What Did Ann Romney Do To Her LAST Dressage Horse?

The media is all atwitter with news that a horse belonging to Ann Romney (and by extension Mitt Romney as the source of the Romney family fortune) has secured a berth in the Olympic dressage competition. I have never watched dressage, but apparently it involves horses prancing like the cats in the Kitten Mittens episode of It’s Always Sunny. It’s a real hit with the “we have so much money we’ll pay hundreds of thousands of dollars that could feed, clothe, and school people to get horses to prance” set. This is what “job creators” do with all that money.

Behold the sport of the common person (via Fotoimage)

But the Romney family has a darker history with horses. In 2010, a woman in San Diego sued Ann Romney, among others, for fraud in connection with the sale of a horse named “Super Hit.” As it turns out, poor Super Hit was sold while on a “super hit” of Butorphanol, Delomidine, Romifidine, and Xylatine. A delightful drug cocktail about which United States Equestrian Team veterinarian wrote, “In my 38 years of practice, I have never come across a drug screen such as this where the horse has been administered so many different medications at the same time.”

This is like “Requiem For a Dressage.”

Why was Super Hit subjected to three sedative pain killers and one narcotic pain killer? Well apparently, the drugs were injected into the horse to conceal a foot injury (hoof injury? Not sure the proper terminology here) that allegedly rendered the horse incapable of performing dressage. In other words, the suit alleged that the drugs were injected before Super Hit was inspected for sale to protect its value and help Ann Romney score some extra bucks. Hilary Rosen owes Ann an apology — Ann is a shrewd businessperson — like, J.R. Ewing shrewd.

And with this, Super Hit the Horse joins Seamus the Dog as the latest representative from the animal kingdom treated as steerage by Mitt Romney and the rest of the Romney clan. In the case of Seamus, Mitt Romney treated the family pet as a problem to be solved and laughed off the dog’s terror as a humorous anecdote. For Super Hit, the Romney treatment was even worse. I can understand selling an injured animal that could no longer serve Ann Romney in dressage competition to give it a better home with someone willing to care for a horse with no dreams of Olympic glory. But to go the extra mile of drugging Super Hit, allegedly just to sell the dazed horse at a premium as a dressage horse is unduly cruel.

But it also says something about Mitt Romney and his family’s view of money. While sitting comfortably on over $200 million, it struck Team Romney as a good idea to give a potentially dangerous cocktail of sedatives and narcotics to an animal in their care in order to eke out a few thousand more on their “investment” and leave the next person holding the bag.

A callous view of short-term cruelty to make a few extra bucks today at the expense of the next generation. Super Hit is not only a representative of Romney cruelty to animals, but a reflection of the economic vision of a Mitt Romney presidency.

17 comments for “What Did Ann Romney Do To Her LAST Dressage Horse?

  1. Monique
    June 22, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Really awful article. It didn’t take much research to discover there is no evidence the Romney’s knew anything about the drugs given the horse. If it were proven true, I would be the first one to be disgusted, but to write as though it is a given is unethical and puts you in the mud. This article reeks of the desire to grab at any chance, no matter its merits, to attack the Romneys. But, oh, the outrage when someone on “your side” is given the same treatment. However, the real offense I take is in your first paragraph…your disdain towards a sport you admittedly know nothing about, yet have such a negative opinion. My family is far from wealthy; we are struggling right along so many other working class families. But we have made the choice to adjust our lifestyle in order to support our son’s sport, which happens to be equestrianism. I drive a 14 year old car with 175,000 miles on it, we don’t eat out or shop at the mall, and we don’t own a big screen TV or an iPad. We do without so many of the little perks working class families take for granted. It does not take a genious to figure out why horses and competing is so expensive. You do not need to feed and shelter a football. A golf club will never need to see a vet or a farrier. You do not need to make special arrangements to ship a soccer ball to a game. And if you break your baseball bat, you can just replace it with a new one. There is really no way to mitigate the expense of horses. We discovered accidentally that our son had a talent that deserved to be cultivated. We could not afford to buy a $125,000 horse, but my son’s hard work and success in the show ring has now made his horse very valuable. The true gift is to see the partnership he has developed with his horse. Yes, most people in this sport have money to spare, but not all. There are many, like us, who have chosen to sacrifice an easier, more comfortable life for the love of this sport. What it has given us in return doesn’t make it feel like a sacrifice. But my family, or anyone else involved with horses should not have to apologize or feel guilty about doing what we love simply because not everyone can afford it. Money is only one of the necessary ingredients. Should Albert Pujols stop hitting homeruns because so many others can’t? And just where do you think all this horse money goes? How about in the pockets of the working class people who build the horse trailers, or manufacture an amazing array of equipment, or the farmers who grow the hay and grain. Or do you think those jobs are not worthy because they support an “elite” sport.

    • sarah
      June 23, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      @ Monique – well said!

      • Elizabeth Keenan
        June 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm

        And yet Ann Romney continued to employ the man who drugged the horse, after she knew for a fact the horse was drugged.
        Disgusting.

    • vicki
      July 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      If the Romenys did not know the horse was so drugged, where is their outrage that it was, you would think that she would not associate with people in the future that could have had access to this horse, her current trainer was the trainer back then. I have owned many animals, and the fact is that Ann would have had to give permission for the drugs especially if another vet did it, or she should be outraged that it happened. It is pretty reasonable for one to believe that even if the Romneys didn’t give the drugs themselves, they were aware of it, and/or approved it, and that is my opinion!

  2. Joe Patrice
    June 22, 2012 at 10:57 am

    It would actually take a lot of evidence to suggest the Romneys knew nothing about drugging the horse, since they settled the claim rather than defend the case meaning they’ve never put forward an alternative story. At the very very best you can say they hired an unscrupulous trainer, which I would accept except this raises the question: why do they still employ the same trainer to this very day?

    Those are the only alternatives because there is no denying that Super Hit was dangerously drugged up for a pre-sale inspection and someone had to pay for and administer those drugs. Either alternative is unflattering to say the least.

    And for the record I’ll be happy to write a humorous take-down of a liberal politician when they next seek to drug a horse seemingly for the purpose of defrauding the next buyer.

    As for the dressage commentary, that’s admittedly a humorous attention-grabber (a la Colbert’s latest round of jokes on the subject). I’m sure there are opportunities in the sport despite high entrance barriers. But this story is more about what happened to Super Hit (whether done with the knowledge of the Romneys or done by a rogue trainer that they continue to employ and are sending to the Olympics) than a commentary on dressage and I hope you’ll read the first paragraph as a satirical aside rather than a distraction from the main thrust of the story.

    • sarah
      June 23, 2012 at 11:15 pm

      Is that a fact that the same trainer is still employeed by the Romneys? I have a feeling you just made that up.

      Also, a report I read on this earlier said that a blood sample that was drawn pre-sale turned up the drugs. Interesting little fact, don’t you think? Because that bloodwork was done so the vet could check the health of the horse. Why would a purchaser spend that much on a horse if it was full of painkillers? Something…is odd about this.

      Also, you ought to know that MANY cases get settled out of court because it costs so much to defend yourself, and because of the media.

      • Joe Patrice
        June 23, 2012 at 11:32 pm

        Jan and Amy Ebeling. The trainers then and now. But by all means accuse me of making something up without engaging in the simple google check to prove I’m right. I do the work of researching my claims because I am a responsible writer.

      • dressage rider
        June 24, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        No, they are still using the same trainer, just qualified for the Olympics on their horse, Rafalca.

        The deposition was pretty damning — Ann Romney had the horse insured for life/loss of use, except for the leg with the problem. The horse had also shown a drop in test scores with the trainer prior to being sidelined for 2 1/2 years prior to the sale — and the person who bought the horse was also a student of the trainer (not an excuse, buyer beware, but the trainer/client relationship may have created an atmosphere of trust.
        Also the vet used for the pre-purchase exam made a comment about voting for Romney in the CA primaries which was a bit odd and maybe immaterial to the case…but still, really odd.

        I for one am very sad that one of the things I happen to love — dressage — is getting sullied by this and also getting labelled a sport only for rich people. While the big shows are big money, there are a lot of people out going to local shows, working at it with very average horses (one of my most rewarding horses to work with was bought off a slaughter truck for $25 more than what the kill buyer paid for him), supporting local trainers/vets/horse shoers/feed stores who will never be in the “big leagues”.
        That is if we are allowed to keep going, given the economy — which neither political party seems inclined to help out the little guy with.

    • Monique H
      June 26, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      “It would actually take a lot of evidence to suggest the Romneys knew nothing about drugging the horse…” I wasn’t aware that was the new standard of determining guilt or innocence. And no where in your column did you mention the case was settled out of court, which by definition does not prove guilt or innocence. Wasn’t it your intention to give your readers a specific impression by leaving out important information? It may well be true the Romney’s were fully aware of Super Hit’s condition, but without further details it is inappropriate to draw such a firm conclusion. Your writing should reflect that possibility. Similarly, there can be any number of reasons they are still use the same trainers. We are not supposed to be suspicious of all the lobbyists working in Obama’s administration, even though he campaigned so strongly against them and promised he wouldn’t hire any, is that not correct? Your “humor” is aimed only at those who will agree with you. If you were serious about getting an important message across, you would appeal to all sides. Since it seems you simply wish to “preach to the choir”, your work holds entertainment value only.

      • Joe Patrice
        June 26, 2012 at 1:20 pm

        “I wasn’t aware that was the new standard of determining guilt or innocence.”

        – First of all, if we’re playing legalese “guilt or innocence” were not at issue at all since this was a civil case. Liability was at stake which operates on a different burden of proof. To that end, it was going be a very difficult case to argue that the owners of the horse, who paid the bills for drugs and medical attention to the horse, had no knowledge of the horse’s foot condition, or the expensive cocktail given to the horse.

        As I noted in my earlier comment, one of the few defenses that Romney would have in that situation would be the argument that this was perpetrated by trainers, as agents, without apparent authority from the owners. This would require both proof that the owners had no knowledge AND proof that they never held out the trainers as acting with their authority. A ridiculously high bar for owners who seemingly stood by their trainers then and still do to this day.

        In short, a legal analysis given the evidence that is in the record and an understanding of fraud and common defenses to that claim demonstrates that this is an almost impossible case for Ann Romney.

        “And no where in your column did you mention the case was settled out of court, which by definition does not prove guilt or innocence.”

        – Again, no, because guilt and innocence aren’t the legal concepts at issue. In civil cases settlements do result in the conclusion of the case, but that does not change the legal evaluation that, to just quote myself again, given the case and evidence in the record, “It would actually take a lot of evidence to suggest the Romneys knew nothing about drugging the horse.” Certainly I can imagine a world where that evidence COULD exist, but your original charge was that “it didn’t take much research to discover there is no evidence the Romneys knew anything about the drugs given the horse” which is specious because the Romneys never even attempted to muster the massive amount of evidence it would have taken to defeat this tort claim.

        I did not mention that the case was settled out of court, though I used the well-accepted “allegedly” when describing any fact that was not established in the record that did exist at the time of the settlement. I also linked to supporting documentation that explained the terms of the settlement.

        “Similarly, there can be any number of reasons they are still use the same trainers.”

        – Sure. But it undermines the idea that this case was about a rogue trainer whose misbehavior cost the family a major settlement.

        “We are not supposed to be suspicious of all the lobbyists working in Obama’s administration, even though he campaigned so strongly against them and promised he wouldn’t hire any, is that not correct?”

        – As a technical matter, Obama pledged to not allow lobbyists to regulate their own industries within 2 years of working as a lobbyist. That has been broken on 3 occasions over the course of the last 3.5 years. That is bad, but I don’t see how it relates to the question of whether or not the Romneys have a credible argument that they were victims of unscrupulous trainers. Is it that 3 waivers means that he didn’t really mean it when he said he wanted to reduce lobbyist influence? That seems a stretch.

        “Your “humor” is aimed only at those who will agree with you. If you were serious about getting an important message across, you would appeal to all sides. Since it seems you simply wish to “preach to the choir”, your work holds entertainment value only.”

        – My humor was limited to the dressage issue and I’m not sure pro- and anti-dressage represent such defined “sides” in the course of American debate. Beyond the dressage jokes, I’m actually not doing much but reporting on a legal case and providing insight from the perspective of a veteran lawyer and rhetorician, which is in addition to my obviously entertaining nature. In other words, my conclusion that this reflects on other substantive issues is opinion — my assessment of the case is not.

        • Monique
          June 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm

          Perhaps I should have substituted “guilt and innocence” with “responsibility or liability”, but lesson aside, it matters little. Your intent and mine can still be clearly understood. Your commentary is a condemnation of the Romney’s based on your interpretation of the available information, which is obviously incomplete. While you are unquestionably entitled to present your opinion in any light you desire, the fact remains the case did not go to court, and you were not privy to any additional evidence the Romney’s may or may not have produced. The point being made regarding lobbyists is that there must have been a reason Obama chose to break his pledge, but since we haven’t been given an explanation (just as we haven’t been told why the Romney’s are still using the same trainer), any critique is speculation. Speculation can be very compelling, and your argument regarding Super Hit is well supported, but you write as if there is no room for any other opinion, and I will suggest it is because you wish to tell people how they are to think, rather than stimulate discussion. This gives the impression that your opinion is unchallengeable, a distasteful trait that seems to be shared by elitists. I can now “speculate” that you see yourself as an intellectual elitist. It is based on your lengthy diatribe over the merits of your reasoning and your need to show your legal superiority. You were so blinded by your desire to support your attack on the Romney’s that you addressed everything but my main point, which was really more about the spirit and presentation of your comments rather than the content. Let me also remind you that my original focus was on your flippant remarks about the equestrian sport, which I feel does show the typical liberal attitude towards the wealthy. Now please excuse me, I have to prepare for a horse show.

          • Joe Patrice
            June 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

            “I can now “speculate” that you see yourself as an intellectual elitist. It is based on your lengthy diatribe over the merits of your reasoning and your need to show your legal superiority.”

            – This reflects a dangerous trend in American culture: the idea that providing a merited, well-reasoned position based on expertise in the field is labeled “elitist.” It is an ad hominem attack intended to discredit a speaker and shield others from hearing the argument.

            To others following this back and forth I can only encourage vigilance against this mindset. A review of totalitarianism in the 20th Century reveals that one of the first attacks is the demonization of so-called intellectual elitists because creating a suspicion of reason and argumentation is essential to replacing discourse with a monologue.

  3. Monique
    June 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Thank you for proving my point so eloquently. Those who understand what genuinely productive discourse entails need no further explanation. Cleverness and righteousness is a poor substitute.

    • June 28, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Oh good, I was hoping we could get more ad hominem attacks on the concept of evidence-based analysis. “Cleverness” is a great word to use for that purpose — it conveys the sense that employing logical analysis is a cheap trick, discrediting the process itself rather than having to address its conclusions.

      Your, “I wish the people who research and analyze facts would go away and let my preconceived notions prevail unchallenged” mentality is unfortunate though. We all have preconceived notions and there’s nothing wrong with that. But far from “needing no further explanation” as though the first thought we have is prima facie correct, these ideas must be constantly challenged through investigation and logical interrogation. When that ends there is no point to democratic citizenship.

      And let me be clear — you did start this discussion by making a series of arguments. I had responses, but that doesn’t mean your arguments weren’t well taken. My criticism is of the turn late in the discussion when you shifted to just decrying me as an “elitist” because I happened to have done research into the case and had applicable expertise with the legal stuff.

  4. Monique
    June 29, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    It’s really a shame you dont get it. Perhaps you should reread my comments. I never once attacked your expertise or knowledge. I simply disagreed with your conclusion, and for one reason alone. Your assumptions are reasonable and may in fact be correct, which I acknowledged more than once, but with the information currently available, it is unprovable and I felt it should have been presented as such.

    Which brings me yet again to my primary point, something you have still failed to address, even though I stressed it over and over again. I stand by my comment, “You were so blinded by your desire to support your attack on the Romney’s that you addressed everything but my main point, which was really more about the spirit and presentation of your comments rather than the content”.

    What makes you an elitist is NOT your ability to “research and analyze facts”. I gladly defer to your expertise. It is your attitude I have had an issue with from the very start. You undeniably come across as someone who feels your opinions are not to be challenged simply because of your wealth of knowledge. You were so incredibly focused on defending your position, you didn’t even noticed it didn’t really need defending!

    It makes your statements about discourse quite ironic, since it is you who has consistently ignored my message. Instead, you have been holding a very one-sided argument in an attempt to draw me into a battle of intellect you obviously thought you would win, hence my invocation of the word “cleverness”. As to “needing no further explanation”, I meant that I was certain those following this thread could see that this discussion was at cross-purposes…you wanted to lead it in one direction, and I another. That is not the definition of good discourse. Since I was the one who initiated the conversation, you should have spoken directly to my repeated attempts to talk about your demeanor, instead of cherry-picking what you wanted to speak about. Whether intentional or not, I think that’s exactly what it looked like you were doing.

    I believe effective writing should engage all sides. It is absolutely possible to express your political leanings and opinions without sounding like there is simply no other way to interpret it. Your so-called humor regarding dressage will only appeal to a certain segment of your readers. For others, like me, it smacked of bitterness and disgust rather than humor, and left the rest of your post sounding like you were positively biting at the bit (pun intended) to have the opportunity to attack the Romney’s. I am only suggesting that if you would like to have your arguments given true respect, you should refrain from giving that impression. Had you shown even a subtle hint at humility, you actually might be better able to influence people into seeing your point of view. As it is, you are only going to satisfy those who already see things your way. If that is not your concern, and it certainly doesn’t have to be, you can simply ignore everything I’ve said.

    • June 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      So as I see it we come to:

      1) Making a joke about dressage is off-putting to the dressage world. I can accept that. I don’t think that this so drastically slashes my audience. Indeed I’m wagering, given that this was my most read post of last week, it expanded my audience much more than a dry recitation of legalese would have.

      2) “You were so incredibly focused on defending your position, you didn’t even noticed it didn’t really need defending!” — which it clearly did because you argued that the facts do not support the conclusion that drugging an injured horse reflects on Ann Romney and I defended that the facts available established one of two conclusions, she knew of the fraud or was duped by a trainer that she still feels the need to employ, both of which reflect negatively on Mrs. R’s worldview.

      “You undeniably come across as someone who feels your opinions are not to be challenged simply because of your wealth of knowledge.” — this is curious, since I have devoted a great deal of time engaging your arguments. If I felt I was above challenge I would have ignored you or called you something dismissive (like an intellectual elitist or something like that). I am happy to have my opinions challenged and try to work through the weak points because steel sharpens steel if you will. What I find troubling is that when I had answers to your concerns your response was to dismiss me as an elitist.

      I’m sorry if you thought I was trying to draw you into something, I was simply trying to respond to your challenges to the article and clear up any misconceptions.

  5. Mary Nash
    July 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    The saddest thing is the court case document with the vet records. The horse had injections of steriods into the hoof so it could compete. A very painfull condition it’s quite cruel to any horse and a shame what lengths some people will go.

    The Romneys paid for that horses Vet bills, they knew that horse had pain that was masked with drugs. Doping is cheating in any sport.Deceptive enough to even sell the horse without disclosure. The Romneys are the reason ‘horse traders’ has a bad name.

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