Unlimited access >

Something I didn't know about Dangerous Riding

Hi all – we discuss the dangers inherent in our sport a lot here on the Eventing forum, and one thread that runs through these discussions is frustration that the officials don’t do more to call out riders who seem dangerous or out of control. I’ve often wondered about that as well – the threat of not getting hired again by an organizer if so-and-so rider gets angry and complains about you is a real concern, but I’ve always thought that safety would or should trump concerns about being hired. (That is, of course, a subjective opinion on my part, as someone who is neither an official, nor makes my living associated with events.)

But, what I didn’t know until recently, is that it has become a Thing for some riders, any time someone official speaks to them about their riding and whether they are unsafe, to file a SafeSport allegation against the Official for bullying.

Um, what? I would be so mortified if I was called out for being out of control and catching the eye of an official that I would want to find a cave and hide for 48 hours and then would work my ass off to get better and/or have a serious heart-to-heart with my trainer to figure out what I could do to ride more safely. Even if I thought I was safe doing the level I was doing, the idea that it would appear to be dangerous would horrify me. I’d be humiliated and would probably cry – a lot. But, I wouldn’t assume an official was out to get me.

Apparently that isn’t the case with some riders.

How can we expect Officials to do their jobs if they have to not only worry about being hired by a venue again, but now have to worry that they will have a complaint filed against them with Safe Sport for DOING THEIR JOBS?! I have good, reliable information about two instances where this has happened, and I have a feeling that it isn’t isolated to Area III. Have any of you seen this behavior?

There are some days that I shake my head and wonder why anyone bothers to put on shows at all.

Libby (who used to dream of being a TD one day, but now figures no one at USEF would want me as a licensed official :joy: )


There is also the fact that OT has 10 verbal warnings and not a single yellow card. Even though riding an exhausted horse is an automatic yellow card per the FEI.


So this happened in Australia in a dressage event, where a rider was yellow carded. The rider’s family got a vocal and influential character involved and it turned into an absolute sh.tshow. The steward maintains she made the right call, the rider maintains she did nothing wrong, and one side got quite aggressive on social media.


Reason 68369189 I hate social Media


There are certain characters on SM who have very vocal and one-eyed flying monkeys, and you do not want to be their target.

The steward released her own statement defending her actions, poor bugger.


Yes, this.

I remember when the DR rule first came out ages ago, I had just moved up to Intermediate and felt new to the level. I was safe, competent, effective, and smart… but self-conscious enough that I was terrified of getting DR penalties. I was sure that every person on course was an official out to get me. It was almost a distraction on course; if I had an awkward fence (face it, we all have them occasionally) I was panicked thinking “Did an official see that?! Am I going to be pulled up?!” and I would momentarily lose focus, stuck in the past instead of moving on and thinking ahead for the next fence. My friends rolled their eyes at my unjustified fear, assuring me that no boogeyman official was out to get me, and I was certainly NOT a dangerous rider in any way shape or form. Watching videos of my oops moments eventually relieved my concern, as what “felt terrible” to me actually looked alright… awkward maybe, but certainly not dangerous or unsafe, and it was clear my horse and I belonged at the level. In all the events I’ve done, DR penalties are extremely rare at any level, and I would feel confident that if they were assigned, it was likely deserved. If anything, one could argue that there should be MORE penalties given for unsafe riding, but it’s probably something that gets quietly handled with a warning instead of officially scored.

In any case, an official feeling the need to say ANYTHING to me regarding my quality of riding, or horsemanship, would have me in a weeping puddle of apology. I cannot imagine filing a SafeSport violation against an official DOING THEIR JOB, even if you believed they did their job poorly. If you disagree with an official’s decision, take it up with USEF, the event organizer, and the Area Chair. In the meantime, take your lumps, take a hard look at yourself and your abilities, pat your horse and get better. Whether you were “dangerous” or not, we can ALL improve ourselves in some way.


I thought SafeSport is designed to protect children from abuse rather than adults being told off by an official?

In my experience, “Dangerous Riding” tends to be a cumulative thing. Fence judge after fence judge comments over the radio, control say they’re keeping an eye on the rider, the TD pays close attention. Or if a rider has previous form and is on the “watch list” officials will be keeping a close eye over several shows. Everyone has ugly moments over a fence but having stupid, risky, ugly moments at every fence can be deemed to be dangerous riding.


This sounds more like anti-SafeSport rhetoric than something that is actually happening.

Are there any actual reports of situations where an official has been under SafeSport review after addressing dangerous riding? Or is it based in speculation or hollow threats?

I don’t know why some people still act like SafeSport is this evil big brother sent to destroy the horse industry.


You can report anything you want to Safesport. They won’t act on it if it doesn’t fall within their mandate. Accusations of unfair judging etc at events between competitor and official who have no other connection don’t fall within their mandate and don’t constitute bullying by any definition.

I can totally see a miffed competitor stomping around huffing that they are going to complain to SS, but that’s just blather.


Can someone confirm if this “watch list” actually exists? I have heard about it multiple times but it seems to always be this …. Idk imaginary thing, kind of like the cloud. I would love to know it is actually real. I assume this l isn’t isn’t public knowledge / on a website somewhere.

In the UK, at national level, yes it definitely does. For other countries or FEI I wouldn’t know for certain.

1 Like

It is real, but the list itself is not public.


Thank you! Apparently a simple google search would’ve confirmed that for me, not sure why I didn’t try that first. But again, thank you :blush:


Replying to the question of whether there have been instances of safe sport complaints for bullying against an official following a talk about DR, absolutely yes.

Whether Safe Sport did anything about the complaints or launched an investigation, I do not know. I’m also aware of a complaint filed against an official that counseled a rider about the safety of the riding. A rider that, though I was 180+ miles away from the show, I’d heard about from eyewitnesses, so I believe the official’s chat with the rider was warranted.

That’s what got me thinking about this in general. I know I’m an old fogey now, but the very idea that the response to criticism and concern from any official would be “he/she was mean to me!!!” Rather than embarrassment and a sincere desire to improve baffles me.



What a shame. That rider is an embarrassment to all of us. I hope they read this.

You can’t misuse a federal program just because an official is doing their job.

I also have enough faith in SafeSport that I think they can wade through petty, baseless complaints. I can’t imagine any way the rider could spin such a situation to warrant concern.


Officials have access to the list.

I’d call them flinging monkeys, as in poo-flinging.

1 Like

Ah I take no credit for the term, it’s a popular one!

FLYING MONKEY is a popular psychology term that refers to an enabler of a highly narcissistic person or someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) . A flying monkey is an agent who acts on their behalf.

1 Like