Keep your eye on the ball

By Sissy Wickes

I love tennis. I love playing tennis, I love watching tennis. The US Open over Labor Day weekend- bliss. When my already shakey tennis game starts to deteriorate-unforced errors, moon balls- I repeat to myself the most basic adage: keep your eye on the ball. When things get complicated, chaotic, out of control, concentrate on the most elemental thing. Boil it down to the essential.

As a rider and trainer, the same rules apply. When your ride starts to fall apart, keep your eye on the ball. Rhythm, pace, direction- and the jumps will work out. Back to basics, stay focused on simple goals.

As September 1 has passed, so has the USEF Drugs and Medications rule requiring a competition Medication Report for all horses that have received Medroxy Progesterone Acetate (MPA) within three months. This is one medication report for each competition. Buy some extra pens for your horse show office notebook. Make sure that you are clear in filling out the “reason for administration” on the form. If you use MPA on your mare to lessen estrus behavior or on your gelding to increase safety in managing him, state this on the form. It matters, at least I hope it matters.

The MPA controversy is not over, far from it. It is cloaked and clouded in forms and press releases. Why the Medication Reports? USEF states that, “This usage data along with additional proprietary research will be assessed once available and further recommendations, if indicated, will be made at that time.” “Proprietary research” means that they own it and are not required to share it with peer researchers or the public. While perhaps not their intention, it is a deliberate distinction worth noting.

Why the cloak of proprietary research?

Propriety Research: Information that is not public knowledge… and that is viewed as the property of the holder.

USEF may or may not fund testing of MPA on PERFORMANCE horses, not breeding horses. They may or may not share the details and results of the testing with the public. They may or may not rule on the use of MPA without further input from their constituency.

Keep your eye on the ball. If you are committed to MPA remaining a permissible substance, stay in the game and let USEF know your opinion. Email Bill Moroney (, email Murray Kessler ( , stay involved.

We are only at the beginning of the match between the Federation and proponents of MPA.

About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.

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