Costly Drawn Out Cases Over USA Horses Horizon & Don Principe Take Another Small Step Forward

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Adrienne Lyle and Horizon celebrating victory in the United States Festival of Champions Int. I championships. © 2017 Ken Braddick/

Nov. 17, 2017


The cases of the American horses Horizon and Don Principe has had another hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. Although pretty much everyone agrees the drug offenses were caused by a supplement contaminated in manufacture the horrendously expensive legal battle may go on for a while longer.

The latest hearing by CAS was to deal with the decision by the court last May to cut short the two-month suspensions imposed by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) that enabled Horizon and Don Principe to compete in the Dutta Corp. Festival of Champions, the U.S. national championships.

Horizon ridden by Adrienne Lyle of Ketchum, Idaho won the Intermediate 1 championship while the Brentina Cup Under-25 championship was won by Don Principe ridden by Kaitlin Blythe of Rougemont, North Carolina.

Legal expenses of the trans-Atlantic court case boosted the normal costs of transportation and showing to make the entries in the national event the most costly in history.

Neither Elizabeth Juliano, owner of Horizon, nor Samuel W. Silver, a Philadelphia lawyer who has been handling the cases from the start, on their return from Lausanne would answer questions from as the case is on-going. Maryanna Harmon is the owner of Don Principe.

However, learned that the hearing by CAS–located in Lausanne as is the FEI–dealt only with the provisional suspensions and not the merits of the original case.

The cases began in early April this year when the riders and owners were notified that traces of the prohibited substance ractopamine had been detected by drug testing during a CDI in Wellington, Florida.

Extensive testing by the manufacturer of products given to the horses–housed in separate barns in Wellington–discovered trace amounts of the substance had contaminated one of its nutritional supplements. Cargill, the manufacturer, announced it completely stopped use of the ingredient in all products.

The FEI lifted suspension of the two riders but maintained the penalty on Horizon and Don Principe.

An appeal filed with CAS by Elizabeth Juliano and Maryanna Harmon won a preliminary decision that allowed the horses to compete at the championships in Gladstone, New Jersey.

The U.S. Equestrian Federation came out in support of the owners and riders.

The CAS decision left less than four weeks of the suspensions on the horses unfulfilled. Speculation was that the case would go away.

The FEI, however, decided instead to pursue its legal efforts to uphold what it called its “paramount interest” of imposing penalties for drug offenses thus causing the Americans to incur substantially greater costs to clear their names.

The effect of the FEI decision has been to cast a cloud over efforts by the Americans to prepare for the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina 10 months from now.

Betsy Juliano, a successful self-made businesswoman, is a major financial supporter of U.S. dressage beyond ownership of Horizon, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare that is expected to begin competing at Grand Prix in 2018.

That could give Adrienne two potential team horses. The other is Salvino, owned by a syndicate that includes Betsy, and which Adrienne showed on the American silver medal team in the CDIO5* Nations Cup in Aachen, Germany in July.

Betsy is also a supporter of Laura Graves, ranked No. 4 in the world on her Verdades.

Don Principe will be 19 years old in January and was last competed by another rider at third level at a national show in October.

The FEI lists a total of 39 suspension cases over the past two years, 24 in endurance, 10 jumping, one each in eventing, reining and driving and these two in dressage.

A case similar to the Americans was that of a British event rider who spent $300,000 over two years to clear her name.

Also, the Dominican Republic’s Yvonne Losos de Muñiz spent months to get CAS to acknowledge the FEI erred in procedures for qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games.