Murray Kessler Reaffirms: “Penalty Guidelines for Unintentional Death Do Not Refer to Accidents”

PC: Eugenijus Radlinskas/cc/flickr

US Equestrian has released another message from President Murray Kessler today, reaffirming that new guidelines for hearing committees are not looking to penalize good people following the rules, and clarifying a sea of confusion about the wording “unintentional death”.

Many members has misunderstood the initial guidelines as suggesting that if your horse were to die at an event in an accident or from a sudden health issue, you would be investigated and possibly penalized for that death. President Kessler stresses that this is not the case at all, and his letter clarifies the circumstance under which such a guideline might come into play.

“If you injected a horse with a prohibited substance right before competition, with the intent of quieting and the horse died of a heart attack directly as a result, that would be a violation of the US Equestrian welfare and abuse rules. I hope you can easily see the difference.”


There was also some concern that the rules had changed regarding excessive spur or whip use, but again, Pres. Kessler insists that this is not a matter of changing rules, but about providing better guidelines for high-profile cases of consistent or egregious abuse.

“The same rules for US Equestrian apply as before.  Stewards determine whether there is a violation and whether it warrants action significant enough to recommend a hearing by US Equestrian.  There have been only a few cases to go to hearing in this area, albeit the ones that have were of relatively high profile.  I have confidence in our stewards in assessing these often highly emotional situations.”

You can read Murray Kessler’s full letter here.