Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Question for the Readers: Cesar Parra Abuse Case

Yes, apparently Cesar Parra, renowned dressage trainer and Olympic US Team gold medalist, is involved in a particularly horrendous and sketchy abuse case. I say sketchy because, well, we only know one side of the story, and that is the owner's side.

I got this bulletin from a trainer friend who is well-known and practiced in the central Texas area. He's kind of awesome. I'll keep him anonymous, but he did have a very good point when several people attacked professional trainers in general, although this specific comment as you can tell was aimed against Parra's potential practices:
"I see it different. I am glad I have the luxury to be able to choose who I work with and only have clients that care foremost on the well being of their horses. The pressure from some horse owners to make a diamond out of a rock is pretty common and some trainers give in to that pressure instead of being honest and say the truth. Not every horse is Olympic material. I could not work in an environment where winning is above the welfare of the horse and its well being."
I agree with his position on the pressure of the business, especially at such a high level as Parra was at. I also agree with what he (and so many trainers) has told me many times: there is never an excuse for abuse, no matter what the level or stakes.

Now, read the actual article here: http://www.ratemyhorsepro.com/news/cesar-parra-upgraded-abuse-charges-possible.aspx

My personal feelings? I had always thought Parra was amazing. This is appalling. While I'm sure it could have been a horrible accident, something about it angered enough people off that it has been taken to Superior Court (but then again, all it took was one angry woman to sue McDonald's for hot coffee... honestly, I don't care if there was no warning and it was in fact too hot, I would never put a thing of hot coffee in my lap and I always wait for it cool. Common sense rules!)

As for the still shots in the article, either that horse was put in a hyperflexion position, or they just caught a moment of bit evasion. The former would be a bit bothersome too, because I have never seen him use those methods before the few times I have watched him teach or school. What also bothered me was that he tried it again against vet orders. I should like to hear his side of the story, maybe some staff members or the vet who treated the horse. Of course the owner is going to be mad, so taking it all from her keeps it very one-sided. If it really was "torture" on his part, then I am absolutely ashamed for him and, once again, embarrassed for the sport of not only dressage but of equestrian sports in general.

What do you think?


  1. I think these filings are bogus. He may have abused the horse, but despite the fact it was on video - only the ugly looking aftermath was shown online that I know of. The horse owner admits that she originally adjusted the side reins, then claims he adjusted them drastically and that caused the horse to flip over.
    While this is very much NOT a training method I support or agree with, the owner has videos on the horse prior to this which suggest some unwise and unsafe training methods herself, and I don't believe she actually disagreed with anything Parra was doing until after the fact when she wanted money. Rather than legitimately take it to court and to animal control, the owner has been running a smear campaign online with friends. The criminal charges were filed as a result of a submitted affidavit from someone who was not a party involved in the situation, was not there, and has been known to file one frivolous lawsuit after another. He shouts from the rooftops that Steffen Peters is abusing horses each time Ravel goes behind the vertical. NOT any kind of authority or reasonable individual upon whom to base criminal charges, even if he has seen the same videos and photos as many people.
    From the rumors and whispers I've heard, I would consider CP's training methods abusive or nearly so, and if they are true I would like to see him no longer carried in such high esteem by the general dressage public. However, this specific case is based upon the word of a crackpot who saw a video of the aftermath, not based upon any real action. I think it is far too secondhand and scary that someone could face criminal charges for that - it's kind of a PETA vs. HSUS kind of discussion. I'm all for cracking down on abuse. I'm not for a vague line which will keep moving against us riding horses at all.

    (Also, I have seen video of the crackpot who filed the affidavit with folks in NJ who was obviously and clearly abusive toward the student he was supposed to be teaching. I would rather see him charged with elder abuse for that video - it was what changed my opinion of him from well meaning and misguided to a truly bad person.)

  2. I have seen the photos and they do look awful, but as you said I'd be interested to hear both sides of the story and I hope that the facts will be presented fairly in Court. (Fyi, in NJ the Superior Court is the lowest court, and anyone can file a Complaint there.) I do know of Cesar because he kept his broodmares and babies at the same farm where I kept my horse as a yearling, and I can't imagine someone who panicked over a little thrush on one of his broodmares and insisted on maticulous care for all his horses would cause or allow this to happen. There are two sides to every story though, for sure.

  3. Very good points my friends! Keep them coming!


Comments are greatly appreciated and, most importantly, Greta loves you for commenting ♥

Thanks guys!