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, August 20, 2008

How poor judges effect all of us

So sorry about the length between posts; I’ve had health, hard drive and time issues and have barely kept up with any of my online groups and blogs.

I’ve been watching the Olympics and I’ve been disgusted with the dressage. Why are the judges rewarding shit riding? The one competitor's horse stopped and fricking reared up. It balked once more in the pattern and still ended up in the medals. And I don’t care how well Anky’s butt stays in the saddle her horses look miserable. They drip with sweat, they drool excessively and they look tense the entire ride. She does not ride classical dressage; she rides gimmick dressage and should not be rewarded for it.

This brings us back to one of the sorest topics out there: Why do judges reward crap riding, poor behavior and muscle bulk over bone structure? WTF are they thinking? Do they not realize they are setting the standard for a breed or discipline? Can they not take responsibility for how their poor choices affect the horse industry?

I picked up an Equine Chronicle recently and just about spit my drink out over all the post-legged halter horses. These horses are National, World and Congress champions and have hind legs that are straight up and down. They are built like brick shit houses, but their legs are not going to support that heavy muscle mass long term. Why are the judges placing this shit?

Against my better judgment I read the Qh Journal and almost puked over their idea of a hunter under saddle. There can be no excuse for placing the shitty headsets and poor impulsion except that the judge’s seeing eye dog was sick that day and couldn’t bark the back numbers for him to write down. Who are the judges placing this crap? What is their motivation? Is there some super secret award for placing the worst possible mover?

I don’t have access to the Paint Journal, but I do read the Appaloosa Journal and Modern Arabian Times. The AJ is nothing but dreck on the editorial front, and the ads look just like the QHJ ads; post legged, bad movers and poor judgment. The MAT had some good articles, especially the one on sport horses in hand, but the saddle seat ads are a major turn off. WTF is the deal with the heavy hands and poor posture of the riders? I don’t remember seeing that crap to this degree when I lived in Scottsdale. Why do the judges reward poor riding that makes the breed look pathetic?

I really don’t understand how the industry tolerates self-interested individuals bringing it down. I hear big breeders bitch about the BYB all the time, but really the BYB isn’t the problem when a breed, or discipline, based magazine blatantly shows how biased and stupid the judges are. I don’t even want to hear: Most judges are not that way.
It doesn’t matter if most aren’t. Enough are that way to give the entire industry a bad name. Every post-legged halter horse that walks away with a national title is a disgrace to that breed. Every low headed, poor moving, hunter under saddle makes that breed look like a joke! Every single dressage rider that works a horse into a frantic lather and still gets high marks means the judges have quit considering the horse and only consider the mechanics. It’s a disgrace, when will it end?


robyn said...

Hi TM, glad you are back--I've missed your blog!

Doesn't sound like I've missed much by not having cable TV. I don't like bad, gimmicky riding any more than you do.

Lythinae said...

Oh god *yes*

I'm amazed at the amount of 'grand prix' riders who can't keep their hands and feet still!! Goes for the eventing too ... I cringed at some of the dressage that still ended up with a placing.

I gave up watching dressage. So sick of seeing unhappy horses and incorrect riding being rewarded.

Lythinae said...

Bah no edit function!

Also, I'm pretty that horse that reared and ran backwards during the piaffe was being ridden by Isabell Werth and WON that class (the GP special with a score of 75.2) and ended up with silver overall.

There was some excuse about how the big screen in the arena was scaring the horses.

ZTIG said...

YEA! Glad you're back!
I love what you have written so far as it is SPOT ON!

This is exactly the reason I no longer financially support AQHA in any way shape or form. It is also why I don't search for my much loved Appaloosa I hope to one day have in my paddocks. I can't find one I find appealing.

It is becoming difficult to find a quality horse that is actually bred to be functional. Someone pointed out on fugly: why are we breeding horses that look like meat market animals(i.e. halter horses)? I thought it was the MOST profound thing I have heard in a long time. Currently, this is what halter classes have become build up the muscle to a mass extent and limit the fat content. This is what we look for in our meat animals. Why are we doing this to horses which are supposed to be athletic? IMO a halter horse should be required to be able to preform in some other discipline and preform well (i.e. a certain number of points) BEFORE being allowed to participate in a halter class.

As far as I can tell stupidity has breed stupidity in judges. It has been a VERY long time since they have actually judged something against the breed standard, instead they judge it against what is in fashion. American German Shepard's are a GREAT example of what happens to breeds when bred due to fashion not function and breed standard.

And let's not get started on the bastardization of dressage. OK let's do. There are NO classical dressage trainers in the US. Sorry, but the moment you drive, drive, drive with your seat; force the horse to "maintain contact" and can not preform any of these movements at liberty or on a loose rein; tap, tap, tap your horse with your spurs and whip, you are NOT preforming classical dressage. You are forcing false movements. ALL competition dressage has left classical somewhere in the past. What is supposed to be drawing us to want to learn more is forcing some to become brutal nags to their horses. I tired for a while, since it is supposed to be the ultimate communication. But my horse is COMPLETELY intolerant of any nagging. So all I ended up doing was deadening my horses sides and making her insensitive and often making her completely angry with me.

Competition Dressage riders nag their horses, they are heavy handed, heavy spurred, work in gimmicks such as draw reins, side reins, tie downs, etc. and have turned the true purpose of dressage into an unattainable dream. Dressage is supposed to be the ultimate training. Your movements of communication with your horse are supposed to be so light they are virtually unseen. Yet when you watch most upper level competitions you can see every yank, every tap of spur and whip, every drive of the seat on each stride, and the horse in false collection falling on their forehand. They use harsh bits when with the ultimate in lightness you shouldn't even need a bit.It does not look harmonious as it is supposed to.

This brings up another point why is it "finished" horses in various sports are actually required to use harsher bits? Shouldn't a finished horse be light and soft and have no need of a harsher bit? Or am I completely ignorant...?
And we wonder why true classical dressage trainers refuse to come to the states...

Anne said...

I'm glad you are back, hope the health issues are resolved.

I agree about the dressage in the Olympics. It makes no sense to reward crappy riding.

The top riders, no *all* riders, should really aspire to this. Dr. Klimke made his horse look so good.

cattypex said...

Y'know, if you want to get reeeeally picky, and I'm NOT an expert in classical dressage or even showring dressage, but Dressage was originally training for cavalry mounts, am I correct? Hence the lightness?

A warhorse - or even officer's mount - wouldn't be very functional if you had to haul around on his face and diddle him with spurs the whole time you were trying to kill people who were trying to kill YOU.

Any more than an AQHA "hunter under saddle" or show ring western pleasure horse could really function THAT WAY out in the field.

Call me a purist, but.....

Check out this film from 1960.

Mary said...

I was personally horrified by some of the poor decisions made on the cross country. There was a really tough set of jumps that were nearly impossible to do one after another without circling around like nearly everyone did. One (American?) cowboyed his horse through the whole course then tried to get his exhausted horse to take it all together (these were near the end). The horse ended up sliding over it sideways and caught up a leg coming over the other side. I was pissed. The rider was DQed for falling. Risk your own neck, but don't kill your poor horse. My trainers would have beaten me if I rode as recklessly as some of the Americans did on that wet, tough course.

Tuffy Horse said...

I am appalled at the Olympic scores for dressage. The judges need their butts kicked. I cannot believe how downhill the sport has gone. When I think of the endless lessons I had to develop lightness and riding with just the minimum of contact it leads me to believe that modern dressage riders are skipping several steps. If I cranked on one of my horses the way Anky does they would flip over and die.

Tracy Meisenbach
http://thehorsediary.net/ (updated 8-23-2008)

cattypex said...

Speaking of lightness, I've been doing some actual reading (as opposed to conversations with old-school trainers and their proteges) about spade bit/vaquero training, since those horses always look so light, collected, beautiful and sophisticated. Like dressage horses oughta be.

I posted this on fugly, but here 'tis:

Tuffy Horse said...


I grew up learning caballero riding. I trained under Jorge Jiminez and learned how to start a horse in a bosal and bring it right up to a spade bit. These "bridled" horses are phenomanal to ride and handle. They take time and a lo0t of effort and their a no gimmicks or skipped steps that can create one. This is why the majority of trainres today cannot create one.

Tracy Meisenbach
http://thehorsediary.net/ (updated 8-23-2008)

Lythinae said...

One (American?) cowboyed his horse through the whole course then tried to get his exhausted horse to take it all together (these were near the end). The horse ended up sliding over it sideways and caught up a leg coming over the other side. I was pissed. The rider was DQed for falling.

He was a New Zealander. One of the more experienced eventers on our team too (this is his 6th Olympics). Was disgusted and disappointed to see someone of level tearing around like a child who doesn't know better. His excuse was something like how he didn't want to go into the show jumping with time faults as it was his weakest phase (like it had nothing to do with being the first/only person to get round without time pentalies?? *sigh*).

Carrie Giannandrea said...

ztig -

There are Appaloosa horses out there for you, they are just few and far between. Check with me once, I can send you a bunch of links to good quality riding Apps! Really!

As for the Olympics, I only watched the cross country jumping. The rest of it I passed on. Amy Tryon went over her horse, that bothered me to watch. I couldn't tell if she was just too anxious or the horse was out of control.

TJM - Glad you are back, missed you!

I am about at wits end with my breed association, if we got some new staff and a new CEO, that move could really help make some positive changes!

And for anyone interested, I started blogging about my horse adventures. It is happy and light reading.


On judging, I attended a local country fair recently. My stallion took GC Halter Horse in a class of 16. I just had to talk to that judge afterwards and you know what? She knew he was an Appy, and she knew he was built to ride. She told me he won because he was the best turned out horse with the best physic for his purpose. I was floored.

Things can change and I am happy to have been involved in just a tiny part of that change.

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

GoLightly said...

Absolutely right on! The horse industry has sickened me for many, many years. What is wrong with youngsters that feel five years experience is all you need?
Oh, wait, I was way over-opinionated in my youth. And for no good reason, either. Hours and miles are the best way to learn, but some never, ever do.
Great to read truths coming out of the net. If only neanderthals could read....
Fascinating reading, that suspension list. Jane Smylie is on there? Crap, I did love her books, but Fugly brought out her dark side for me, after the fact. It's a crime, what we do to these truly noble creatures.

equitation queen said...


Riders that participate in dressage execute a "test," not a "pattern." Reining pattern, yes. Trail pattern, yes. Horsemanship pattern, yes. Dressage pattern, no.
Dressage test, yes. Hunter pattern, no. Hunter course, yes.

Sweaty horses in Hong Kong. Hong Kong in August. It was HOT. I was there...sweating behind the scenes. I wish all horses in the world were mistreated like Anky's. Please. Her Olympic horse had a clutch of caretakers. Remember, show horses of all stripes are often managed impeccably, often better than most backyard horses.

Dressage scoring. Each movement is scored in dressage, so despite the rearing and the running backwards, which the rider was justifiably given scores of 0, there is no penalty. She was penalized as much as she could be and STILL won an individual medal.

AQHA hunter under saddle horses. Some of these horses are beautiful movers, DESPITE their head carriage. I've been lucky enough to take a few of these and turn them into USEF hunters, where they have all been praised on their disposition. Low isn't all that bad. In classical dressage, horses are often given opportunity to be released from the frame and travel long and low.

Right now, my partner is showing a Quarter Horse gelding in hunter under saddle classes. He's a good mover and he's quiet and he goes with his nose poking out a bit and his neck a little above level. He's calm and confident. He's won three futurities and several AQHA and APHA points. The judges want to use horses like his but if they're not there to use, they have to use something.

cattypex said...


I'm glad to see some changes in AQHA HUS. Such pretty horses, such weird carriage.

I also thought the Olympic dressage horses were beautiful movers. I'm not a fan of rolkur, but damn, those piaffes! *melt*