Tuesday, August 10, 2010

update on Michael Morrissey

Remember the post I wrote about Michael Morrisey? He lost his temper in competition and hit his horse 13 times because of issues the horse had with a water jump.

An anonymous poster commented that CWD sponsors MM, and so I wrote to them asking if they would continue the sponsorship in light of what happened.

It's been several months, but I just received the following reply:

Even though our first reaction was the same as yours, we did discuss the
issue with Michael after the facts (which our CEO actually witnessed in

He is young and deeply regrets his behavior; which he also said in a public
apology in these terms: "I overreacted when the horse stopped and that is
unforgivable. Horse welfare has to take precedence over competitive
interests and I know that I was in breach of that basic principle."

He was suspended and fined by the sport's highest authorities; which seems
like an adequate sanction to us. We trust that his regrets are sincere and
we truly believe that he loves his sport and respects horses; that's why we
decided to give him a second chance.

Should there be another episode, we would of course reconsider our
endorsement as we've already done it in the past for other riders.

In light of these facts, you are free to give your business to us or to
another company of your choice.

I'm glad to know that CWD takes their sponsorship seriously and actively discusses situations such as this with the rider, takes the rider's response under consideration, and then makes a decision based on what they feel is fair.

In this day and age writing to sponsors takes only a few minutes and can make an impact. Money talks. Most of us spend a relatively huge amount of money every year on our horses and all the gear we tend to use as riders. When we threaten to take our dollars elsewhere, companies will listen. And riders will pay if they consistently get bad publicity for bad behavior.


Grey Horse Matters said...

First of all let me say that I'm very surprised you even got a reply. I'm impressed.

I think if more people wrote to the sponsors/companies when we disagreed with how a horse was ridden or treated by the rider maybe things could be changed one dollar at a time.

It will be interesting to see is MM was just giving lip service to keep his sponsor or if he really meant it. Time will tell.

billie said...

Arlene, I think the key to getting a response is to write it as one would a very important business letter.

Courteous and concise, with just enough carefully worded emotion to express one's concern, but balanced with the very simple statement of bottom line:

I have money to spend. I need what you sell. I will not buy it from you if you support this kind of riding/training/horsemanship.

If they get enough of that kind of letter I do believe it has an impact. The poorly-written, rude, hysterical ones are easily blown off as written by fanatics, but serious people write with care and I think ending it with something like:

I look forward to your response.

adds an expectation that they often fulfill.

I wrote to ThinLine thanking them for sponsoring Eliza Sydnor, who trains and rides humanely and classically. They were happy to hear it, and wrote me back quickly.

ponymaid said...

Billie, as Grey Horse says, time will tell, time will tell. I know I am suspicious by nature but...the almighty dollar can be a terrible motivator. Still, the fact you heard back certainly means something.

billie said...

Sheaffer, all we can do is our part. I'm fairly optimistic and am usually willing to try with faith that even the energy I put out there makes some change - even if I can't see it.