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!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

That horse won't hunt....

Foxhunting conjures up images of noble thoroughbreds, ridden by red coated squires, galloping across verdant fields, following tri-colored hounds and a sly red fox.

My guess is that these same squires would split their red coats laughing at the sight of what passes for a hunter in the ring today. When did the down turn happen?


I realize that the stock horse industry has altered and corrupted the entire concept of what a “bridled” horse is, but now it’s come over into the hunter ring and taking it down the same downhill trotting, head-dragging, stiff legged path. Where have all the good hunters gone?

A hunter is supposed to have movement based on what a cross-country jumping horse would need. Long sweepy strides, nice up hill movement, lots of impulsion, alert and focused demeanor. I’ve only seen a few real fox hunts, but I don’t recall seeing a single horse go past with his head at his knees, stiff hind legs popping and locking at the hocks, tiny front stride, and that hideous hunch/release movement that the stock horse breeds do at a canter. Watching the AQHA hunter under saddle classes is like watching a herd of caterpillars hunch along trying to reach the choicest leaf. It boggles the imagination to watch it. The rictus grins on the faces of the riders tell observers that the gait is neither smooth, nor enjoyable. These horses couldn’t out jump Fritz the Wonder Mini.


How did this come about? I know that those nasty Myler bits that pretend to be snaffles, but are actually bastardized curbs bits, are partially to blame. You can’t get good movement when your horse is over-flexed because his cathedral ported, and curb chained, dee-ring is digging into his mouth at every bumpy stride. Since when did putting English tack on a Western horse make a hunter? If that theory worked in every other discipline then there would be some big ol’ warmbloods in sliders winning reining, which will happen just as soon as the sport gets dumbed down to suit the horses and people that can’t really do those types of maneuvers.

Aren’t the stock horse exhibitors and judges embarrassed by how they look? I admit I’ve seen worse things, after all, I will watch American Idol on occasion, but this whole scale perversion of a sport in order to accommodate poor conformations and poor trainers is just unacceptable. It’s not like a good QH/Paint/App can’t move like a hunter. In their natural state, prior to being tucked up, jerked on and spur stopped into oblivion, they can trot and canter like a horse after the hounds. They round up, use their butts, and show the verve and joy that a good foxhunter does.

Maybe it’s the start of a new sport, Hunting by Hysteria, wherein the fox turns around, sees a herd of horses following him like a bunch of oversized inchworms and he falls over dead after laughing himself into an attack. No hounds are needed.

Why do the judges place this kind of crap? Don’t they realize that it simply points out their own ignorance of what a good hunter is? I know the argument will come up that they have to judge the horse in front of them, but I have personally seen a class full of head dragging, stump thumpers get placed and the one good true moving hunter get dumped. Why do judges do it? Is it fear, peer pressure, ignorance or stupidity? Is it worth playing favorites and appearing an unknowledgeable dork, in order to actually dump the good moving horse, that is in all likelihood ridden by an unknown (or uncorrupted non-professional) just so some poor riding professional can pimp his shoddy wares?

Help me out here people, tell me that I’m not the only one that thinks that stock breed hunters are a disgrace!


sunbake said...

I agree 'mouse' - guess they all must've spent the night with their heads tied up to the rafters - what do you think? I actually ride a lovely hunter (out of the Trakehner stallion Shoenfeld) and he would never carry his head like that - how the 'H' is he supposed to see the jump? LOL :)

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Well now-you really can't expect that WP horse, you know the one that is going nowhere, to come out of his western class, tack change and then go in and be expected to actually move out, as a hunter is supposed to, DO YOU??
(Hope you catch the sarcasm dripping off my fingertips on that one-LOL)

We don't exactly have HUS type horses. Actually, we don't have WP type horses either but if I decide to show one in HUS-I expect that horse to move out with some impulsion, a flat knee and a level topline. My foundation QH's may not look as elegant as a TB looking QH, but I guarantee they are traveling truer to the hunt style.
I never place-Duh!! But I like doing it and I keep hoping that someday a judge will say-now that is how a HUS horse should move.

And then before long, everyone will be moving their horses out again because that is what won last weekend...well, I can dream can't I???

Duske Falling said...

Western Pleasure is a joke. At least now the AQHA has realized that the horses look like crap, especially in the "lope" where it looks like a railroad spike is shoved into the front hoof of the poor creature as he bobs and staggers along the ring. Also, they expect the head to be higher now too, rather than digging a furrow to plant corn with his pole, like they used to show. Now it's up to the judges to actually enforce said rule, but I have seen improvement. Still not my thing, though. I'm a tried and true trail rider when I can borrow a good horse.

Loving your blog, btw!

horseyone said...

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! I can't believe this idiocy has been going on for decades. Don't these people get it? But unfortunately, there's crappy training/showing in any discipline: Hunters lunged to death to jump over boring courses with riders ducking up their necks; DQs who crank their warmbloods in and can't sit their trots; lower level Eventers who have no business jumping an X, let alone a X-C jump. But I agree, the QH people are SO out of control, I don't know if there is any hope of redemption. How about sicking the PETA folks on them?? :)

Tara said...

Thank you! Seriously, I don't even know how you keep a horse "cantering" so close to the trot tranisition. There is supposed to be a moment of suspension in the canter, no?

I took an English pleasure class in a schooling show on a whim once. It was sort of my last hurrah on a wonderful Arab mare (schoolhorse) who I had outgrown for H/J classes. We sweeped all three classes! It was a lovely experience, and she got rewarded for being quiet and wonderful. She had a canter to die for, and it looked NOTHING like those horses. Sure, it was a "quiet canter" and we rode on a pretty slack rein, but she also had some nice impulsion.

Why would you want your horse to look like that?

carriegl said...

I agree 'mouse' - guess they all must've spent the night with their heads tied up to the rafters - what do you think?

You mean they got "beamed"?

Terrible practice done by some unscrupulous well known trainers!

This "training" method actually causes severe damage to the neck, making the horse unable to carry their head/neck in a normal fashion. It requires intensive physical therapy to enable these horses to have a life outside of the Breed Show pen!

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

I blasted western pleasure and huntseat... until my mule decided that she likes her poll perfectly level with her withers and keeps it there, sans martingale, tie downs, cruelty, etc.

But she can also collect like a dressage horse and do tempi lead changes.
*end plug*

If an animal doesn't naturally carry their head low there is no sane excuse for making them do that- it's just bullshit. And I'm not sure when the totally f-ed up WP gaits came en vogue... and the hindquarters canted in, the staggering, head-bobbing... what the hell?

I went to an open show and had the experience of needing some eye bleach after watching the warm up pen all day. I couldn't believe the sawing on the poor horse's mouths to get their heads down... all the while casually holding conversations and instructing students.

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

Oh- and I find it amusing that all the Britons go WTF? at "huntseat" because I think the same thing.
That's just western pleasure in English tack, folks.

Tuffy Horse said...

I have to agree that HUS looks pretty bad. I hate the slogging movement and the down hill posture.

I have less problem with the horses than I do the riders. The constant "checking and picking" that most trainers do drives me nuts. I also can't stand the penguin feet, duck butts and crappy equitation.

Tracy Meisenbach
http://thehorsediary.net/ (updated 5-14-2008)

OldMorgans said...

For years I had heard of the QH horror that is called HUS and had seen photos here & there. But I was speechless when I finally beheld it in motion (well, sort of in motion) on RFD one night.
How do those people not see that they have created a parody of a horse?
And what is a "spur stop"? And do I really want to know?

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

Spur stop- just what it sounds like.
To stop the WP/HUS person rests their spur on the horses side (or digs in in the worst cases) and to go they do pokes/jabs.

Yes, it effs the horse up to no end... what you usually wind up with is a sour, confused horse that frantically whirs his tail, can't go forward, and puts his head on his sternum all the time.

It's why you seldom see pleasure rail horses doing anything else. You can't teach lead changes or laterals with spur stops. They can't jump with their nose in the dirt, and they sure as hell can't get enough forward impulsion with balance on the hind to do a sliding stop in reining.

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

Oh yeah- I forgot about before I had Jasmine when I showed an off the track appendix QH against a ring of the half-dead HUS people... that horse I showed could round and canter like a rocking horse with beautiful suspension...
I had to take the far inside rail to keep from running over everybody.
I didn't place of course.

lythinae said...

I am in complete agreement though. That's not what a hunter should look like!! They'd run head first into fences!! I'd love to ask the judge why those horses got placed at all ...

I'd get beaten senseless if I ever tried riding like in that second video though. My horse friends would hold me down for my trainer :D

*grins* I use those nasty Myler bits - both the comfort snaffle and a combination thing). The combo is ported, but only very slightly and I use a leather strap rather than a chain. Newest guy has a high head carriage and he tends to fight a martingale. (I'm gonna start another double bridle type debate again, aren't I??). And I do see how they get misused a lot (and I cringe now that Parelli is selling the combo bits - his cradle bridle ... you know you need it to understand your horse!!). We are working towards jumping in his normal bit though.

horseyone said...

Hey, high head carriages can be corrected with GOOD TRAINING! I'm reschooling a naughty little Welsh pony who would stick his head in the air and rush off. He has a natural high head carriage at liberty, and tends to be "upside down." I put him in a KK snaffle (for those of you not familiar, it's a German dressage bit with two joints, thick, and inviting). He was a tough nut to crack, but now he goes soft and round and LOW into my hands (when I ask), and it didn't take a martingale or any other device to do it, just sound riding.

Anonymous said...

You have the name of the class wrong --- it's Western Pleasure Under English Tack. Total disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Here I thought I was the only one who *HATES* that stupid "western pleasure" style HUS. (I also hate western pleasure, but that's a different blog post.)

I had an older gelding that was mostly used for reining/games that was also pretty good at the HUS classes--BUT, he never moved like a "pleasure" horse, because he wasn't experienced in that area. (Thank GOD, his trot was AWFUL! Couldn't imagine trying to suffer through it in slow motion! *grin*)

He was sadly, more of a pleasure to ride than any "pleasure" horse I've been on. *eye roll* I prefer a natural gait myself--let them go like they would normally...THAT'S a pleasure to ride.

lythinae said...

Horseyone, I definitely agree that there is no substitute for real training.

This guy is a 17hh OTTB that got started in the Mylers (not by me ... previous owner sent them with him.) and he was jumped in a standing martingale. Martingale was the first thing to go, which made him a lot happier. All though the first time without it I swear I could see his nose from between his ears! I'm not using it as a quick fix solution.

I guess I was trying to point out that it's a tool like any other, and can easily be abused.

OzArab said...

I'm from Australia. I've never been into AQHA or WP stuff. Always thought it looked weird (not the best excuse in the world LOL).
But those "Hunter" classes look *nothing* like the ones I've seen here. Don't you want a nice big bold mover that would go over jumps??

Anonymous said...

ozarab, I'm in Australia too and we do have these HUS classes where the horses move like those shown in the second YouTube video. We also have Hunter classes which are a whole different thing, like working hunter where the horses need to jump, and show hunter which is different again and is a showy/hacking class.

But in Western shows (QH's, Paints, Appy's etc) they do have the HUS (as well as the WP, Trail etc etc etc) here in Australia too.

OzArab said...

>>But in Western shows (QH's, Paints, Appy's etc) they do have the HUS (as well as the WP, Trail etc etc etc) here in Australia too.<<

:( I'm sorry to hear it.
Obviously I need to get out more otherwise I would have already known that... ;) I've really only seen Show Hunter (as I am secretary for our local ag show).

Tuffy Horse said...

I've been thinking about this hunter issue and it perplexes me a great deal.

1) The current stock horse HUS movement is artificial. It requires intensive training to get a horse in that hideous frame and moving with their butt canted sideways. I don't want to hear about horses being bred to move like that. I have NEVER seen a loose horse, regardless of his breeding, move with his butt inside of his forelegs while cantering. I've also never seen one bob his head in and side to side while cantering naturally.

2) The USEF and Pony Club style of hunter takes LESS work to make because it's a more natural frame. In this day and age when people are starting youngsters early and trying to get the most money for the least amount of effort it just doesn't make sense to flog the horse into that unnatural frame, when you could move him out naturally, sell him for more as a Pony Club horse and get him out of your barn quicker.

3) Natural movement leads to longevity and soundness. Why create a frame that causes stifle, hock and ankle problems? It just makes no sense

I really don't carry what the AQHA thinks HUS needs to look like, I'm not doing that stuff with my horses.

Tracy Meisenbach
http://thehorsediary.net/ (updated 5-19-2008)

Anonymous said...

I had a student at youth show this past weekend in Ohio. My student actually hunts and events with her pony (who is an amazing jumper and carries himself beautifully). The horse that won the championship rubbed every fence (because his rider was setting the horse's head in the lines, it bucked on lead changes, and she rode w/ stirrups so long she couldn't get off the horse's back. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I love QH's. As far as I'm concerned, they're the best US horses around. Which is why it's so sickening to see what the show's have become. The horses in that second vid sure as heck don't look like QH's to me. If that's what you want your horse to look like, why not stick with TBs?

You summed it up pretty nicely. Crank the head down and force the poor things to stumble around a ring-now *that's* a good stock horse. If I ever caught my horse moving like that, I'd call the farrier out ASAP. It's so beyootful to see them wandering around looking like their hideously lame-gag.

AbbyAugustArabian said...

I know it is beside the point, but I actually like some of the myler bits. I have never used one past level 1 or 2 though. It helped me get my mare over her fear of bits and really helped get her soft on the bit. I have her in a 3 piece snaffle now and she is doing fine. I also have a western myler bit which is the only bit my gelding with tolerate for western.

I do agree with the rest of your post though. Everybody needs to go back to basics and look at the roots of the sport. Everything is so political now.

cattypex said...

What the hell is a "Myler bit"? I thought it was a gentle plastic bit? Or is that Mylar?

Is a Myler bit like a Kimberwicke? Those used to be really popular with the QH folks.

Fake tails look really dumb.

So do those poor horses. I had to sit thru some classes at Congress last year, and there were maybe THREE horses in the Hunter Hack class I thought had potential. Of course none placed.

What's with the banded manes? People too lazy to braid????

Even Arabian WP is looking weird these days. Like the AQHA was setting a GOOD example!?!?!?!!!???

I think a lot of affluent owners are boondoggled by "trainers" who use lots of impressive-looking equipment, don't sit and quietly let the horse move, and the hoooours of lunging in drawreins. It really SEEMS like the "trainer" is DOING something, and if it perverts the horse's natural movement, then it MUST be right, because we're not paying for "natural" any more than a porn star would for silicone B-cups.

Huntseatrider said...

I will have to say that I LOVE Hold Your Card's way of moving.

Then again, I am an AQHYA rider campaigning for the 2009 World show in hunter under saddle hunt seat equitation, and hunter hack. Oh, and an aspiring AQHA hunt seat trainer.

The horses in hunter under saddle are now asked to carry their polls right at wither level with a vertical head. The horse cannot properly do this without being engaged from behind, it just does not work. Yeah, you can get it artificially, but the horse will not be able to get out that long, sweepy stride. It's short, choppy and looks like shit!

However, I will point out that I am SICK TO DEATH of hearing other riders ridicule my sport. Yall are not the ones riding the horse, so why give a shit? You're not spending money on the sport, again, why would you give a shit?

As for an HUS horse being a WP horse, it often times does not work. Ask my filly to drop her face that low and go that slow... you'd probably become a lawn dart!

Not EVERYONE has to saw their horse's face off. I lift, add leg, and my filly just puts her face out there. I might have to tug a bit in the beginning, but nothing more. Not EVERYONE uses spur stops. Not EVERYONE is a piece of shit rider who uses shortcuts.

My filly can go around a HUS pen AND jump. Quite well, I might add.