Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Kickin' It

There's been some chat on social media tonight about David Miller's drive on McWicked at Dover Downs. Some mild controversy has arisen in regards to Miller "kicking" McWicked. "Kicking" is where the driver removes his foot from the stirrups and brushes his boot on the horse's hocks.

     Miller is "aggravated" about the $750 fine.

  • “I take my foot out of the stirrup and he bumps into my foot,” David Miller explained, “I never kick a horse. People have to understand that. His hock comes back and strikes my boot. There is no way in the world that I am hurting a horse or doing any damage to the horse.”
  • “I realize that people are really down on this idea of “kicking” but it was worth every bit of the $750 fine for letting his hock hit my foot."
  • “Unless people have gotten in a bike and trained or driven a horse they can’t know what it is like being in my shoes,” Miller explained, “I drive to win and I would never put myself at risk or anyone else in a race, driver or horse. It’s not cruel or inhumane what we do in a race. The people complaining don’t know what they are talking about and most have never sat behind a horse. I was in the barn before I could walk. I have driven in thousands of races and I know what I am doing as do most of the drivers.”
     So that's the attitude we're dealing with from Miller. This isn't "I didn't realize that this was a rule, I wish I had known." This is "I think this is a stupid rule, and I'm not going to respect the authorities of racing."

     I don't like that viewpoint.

     Now, I'm not here to tell you "kicking" is abusive or not. In my opinion it is, but I'm not a standardbred horseman, I'm never around standardbreds in other situation other than as a fan, it's not my area of expertise. However, perception is a problem. Optically, when you notice a driver letting the horse hit his boot, it looks bad. Purposely scaring a horse (which is what it is) sounds bad. There's no argument that it's good for the horse. Is it abuse? That's up to you, but it's not nice.

    But more importantly than the "is it abuse or not?" debate is the "is it okay to break the rules?" debate. Willfully breaking a rule and going on to say you will continue to break that rule, topping that off with "I'm a driver, you're not so you don't get a say" is a colossal act of arrogance that should not be tolerated.

Fun comment on Facebook; integrity and cheating are nonsense. Racing has problems
    There is a rule against "kicking." You may not agree with it, you may think it's the stupidest rule you've ever seen in your life, but too bad. It's a rule. We all know it's a rule. If you're a driver, follow the rule. Keep your feet in the stirrups, or pay the fine and shut up. If you don't like it, appeal the fine. Outright saying to the media "It's worth the $750 fine" basically says "to hell with the rules."

    But you can't blame Miller entirely; he's driven for a long time and gotten away with it. He can afford a $750 fine. This is where racing needs to step its game up. Enforce the damn rules. Stop letting these drivers get away with breaking the rules, and sure as hell don't let them outright say "I'm not going to start following this rule." There's no point in having rules if you let your participants break them. Be no nonsense. Make your drivers and trainers perfectly aware that you won't get away with pushing the envelope. Be the adult in the room. The horsemen sure aren't going to.

     Racing has an integrity issue. Having rules and not enforcing them isn't helping it. Drivers who say "I'm going to break this rule." isn't helping either. The integrity of the sport is not nonsense. Enough is enough. Make the game respectable. Put an end to this issue, and move on to bigger things.

1 comment:

  1. A little late to the party but...

    If they really want to stop people, they apply a three strike policy and enforce it. Otherwise, people do what they think it takes to win. It's a really unfortunate side of our sport that I wish we could change. Only people with integrity should be participating.