Lets take this blog to the next level

If you have a photo of crappy show riding, know of a jerkwad trainer or judge, or someone in the show world that is an abusive piece of shit then send the info to me. This blog is not anti-showing, it's anti-abuse. So there is no truth to the claims from the TWH, ASB, western pleasure and dressage zombies that I'm trying to shut showing down. Instead I'm trying to make showing more honest and to get abusive practices out of the showring! Email me at shameinthehorseshowring@gmail.com

I have a request for my readers: If you have successfully rehabbed a show horse, or gotten a rescue and taken it on to a show career then let me know, I'd love to feature you here!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Leading Arab halter sire has genetic defect

I found this an interesting article:


A prominent Arabian horse breeding operation based in the United Arab Emirates recently became the first to publicly announce one of its stallions is a carrier of cerebellar abiotrophy (CA). Albidayer Stud released the news that World Champion Arabian stallion Marajj is a carrier for the inherited neurologic disease, for which a DNA test recently became available.
End Quote.

I have to applaud the owners of this horse for acting proactively in regards to this disease. I only wish the stock horse industry had done the same with HYPP, HERDA, GBED and OLWS.


Does anyone have any more information on this disease and how it may effect the Arabian show industry?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Made in America

There is no doubt America is a great country. There is no doubt that the history of this country is very closely tied with the horse. Without the horse westward expansion would have taken twice as long, forests wouldn’t have been cleared, prairies plowed, cities developed. Of course, without the horse, wars would have been more difficult to fight and just maybe if our growth hadn’t have been so spectacular we might not have had the energy and vanity to destroy one of the things that helped us build this country: the working horse.

After World War II the horse experienced a decline of epic proportions. Farms were being modernized, automobiles were more affordable, and most cities were running out of spaces to keep a horse. The workhorse was on the way out, and horses as a mode of transportation were swiftly being replaced. However, America was not about to end its love affair with the horse. Racing was growing in popularity, as were polo, rodeo and showing. Equestrian sports replaced equine related work and the horse ended by being saved by the popularity of equine hobbyists. This is both a good, and a bad, thing.

There is no doubt that when an animal is bred to work he has a more balanced, mechanically sound conformation. You can’t plow with a horse that has a weak rear end. You can’t herd cattle for hundreds of miles with some muscle bound, tiny footed head case. You can’t deliver mail across 1100 miles on a horse that’s going to have a stress attack that’s been genetically bred into it. We all know that a true working horse is usually bred for soundness. This is where nature is our best friend, and we are her worst enemy.

What the American horse loving public has done to one of the most incredible biomechanical creations is a travesty. We should be ashamed of ourselves, really ashamed. We took an animal that could pull more than 3 times its own weight, carry 1/3 of its own body weight on its back, live on grass and water, give us affection and trust and we turned it into either a head dragging, short stepping, no impulsion pleasure horse, a bulky muscled, no brained, falling over halter horse, or some high stepping, artificial, head case. We haven’t improved on nature one single bit. We’ve created types based on aesthetics, without ever considering morphology or basic mechanics. Our vanity dictates the uselessness of our animals. And because we create such biomechanically unsound animals we then torture them to make them perform as we feel they should.

Let’s look at one of the “Made in America” breeds and examine what human vanity has done to a perfectly good horse.

The American Saddlebred comes from stock brought over from Europe. Its ancestors were originally pacing stock. They were crossed on English Thoroughbreds and the long production line that resulted in the ASB was started. Several prominent sires, including imported Messenger (Whom was also responsible for the Standardbred and some lines of TWH) Other sires that impacted the ASB are Gaine’s Denmark, Harrison Chief and during this century Rex McDonald. When you look at portraits of these horses you see balance, good legs, nice neck sets and feet that will actually support a horse.

In fact up until the 1900s a good ASB looked much like a nice TB in conformation: not as lean as the race type, but not as heavy as the hunt field type. The ASB was a working horse. It was a horse that carried generals through the Civil War and Plains Wars. It was a horse that traveled endless miles on plantations and farms, or down American roads to market. It had normal shaped feet, a natural tail and was ridden in the same manner just about every other horse was. What happened? Where did the ASB show ring go wrong and why?

I’m sure the Modern Saddlebred Breeder’s forum is going to go all freaky here, just like they did when they reviewed my blog before. According to them everyone that disagrees with their methods is a hater and just “doesn’t understand the ASB”. Seriously people, we get it. We understand exactly what you’re doing because we own horses too. We ride too. We care for horses too. And we know without a shadow of doubt that what you do to your show ASB’s is a complete and utter load of shit.

1) Why the set tails? There is no reason on this earth to break a horse’s tail, or nick the tendons. It doesn’t serve any purpose. It is vanity on your part and it subjects the horse to lifelong disfigurement. I think every exhibitor that subjects their horse to set tails needs to have their middle finger broken and tied back to the top of their hand. That way they can flip themselves off all day long for being such idiots. They should also get daily ginger enemas, just to make sure they step lightly and enjoy the day like their horses have to. Vanity and cruelty.

How would you like to sleep wearing this crap?

2)What is the deal with the long feet? Don’t try to bullshit us that it serves a purpose. Has no one in the ASB industry read a shoeing manual? Do you not understand the pressure put on the phalangeal levers by leaving that toe so long? Do you not get that creating tubed feet is just a quick trip to navicular disease? The hoof angle also impacts the knees, elbows, hocks and stifles. Poor feet can screw up the whole leg. Why don’t you shoe the horse correctly for a working horse and leaving the long toes to ballerinas?

3) What is the deal with your tack? Can you not handle your horses without bits that look like murder weapons? Don’t give me endless crap about “any bit can be cruel in the wrong hands”. Trust me, you guys are the wrong hands everyone talks about. There is no reason for a 9 inch shank on a double bridle. None. Ever. You have two bits at the end of the reins. The snaffle should be the one getting the majority of cues. I have seen ASBs shown where the curb is working almost parallel to the ground. WTF is up with that? Here’s a hint, when the horse does the thing with his chin and lower lip where he has it all wrinkled up it is because the bit and curb chain is hurting him! He’s not making faces to try to score a laugh out of the judges. He’s in pain.

10 inch shank Weymouth

And the bridoons you people use are just ludicrous. Can you not use a plain smooth mouth bridoon? Must you train with things that are better suited to sawing logs in half than being in a horse’s mouth?

4. Most of us understand the principals of saddleseat. Several breeds utilize the form and do so without making their horses look like strung out torture victims. Why can’t the ASB crowd?

5. Why do we do this to a breed we created? Other than the Icelandic Horse people, there is no European counterpart to a tail set, hyperflexed, torture gaited creature. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Scuttling movement, bad hands, horse is winging like crazy

Looks like shit. The horse is hyper reflexed. He is wearing a bit that any non-tortured horse would flip over with. Don’t try to tell me that rider isn’t heavy handing that horse, I can see the strain in his arms. I can also see the hocks and stifles locking every few steps.


If this is the best of the best at DC then the ASB is in trouble. I saw the chestnut horse lose his stifle about five times in one circle. The western horse looks like crap. I can’t figure out why the horses can’t move in a straight line. I get on WP people all the time about the canted moving, but this is way worse.
This is a weanling in a bitting rig, being lunged in a small circle.
WTF is up with that?
Here's a yearling in a bitting rig being lunged in a small circle.
These horses are babies! They shouldn't know what bits are for another few years. A weanling should not know what lunging is.
Oh, but this kind of abuse doesn't happen, we've been told so by ASB riders that have been in the business for years.
Evidently the same people that denied this crap happens in the ASB industry went over and chewed the ass of the video owner so he removed the videos. So for those of you that didn't get to see the videos here's a recap"
Bay ASB weanling in a full bitting and stretchies on his legs. He's being lunged in about a 20 foot circle, while a man with a whip/plastic bag thing chases him. His movment is jerky and stiff and his head is cranked in way to tight.
Chestnut ASB yearling in a full bitting rig. Same size circle. He moves better but is still way to tight and looks off on the outside hind leg. Asshole still has the whip/plastci bag thing.
Both these colts are verified as ASB registered.
And just because people whine that I never show the good stuff, here’s a saddlebred doing dressage. He’s relaxed, his tail is natural, he’s wearing snaffle, he’s got normal feet and a happy expression. He’s getting to do what every saddlebred should be allowed to do: show off what a horse can do without being tortured.

I’ve seen good saddlebreds do everything from dressage to jumping to western pleasure to barrel racing. In 1984 an ASB won the Battle of the Breeds by competing in multiple disciplines and placing well in all of them. These horses can do just about anything you set them at, as long as they aren’t hampered by a vanity monkey on their back.

Look at these little training gadgets to keep the ASB on his toes:

The black rubber boot with the chain around the ankle is called a Ticky Tack Spat. Doesn't that look like fun to wear? The silver thing is a caulking boot! So much for the natural moving ASB.
Here’s my personal opinion: The American Saddlebred is a great horse. They have a level of tolerance that is found in very few animals. I don’t think any stock breed, Arab or TB would put up with the shit an ASB puts up with and not kill someone. I know my old horse would have dumped me and left home if I had even hinted that I was going to make him sleep all night with his tail crammed up his butt, in a harness to hold it straight. Had I used one of those shoddy bits he would have flipped over and refused to get up again. I think the ASB show industry has taken a naturally dynamic animal and turned it into a characticture of a show horse. By doing so they have earned the disdain of the horse industry. We know how talented the horse is, it’s the people we despise. When is the ASB show world going to throw off its cruel trappings and let the beautiful horse it tortures show its natural abilities? And to the saddlebred people that are going to label me a “hater”: You’re wrong. I love the horse, just despise the idiots it attracts.
And the trot.org people need to just save their breath. I'm not talking bad about the Saddlebred, it's a nice horse. I'm talking bad about the scum in your industry that you should have had the balls to get rid of years ago. I at least have the balls to speak out, which is more than you're doing. You're wasting time bitching about me when you should be kicking your breed organization in the ass and getting the cruel stuff banned.
A lot of different people contribute information to this blog. Some of the saddlebred stuff came from people within the ASB industry, so calling the blog ignorant means you're labeling part of the ASB industry ignorant.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The State of the Horse Industry (updated)

My sister and I spent the afternoon in front of the TV, with the laptops on, watching hot guy movies and discussing the state of the horse industry, and why we hate what it has become. We also ragged each other about updating our blogs so here’s my contribution.

Reading the Fugly Horse of the Day blog http://fuglyhorseoftheday.blogspot.com/ yesterday got me to thinking about some stuff. There is no doubt the Fugly blog has a lot of readers, and has helped educate a lot of the unwilling public as to what horse abuse looks like, at all levels, from BYB to stakes winning racer. I still see people bitching about it on other forums, and most of the bitching is about the language, the fact photos are “borrowed” and the fact that idiotic horse-abusing morons are being “outed” by their own stupidity. Fugly doesn’t go to anyone’s house to get these photos. She’s not “hacking” someone’s accounts to get their rambling posts and pathetic ads. She’s reposting what some idiot has put out for public view, and is now pissed about having it dissected by outraged people that see the abuse, neglect and stupidity.
I think Fugly is great. She’s funny, snarky and doesn’t hold back. The people she outs should be jailed for being stupid, as well as abusive. Some of the parents should be brought up on charges of both animal and child abuse. I think the blog has made a difference, even if it is a small one at this point. It’s hard to educate the entire world about horses, when so much of the ignorance belongs to people that aren’t willing to learn.

This brings us to my blog. The Shame in the Show Ring blog came about because I got tired of reading the bitching about the show ring on the various horse forums, yahoo lists and in private emails. One thing I realized is that people love to show, but they hate all the politics and crookedness that goes along with showing. There is not a single discipline or breed that doesn’t have its bad apples. There is also not a single discipline or organization that doesn’t have its enablers. The enablers are people that know the abuse is going on, but ignore or justify it because “that is the way things are done”. I don’t care if “that is the way things are done”; some of the crap happening to horses needs to stop now! The breed organizations and open discipline associations need to get their shit together and create a better atmosphere for the horses and stop caving in to the crooks.

Let’s look at a few things that just make me furious with the horse industry:

1) Breeding a specific body type that limits the horse’s usability. I’m not talking about breeding minis either. I’m talking about breeding downhill Wp horses that can’t use their rear ends. Or overly bulky halter horses can’t perform under saddle. I’m tired of seeing Tbs with legs like sticks and Arabs that are so flat crouped they can’t get their rear ends under themselves. Why on earth are we breeding the “function” out of our horses? I don’t care if judges want flat top lines. It’s stupid to breed a horse that cannot drive from behind, cannot collect from the shoulder and cannot pick its knees up high enough to keep from tripping. The fact that judges want a flat top line tells me how fricking stupid they are. Flat means “not round”. It means “no impulsion”. It means “no maneuverability”. Why don’t the judges just put signs on their foreheads that say “ I know nothing about horse anatomy or morphology!” I personally think all judges should have to pass a test on biomechanics before they can judge. They should also have to ride each of the types of horses they judge and then write a dissertation on movement. If they would quit placing shit movers, then the breeders would quit producing shit movers.

2) Breed/discipline organizations that turn a blind eye, and even promote abuse. Let’s face it, a lot of the abuse happens because of the drug rules. People can go way past a horse’s limitations and still show because they can now use drugs that were unheard of 20 years ago. Lameness isn’t even an issue since the judges will ignore bad movement. I’ve posted the videos here of the AQHA Congress halter classes. Most of those horses had no business being in the show ring. They certainly weren’t the “ideal” of the breed. WP is riddled with drug abuse. I know the little WP bunnies will scream that I’m generalizing, but it’s true. The drug cocktails created to win WP championships would make a crack whore squeal with delight. Every single breed organization needs to clean up their allowed drug lists and start taking into account the health of the horse. Why isn’t the stock horse industry testing for anabolic steroids like racing has? Why don’t the NRHA and NCHA test for drugs? They already use up and throw away young horses at an astonishing rate, yet they make no effort to curb the worst abusers. I used to think FEI was on top of the abuse issue because of their hard stand on drugs, but they are now ignoring abusive training techniques in the warm up pen. Youtube has endless videos of people using Rolkur and draw reins to create artificial frames. Some of the top Dressage riders out there should be ashamed of themselves for the things they do to their horses.

3) Organizations that are run by the very people they are supposed to police. When judges/trainers are directors of organizations then the criminals are running the prisons. How on earth can anyone be objective about what a breed organization needs when their vote can affect their own business? They can’t. They also can’t be objective when they are judging their judge/trainer peers. It’s not a case of whining because the best fitted horse wins. It’s a case of judge/trainer/directors voting in rule changes that affect the entire industry, but suit their personal agendas.

If this wasn’t the case then why do we still have HYPP, as well as the drugs used to treat it being approved? Why do all stock horse organizations have huge approved drug lists, especially allowing drug maskers? Give me one fricking valid reason why any stock horse organizations needs to allow lasix? There is no reason on earth to let a known drug masker and diuretic on the approved drug list, unless you are condoning cheating. Why do they allow two year old under saddle futurities? Why do they not promote, and help fund, retirement homes for the show horses that get tossed out of the system? Why has it come to the point that judges can abuse youth exhibitors (ApHC and AQHA) and not get official charges filed on them, as well as public ass-chewings?

What on earth possesses a breed organization to hire a person from the cow industry to run it? And allow this person to let his judge/trainer/director buddies to get away with murder? I know of at least 25 complaints filed against ApHC judges in the past year and not a single one has resulted in someone losing their card. Child abuse is the least of it; try having alcohol at a show, heckling exhibitors (over a loud speaker no less), judging horses that were bred/sold by the judge, whacking another judge in the face with a stick, the list goes on and on. I have personally seen some of these complaints, and I’ve seen that nothing has been done about them. So when a breed organization is run by corrupt officers and directors then why is it a surprise that the show industry is tanking? Here's a tip off for you bloated good old boys: It doesn't matter how much money you put in futurity classes and incentive sales, if people can't afford to show they won't show up!

4) Enablers just piss me off. These are the people that try to excuse their actions, their friends’ actions and the industry as a whole, just because they like the way the slacker generation of horse trainers get away with crap. I’m tired of going to shows and seeing young riders being taught to abuse horses by trainers that are the dregs of the equine society. And the little darlings’ parents stand by the rail and let their spawn learn that constant jerking, spurring and riding with your ass poked out like a duck’s butt are all okay. There is nothing okay about a child learning that abusive riding is accepted in the show ring. I cringe every single time I see a gaited horse youth class. I can’t stand the warm up pen for youth WP. Even worse than the riding is the knowledge that half of the great youth trainers in the industry have been busted for drug or abuse violations. What fricking parent lets their kid ride with a known drug abuser? We've got three trainers that I know of in the ApHC that are multiple drug offenders, and they still have multiple youth clients! WTF is wrong with the parents?
And forget about watching pony hunters, it’s enough to make you puke watching pseudo-trainers browbeat children over fences they have no business going over. If the youth are the future of the horse industry then why is it churning out such a bunch of losers and cheaters? The good kids get pushed to the side by the spoiled kids with trainers, clueless but wealthy parents, and an industry that doesn’t care about longevity. How many of the kids you rode with as a youth exhibitor are still showing today? How many of the kids you see in the ring now will still be showing in ten, fifteen or twenty years? How many good kids will be driven out of the industry because of bad judges, cheating trainers and high expenses.

5) Fads and fashions that make the show ring cost prohibitive for most people. Let’s face it, if the show industry would go to a “uniform” system like a lot of schools have the world would be a better place. I’m not really hip on the whole “foundation” horse section of the industry, but I do agree with their attitude that it’s the horse that needs to be shown, not the saddle or exhibitor’s shirt.

Here’s my attitude: If Mr. Hotshit trainer is any good, then he’s still just as good in a plain saddle, plain shirt and not having his sponsors names printed all over his equipment. If some little darling can truly sit a horse then they can do it without $7,000.00 of silver dripping off their saddle. And if Thunder is a good show horse at home without his fake tail, show grease and hoof sparklies then he should be just as good a show horse without that crap in the ring. I understand the need for a clean, prepped and fitted horse, but the shit going on today is ridiculous. The bling and crap look like something out of a Vegas side show. And like a Vegas sideshow it's all glitz and no substance. It's an illusion of talent being sold to the judges as ability covered up in sequins.
Which brings us back to the judges.

WTF happened so that a judge cannot properly place a horse that has an active working tail? I’m not talking about moody switching, I’m talking about a horse moving his tail while being ridden at a lope. I’m talking about a reining horse using his tail to help balance, and a dressage horse swishing his tail in tandem to lead changes. If a judge cannot tell the difference between anger and casual swishing then they need to hand in their card now!
The fake tail fad is one of the dumbest I’ve ever seen. For one thing there is no reason for a working horse to have a tail that drags the ground. That is the height of human vanity. I love to look at fit and well turned out horses, but making a judging decision based on how long a horse’s tail is shows how ignorant the judge is. And not being able to judge a horse with a moving tail shows what piss poor judgment most stock horse judges have. Ditch the fake tails.

I’ve become a bit jaded with the stock horse show ring in regards to their attire, mainly because is looks like a Sunset Boulevard hooker would wear it. I figure that when someone comes in wearing all the glitz they are trying to distract the judge from the fact that their horse moves like shit; anything to take the eyes off of those poorly moving legs, the bouncing seat, the poor equitation and the spur stops. It’s not a case of envy; I can more than afford the silver. I just choose not to deck myself out like a Christmas tree. I don’t need sequins blinding a judge in order to place.

If a standard of attire was enforced then plain, clean clothing would be on every exhibitor. Plain clean and functional tack would be acceptable. Forget about fake manes and tails and show us what the horse can do. If you can’t stand out on your own merit then you don’t need to be in the ring. This is one place where H/J and Dressage have an edge on the stock horse ring. I see a little bling, but not the blinding levels seen in WP.

Now back to the blog. I have my detractors, most of them enablers or the crooks. I really could not care less. If you don’t like the blog then don’t read it. People bitch about my posting style, don’t like the language and don’t like it that I use photos to showcase the crappy riding going on in the industry. Screw them. I don’t go to people’s houses and scan their private photos. I find what is on the web, posted by someone that thinks their example of shitty riding or training is just fine for public viewing. I don’t make people behave badly, like the judges that abused the children. I simply show case them and let others post their opinions. For every person bitching that I am mean there are 20 more people sending me websites and examples of poor training to put on this blog.

I also don’t diss the horses for being the products of poor handling and breeding. The horses are not at fault. It’s the shitty breeders, trainers and judges that create the problems. Every single problem in the show ring is man made and human approved. Want stacked up hoofs? Ask a human how they look. Want huge, useless muscle, ask a human how functional they are? Want genetic defects passed on in perpetuity? It takes a human to do it. I have asked several times why the show industry promotes the things it does and never get a straight answer. “Just because” is not valid excuse. Until the show industry cleans up how the trainers/judges/directors run things then it will continue to lose exhibitors and public interest. it might not be a bad thing if it crashes and burns and has to be rebuilt by the honest people that actually love horses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Best/worst things about breed associations

I'm working on some of the longer posts I had planned on making, but they aren't quite ready yet, so on that train of thought I would like people to list the best things they like about ApHC, AQHA, AHA, APHA, USEF or whatever horse organization. List the best and then see if such a thing can be positively implemented for the horse industry.

Then list the five worst things that need to be addressed and let's see if we can come up with solutions.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Family Matters

My mother has been in a rather serious car wreck and my sister and I have been taking turns at the hospital and trying to handle things at home. As soon as I get a good free moment I'll finish up my next blog post and get it up.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

One seriously screwed up judge

I’ve bitched before about crooked judges. I know it evokes a lot of eye rolling and muttering about me “being a wanna be that just can’t cut it.” Those of you that think this are wrong and this judge is exactly why.

Meet Becky George, of Becky George Show Horses. Becky is not only a trainer and youth coach, but also a carded APHA judge. Sounds typical of a lot of the trainers and judges in the horse world. Becky spent a lot of time hauling horses to shows and making sure her little stable of darlings got their high points and year end awards.

Becky was showing at NSBA shows in June of this year:

She was judging in Minnisota in August.

And judging in Iowa in September

Busy judge, questionable ethics, zero good judgment.

Like most trainers sometimes Becky had a monkey wrench thrown in her plans by unexpected occurences. And like some of the people who belong to the “Those Who Can Do No Wrong Club” she decided to take things into her own hands and make sure that monkey wrench was no more than a passing annoyance.

Becky George is from Tomball, TX. Her youth client (rider A) was running for number 1 Youth 14-18 in 2007 - and her main competition was another youth competitor from Kerrville, TX (rider B). Apparently Rider A's horse had to have colic surgery and was out for a while, which allowed Rider B to surge ahead in the point standings - when Rider A's horse was finally recovered, she found herself behind in the point standings.

What next occurred was a systematic course of behavior, instigated by Becky George, to recruit other riders to block and cut Rider B’s horse off and other people to kick and bang on gates in an attempt to spook Rider B’s horse. This happened at several shows. Not only did they endanger a horse and rider by their antics, but Ms George also verbally abused and threatened Rider B. Imagine, a judge threatening and harassing a child? Sounds like something that should never ever happen. Sadly it does happen, even at National levels, even in other breed organizations.

So just how mentally screwed up do you have to be to deliberately attempt to scare a youth horse over a fricking ribbon? Evidently as screwed up as Ms. George. Remember this woman is a judge. She is supposed to have the highest integrity of any person in the horse world. The sad part is that she is just one of many corrupt judges out there, that thinks that little card gives her the right to flout the rules.

Apparently it got so bad Rider B’s father, had to hire a security guard for the horse at his stall and hire a videographer to follow Rider B everywhere at shows, in an attempt to capture Becky, Rider A or anyone else harassing, attempting to intimidate, or being ugly to Rider B.

The affidavits on this case read like a who’s who of the Paint Show World. Ms. Becky was not only harassing a youth exhibitor and getting her youth clients to participate, but she was also going after anyone else that got in her way.

Becky George killed a sale for another trainer, Adam Deardorf, at the '07 World Show, as she was pissed at Adam for giving a deposition in this case - the other depositions are from participants of, and witnesses to, the harassment. Becky called the potential buyer's trainer and told them many things that she *believed* were wrong with the horse. Vindictive? Yes, but it’s something that happens in every horse organization and at every level. I know this personally.

This bully mentality is ridiculous - and for a trainer and judge to be instigating it is amazing. Can you imagine the great lesson in sportsmanship she is teaching her youth clients? And really, do you think their parents were unaware of this? Here’s what I think: I think the parents knew, and I think they were okay with it because their little show darlings “must” be allowed to win for their self esteem and so they can be used as child trophies during the parental brag sessions at work. Parents who help their kids cheat are scum. Trainers who cheat should be banned from the organization for life. Trainers/judges that harass children should be jailed.
Seems like the APHA did decide to be proactive and they did pull Ms. George’s judges card. I doubt if it’s a life time ban, and considering what other judge’s have gotten away with and retained their cards I imagine she’ll get it back at some point.

So tell me your best worst judge stories. Just who do you know that needs to be out of the horse show arena?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Show ring genetic defects: Updated

One of the worst aspects of the horse show industry is the fact that the desire to win in the show ring compels unethical people to breed for genetic defects. Or if they aren’t breeding for the specific defect, they take breeding risks that have the potential to produce the defect.

I’m going to address three major defects that have spread and propagated as a direct result of the show ring: HYPP, HERDA and OLWS.

There is no doubt that HYPP (HYPERKALEMIC PERIODIC PARALYSIS) is the one defect that comes to mind when you mention the AQHA show ring. HYPP is a disease that would have come and gone in a few generations if the halter industry had not existed. It was compounded by halter breeders and has endured long past the time the defect would have existed in the wild because of the human interference of selective breeding. All HYPP horse trace back to on AQHA stallion, Impressive. He was the point mutation for the gene.
HYPP serves no legitimate purpose. It does increase muscle bulk, but the muscles are useless. They aren’t geared toward heavy hauling, speed or endurance.

Impressive AQHA stallion

For a long time HYPP horses dominated the halter industry. World and National champions in AQHA, APHA and ApHC were crowned with the judges knowing they were placing a horse with a genetic defect. It is proof of the absolute corruption and back scratching among stock breed judges.

The most horrific thing about HYPP is that people excuse the breeding of the defect with such lame excuses:

He’s such a wonderful horse; he deserves to pass on his good traits.

No dipshit, he doesn’t deserve to pass anything on. He’s a horse; the only thing he deserves is good care. Love him, treat him kind and make sure he’s gelded so that he never reproduces another horse that has to go through an HYPP attack.

HYPP can be managed; it doesn’t hurt the horse if you treat it correctly.

You can’t cure HYPP. A horse may never have any symptoms and then one day fall over and die. You can try to treat the symptoms, but in times of extreme stress, like showing, then the horse can have an attack. Proof of this is that all three stock breeds allow the use of Acetazolimide, a diuretic and drug masker, to be used for HYPP horses. Isn’t that grand? Catering to the defect by allowing drugs that are banned by FEI to be used in the show ring.

This is the fact sheet that AQHA has on their website about HYPP.


Seems pretty bland when you consider the damage that HYPP breeders have done to the halter industry.

I will give AQHA credit for requiring the testing of Impressive descendants and the results marked on their papers. APHA and ApHC have not taken this step because of the political roadblocks.

AQHA has also banned the registration of HYPP H/H horses, but they still allow HYPP N/H horses and do not restrict the breeding of N/H horses to N/H horses. So basically they make it okay to produced more H/H horses that end up being dumped. If they really wanted to stop H/H they would make it so it is illegal to breed two N/H horses, simple solution to a problem.
What AQHA has not done is ban the showing of N/H and H/H horses in halter. They jumped really quick to ban excessive white horses from showing in halter, but it's perfectly okay to show a defect that is far worse then being a little "painty" in the ring. You can have a World Champion H/H halter horse, but you can't have a World Champion excessive white halter horse. Talk about your screwed up priorities!

ApHC and APHA do not ban HYPP breeding in any capacity and APHA does not require the papers to be marked with the horse’s HYPP status. ApHC did finally require the ApHC foals from an AQHA parent, that is HYPP positive, to be tested and have the results printed on the papers, however, non-AQHA foals do not have to have the results listed. So you can breed Appaloosa N/H or H/H to Appaloosa N/H or H/H with impunity and never have a problem registering the foal. And even better, you can breed an Appaloosa to a grandfathered in H/H QH, even if the Appaloosa is H/H.
No one can accuse the ApHC of being proactive toward HYPP. They’ve only had 15 freaking years to get their shit together about it.

UC Davis has been the most proactive in the fight against HYPP breeding. Dr. Sharon Spier is the one that “outed” the disease and its famous progenitor, Impressive.


Tufts Veterinary School also has a good page about HYPP.


I like their use of the word “plague” to describe how HYPP affects the industry. HYPP is a plague, but the fact the plague has not been eradicated is 100% the responsibility of unscrupulous breeders. Yes, I mean all breeders that breed HYPP horses. You are all pieces of shit and should be jailed. You are deliberately breeding for a defect that makes the life of the horse miserable. You are doing it for greed and vanity. You are worse than the Tennessee Walking Horse abusers. I can rescue a horse from the TWH show ring and make his life better. You cannot rescue a horse from HYPP. He’s born with it, and he’ll keep it until he dies. Of course the mortality rate of HYPP horse is high, particularly the H/H horses. Nothing like breeding a disposable product that you can replace every few years. What better way to get rid of HYPP positive halter geldings, which have no future once their show career is over, than letting them die an early death. Poetic.

This article talks about foal deaths from paralyzed airways, which occurred during HYPP attacks. Nothing like watching a foal die gasping for breath to make the value of this blue ribbons seem pretty shoddy.


HYPP attack on video:


I really hate this video because the poor foal is so confused as to why his mother won’t get up.


HYPP variant (Yes, variants exist)

Oh look, all kinds of N/H stallions just waiting to pass on their defective genes for their scum money-grubbing owners.



Here’s a veritable Who’s Who in the halter industry, all H/H and ready to produce N/H foals for whichever POS breeder wants them.


Pathetic! You’d think in this age of information and enlightenment that people would be more ethical than this shit. Stop breeding HYPP positive horses. Just stop! The horse does not deserve it! He doesn’t understand why he has attacks! And if you have to drug the horse to show it then leave the damn thing at home! Seriously, it is just sick for people to keep breeding this easily avoidable defect. And shame on ApHC and APHA for not taking any steps at all to stop the breeding of HYPP positive horses. Organizations that condone HYPP are just as guilty as the breeders creating the horses. You are part of the problem, when will you become part of the solution?

Here's some asshat ads from people that promote breeding HYPP postive horses:

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/grd/832804631.html What more can you ask for? Poor conformation, HYPP positive and covered in paw prints! Run out and buy her now!

http://dallas.craigslist.org/ndf/grd/813285172.html Someone actually bought this horse knowing he's HYPP positive. This is where two fools met!

My next genetic issue is HERDA, Hereditary equine regional dermal asthenia. HERDA is a horrific disease, and like HYPP is so easily avoidable.


Why would anyone breed a horse, knowing that HERDA could be in the mix?

UC Davis does HERDA testing. Why not spend the money to make sure you don’t produce any horses with this terrible disease?


Once again the AQHA goes lightweight on the issue. They do not require testing for HERDA, they do not ban the registration of breeding of carrier horses.


Why? Because it’s all about the numbers with the AQHA. They have to have “more” horses registered every year than any other organization, even if some of those horses are carriers of genetic defects and suffer greatly because of it. Of course it goes without saying that APHA and ApHC don’t do shit about HERDA. Why should they when Big Brother AQHA doesn’t?

Poco Bueno AQHA stallion

HERDA horses can be traced to Poco Bueno. His descendants are the crème de la crème of the cutting horse industry. But HERDA is not restricted to just the cutting horse lines. Because of Poco Bueno’s progeny, that excelled in other performance events, the gene is spread throughout the reining and pleasure horse industries too. Dry Doc, Zippo Pine Bar, Doc O’lena and Great Pine are QH stallions that were all carriers and their descendants, in whichever stock breed they are registered, can also be carriers.

There is no treatment for HERDA. Horses that are carriers can live out normal lives. Horses that are symptomatic are usually euthanized by the time they are four. Crossing two carriers is like playing Russian Roulette with a living creature that has no choice in whether to play or not. Why take the risk?

Is it really worth it not to test and prevent the birth of another HERDA symptomatic horse?

The answer to the above question appears to be yes. People routinely line breed Zippo Pine Bar horses. The cutting industry is so immersed in Poco Bueno lines that he is in two out of every three pedigrees. And they still line breed, and still end up losing money on every double positive foal. To cutting horse breeders the risk is worth it. What is the pain and suffering of a horse worth against the potential to make money? Not a damn thing.

Kudos to this breeder for having a HERDA explanation page on his website so people can read about the disease. But a big thumbs down for continuing to breed a HERDA carrier stallion. There is no stallion or mare worth so much that it needs to reproduce or pass on defective genes. http://www.flyingvquarterhorses.com/

And a big thumbs down to this idiot, who should know better than to breed his HERDA N/H stallion Ducelena, scroll down to about half way: http://www.horsedeals.com.au/horses-for-sale.php?horseTypes_id=22&subType_id=32&doSrch=doSrch&horseAge2=&horsePrice2=&horseHeight2=&page=10&PHPSESSID=4055a2147822eca16c42d585a798c679

The last defect I’ll address for now (although I’m sure there will be more later) is OLWS (Overo Lethal White Syndrome)

Frame Overo

OLWS is another genetic defect that can be easily avoided through genetic testing and wise breeding choices.

The Paint, Pinto and AQHA breeders that do not exercise due caution will find themselves with a lovely white foal one morning and shortly thereafter they will have a lovely white and very dead foal. OLWS is 100% fatal. OLWS is different from the other two diseases in that you can usually look at a horse and get a good suspicion that he’s a carrier. How? Most OLWS carriers often exhibit a pinto coat pattern known as Frame. Frame overos are usually quite pretty and visually striking. However, breeding two together can be a big risk. Not all frames carry OLWS, and not all non-Frame horses are free of it. The diseases has shown up in Thoroughbred, Quarter Horses, Paints and Pintos. It will probably make an appearance in Appaloosas, if it hasn’t already, due to the fact that AQHA removed their white restrictions and ApHC will now allow pinto marked horses to get ApHC papers, as long as they have two Appaloosa parents. Breeding excessive white to excessive white is a good way to get this disease up and running in the ApHC. Breeds that do not carry the Frame gene do not have OLWS.

OLWS is a condition that not only affects pigment cells, it effects enteric nerve cells. The colon does not work. OLWS foals are usually full term and look like normal healthy foals, all the more heartbreaking when they die within a few days.

Here is the description of OLWS from the APHA.


APHA is quite happy to tell you about the disease, but they aren’t about to demand testing or block people from breeding carriers. Who cares how many little white dead foals litter the highway to the show ring?

Why take the risk to produce that produces these foals?
Color sells! It’s that simple. In order to get color you have to roll the color dice. And if the color dice comes with a fatal genetic defect then so be it. There are people that breed mares that have produced several OLWS foals. They take the risk that at some point the genetic dice will roll in their favor. How fricking stupid can you get? It’s costs at least $1,500 to take care of a mare for a year of gestation. Add in the stud fee, vet care and loss of the foal and you can be out several thousands of dollars with no foal to show for it. Wouldn’t it be better to test for OLWS and then not breed carriers? Sure it would, but you can’t make any money on non-breeding horses unless you train them to have a job.


Photos of some cute, and ultimately dead, lethal white foals.

And WTF is up with this website?


They're willing to explain OLWS, but then give the excuse that breedig overos requires the risk of crossing and that losing one foal out of three is acceptable. No it isn't. It is "never" acceptable to risk a foal's life with a genetic defect!

Video of lethal white foal:


So here we have three genetic defects, all easily avoidable, none banned by the organizations that promote the stock horse show industry. Why? Greed! It is pure greed that does not ban a defect that is ultimately harmful to the horse. Why AQHA, APHA and ApHC have not banned the breeding of HERDA carriers is a mystery to anyone that has the best interest of the horse at heart. Greed! Nothing but unmitigated, inexcusable greed!

So Shame On You, AQHA, APHA and ApHC. Shame on you for being so fricking greedy you will let horses be born with fatal flaws and stand by while breeders continue to produce these doomed horses. You have an obligation to the breeds you represent to stop the breeding of these defects! All of these defects are propogated by show ring breeders. All are kept going because people think having a show champion, regardless of how genetically defective, means you can breed it into perpetuity! Stupid greedy people!

Halter industry article

I think everyone in the stock horse industry needs to read this article. It outlines one of the key problems: Judges that are also trainers, allowed to judge trainers that are also judges.
The peer to peer back scratching has gotten out of control.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It’s all about collection: Horses and Idiots

The beauty of writing a blog is that at some point someone will stumble across it, take everything said on it completely wrong and then blunder off to another blog or forum and pitch a fit. Their first hysterical accusation is that I, as the evil blog writer, am hysterical. Of course the fact that they took every single thing out of context, or took every statement personally, doesn’t matter. I’m the problem, not their inability to read or comprehend.
Let’s look at several of the last blog posts I’ve made and then review the responses. The Icelandic post has inspired comments from here to Siberia. There are entire forums in Finnish, Swedish, German, Icelandic and other languages just bitching about me. Of course they deny the photos show real abuse, and they are filled with indignation that the sight of straining mouths cranked down with dropped nosebands would offend anyone. Silly us, to think we’d be upset! We’ve had Iceland residents stop in and defend some of the practices, and we’ve had them stop in and decry the practices.

Doesn’t this little guy look “thrilled”? That gaping mouth, those shuttered eyes, the fact his head is rammed back into his neck. It’s tradition! So it must be okay!
One thing that keeps getting belabored is how “strong” Icelandics are, like being ridden by a big tall person isn’t a problem. I “get” that Icelandics are strong. They are a small horse and have a dense bone structure. But there is still no reason for a very tall adult to be riding a horse that is the width of a QH yearling. We can see the size of the horses in the pictures. Some of these horses are “not” the heavier draft looking Icelandics. They are thin, fine boned and look like they have giants on them. It simply makes no sense. I even tortured myself and watched Beowolf and Grendal, which had Gerard Butler in it. I would watch anything with Gerard in it, especially hot, sweaty, half-naked, draped in skins Gerard. The movie was filmed in Iceland and there were several scenes of these huge American, British, Danish and Icelandic actors just tolting along in their little short horses. It was embarrassing to watch. I’m sorry, but Gerard is 6’2”. He does not need to be riding a 14 hands tall horse; even if did make his manly parts jiggle appealingly. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402057/
The riding over the kidneys is just horrible. And despite claims that an Icey has a mysterious 19th rib ( by someone from Iceland), the fact remains that if you’re sitting right in front of the pelvis you are right on top of the kidneys! There is no excuse for the hyperflexion of the neck. There is no reason to be pulling that hard on a horse. If the horse were trained properly he would yield, slow down and collect. Instead these horses are taught to gait fast, without being taught how to work in the bridle. I see evasion in just about every photo. But it’s okay because it’s tradition!

The blog posts that brought howls of dismay from the prowlers were the drecquitation posts. People are mad that it was pointed out that top trainers ride like shit. Like it was a shock or something. Like someone just happened to catch the trainer on a bad day, when all was wrong in their world and they weren’t riding up to par. Bullshit. Trainers put these ads out with the crappy riding and in some case inspire copycat fads, like that leaning back crap the mechanics in motion guy does.

Some of the keyboard jockeys went so far as to spout nonsense about trainers not needing to ride correctly. WTF is that about? Of course trainers need to ride correctly. My favorite comment was “I’d rather be an effective rider than a pretty rider.” Wake up Barbie! If you are an effective rider then you are riding pretty. Equitation means more than the Stepford Wife robot-armed shit we see in the show ring. Equitation is based on the horse’s skeleton and musculature and how the rider has to react to them. It’s not about who has the most spangled shirt or who holds their hand the stiffest. Equitation is about “riding properly”. If you ride properly then good things will fall into place. If you’re riding like shit and still getting a good performance it is because your horse is good enough to compensate for your flaws. He’s forgiving you for your stupidity and making you look good. If he had a good rider on him he’d look even better.

Then there are the little forum monkeys that just love to bitch about the blog but are too chickenshit to post on it. The Horse City Forum, Pleasure Horse Forum and FHOTD Forum come to mind. I have never been so amused in my life to read all the conspiracy theory bullshit that people threw out there.

Them: She hates stock horses.
Me: I grew up owning stock horses and love them dearly

Them: She’s never shown. She knows nothing.
Me: I’ve shown all my life. And when I started showing it meant you went in every class you could, not specializing in one single event.

Them: She doesn’t draw the shoulder lines right
Me: The shoulder lines are drawn “above” the actual shoulder to show the angle, and allow people to see the actual bone structure of the shoulder below. If you seriously thought I was putting the shoulder line to show where the shoulder actually was then you are dumber than dirt. If you look at where the gaskin and hock lines are you can tell the lines show the angles, not the actual structure. DUH!

Them: She’s hysterical.
Me: I’m in one spot, where anyone with a set of balls could comment. You, one the other hand, are running around, frothing at the mouth and having a conniption fit on various forums where all your similarly hysterical friends can back you up. You remind me of smart ass kids who talk big as long as they know a chain link fence separates them from the person willing to kick their ass.

Them: She doesn’t know anything about WP/EP/Iceys etc
Me: I’ve got the photographic and video proof on my side.

Them: I’m disgusted with her blog.
Me: But you’re still reading it and spouting off about it elsewhere.

Them: She cited Black Beauty so she has no credibility.
Me: Why don’t you just get a neon sign showing how ignorant you are? It would make it easier for anyone that meets you to understand you've never read anything more complicated than a comic book.

Black Beauty was written in 1877 by Anna Sewell. Prior to this time there were no animal welfare laws in England, beyond it being frowned upon to slaughter cows and pigs near a church on Sunday. Black Beauty brought an awareness of animal welfare to the general public and then to the members of parliament. Because of the public outcry, the Black Beauty Laws were put into effect, and equine welfare was finally being addressed. Black Beauty was instrumental in getting laws passed that abolished bearing reins(very tight over check reins), limiting the work days of the cab horses and making it possible to jail, or fine, someone that abused, or criminally killed, a horse. In other words Black Beauty did a hell of a lot more for the horse than any of the whining keyboard jockeys.

Them: She generalizes and makes us all out to be abusers.
Me: Get a fricking grip. Unless I specifically name you or use your photo I'm not saying shit about you. If your skin is so thin that nothing even remotely related to your life can be discussed then I suggest you order some kevlar for Christmas and learn to STFU. I can generalize abuse because we all know it exists. We know who abuses and we know who doesn't. If you're that bugged by me mentioning the shitty things that happen in the stock horse show ring then get off your ass and put a stop to them. Don't support the organizations that allow the abuse. And don't pretend that just because an organization has a rule against something that it is being enforced. Make sure the rules are being implemented and don't leave it to the organization to do the right thing,

What is really humorous to me are the little 18 years old know-it-alls that argue about breeds they show, but have no concept of the history. Seriously, shouldn’t there be some kind of test before you can own a horse? Maybe, something that requires that you know a bit about the breed, as well as how to handle it. I have never read so much uninformed shit in my life as I did reviewing the posts about this blog. Look in the mirror people; you’re why this blog exists. You provide me with an endless supply of material! This blog could go on forever and never run out simply because of the people bitching about it.

According to the polls most people think tail blocking and halter are problems. People seem confused that anyone would even consider putting a lip chain on a baby. Oh! It’s for safety! Yes, because it’s so much safer to flip your baby over and wrench his back and neck than have him fidget a bit. But then again a few wrenched backs might cover up the hideous conformation like this halter horse exhibits.

See here people, the line is “above” the fricking shoulder, but follows the angle. The back looks like something a snow boarder would like to take a try one and the neck makes me think of cinder blocks stacked on a horse’s body. Halter champions. Gotta love them.

It’s easy to see why this blog has collected some idiots. They rarely post here, being fearful of having their asses handed to them, but they do bitch, moan and whine on other forums. They are the reason this blog exists.

Now on to collecting horses. There are a lot of people out there under the false impression that a horse can collect himself with his head and neck lower than his withers. They are misinterpreting being in a frame, and being responsive, as being collected. Horses can be strung out like a Times Square crack ho and still be responsive. Just look at any barrel horse or open jumper. Collection is all about the skeleton and then the muscles. It is not about over flexing, bunching up the butt or hindering forward movement.
To quote Dr. Deb Bennett: “(1) the loins coil (2) the part of the back that would be under the saddle arches upward (3) the base of the neck is raised relative to the loins.”

If your horse’s head and neck are lower than his withers then he’s not collected. He’s in a false frame and he’s responding to your cues.

To further quote Dr. Bennett: “For the horse to go correctly "on the bit" or to "look through the bridle," he must raise the base of his neck. The scalenus and longus colli muscles, underslinging the base of the neck like a hammock, lift upward from below, raising the neck bones above. In a horse whose topline muscles are sufficiently relaxed, the uplifting action of the scalenus-longus colli complex comes to be aided by the coordinated contractions of the front part of the longissimus dorsi muscle, which pull the base of the neck upward”

Raise the “base” of the neck. So WP people, can you explain to me how a horse can raise the base of his neck when his chin is at his knees? He can’t. He is not collected. He may be responsive, he may be your personal dream ride, but he’s not collected by any means. I recommend everyone read this page and learn it by heart. http://www.equinestudies.org/knowledge_base/true_collection.html

Then have the balls to tell that trainer on the low-headed WP horse that it isn’t collected, it’s framed. And those of you insisting Icelandics must be hyper flexed need to read the part about gaited horses.

Here’s where the reality of the matter sets in. If you don’t like the blog then don’t read it. Going off to a forum and trying to defend the people that cause the offenses only perpetuates the problem. The show ring has some severe issues that will have to be addressed within the next few years for the horse industry to come out of the rut it is in. People see the show ring as a political arena where abuses are endorsed. People are tired of having to compete against fads, drugs, tail blocking, poor training, gimmicks and trainer/judges that kiss ass to other trainer/judges. So bitch about me if it makes you feel better, but it’s not changing a damn thing. I’d prefer to bitch about the problems and work on getting them fixed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Proof that the halter industry sucks......

I had a debate with myself about what to write about next. The Icelandic crowd has been so interesting to deal with, and of course the TWH groups gives me endless fodder, that I was originally going to leave the stock horse industry alone for a few posts and focus back on the gaited horses. That was until I saw this picture.

WTF is the exhibitor that is showing this horse thinking? Here’s what I’m thinking:

1) You suck as a trainer. You have no business having a horse at a show. There is absolutely no excuse to hold a lip chain that tight. I don’t care if it is a stallion, if you can’t train him to mind then leave him at home.
2) Your stallion has no business reproducing, ever. He could be the best conformed horse on the planet but you’ve just advertised to the entire world that he’s has such a shitty disposition that he can’t be controlled without having his gums ripped up to his eyeballs.
3) Most breeds do not allow lip chains. Even the TWH industry, which caters to the dregs of the horse world, doesn’t allow you to stick a chain in a horse’s mouth and numb his gums.
4) I find it highly ironic that stock horse trainers talk about how flighty and stupid Arabs, Saddlebreds, Morgans etc are, yet I have never seen one shown in hand with a chain in its mouth. I have seen classes full of stallions, babies, amateur handlers, you name it, in all the above breeds and never seen a horse with a chain in its mouth.
5) I actually have to commend AQHA because they took lip chains out of the gelding, mare and yearling and younger stallion classes. I wish they had taken it further and banned them completely, but at least they finally did make some effort to clean things up. APHA and ApHC have done nothing about lip chains and because of this they allow trainers, and judges, to promote the public image that the Paint and Appaloosa are not good, quiet, family horses. No one wants to buy a horse for their child that has to be restrained by a lip chain. Long-term lip chain use causes damage. It can result in atrophied gums, lost teeth, bite misalignment, as well as damage to the nerves in the corners of the lips. It can also result in injuries from the horse being shanked and flipped over, as this next photo shows.

Don’t you love it? The horse has had enough shit and he’s protesting. His lip is being ripped up and he’s doing the head jerk that you rarely see in horses that don’t have chains on their heads. Think about this poor bugger. He’s been fed feed that’s too high in protein, alfalfa hay, kept in a stall 22 hours a day, stuck in a trailer, hauled miles and miles, kept in a strange stall, maybe lunged for 15 minutes, and to punish him for his energy he gets a lip chain. Don’t you just wish he’d rear up and fall sideways and smash that idiot on the end of the shank?

Oh look, two for the price of one! Don’t you love seeing lines of miserable horses standing around just wishing to hell they could knock their handler in the head and run for freedom? Who’d have thunk that a halter horse would be jealous of an Amish plow horse simply because plowing is so much more appealing then getting a lip-ectomy at the hands of some jerk-off trainer? Who promotes this kind of crap? Why it’s the little group of Satan’s minions that not only place poor handling, but they do it themselves when they show their own horses. Let’s just advertise to the entire industry that stock horse halter people can’t train a horse to stand still long enough for a 15-minute halter class. Pretty funny when you consider that Gunther Goebel Williams used to run 7 Arabian stallions around a 45 foot diameter ring, at liberty, and fully capable of killing each other and him at any tim, and never had a problem. Good thing for the halter trainers that he’s not around to show them how to train a horse, he’d embarrass the hell out of them.

Oh look, another line of Satan’s minions just adding to the misery of the horse world. Notice that the second horse in the class looks relaxed and casual, of course he’s not wearing a lip chain.
The first horse’s expression says it all: BLEH! The third horse is probably dreaming about how much more fun it would be to have a job that didn’t cause such misery; say a taxi-horse in the brothel districts of Thailand or maybe the horse that drags the canal barge along the Nile. Those tourist barges are looking very appealing next to having your upper lip removed via chain gang surgery.

Bet you can’t guess from the mottled skin what breed this is?
The Breed of Choice is choosing to allow lip chains to continue to permeate the show ring at every level. Doesn’t matter if the horse is a mare, gelding or stallion, weanling, yearling or aged. Even the youth and non-pros can show a horse with a lip chain. I have personally see youth exhibitors flip over their lip chained horses. The horses have almost hit the youth exhibitor standing behind them. It’s such a bunch of stupid crap. No child should ever have a lip chain in their hands. If the horse is that unruly then it isn’t safe for the child to show! How much further down the road to bad parenting can you get? Let me guess; you let your child ride without a helmet on a green two-year-old through a fireworks display?
When I started showing using a lip chain was a public advertisement that you were a piss poor trainer or your horse was a complete idiot. It’s actually still the same. People who aren’t in the stock horse industry don’t get it. Hell, even draft horses aren’t shown in lip chains and they can drag your ass down the road.


Here’s another one of our little mottled skinned darlings. This is a yearling. A yearling! So this poor little guy must be such a big scary horse to handle that Satan’s minion can’t even risk leading him around without his torture chain? Can you just see what would happen if the US government instituted a “truth in advertising” clause for the horse industry.

Here’s how the ad would read:
ApHC yearling, gums destroyed from lip chain abuse, attitude not much better, kept stalled, fed too much, exercised just enough to make him halter fit, but not enough to let him be a horse. Flips on command. Head shy and hates to have his mouth handled. Don’t worry about him being productive, he’s so specialty bred he’s not good for anything but halter any how!

I can see people stepping up to buy that one

Oh, and aside from the lip chains WTF is the deal with bending over to place the horse’s feet? The non-pros and youth can’t do it in showmanship. Are you telling me some big time trainer can’t even handle a horse as well as a youth exhibitor? It used to be illegal to touch your horse, you remember, back in the day when you actually had to train a horse before showing it.

Failing! The halter industry is failing and the people in it are just making it fail faster by allowing this kind of abuse to happen. You cannot promote a section of the horse industry that allows blatant abuse to go on in the show ring.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Halter; an industry built on greed

Halter. Just the word conjures up images of well-built horses that are the epitome of a breed’s standards. Visions of horses trotting past a discerning judge fill the mind. Reality? No, fantasy! Face it, most halter horses today are such extreme examples of what a breed standard espouses that they should be barred from the ring. Why? Because every single breed standard out there, including the mini horse (which I looked up and read) talks about a horse that can work or perform some kind of duty. Halter horses usually don’t. Don’t inundated me with “but, but, but” because you know one or two halter horses that perform. So do I. I also know of a majority of halter horses that end up finished with their careers at ages when most horses are just starting to work. They are retired early due to “injury”. What injury? Did they sprain their jaws eating all that high protein feed and alfalfa hay? Or perhaps they drove their post legs into the ground too hard and injured their joints. Sounds plausible.

What is halter judging? It’s supposed to be based on these six criteria; breed and sex characteristics, balance, structural correctness, refinement, and degree of muscling. Balance is the single most important characteristic among all breeds.

Let’s look at the AQHA breed standard:
The ideal American Quarter Horse shown at halter is a horse that is generally considered to be solid in color and possesses the following characteristics: the horse should possess eye appeal that is the result of a harmonious blending of an attractive head; refined throat latch; well-proportioned, trim neck; long, sloping shoulder; deep heart girth; short back; strong loin and coupling; long hip and croup; and well-defined and muscular stifle, gaskin, forearm and chest. All stallions 2 years old and over shall have two visible testicles.
These characteristics should be coupled with straight and structurally correct legs and feet that are free of blemishes. The horse should be a balanced athlete that is muscled uniformly throughout.

Sounds like a fairly well made horse. And it’s not what we’re seeing the ring today. The above standard is used in almost all stock breeds.

Just to be fair I’ll include the breed standard for Arabians:
Comparatively small head, profile of head straight or preferably slightly concave below the eyes; small muzzle, large nostrils, extended when in action; large, round, expressive, dark eyes set well apart (glass eyes shall be penalized in Breeding classes); comparatively short
distance between eye and muzzle; deep jowls, wide between the branches; small ears (smaller in stallions than mares), thin and well shaped, tips curved slightly inward; long arched neck, set on high and running well back into moderately high withers; long sloping shoulder well laid over with muscle; ribs well sprung; long, broad forearm; short cannon bone with large sinew; short back; loins broad and strong; croup comparatively horizontal; natural high tail carriage. Viewed from rear, tail should be carried straight; hips strong and round; well muscled thigh and gaskin; straight, sound, flat bone; large joints, strong and well defined; sloping pasterns of good length; round feet of proportionate size. Height from 14.1 to 15.1 hands, with an occasional individual over or under. Fine coat in varying colors of bay, chestnut, grey and black. Dark skin, except under white markings. Stallions especially should have an abundance of natural vitality, animation, spirit, suppleness and balance.

Definitely looks like the Arab halter horse fits their breed standard more than the stock horses do. Why is this? I like Arabs, but they’ve been focused on “type” a long, long time. They even define “type” by subsets within the breed. You can have Egyptian, Crabbet (English), Russian, Polish and Spanish types.

The stock breeds have types too, such as racing, cutting, reining, WP, EP, foundation etc, but you don’t see all these types being placed fairly in the showring. I have seen Arab shows where all different types are represented in the halter ring, and all are placed based on their type and overall conformational balance. I don’t see that happening in the stock horse halter ring. In fact the main criteria in the halter stock ring seems to be how heavy, and how obnoxious acting, you can make your horse.

Why is stock horse halter such a narrow minded and prejudicial class? Because judges are blinded by big muscles to the point that they will excuse all other faults. The first fault they ignore is movement. Watch this video and tell me there are horses you’d ride in it. The second horse in the ring is very noticeably stifled and should have been excused. I see stiff, jerky and disjointed movement, yet it wins.


Now compare it to this video. Ignore the stupid smoke and note the horses are actually trotting and showing movement that could be used under saddle.


Where does this lead us? To the fact that our halter judges are muscle blind and they will forgive just about every fault, except a missing limb, as long as the horse is built like a feeder calf.

There’s an old poem my sister (she’s a judge) likes to cite. It’s about six blind men that are all asked to determine what an elephant looks like by touch. Each blind man touches only one part of the elephant and concludes from what he feels what an elephant is like.

The poem goes something like this

The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a tree;
the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope;
the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a snake;
the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a palm leaf;
the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall;
and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a spear

You have to add it all up to get a picture of what an elephant is. Judging horses should be the same way. You should look at each part seperately and then put them together as a whole. I asked my sister and a few other judges I know how they place halter horses. Three of them use similar methods of rating each “part” on a scale of one to five, then rating the overall balance of the horse and adding it all up. The horse with the highest score wins. To me this is the fairest method of judging, and one that I feel is used very little. I think most judges pick the winner in the first two mintues of the class and that horse is usually the biggest butted animal in the ring.

Just for kicks let's do a little “blind” men examination of some horses. Instead of presenting the whole picture of the horse, which might lure you with pretty heads and cute expressions, as well as big butts, I’ve cropped photos to show just certain sections, and lined them to show where things should be. Included is a visual representation of the horse’s skeleton with some similar lines.

Blue lines: Form

Yellow lines: Leg correctness

Red lines: Balance

Green line: Top line

Now that we can see what a horse’s skeleton looks like we can start looking at the horses that are winning in the halter ring today. I’m going to be non-partisan and pick on stock type and Arab type today.

Here’s are first example of what the blind men would have felt:
I deduced that the horse is like an inverted bactrian camel. What is up with a hip that is that much higher than the withers? This horse goes beyond downhill, he’s actually built like a luge chute. He’d also be deducing that the horse’s neck was built like a pork barrel and his hind legs were built like a willow sapling. Had this horse been stood up where his gaskin and hock really want to be he would have been seriously camped out. I actually do almost like the forearm on this horse, but don’t like his pastern.

Here’s what the blind man would say: I deduce the horse is like a post. Seriously, don’t you just want to string a strand of clothesline between his legs? Can you imagine how rough this horse’s gaits are with that straight hock, no reach and pasterns like little pegs? His top line is better than the above horse and his hip to tail base is not as drastic. No way he could be camped out, because if you moved his legs behind the point of his gaskin the entire horse would collapse like a bridge without base supports.

Here’s what the blind man would say: I deduce the horse is like a stump. I like short backs, but seriously, this is a bit too close coupled. More post style legs and no pasterns to speak of. This horse will have no trot! He will not have impulsion. I also don’t like his hip ratio; this horse can’t get under himself to a huge degree. I’m not thrilled with him as a halter horse and I’d like him even less as a saddle horse.

Here’s what the blind man would say: I deduce the horse is like a llama. You think I’m kidding?

Looks like twins separated at birth, except one has a haircut and a pack saddle.

Just to be fair I think our little blind man would feel this horse and say: I deduce the horse is like a glacial rift valley with a built in ski slope. Come on Arab people! How can I pick on the stock horse industry when you’re breeding backs and shoulders like this?

Here’s another one. Believe it or not this is not the same horse as above. Yes, that means there are two of these little gems in the world, just waiting to reproduce and make more. Our little blind man is having a time with this guy: I deduce the horse is like a table. All this horse needs is a checker board and beer stein and he’d be the perfect horse. At first glance I thought this horse was one of those poor abused TWHs I rant about. But no, it’s an Arabian and the owner thought this photo really showcased his horse’s flat croup. It also showcases the horse’s weak hind end, bad pasterns, poor gaskins and nasty hamstrings.

I like a horse that can teach people things, but I don’t need a horse that can teach me how to spell VO. The front legs are base narrow, the hind legs are also base narrow, with a nasty bowing in the middle. Can you say interference and forging? Oh look, more straight pasterns! Must have been a special on them at Horse-Mart. I deduce the horse is like a spelling bee.

Where to start? By now our blind man thinks the horse is like a set of pick up sticks, with good reason. The horse above spells VO, this one spells OX. I can’t imagine what this horse’s trot is like. I imagine it tries to be airy and floaty like most Arabs, but I’m thinking there is going to be some serious interference going on. Think weedwhacker, not hovercraft. Toes out in front, cow hocked in the back, out at the knee, toes out behind. Please don’t reproduce this horse!

We’re going to leave our little tribe of blind men right now and go over to the tent where the fortune teller lives. She’s a cagey old broad, much like myself, and we’re going to ask her to look deep into her crystal ball and tell us the future of the halter industry. { crackling noises, smoke and mirrors}
Look deep into that ball and tell us what you see. I see that the halter industry is DOOMED! The colt you see before you is the reason why. He was bred to have a huge hip and butt. His legs look like toothpicks, used ones. He’s not even weaning age and he’s got such bad epiphysitis he’s already doomed to be one of those “retired early due to injury” horses. Look at those hind pasterns. He’s over at the pastern front and back. He’s crab shouldered. He’s got a big butt, typey neck and head ( which I cropped) but those legs are a nightmare. This is the future of halter right here!

Every one of these horses shown here is listed as a halter champion or halter prospect. From their names I know that some of them have placed high at sanctioned shows. It’s disgraceful that this is the best the halter show ring has to offer. If the human model industry was based on the same standards of having tiny heads and necks and big asses I'd be the top paid model out there.

The horse industry has taken a down turn. People are cutting back and they can’t afford a horse for each event. Horses that are specialized are going to be fast tracked to the dump pen. A halter bred gelding has less value than a grade kid’s horse once his show career is over. Those big meaty muscles are going to attract the wrong kind of buyer at the end of that horse’s life. Here are some links where you can view some more posted legged, poor shouldered, bad toplined and peg footed horses.


And for the record: I’m not bitter, jealous or a halter wannabe. I do know good conformation and the horses I featured are not up to standard, yet they have won awards and come from some of the industries most favored halter lines. You’ve doomed yourself by being greedy and specializing your horse, don’t blame me for pointing it out. Start breeding conformations that cannot only halter but can also ride. If you don't you will be flushed down the horse industry drain just as surely as the BYB's you bitch about.