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, June 5, 2008

Reining, raining, reigning

I love a good “bridled” horse. There is nothing prettier than a horse that stays within the bridle and works as lightly as a hummingbird. I love nice controlled spins, dynamic slides and lead changes that seem to come about because someone stroked the horse with a thought.

Sadly, these horses rarely exist nowadays. What I see in the reining ring are young horses, ridden by huge men, and popping their hocks on every stride. I see absolute shit shoeing jobs, bits that should be banned and evidence of drug abuse.

Of course these statements will drive the reiners crazy and they will deny, deny, deny. Too bad for them that the videos showing reining on youtube bear my statements out. When is it acceptable for some 250 pound man, on a 60 pound reining saddle, to be galloping a 14 hand reiner around? There are videos of reining horses so small that all you can see sticking out are the horse’s ears and his tail.

Drug use? It’s prevalent. I’d go so far as to say it’s condoned and encouraged. You can walk through the barns after a reining show and find syringes laying in the aisles. The dumpsters are filled with drug paraphernalia after every show. How’d those syringes get there? Little drug fairies must have brought them in the night just to give the reining people a bad name. That stuff falling from the sky itsn't rain, it's dexamethosone condensing and forming drug clouds over the NRHA.

The reigning problem in reining is the use of shit bits and blocked tails. Reining is supposed to be a dance between horse and rider. It should not be an inquisition where the torturer uses some Myler jaw cracker to get a hard slide. Yes I know about bridleless reining. I’m as impressed as anyone by Stacey Westfall. She’s a good trainer. But there is only one of her. There is an industry full of big redneck guys on little bitty horses jerking them all over the place and trying to hide it with drugs and blocked tails.

And what is with the screwed up riding style? Is there some unwritten rule that if you show reining that you can’t use the slightest bit of equitation? I have a word for the riding style the big reiner men use:Drequitation. I’ve seen 4 H kids with better seats. And what the hell is the deal with pushing your legs in front of the horse’s shoulder? Does having a balanced seat elude people? If you’re such a hot trainer shouldn’t you also be a hot rider?
I’m sad about the state reining has reached. You’d think with their own national organization they’d do better than anyone else.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am glad you brought this up. Being sort of new to the horse world I bought a horse the used to do reining and brought her to a trainer to learn all the cues. Boy was that an eye opening expeirence. Ugh. Is is me or do people kind of look at mares as baby carriers? It seems so sexist in the way they are talked about and used up then tossed away, I was reading the FHOTD blog today and they were discussing the sale of 3 older broodmares. Being new to the horse world I am starting to get anxiety already!!!!!!!!!

Em said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! This is so true! There is no excuse for a horse to ring sour even before he is 3. A lot of these guys also forget about their calves and just spur, spur, and spur some more. Big guys like the ones I have seen on the little 2-year-olds have no business on those horses even for light work. Assholes and egotists, the lot of them!!

Magna Cum Mule Trainer said...

Yeah... I like my reining, I will stick with it and drop other disciplines if needed, but I'm getting sick of seeing 2 and 3 year old horses that have obviously been drugged.
I hate seeing horses bleed in the warm up pen from spurs and bits.
We're running out of true all-around horses, probably because they require work and thought and you can't start them when they're 18 months old if you want to have them for a while.

Also- judges only seem to care about the length of a sliding stop now, not the quality. I'm showing barefoot and placed pretty good at the last show, but at the bigger ones horses that scotch before stopping or get lugged on to make them stop place well.
Huh?

Anonymous said...

I was kind of curious about reining- I started as a dressage rider back in the day, and reining seemed like it might be interesting in a similar way, until I watched a bunch of stuff on YouTube.

It was like watching some of the recent high level dressage, with the rollkur crap. Just totally depressing. I don't get the point.

A large part of what is enjoyable, to my mind, about riding dressage or the like is the partnership with the horse, those times when everything just clicks and you feel like you just have to think and it'll happen. How can you get that if the horse is doped up and cranked down and utterly miserable?

Blech.

carriegl said...

As an avid enthusiast of both Dressage and Reining, not the competitions, but the actual disciplines........I am having a blast teaching my boy the moves. But as far as "big time" competitions, well.....they will not get my money simply because to actually compete in those events, your horse HAS to be done and bridled by 6 yo....nope, not gonna' do it. I want to have this horse when he is 20, if he even gets semi-finished by 10 yo, I will be happy!

It takes making a dramatic statement to these organizations before they will listen. If we could get folks to boycott these competitions.....then maybe these organizations will sit up and take notice that the crowds are tired of nasty bits, drugged and bloody horses! Don't participate in them either. Have fun at local shows..saves heartache and fuel!

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

Serenity Now! said...

I don't believe that drugging, tail blocking and abuse happens as regularly as you seem to imply. Just as I don't believe that videos on YouTube present a realistic picture.

Just as with any industry, you need to be careful who you deal with. There are bad apples, people who will lie and cheat and be abusive.

But there are a lot who won't. There are a lot who believe in horsemanship and a partnership with the animal. I'm very thankful that I've worked with these people, talked to them, stood at gates and cried with them just because we saw a really great run.

I've seen people making tough decisions for the benefit of the horse no matter what the cost to their pocketbook. I've seen a lot of great humanity in riders - the horse brings it out in them.

I've seen some bad, but it is outweighed by the good. Then again, I do spend many weeks each year at reinings, I speak to reiners across North America almost daily about the GOOD things in the sport.

I've only ever seen a 14 hand reiner; I've never seen a single syringe "laying in the aisles". Nor have I ever given a horse a restricted drug before competition. I'm sorry I can't comment on what a "shit bit" is since the type of bit is regulated in a show environment and that's all I trained with.

So I'm sorry I wasn't able to confirm your hypothesis that reiners "will deny, deny, deny". But I think that you have to spend more time with reiners in real life than reiners on YouTube to know what is actually going on in the industry.

I'm sorry that you've seen so much poor reining examples on YouTube - again, not quite a clear picture of reality. Unless you believe that the Numa Numa kid could actually sing like that.

Tuffy Horse said...

Serenity now wrote:
>I don't believe that drugging, tail blocking and abuse happens as regularly as you seem to imply. Just as I don't believe that videos on YouTube present a realistic picture.


Last fall I shopped around for a reining trainer for my junior stallion. I made several calls to trainers in NC, where some of the "best" of the industry are. I was told point blank by several that if my horse came to their barn is tail would be blocked. I was told to plan on hock injections and pain killers being used. I was appalled that trainers would openly admit they cheated, and did so to a client they were trying to sign up.

When the youtube videos come from NRHA events, as well as specific breed show events, then they do reflect the reality of reining.

Right now I see a sport in turmoil and one I am very glad I did not let my junior stallion get too immersed in. He left here a nice, quiet animal that my teen age daughter had ridden and shown and he came home a frustrated, sore and very wary horse with the worst excuse for a shoeing job I had ever seen. This horse will run and slide in just a bosal, but he was worked in a curb with a running martingale. He yields to leg pressure with just a touch, but he was spurred so that he had sub dermal edemas all down his ribs.
I had no idea that reining trainers DON'T know how to use seat and upper leg cues. I had no idea that there wass anyone in the world that thought using a martigale with a curb bit was OK.

It's not okay, it's a disgrace.


Tracy Meisenbach
www.trinityapp.com
http://thehorsediary.net/ (updated 6-5-2008)

HeatherAQHA said...

Just a couple of random points from me here...

1) The leg way out in front thing is both a cue to stop and a way to absorb the impact of being pitched forward. Sure, it would look horrendous in an eq or pleasure class, but it has its purpose in reining. A broke reiner would stop just as hard if you were bridleless and threw your legs forward vs cueing with the reins.

2) Injecting hocks with drugs like Adequan (hyaluronic acid) isn't illegal or "bad." I agree that young horses (3, 4, 5 year olds for sure) shouldn't be *needing* the drug, but it's a joint lubricant, not something that is covering up pain or inflammation. Injecting steroids as a routine maintenance practice, on the other hand...

3) Nerved tails are indicatives of sloppy/cheating/harsh training, no matter the discipline. They have no place in reining (especially with the backups involved), pleasure, trail, jumping, gaited breeds, etc.

carriegl said...

Heatheraqha..........

I respectfully disagree........resorting to the needle for ANYTHING, means the horse is not up to the task at hand. Soundness and training.........the only acceptable way to show a horse!!

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

Tuffy Horse said...

HeatherAQHA said...
Just a couple of random points from me here...

>>1) The leg way out in front thing is both a cue to stop and a way to absorb the impact of being pitched forward. Sure, it would look horrendous in an eq or pleasure class, but it has its purpose in reining. A broke reiner would stop just as hard if you were bridleless and threw your legs forward vs cueing with the reins.

I respectfully disagree. There is absolutely NO reason for the leg forward stuff except sloppy riding. If it's the shock absorber then the person has no idea how to use their seat. If throwing your leg forward is such a good shock absorber then how come jumper riders don't do it? Putting your leg in front of the girth actually makes your foot a pivot point and can lift you out of the seat.

>>2) Injecting hocks with drugs like Adequan (hyaluronic acid) isn't illegal or "bad." I agree that young horses (3, 4, 5 year olds for sure) shouldn't be *needing* the drug, but it's a joint lubricant, not something that is covering up pain or inflammation. Injecting steroids as a routine maintenance practice, on the other hand...


I'm not talking about "maintainance drugs". I'm talking about lasix, narcotics, and heavy doses of NSAIDS.

>>3) Nerved tails are indicatives of sloppy/cheating/harsh training, no matter the discipline. They have no place in reining (especially with the backups involved), pleasure, trail, jumping, gaited breeds, etc.

I agree, but NRHA and NCHA have no intent to check for and disqualify blocked tails. Most breed associations ignore it too.

carriegl said...

I am curious as to how folks feel about the plain, low port Kimberwick bit. I need to start somewhere to transition from a snaffle to a curb/shanked bit. I ride my horse in a regular no pinch D-ring Snaffle in all facets of riding. I have had a nice Bosal custom made for him and he does well in it. I switch him back and forth from the bit to the bosal in Western riding. But he is 5 yo now and next year, to compete him in breed shows, I need to be in a curb/shanked bit. Any comments or recommendations on the Kimberwick before I purchase it?

He is soft and responsive on a snaffle or bosal. We are working on the "one handed" thing, he takes his cues from my leg and seat mostly. This is a young horse, with almost 2 years under saddle.

Any advice would be most appreciated!

Thanks,

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

cattypex said...

I'm not a big fan of Kimberwick bits..... I know they're still popular in the AQHA HUS world, but to me, they're neither fish nor fowl.

What about a Tom Thumb type bit? Is that legal?

Hey look! I'm replying to a really old post! :P

reinerluver said...

THANK YOU SERENITY NOW AND HEATHERAQHA!!!!! and tuffy horse i am really curious if you have ever actually ridden a REAL reining horse, and i know you havnt because if you have, you would know that you have to put your feet forward to brace for impact and if you try to keep the "horsemanship" stance you would most likely go straight over the horses head. Just because you saw a video on youtube doesnt mean you know SHIT. Maybe you should actually know what you are talking about before you say insane things that you have no idea about!

Red F said...

reinerluver, THANK YOU! What I do not understand is why the acts of just a few people, can ruin everyone else's view of reining horses. I for one actually own one and have ridden some other very nice reining horses. They aren't drugged, they haven't been started at two. If you put your feet forward they stop.. Reining horses know that when you take the pressure off they are supposed to stop.
Tuffy, people sit back when they ask for a stop. If my reining horse so much as sees the bottom of my boots she stops.
Also I am curious have any of you actually ridden a well behaved reining horse? I agree with reinerluver, just because you saw a youtube video doesn't mean that EVERYONE does it!

Willey said...

Hey, I really love what this site is trying to do. Which is helping get rid of bad trainers and stuff in the show industry. Hopefully it will help encourage other people to put up sites too. I want to clear up a few things though.


I love reining but, there are lots of terrible trainers out there that screw up good horses. I have a horse that still freaks out in the show arena from when he had a bad trainer when he was 2 and 3 years old. He is slowly healing and when he does, he will be a really awesome horse.

First is I didn't agree with the drug comment. Drugs are never encouraged. I'm know there are some that do cheat and use drugs, but I've never seen syringes or evidence of this anywhere. I've also never seen a reiner with a blocked tail. It wouldn't make sense to block them anyway. I know people in other events do it though. We have been told to block my pleasure horse's tail because he holds it crooked, but I would NEVER ever do that to my horses.

There are also tons of bad trainers but there are a few good ones too. I work with a good one. You need to be careful with who buying horses from and training with.

Reining requires a very athletic horse and it is hard on a horses hocks so you need to make sure you are careful with your horses health and check the hocks and stuff regularly. It's not really natural for a horse to slide long distances and do all that stuff. The same is with Pleasure; its not natural for horses to have to lope like that all the time. So that's why you have to be careful and know if your horse becomes sore or lame.

Some people aren't natural riders. And really need some horsemanship lessons. I just went to the AQHA World to watch my sister show and it was hilarious to see how bad some people ride. Posture is an important key in how well you and your horse show. You should always make sure you have good posture; it will help you to become a better rider.

But the comment about feet in front of the shoulders is inaccurate. When we stop, we stick our feet out and tuck our body back, sitting deep in the saddle. It helps the horse stop and keeps your body in the saddle. It's how the horses are trained and it's not bad riding. But that's for reining and similar disciplines; not pleasure and English events.


I love reining and someday I want to mostly show reining. Maybe showing pleasure and horsemanship on a smaller scale or get out of it completely. I would also think its fun to try cutting and working cow stuff. My retired reiner used to do those things.

I didn't want people to not want to try reining because it seems as if everything is corrupt. I don't want reining to get a bad name (I don't think that was your intention, but it just seemed to get a bad name from this post), so I am clearing stuff up and posting this comment. There are bad people and things about reining, but there are also good things and people, too. If you treat your horse right and are careful with him then its a really fun sport that you and your horse can enjoy doing.

Willey said...

Okay this is a follow up comment on some things I didn't say.

First, THANK YOU Serenity Now and Heather AQHA

I am backing up Serenity's comment on bits. At the lower CPRHA shows which is part of NRHA, ALL bits are checked after each class. Any illegal bits or spur marks and your DQ'ed and suspended plus probably worse punishment if it's a repeat.
At the World Shows I have been to, each bit is checked before and right after the class. You check in at the beginning and you can't leave and are constantly watched.

Like I said I have never seen evidence of drugs. But there is random drug testing at shows, especially the big ones.

We use Adequan and sometimes get legal hock(or stifle) injections done by our vet. They are safe and legal and will help prevent lameness and injuries. They do NOT cover up pain or anything like that. Young horses should not need them is right. Although, we do give our 4 year old pleasure horse both as a maintenance and prevention. He doesn't have the best stifles, are vet said he could have been born that way or when he was younger ridden too much. It probably won't get any worse but that's why we keep a close eye on him and never overdue it when practicing; plus regular checkups.

I think they are starting to get 'spin police' which if they see abusive actions you are suspended or something similar. Sadly I don't think the CPRHA shows have them yet. But everyone I know (including me) will definitely be pushing for them.

Here’s a funny story with the spin police at AQHA World. So my sister was practicing on her reiner, Rio, and a spin police yelled at her for spinning too fast. She wasn't kicking Rio or being abusive anyway or spinning an excessive amount of times. (She only did 4 spins each way, which is how many you do in a show.) So she thought the guy was joking, but he yelled at her when she was done riding. Isn't spinning fast part of the point in doing good?? lol it really was funny. Rio is a really nice spinner and is just fast naturally.

When you have ridden a running reiner to a stop and actually went to a reining show, then you can comment on the whole feet out thing.
It's not quite a shock absorber and then again it kinda is. And jumpers do do a similar thing. They stand up in their stirrups don't they? A jumper's impact is from below, not from the front. It's kinda like the seat belt in a car, but you could also ride saddle less and stop. My sister does. I'm still to chicken to lope without a saddle yet. Haha. My horse is really rough. Maybe when I get to ride Rio....
Anyways the point is, it's not bad riding at all, but like Heather AQHA said, it would look awful in a Pleasure or English class because those horses shouldn't be trained like that. You’re not supposed to make you stopping cue that obvious in those classes.

There are terrible trainers out there that will completely ruin a horse. You need to be careful with who you let on your horse. It's not others faults if your horse came back screwed up and freaked out. It's only yours and the person you hired.

Do you believe everything you see on T.V.??? no. So why would you believe everything on youtube?? Go to an actual show.


Reining horses are supposed to be willfully guided. That's what reining is all about. Being one with your horse. On good well trained reining horses you should be able to ride without a bridle. You would guide your horse with only your legs and signals. It’s a mixture of horsemanship and speed. And should look like 'Poetry in Motion'.

- Willey