, of Peter's friends say that Dennis hit Peter.  Dennis says he did not.  This is a tough call.  In first grade, hitting is not allowed.  

Some children, but not all, think that Dennis got mad because Peter won the game by being mean.  I believe this is only somewhat true:  Dennis is very competitive, but he also encourages other players to compete against him, and has always been gracious when others win.  It appears that Dennis' anger stems more from concern for others (in this case, Sue and her friend) than from the competition.

So, Miss Davis, what do you recommend?

I will start by acknowledging Dennis' anger.  We teach our first graders that all their feelings are valid.  It's okay to say, "I'm sad," or "I'm angry."  To tell someone to stop being angry or sad is not okay, and really, it's not possible to stop feeling an emotion because somebody says you should stop feeling it.   

In first grade, we teach our students techniques to cope with negative feelings like sadness or anger.  One of those methods is to use our words, to say, for example, "I got angry when I saw you push those girls."  That is a good first grade thing.

We also recognize that sometimes first graders do not always choose words wisely, especially when they are tired.

Here in first grade, we help students choose better words and actions.  Peter played nicely with Dennis and Sue and their friend, but then he left the game in a way that wasn't nice.  

Dennis got angry and used his words, but he also used his body, and that wasn't okay.  

Dennis knows that he made some bad choices, but he also says that Peter made bad choices.  

It seems to me that the two students should both face consequences and try to build consensus so that they can become good 2nd grade citizens together in the future.  

I understand that the vice principal has decided that Dennis shall be given no credit for schoolwork completed in the past six months, and furthermore, suspended from our school for an additional six months.  Peter has thus far not been censured at all.

I think that this punishment is too one-sided, and also too severe, given the nature of the incident and the normally good behavior of Dennis towards other students in the first grade.  

In addition, I believe that punishing a student who is generally a good helper may discourage students from advocating for their peers in future.  This would be a very bad precedent, as we encourage all first graders to always speak up and be good helpers for their classmates.

I hope that the vice principal will reassess the situation, and work towards different means of problem-solving.


...just a suggestion....

Thank you, Miss Davis.  We always appreciate hearing from you.

____________________________________________________________

Additionally, I want to thank everyone who has weighed in politely on this blog site and on Facebook.  I have been the subject of a "trial by Facebook" in the past, and the process is beyond ugly.  I will never forget the kindness of people to me during that time...and I shall never forget the unkindness either.

I truly hope that, as more witnesses come forward with testimony on behalf of the Summers, the unfair punishment assigned by the Protest and Grievance Committee will be changed to a more reasonable consequence.  --Aarene


Friday, June 10, 2016

In which we see text of the Protest and Grievance Committee findings

NOTE:  These findings have been copied/pasted from the PDF documents pertaining to three grievances arising from circumstances at the Lead Follow (Bumblebee) ride in January 2016.  I was not present at this ride and have no firsthand knowledge to report.  I am posting the findings here so that AERC members will see them.  These findings (barring an appeal) will also be published in an upcoming issue of Endurance News.

Because of blogspot's electronic dislike of PDF documents, I've had to tweak the formatting slightly to make the text readable, and to eliminate some random page numbers that inserted themselves into the body of the document.  I didn't make any other changes.  I hope I caught all the random stuff--if a number or character appears in a weird way, it's probably something I missed.  Sorry.

I will post my own opinions in an upcoming post.

--Aarene

American Endurance Ride Conference Protest and Grievance Committee Official Ruling 
PROTEST BY SUSAN SUMMERS AGAINST PETER DAVIES 

I. Overview A. Protest filed by Susan Summers (hereinafter “Protestor”) on February 29, 2016. 

B. Protest filed against Peter Davies (hereinafter “Respondent”). 

C. Protest involves the Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way Ride on January 23, 2016 (hereinafter the “Ride”). 

D. Key Assertions and Relief Sought by Protestor:  This protest is one of three protests arising out of the same general set of facts and circumstances that occurred at the Ride. In the present Protest, Protestor asserts that Respondent, a Ride competitor, unreasonably endangered the safety of others and engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct and conduct prejudicial to the sport of endurance riding by passing Protestor, her husband, and their guest at a gallop without warning and/or indicating an intent to race. Protestor also asserts that Respondent’s conduct was “not an isolated incident,” as he had galloped away from her and her dismounted husband at the prior year’s ride, leaving her husband with a spinning, hard-to-mount horse. 

 E. AERC Rules considered by the Protest and Grievance Committee (hereinafter the “Committee”). Rule 12.1: No one participating in an endurance ride shall engage in abusive behavior towards any other participant or member of the public at an endurance ride. Abusive behavior towards people includes but is not limited to: Unreasonably endangering the safety or life of others or their equines. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Conduct prejudicial to the endurance ride or to the sport of endurance riding. 

F. Protestor and Respondent both filed sufficient information for the Committee to discuss and rule upon the matter. Protestor was allowed to, and did in fact, respond to the substance of the Respondent’s submission. 

 2 G. The Committee corresponded electronically and via teleconference to discuss the matter and reach the following Decision. 

DECISION RELEVANT HISTORY:1 As stated above, Protestor asserts that Respondent violated Rule 12.1 by passing her group at high speed without calling out and/or announcing his intent to race. Specifically, she states that: 
(1) ride management had informed the riders that because of potential safety issues in the finish area, they might consider determining their placings prior to gates and high traffic areas near the finish; 
(2) her husband explained to Respondent their plan to cross the finish line in the order in which they had been riding (guest first, Protestor second, and her husband third); 
(3) she did not hear Respondent object or respond; and 
(4) Respondent passed them “with his horse at top speed” approximately 1.5 miles from the finish line without calling out, causing Protestor and her guest to have to circle their horses in the desert to regain control and run into cactus. She states that “while drafting along and bolting at the end is just poor etiquette and something you put in your memory banks for the future, passing a line of 3 horses at the speeds we were going with cactus all over the trail is just plain dangerous.” 

In support of her protest, Protestor submitted a letter from the guest who rode with her stating that Respondent “bolted past us on the side without giving a warning at all.” 

Respondent denies that Protestor or her husband ever discussed their planned finishing order with him during the Ride. He states that he was riding behind Protestor, her husband, and their guest until they arrived at a safe place for passing about ¾ of a mile from the gate approaching camp, at which time he “came up alongside [Protestor’s husband] with the thought of speaking to him. He looked at me and seemed very angry and started shouting to the two women in front of him, by about 5 or 6 horse lengths at this time, ‘this guy is going to try to pass you.’ I then galloped past the two riders who had sufficient warning of my approach by [Protestor’s husband] shouting at them.” 

In summary, he states that “I had no knowledge of this plan [for a finishing order] and when we reached a section of trail we had previously ridden that was a safe passing area I passed.” Respondent supported his response with a character statement from a ride manager and AERC Director. 

ISSUE: Did Respondent violate Rule 12.1? 

DISCUSSION: The Committee unanimously finds that the evidence fails to establish that Respondent violated rule 12.1 by engaging in conduct that unreasonably endangered the safety of others, was unsportsmanlike, and/or was prejudicial to the ride and/or sport of endurance riding. The ride records submitted by the various parties to the three related protests demonstrate that all are highly experienced and competitive riders who undoubtedly have extensive experience with

As noted above, three separate protests were filed arising out of the same Ride and same factual circumstances involving the actions of Peter Davies and Dennis Summers both on trail and in camp. Some witness statements were identical in one or more of the protests, and in some cases different statements and/or evidence (such as emails) were submitted in different protests. 

Consistent with its authority under Rule 14.2.6 to conduct independent fact-finding, the Committee has elected to consider all evidence submitted in any of the three protests when ruling on each protest. However, each protest is analyzed independently based upon the specific claims, allegations, and defenses made therein.  passing, including at significant speeds. 

While it is certainly good ride etiquette to announce an intention to pass before passing, there is a difference between good etiquette and conduct amounting to the kind of “unsportsmanlike conduct” that constitutes an actionable violation of Rule 12.1. Even assuming the truth of Protestor’s assertions, the Committee concludes that Respondent’s conduct did not rise to the level of unsportsmanlike conduct and/or conduct prejudicial to the sport of endurance within the meaning of Rule 12.1. 

Further, the Committee notes that it cannot conclude that Respondent’s actions endangered Protester and her guest, as Protestor argues, given that Protestor’s husband’s response to being passed by Respondent was to take off past Protestor and her guest after Respondent to beat him to the finish.

 The Protest is denied. 

 1 Protestor’s letter states that “Dennis could not contain himself and went after him,” and her husband stated in an email that “[t]hey managed to turn and hold their horses. Me, I was having none of it and passed him with a much faster and fresher horse.” Respondent stated that when Protestor’s husband passed him “at speed” to re-take the lead, he yelled angrily “if you want to race I’ll show you a race.” Protestor’s guest stated that “Dennis decided to go after him.”



American Endurance Ride Conference Protest and Grievance Committee Official Ruling 
PROTEST BY JOHN SIMPSON AGAINST DENNIS SUMMERS 

I. Overview 
A. Protest filed by John Simpson (hereinafter “Protestor”) on February 26, 2016. 

B. Protest filed against Dennis Summers (hereinafter “Respondent”). 

C. Protest involves the Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way Ride on January 23, 2016 (hereinafter the “Ride”). 

D. Key Assertions and Relief Sought by Protestor: This protest is one of three protests arising out of the same general set of facts and circumstances that occurred at the Ride. In the present Protest, Protestor asserts that Respondent, a Ride competitor, verbally abused, threatened, and physically assaulted a fellow competitor, Peter Davies (hereinafter “Davies”), during the Ride. In particular, Protestor asserts that Respondent galloped his horse into camp at the end of the Ride, upset and mad, then approached Davies (a significantly smaller and older man) after Davies finished shortly thereafter, stopping within inches of him, yelling at him, and threatening to “whoop his butt” behind the trailers. Protestor further asserts that approximately an hour later during the best condition judging, Respondent again approached Davies, got “directly in his face,” placed his hand on Davies and pushed him against his horse, and spoke to Davies again “in a threatening and physical manner.” Finally, Protestor asserts that Respondent had difficulty pulsing in his horse at the finish and that his horse was lame at the finish and the best condition judging. 

E. AERC Rules considered by the Protest and Grievance Committee (hereinafter the “Committee”). 

1. Rule 11.1: No one participating in an endurance ride shall abuse an equine present at a ride. Abuse of an equine includes but is not limited to: Recklessly overriding an equine or riding in a manner likely to cause harm or injury. 

2 Conduct towards an equine which is prejudicial to the sport of endurance riding and puts the sport in a negative light. 2. Rule 12.1: No one participating in an endurance ride shall engage in abusive behavior towards any other participant or member of the public at an endurance ride. Abusive behavior towards people includes but is not limited to: Verbal abuse. Physical assault. Causing or threatening injury. Unreasonably endangering the safety or life of others or their equines. Damaging or trespassing on property. Unsportsmanlike conduct. Conduct prejudicial to the endurance ride or to the sport of endurance riding. 

F. Protestor and Respondent both filed sufficient information for the Committee to discuss and rule upon the matter. Protestor was allowed to, and did in fact, respond to the substance of the Respondent’s submission. 

G. The Committee corresponded electronically and via teleconference to discuss the matter and reach the following Decision. 

DECISION RELEVANT HISTORY:1 As stated above, Protestor asserts that Respondent verbally abused, threatened, and physically assaulted Davies during the Ride, and that Respondent overrode his horse at the Ride finish. His personal description of the relevant events is supported by the statements of numerous witnesses, each of whom corroborates one or more aspects of Protestor’s assertions. Specifically, the head control judge stated that he witnessed Respondent get into Davies’ personal space, speak angrily to him, and “chest bump” him during the best condition judging. He also stated that he felt that “Mr. Summers endangered the safety and well being of his horse by the way he finished the race.” Other witnesses corroborated that Respondent “galloped” or “cantered very quickly” toward camp in a designated non-racing area, invaded Davies’ personal space and placed his hand on Davies to prevent him from leaving and/or “chest bumped” him, and was “yelling” at Davies. Davies provided a statement in which he described Respondent’s “threatening tone and body language,” threat to go “settle” things behind the trailers, and chest-bumping to block Davies’ path. Davies stated that he “felt [Respondent] was on the verge of losing control and might become physically violent at any moment.” 

1 As noted above, three separate protests were filed arising out of the same Ride and same factual circumstances involving the actions of Peter Davies and Dennis Summers both on trail and in camp. Some witness statements were identical in one or more of the protests, and in some cases different statements and/or evidence (such as emails) were submitted in different protests. Consistent with its authority under Rule 14.2.6 to conduct independent fact-finding, the Committee has elected to consider all evidence submitted in any of the three protests when ruling on each protest. However, each protest is analyzed independently based upon the specific claims, allegations, and defenses made therein. 

With respect to his actions involving his horse, Respondent states that he cantered easily along the backside of a fence leading toward camp, then jogged into camp after he made the 180 degree turn toward camp. He notes that his horse recovered in ten minutes and passed the final vet check, though she was stiff at the best condition judging. With respect to his actions toward Davies, Respondent argues that: (1) his actions toward Davies were “very minor,” were “justified,” and were “reasonable considering [Davies’] past actions”; (2) the protest is motivated by the “anti-racing” sentiments of Protestor, the witnesses, and ride management, as well as by their desire to have Respondent disqualified so that Protestor’s partner could win rides that Respondent (or his wife) would otherwise win. 

Specifically, Respondent states that: 
• Davies, who had “sucked in” behind Respondent and his group for several miles during the Ride, endangered Respondent, Respondent’s wife, and their guest by passing them unannounced near the finish and not declaring his intention to race; 
• Respondent believed that the prior year, Davies had “ditched him” at another ride by “bolting” away after Respondent had dismounted and opened a closed gate; 
• His two post-ride encounters with Davies at the Ride involved “no yelling, no profanity, no pushing or punching. We exchanged words and I walked away. After BC I once again had a moment of conversation with Peter with the same result.” 
• In prior rides in the same region, Respondent and his wife had been accused, unjustly, of cutting trail by some of the same people involved in the present protest (as protestor and witnesses) because their ride time was so fast. 

ISSUE 1: Did Respondent violate Rule 11.1? 

DISCUSSION: The Committee unanimously finds that the evidence is not sufficient to establish that Respondent violated Rule 11.1. In reaching this result, the Committee notes that Respondent’s horse pulsed down in a timely manner and passed the post-ride vet check, both of which militate against a finding that she had been “recklessly overridden” at the finish. 

ISSUE 2: Did Respondent violate Rule 12.1? 

DISCUSSION: The Committee unanimously finds that the evidence establishes that Respondent violated rule 12.1 by engaging in abusive and unjustified behavior toward Davies that included verbal abuse, physical assault, threatening of physical harm, unsportsmanlike conduct, and conduct prejudicial to the endurance ride or to the sport of endurance riding. 

The rationale for this ruling is as follows: 
1. The evidence establishes that Respondent intentionally sought Davies out on two occasions after the Ride finish (the latter instance occurring approximately an hour after the heated finish), addressed him in anger using a threatening tone and body language, made physical contact with him using his chest and/or hand, and explicitly threatened him with physical harm. Further, this was all done in full view of many spectators, some of whom expressed fear that the incident would escalate and endanger others. Respondent himself acknowledges his state of mind (“I swung off my horse fighting the urge to pull Peter off his horse and kick his butt as he crossed the finish line”) and even reiterated his threats several days after the Ride in an email to the Ride manager stating that “I guess the good news is he is a little old man or I would have scattered him all over camp right at the finish line-right or wrong.” 

Finally, in a letter written days after the Ride, Respondent’s wife acknowledged that his behavior was “unsportsmanlike” (though contending that he should not be punished without punishing Davies, who she also believed acted in an unsportsmanlike manner, and that a punishment less than disqualification was warranted). 

2. The Committee unanimously finds that Respondent’s conduct was not justified so as to absolve him of liability under Rule 12.1. For the reasons set forth in its ruling in the related protest of Susan Summers arising out of the same Ride, the Committee found that the evidence does not establish that Davies’ actions on trail in passing without calling out and announcing an intention to race amounted to unsportsmanlike conduct in violation of Rule 12.1. Further, the Committee notes that it has difficulty concluding that Davies’ actions endangered Respondent’s wife and guest, as Respondent argues, given that Respondent’s response to being passed by Davies was not to stop and check on his wife and guest, but rather to take off after Davies to beat him to the finish.

3 Finally, even if Davies’ conduct had been unsportsmanlike, it would not have justified Respondent’s reaction, including his threatening conduct that caused the victim to fear for his personal safety and disturbed numerous bystanders present in the area. 

ISSUE 3: What is an appropriate sanction for the violation? 

DISCUSSION: In the present case, no physical injury or harm was involved; however, there were two distinct incidents an hour apart, both incidents caused fear and apprehension to nearby bystanders, and Respondent has demonstrated no remorse for his conduct (and, indeed, reiterated his threats at the finish, the best condition judging an hour later, and days later in an email to the Ride manager). As the Committee stated in another recent ruling, a physical assault is a very serious matter that simply cannot be tolerated by the AERC at its rides, which are family-friendly events; the same is also true with respect to open threats of physical assault. Such assaults and threats can endanger not only the direct victim, but also others in the vicinity, who may feel compelled to intervene to assist the direct victim or who may be located in the same area and unable to get clear of the incident. Associated verbal abuse compounds the problem. 

Given the seriousness of physical assaults and threatened physical assaults generally, Respondent disputes that he made physical contact with Davies. The Committee finds that the preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that some contact was likely made, though it acknowledges that the witness statements are not 100% consistent on the nature of that contact (chest-bumping versus contact with the hand or shoulder). However, the Committee notes that its ruling and penalty would not change even if there had been no actual physical contact given the verbal abuse and explicit threatening of physical harm by Respondent. 

3 Respondent’s wife’s letter states that “Dennis could not contain himself and went after him,” and Respondent stated in an e-mail that “[t]hey managed to turn and hold their horses. Me, I was having none of it and passed him with a much faster and fresher horse.” Davies stated that when Protestor’s husband passed him “at speed” to re-take the lead, he yelled angrily “if you want to race I’ll show you a race.” Respondent’s guest stated that “Dennis decided to go after him.” which are intentional actions of the perpetrator against another that involve offensive physical contact and/or the threat of same, the Committee believes that a strong sanction is warranted. Thus, the Committee finds that the appropriate baseline penalty is a one-year suspension, with the possibility for a six-month reduction of that period upon completion of an appropriate anger management program. In particular cases, depending upon the facts of the case, more severe penalties may be warranted. 

RULING: The unanimous opinion of the Committee is that Respondent violated Rule 12.1 by verbally abusing, physically assaulting, and physically threatening Davies at the Ride. Therefore, the protest is upheld, and the Committee finds that the following penalties are appropriate: 1. Respondent shall forfeit any placements and completions from and including the date of the violation (January 23, 2016) through the date of this ruling; and 2. Respondent is suspended from participating, in any capacity whatsoever (including as a rider, crew member, ride official, ride volunteer, or spectator), in all AERC rides for a one-year period beginning on the date of this ruling. 

However, this suspension period can be reduced by six months upon Respondent’s submission to the AERC of proof of completion of a 10-hour anger management course approved in advance by the Committee Chair.4 3. Respondent is censured and warned that any future violations of this nature will be subjected to more severe penalties. 4 An example of such a course would be the course offered at www.angermanagementonline.com.


American Endurance Ride Conference Protest and Grievance Committee Official Ruling 
PROTEST BY DENNIS SUMMERS AGAINST JODIE DUKERICH 

I. Overview A. Protest filed by Dennis Summers (hereinafter “Protestor”) on February 29, 2016. 

B. Protest filed against Jodie Dukerich (hereinafter “Respondent”). 

C. Protest involves the Lead Follow or Get Out of the Way Ride on January 23, 2016 (hereinafter the “Ride”). 

D. Key Assertions and Relief Sought by Protestor: This protest is one of three protests arising out of the same general set of facts and circumstances that occurred at the Ride. In the present Protest, Protestor asserts that Respondent, the ride manager, violated Rule 12 by acting in a manner that reflects poorly on the sport of endurance riding when she disqualified him from his first place finish as the result of a “minor incident” involving him and Peter Davies (hereinafter “Davies), a fellow competitor, in camp after the Ride and failed to address the allegedly unsafe riding of Davies on trail. 

E. AERC Rule considered by the Protest and Grievance Committee (hereinafter the “Committee”). Rule 12: It is the duty of everyone participating in an endurance ride whether as a rider, crew member, ride official, ride volunteer, control judge, or spectator to act in a manner which does not disrupt the ride or reflect poorly on the sport of endurance riding. 

F. Protestor and Respondent both filed sufficient information for the Committee to discuss and rule upon the matter. Protestor was allowed to, and did in fact, respond to the substance of the Respondent’s submission. 

G. The Committee corresponded electronically and via teleconference to discuss the matter and reach the following Decision. 

DECISION RELEVANT HISTORY:1 The relevant facts and evidence concerning the actions of Protestor and Davies are set forth fully in the related protests brought by John Simpson against Dennis Summers and by Susan Summers against Peter Davies that have also been decided on this date by the Committee. Those facts and that evidence are adopted by reference as if set forth fully herein. In the Simpson Protest, the Committee found that Dennis Summers, Protestor herein, “violated Rule 12.1 by engaging in abusive and unjustified behavior toward Davies that included verbal abuse, physical assault, threatening of physical harm, unsportsmanlike conduct, and conduct prejudicial to the endurance ride or to the sport of endurance riding.” 

In the Susan Summers Protest, the Committee found that “the evidence fails to establish that Respondent [Peter Davies] violated rule 12.1 by engaging in conduct that unreasonably endangered the safety of others, was unsportsmanlike, and/or was prejudicial to the sport of endurance riding.” 

These findings set the stage for the ruling in the present protest brought by Dennis Summers against Respondent, ride manager Jodie Dukerich, in which he challenges her disqualification of him based upon his post-ride conduct in camp involving Davies. In the present Protest, Protestor claims that the incidents between him and Davies were “very minor,” the manner in which he received notification of his disqualification was “if not against rules . . . at the very least inconsiderate,” and Respondent should have given more consideration to the reasons for his post-race anger before disqualifying him. 

ISSUE: Did Respondent violate Rule 12? 

DISCUSSION: The Committee unanimously finds that the evidence is not sufficient to establish that Respondent violated Rule 12. In reaching this result, the Committee notes its findings in the related protests that: (1) Protestor’s conduct violated Rule 12.1; and (2) the evidence did not establish that Davies’ conduct rose to the level of a Rule 12.1 violation. Given these findings (the bases for which are explained fully in the two related rulings), the Committee finds that Respondent did not violate Rule 12 in disqualifying Protestor, who would have been disqualified anyway as a result of the Committee’s ruling in the Simpson Protest. Further, while the Committee agrees that it would have been preferable for Protestor to have been notified of the disqualification directly before the ride results were posted, Respondent apologized to Protestor for this oversight, which, in any event, does not rise to the level of a violation of Rule 12. 

The protest is denied. 

 1 As noted above, three separate protests were filed arising out of the same Ride and same factual circumstances involving the actions of Peter Davies and Dennis Summers both on trail and in camp. Some witness statements were identical in one or more of the protests, and in some cases different statements and/or evidence (such as emails) were submitted in different protests. Consistent with its authority under Rule 14.2.6 to conduct independent fact-finding, the Committee has elected to consider all evidence submitted in any of the three protests when ruling on each protest. However, each protest is analyzed independently based upon the specific claims, allegations, and defenses made therein. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

In which AERC has made a mistake, and voices are needed

All y'all, I saw a notice on Facebook this morning that shocked me:  

Dennis Summers was handed a 1-year suspension for "unsportsmanlike conduct" by 
the AERC Protest and Grievance Committee.


What?

I mean, WHAT???!!!

Dennis Summers at Renegade Rz 2015, helping Hana work out
a butt cramp. Dennis and Sue finished the ride in 7.5 hours (it was HOT!)
 and after their horses were settled in camp, they came up to the vet check to help
ride management and incoming riders.

I'm not going to pretend to be neutral and unbiased.  I know too many fine things about the Summers to be impartial, and I feel much too strongly to remain silent.

In fact, I am going to post my entire open letter to the AERC Board (it's down below). 

This is a timely issue, with only 30 days for an appeal to be submitted, so rather than wait for the next issue of Endurance News to be mailed,  I will post the entire text of the findings of the Protest and Grievance committee on this blog in the next few days.  Please stay tuned.

 If you want to write your own letter, the email addresses for the BOD are on THIS PAGE.

Thanks.

--Aarene

Here's my letter:

To the AERC Board of Directors and all other AERC members,

To say that I am appalled by the findings of the Protest and Grievance committee against Dennis and Sue Summers is to understate the situation by 50 miles or more.

Since I first joined AERC in 1999, it has been obvious to me that the Summers exemplify the ideals of endurance riding:  they ride fast, they ride far, they ride safely. They take care of their horses and they campaign the same horses for many years--Sue has THREE decade horses! 

They mentor other riders and they assist wherever and whenever they are able.  They have managed rides and they help ride managers of other rides.  They showed up three days early to a ride in 2011 so they could provide photo model horses and riders for my book Endurance 101.  

All of this was done without pay or expectation of recognition. They are people, and people sometimes make mistakes.  But these people have made enormous efforts over many years to make our sport better, cleaner, safer for horses and more fun for riders.  

With this decision, AERC has chosen to chuck out not only the baby and the bathwater, but also the tub and all the plumbing as well.  

We need more riders like the Summers.  We need to recognize and celebrate their contributions, not censure them.  

Banning the Summers from rides for an entire year is a tremendously unwarranted over-reaction to the situation,  I urge you to seriously consider their appeal to this finding, and reverse the decision. 

Sincerely,

Aarene Storms
M19872

Dennis and Sue Summers, re-marking sabotaged trail at April Daze 2015
They also ran big stretches of the trail on foot to fix trail markings in
places not accessible to the quad.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

In which we celebrate the Gotcha anniversary of Foxie

This week marks Foxie Loxie PantsOnFire MacFeagle's 
one-year anniversary at the Farm.

Being lamb-carried gives him a nice view of his domain

In this time, he has learned essential farm dog skills.

We tied him to Roo so she could teach him good manners.

He now performs essential tasks in camp

"It's a hundred zillion degrees in the shade, and you've
just finished a tough 50 miler.  Let me sit on you."

 and at home.


"I don't approve of reading.
Rub my tummy instead."

He's an excellent companion,   

They are certain that whatever is in the oven will be shared with dogs.

and he has learned things that city dogs don't even know are possible.





Happy Gotcha Day, Fox!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

In which another Yule Log video is posted and we relax

The trails were especially pretty today.


The sun was shining (kinda), and it wasn't raining or cold or windy.  

I had gotten up early because it's hard to breathe when every plant in the world feels the Urgent Need to Pollinate. Heavily. Right. Now, and I didn't need to be at work until after noon.

So of course, I went riding.


Fiddle and I are up to about 90 minutes per session, and I'm starting to add in more trot intervals.  But it's still mostly walking.

And it occured to me, as we walked along these pretty trails on this pretty day, that listening to the clop-a, clop-a, clop-a, clop-a of her feet is pretty good medicine.

I got out the camera.



Call it a "Yule Log" video, if you like.  I was certainly thinking of lytha in Germany as I filmed the various segments, because she loves the Yule Log.

I think we could all use a little trail time, sometimes.  Just listening to the sounds of Fiddle striding along makes me happier.  I hope it makes you happy, too.


I'm going to re-post this video in the middle of Winter, when we are all going crazy to ride in sunshine again.  But you don't have to wait.  You can watch it now...as many times as you like.

If you want to make a game of it, try to spot the following:

TREES
  • Western Red Cedar
  • Hemlock
  • Douglas Fir
  • Vine maple
  • Alder
  • Cottonwood
FLOWERS
  • Thimbleberry blossom
  • Blackberry blossom
  • Salmonberry blossom
  • Shasta daisy
  • Oregon grape
  • Buttercup
  • Forget-me-not
BIG WEEDS
  • Thimbleberry
  • Blackberry 
  • Salmonberry
  • Stinging nettle
  • Sword fern
  • Horsetail
  • Bracken fern
  • Devil's club
BIRDS
  • ????  Little brown jobs
  • ????  Bigger brown jobs

4-LEGGED
  • Chipmunks
  • Squirrels
  • Frogs (song only)
  • Bears (not appearing in this movie)


Enjoy riding the Dragon, y'all.

Friday, May 27, 2016

In which shoeing an older--and opinionated--mare is explored

You can tell a gelding, but you really should oughta ask a mare.

Mel has been trimming horses since she was a kid, but never
intended to be a "real farrier" until the only one she trusted
with her horses got ready to retire.

A big part of Fiddle's rehab from her stifle injury is communicating with the vet and the farrier about the changes in her soundness.

Another big part of rehab is paying attention to what Fiddle is saying and doing as she heals.

Hardly a week goes by that I don't put my horse in front of some camera to get video of her back end in motion.  This has resulted in gradual tweaking of her rehab plan, so that we adjust the rate of her return to work to match the rate of her healing.

 Dr. Fehr and Mel have gotten pretty adept at telling me when to panic, and when to chill.  They do not advocate freaking out prematurely.


(I should note that music and talking in the background of videos 
in this post are from the barn radio,
not my amateur attempt at videography)

This week, Fiddle got her second set of post-injury shoes.  

She has been walking under saddle for about 5 weeks now, and started on trails about 3 weeks ago.  We are currently up to 90 minute sessions on trail, 3-4 times per week, still mostly walking.

Last weekend, the video of Fiddle walking downhill showed a lot of wonky-looking swing in the right hind leg.  Of course, I freaked out, but Mel and Dr. Fehr both told me to chill.

You can kind of see the weird movement in the video we took immediately before Fiddle's shoeing appointment.  Watch the right hind leg.



Fiddle is not lame, but the motion of that leg is odd...and probably sub-optimal.  It was a good bet that rebalancing those shoes and adding pads would make Fiddle more comfortable and normalize her gait a bit.


Fiddle has historically been pretty good for the farrier, but last fall we noticed that she was pinning her ears--a new behavior.

Our discussion about the ear-pinning has taken place over months.  My horse sometimes tries to boss people around, especially if she doesn't know them very well.  Part of that "bossing" takes place with her ears.  But that didn't seem to be quite the case.

A horse who pins ears might be a bossy bitch...or she might be trying to tell people something.  When she started limping, I finally caught the hint.  DUH.  

She pinned her ears because she was uncomfortable!

(I really feel like my horse would be justified in biting me sometimes when I am so dense.  She doesn't, though.  She is more patient with me than I deserve.)

Before Mel started working as Fiddle's farrier, we talked a lot about potential sources of discomfort for horses during shoeing.  

Very tall horses in particular tend to dislike the shoeing process, because farriers hold their feet up high--it's more comfortable for the farrier, but not for the horse.  

But that's not exclusive to very tall horses.

Fiddle is 16 hands, which is tall, but not extremely tall.  Some 14 and 15 hand
horses exhibit similar symptoms of discomfort during shoeing, as well.

Anyone who has worked with mares knows that they tend to have opinions. 

Left front shoe--the diagonal opposite of the injured leg

The trick is to find the balance between allowing a horse to express a valid opinion (hey! that hurts!) and permitting a horse to vote on whether something will happen or not (thanks, but I'd rather stay on this side of the creek, and you can't make me cross it!).  

How do you figure out what is a pain response, and what is a need of training response?

The trick is to know the horse.

Left front foot.  The foot looked distinctly crooked 5 weeks ago.
It is significantly more balanced and less wonky now.

So,  what do we do with Fiddle, who has a reputation for strong attitude but mostly good ground manners?

Fiddle's ears are mellow, her eye is soft here.  We are making choices she likes.
For this shoeing, we noted that, although she has been shod, she is still tenderfooted over rocks on trail.

Mel prefers to avoid padding a horse's feet, she concedes that some horses need the extra protection--and we could see some concussion bruising in the foot that supports Fiddle's  preference for shoes with pads.




So, at least for the summer season, Fee will get steel shoes + pads.  We will return to shoes + rim pads in fall and winter, when the ground is softer and we ride more in the arena and less on the trails.

Old-school calk inserted between the foot and the plastic pad

An important point of discussion has not been the type of footwear Fiddle needs, but rather the manner of application.  

Specifically: holding up her hind feet for shoes.

Fiddle is absolutely fine when I hold up her hind feet to clean them, no matter how high or what angle I hold them.  I can keep them up there for a good long time, too.

But when a farrier wants those feet, it's another story.


Mel's experience has taught her that a horse doesn't discern much between Ouch! and I think this will hurt.  They react pretty much the same way to the anticipation of pain as they do to immediate pain.

Fiddle knows that I'm not going to hurt her.  She's not so sure about some unfamiliar woman with a rasp.

It's hard to teach a horse that something that used to hurt won't hurt anymore.  I know that from watching Fiddle the first year after her spay surgery--she avoided some movements and objected to others because they had caused her pain in the past.  

Now that I think about it, I do the same thing:  I still tend to avoid stuff that used to hurt my arthritic hip joints, even though I no longer have arthritis (or hip joints).

Fiddle worries less with Mel, but she still
anticipates pain sometimes.

Mel told me about a younger mare who hated to have her feet held while shoes were nailed on.  She was okay with having the feet held for cleaning, for trimming, and for any other reason.  But during nailing, she preferred the cradle stand.

"How did you figure that out?"  I asked.

"Well, I was bleeding...and the mare was bleeding...so I tried a bunch of things until she relaxed," Mel said.  "She liked the cradle, so we used the cradle."

Older horses often prefer to have their hind feet held very low to the ground.  With arthritic horses, Mel carries a chunk of wood to rest the foot, so that it's only a few inches off the ground.  That keeps strain off of arthritic joints, and makes a slightly awkward position more comfortable, while still allowing the farrier access to the foot.

Mel removes the old shoe while holding the foot very close to the ground

Mel has a day job and plenty of skills aside from shoeing horses.  I wondered why she works as a farrier, which can be really hard work for not much money.

She told me that she genuinely enjoys the work, and finds it deeply gratifying to help horses improve.

But there are some days...

"What drives you craziest when you are shoeing horses?" I asked.

Mel gave me a list:  Loose dogs.  Loose children. Unreasonable expectations for miracle working (including owners who expect the farrier to teach a horse to pick up feet politely). A horse standing in a far muddy field when the farrier drives up.  An owner too busy texting to pay attention to the horse s/he is "holding" for the farrier....  Bounced checks.

She likes it when owners ask questions and do research.  

Of course, 10 minutes online is not the same as doing real research.  But if an owner hears about something new that might be appropriate, Mel wants to know about it.

"What skill do you wish owners would acquire for themselves?" I asked.

"Learn to pull a loose or damaged shoe!" she told me.   

Hmmm.   You know, it looks so easy when the farrier does it, but I know from experience that it isn't quite so simple.  Here's a good video demonstration.  



After watching this video, Mel offered to give me one of her old rasps--a rasp good enough for my occasional needs, but not good enough for daily farrier work.  Score!

So, how did Fiddle look after the shoeing was all finished?  Jim ran the camera to catch video evidence:



She's improving.

And That. Is. Good!