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!

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.


cattypex said...


Wow, those poor overdone horses.

I never paid that much attention to the AQHA halter industry's sins until I actually had time to linger on Stallion Ave. at Congress some years ago.

These things look like Kobe Beef steers.

Irene said...

It's impressive, really, what lows the QH industry has sunk to.

The Arabs aren't far behind in breeding tabletop-backed horses with giraffe necks and teeny tiny heads.

I can't speak for many other breeds, but I can say that Morgan Halter horses generally grow up to be successful either in harness or under saddle. In fact some of the greatest Morgan in-hand horses have turned into the greatest performance horses.

Just tossing it out there ;) Not ALL halter is bad!

anniebanannie said...

Blogger Irene said...

Just tossing it out there ;) Not ALL halter is bad!

Nothing is "all bad."

Mary said...

I only had a chance to watch a couple minutes of the first video, but one of them was so lame and stiff in the hind end at the WALK it should have been dismissed. Poor things are just painful to watch.

I met a woman while riding with a local vet (I'm in vet school) who said to her farrier that she loves her Arabs to be super posty since it keeps them sound longer! The farrier told her she was insane. At least she wasn't a breeder.

CutNJump said...

We've got an Arab mare in our barn than won her class of 16 at halter as a weaner. She beat out another weaner who had won at Can. Nat.

She will however make a nice little all around mare- hunter, western, could do some reining, likes to play with cows and could probably jump well enough too. Her bloodlines are the who's who of halter. This is what you used to see in the Arab world and on the circuits.

Sadly since the rise of Midwest and the Bopsy Twins- everything seems bred to the extremes and 'done' before they even get the chance to start.

Booting those two permanently out on their ass, could be the start of good things to come for our group. Sadly, with all the money thrown around by them and their clients- it won't be happening any time soon.

Trojan Mouse- I am suprised you didn't include the American Halter Horse Assoc. and all their craptastic BS. They seem to promote the idea of showing halter ONLY and straight off to the breeding shed.

Trojan Mouse said...


That's a good idea. Anyone with any "halter" only links and websites send them to me and i'll add them to the article


CutNJump said...

TM- Midwest Training Center is where the Bopsy Twits hail from.

Google the name, I'm sure it will come up...

Forgive me I'm too lazy to do the link.

Jamie said...

Beautiful Arabians! But wtf with all the smoke? Is that just to get them all wound up...cause I think it worked. hehe.

Ok...serious though...what is the deal with the Arabian "stance"? The sticking out of the neck as far as possible. Yeah, I guess you can do tons more things to a horse that are more harmful than that but I just don't see the point. It's just taken to the extreme.

I couldn't watch the other videos. Those horses don't even look like they can move! Ick!

- Jamie

Sug said...

Trojan Mouse: You've read Deb Bennett's conformation series, I believe. I am going to use my memory here, so I could be wrong, but doesn't she determine balance by using a line drawn from the point of the hip, which is lower than the peak of the croup, to the widest part of the horse's neck, which in fact would be considerably lower than the generally accepted withers. Am I recalling this correctly? This is not a criticism of your drawings, of course; what I was thinking was that some of the horses--e.g., the palomino--may be more unbalanced than your diagramming depicts. I agree that the way you've drawn it is certainly a well-known way to assess balance. As I said before, I could be remembering this ALL wrong.

I've never come across "crab-shouldered" before. What does this mean?

I enjoy your conformation posts.

Carrie Giannandrea said...

Can't we go back to the time when Halter was the culmination of the best riding horses coming into the ring and pulling their saddles off to show us how they looked naked? The best of the best.....(sigh) specializing really has hurt the horse.

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

Sug said...

I vaguely remember the classes in which horses were called back "to strip." Of course, they still do this with some of the hunters, obviously in the conformation division and then sometimes in the other division classes with conformation counting 25%. Maybe they still do this in other breeds as well. I am unsure.

Does anyone remember the combination classes? I think this is where the horses were ridden and then driven. Was there a conformation component?

Has anyone been to Louisville for the world championship show for American Saddlebreds? When they are showing for the five-gaited world championship, I think the horses are stripped. Maybe? But that might have been because there was such an uproar a few years ago about congenital lordosis.

Trojan Mouse said...

>You've read Deb Bennett's conformation series, I believe. I am going to use my memory here, so I could be wrong, but doesn't she determine balance by using a line drawn from the point of the hip, which is lower than the peak of the croup, to the widest part of the horse's neck, which in fact would be considerably lower than the generally accepted withers. Am I recalling this correctly?

Yes, you're correct. I didn't want to exactly mimic Dr. Bennetts stuff because I don't want to step on her toes.

>This is not a criticism of your drawings, of course; what I was thinking was that some of the horses--e.g., the palomino--may be more unbalanced than your diagramming depicts.

I agree, the horse is worse than I line it. I'm trying to make things apparent to the laymen, without getting into technical things that most newbies won't recognize.

>I've never come across "crab-shouldered" before. What does this mean?

Ever looked at how a crab's shell dips down into his legs? I think the blue shelled ones show the blunt rounded dip into the leg. It means a horse that has a shoulder the looks like it was "stuck" onto the horse and the legs wedged under it.

JohnieRotten said...

Jamie- the smoke is a marketing tactic and used only at Nationals. Scottsdale, US & Canadian Nationals are considered the Big 3 in the Arab world.

Big 3 Circuses' are more like it. No more than a giant shopping extravaganza with a horse show attached.

The 2 Nat.'s shows are just all hype and glitter- hence the smoke and the green 'dirt'.

The stance started out to show their high proud head and slightly arched neck. Like everything else though it has been taken to the extreme. One horse who I can remember from way back when with the extreme in neck appearance was Ivanhoe Tsultan. He just looked freakish to me.

Whoalillowe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cattypex said...

I'm not really "up" on the Arab scene, but I've seen quite a few Polish & Crabbet horses I've liked.

Are they popular anymore?

And do they still look like good little all-around horses, or overly snakeified spidery things?

Tuffy Horse said...

Sug wrote:

>Does anyone remember the combination classes? I think this is where the horses were ridden and then driven. Was there a conformation component?

I did combination classes with my Arab gelding. You drove, then stripped off the harness and put on a regular saddle and rode, then a final strip off for a conformation check.

In Arizona they used to have a versatility class that was awesome. You drove first, then rode hunt seat, flat and took two jumpes, then swtiched to western ( putting your chaps on over your breeches) and did rail work and then three trail obstacles. It was a wonderful class and it was always packed with exhibitors. The horses were always really nice breed examples, level-headed and well conformed.

Jamie said...

I figured it was just taken to the extreme. I just never quite got the point because I think I've only seen the extremes. Some google searches for Arab stallions as a youngster and such. Also the saddlebreds do something similar. Only with the tail all stuck up in the air like it definitely should not be.

Now I guess I can't complain too much because I have seen my horse do that stance naturally before. Of course he was scared and snorting at something in front of him and it only lasted until he got a step backwards. Normally if it's something I see the horse do naturally, I don't consider it cruel.

Carrie Giannandrea said...

Tuffy Horse said:

"You drove first, then rode hunt seat, flat and took two jumpes, then swtiched to western ( putting your chaps on over your breeches) and did rail work and then three trail obstacles. It was a wonderful class and it was always packed with exhibitors. The horses were always really nice breed examples, level-headed and well conformed."

I wish this were still available. The local fair does a versatility class, you switch from English to Western all in the ring.......but only flat work. The class you describe sounds right up my alley!

"Make it so" Tuffy Horse!!!


Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

Sug said...

Trojan Mouse: I understand the drawings as you have them on the conformation photographs. No worries.

There are a lot of talking points when reviewing these photographs, as you've referred to, but one thing you didn't mention were these horses' knees. The calf-kneed construction on almost every one of these examples is yet another dysfunctional aspect of their structure. Such construction obviously doesn't lend itself to long-term soundness for work of any strenuosity. But like the post-legged structure of the hindquarters, it seems to have wiggled its way into the show ring for the time being.

I cannot put my finger on it, but there's something about that post-legged conformation that accentuates the muscling of the hip and stifle (and perhaps the gaskin). Unnecessarily, of course.

Your comments regarding movement in these horses is dead-on. I watched a class at Quarter Horse Congress a couple of years ago, and the winner of one of the classes--a massive buckskin gelding--was clearly crippled behind. It short-stepped by a foot. As I said, it WON. I left there a little surprised.

As an aside, my partner is a farrier and he has clients who own AQHA halter horses. The horses are very hard on him because they're so incredibly heavy (even when they are not being peaked for a big show), despite having handlers that actually know how to hold a horse for a farrier. He's even had one have an HYPP attack as he was working on it. He doesn't have a great memory, my partner, but he most certainly recalls that incident.

I love watching the breeding classes at hunter shows, so I have an idea of why people might be interested in showing stock-type halter horses. They are the "right" horses for a certain demographic, too (e.g., those that cannot find for whatever reason). I feel that there should be something for them to do after they are four years old (and that's if they are good ones!).

(I say this but there are a lot of hunter breeding horses whose careers don't exactly take off, but at least I feel they've been bred for a purpose beyond the breeding classes.)

Sug said...

In my post above, next to last paragraph, the word "find" in the parenthetical phrase should be "ride."

CutNJump said...

TravelCat posted this to the two is too young OP-

TravelCat said...
Now, I love Ayrabs as much as the next, but I think you may have been missing something... What the heck do they have on these poor horse's halters? Tacks? Every last one throws their head at the least amount of pressure. Surely that's not the way they're *trained*? They should give easily when they reach the end of the lead, not react like someone's stuck a nail in their chin.

Arabs have their own problems with breed standards. "Slight dish" hah! I've seen dishes so deep, the poor horse looks deformed, and I wonder if they have respiratory issues.

It's sort of comparing apples and oranges, comparing the movement of Arabs and Quarter Horses, but you're right - I didn't see a single QH in that class that looked like it would give a comfortable ride, or be able to do a day's work on the ranch.


The way the Arab halter horses are 'trained' is they are constantly being jerked on by the lead with a chain under their chin. The slightest pressure and the head goes flying.

Then you have the excessive whipping... I worked under a 'trainer' who could and would flick the tip of the ear if the horse did not put them forward and keep them there.

Watch the way a horse in the ring reacts when the trainers whip hand so much as moves off to one side or the other, or they take a step towards the horse. The horses' eyes are popping and bulging that way in anticipation of getting 'whipped up', which is against the rules in the ring and a welt on the horse will get you the gate.

It is disgusting, heart wrenching and 'kicked in the gut' sickening when you take the lead of a weaner or yearling coming out of the ring. As the lead changes hands you see this baby you have raised or helped raise, take a huge sigh of relief and every muscle in their body relax and they sort of 'wilt' back into a normal foal again. No words to describe that...

Whoalillowe said...

I couldn't agree with you more that the halter industry is greedy. But I own and ex-halter Arabain. She was a halter baby and yes, is a little bit of a freak because of it. But, The QH world IS getting out of control. I owned a QH before I got my Arab. He was 20 when I got him. He was a LONG LEAN guy, not your typical QH chunk of horse. We did decent in halter but NEVER won. No matter what. 'Ollie' (my QH) had great conformation. He had a good top line, nice head and neck, big rear (that was the one "Quarter horsey" part about him for the most part.) He was HUGE which was another issues for the QH judges I guess, 16.2 or .3 if I remember correctly.

We were ALWAYS up against these just short, tanks of a horse. They always won.

Whoalillowe said...

And cutnjump.

While I agree that some halter trainers in the Arab world are like that, I know more who aren't... I worked a a barn that did halter babies and they were OCCASIONALLY tapped with a whip but NEVER beaten. For the most part the trainer had the whip and would hold it up for the baby to have something to look at. If the baby didn't the trainer would move it until it touched the baby in the nose then hold it back up.

I agree with you about the leads though, they are WAY out of line with the shanking

mns said...

Sug said:
"... despite having handlers that actually know how to hold a horse for a farrier."

Okay, dumb question - How SHOuld I hold my horses for the farrier? I'm not being sarcastic. I really want to know if there's something in particular I should be doing or not doing while he's working. My boys are calm, and my farrier never complains. He's a GEM of a farrier in every way, and if there's something I can do to make life easier for him, I'll do it.


CutNJump said...


The one trainer I mentioned (Jerry) could and routinely would flick the ears to get them up. Not all of them do that but he did it so much he could get the tip of the ear whenever he wanted it. Just as sickening, IMO.

Several of the 'trainers' who do show halter are not any easier on babies- weaners, yearlings or even 2 y/o's, than they are on the grown horses.

In observing any class in the ring you can quickly spot the horses, handled by 'trainers', who have been beaten on at any point in their life/halter career, no matter the age of the horse.

A quick glance around the paddock area at horses with coolers or sheets on (which prevents welting) while the 'trainers/handlers' whip and whack away at the horses, shows just how batantly they will do this to a horse in public. What do the horses endure at home, when there are NO watchful eyes around?

Also these same whip happy assholes will go for the lower legs. There is little to no 'meat' in that area to welt up. If there is a dust mark left from the whip, a quick wipe of a cloth will remove it before entering the ring so they aren't booted out of the class.

For every one trainer out there doing it right and being ethical and honest in their dealings, there are several others who aren't.

We have one former 'halter baby' in the barn right now, and had one that was sold a few years ago. Some of them never get over the trauma they endure on the end of the lead, let alone what happens to them once they are started under saddle.

Sug said...

MNS said: "Okay, dumb question - How should I hold my horses for the farrier? I'm not being sarcastic. I really want to know if there's something in particular I should be doing or not doing while he's working. My boys are calm, and my farrier never complains. He's a GEM of a farrier in every way, and if there's something I can do to make life easier for him, I'll do it."

What a breath of fresh air you'd be for my partner--someone that wants to be involved in the shoeing of her horse. Ha ha. What I meant by this was that there are many (read: MANY) people that believe holding the horse for the farrier in any way is optional and that cross-tying is sufficient restraint. Not so. If he can convince the owner that someone has to hold the horse while he's working, he's made it to first base. Once that's achieved, getting the handler to pay attention (and not be on the cell phone, not twirl the lead rope like a jumprope, not pay attention to whatever her friend is doing down the barn aisle, not try to clip the horse's ears at the same time, etc.) is essential. If that can be checked off, we're on second base. If the horse is somewhat squirrely in its disposition (a little moving is OK, obviously, but leaping, airs above the ground, pawing, striking, and other behaviors that constitute some degree of danger) and the handler can be convinced to administer some type of apt discipline at the appropriate time, we're on third base. A homerun is when there's a responsible, knowledgeable, alert person on the end of the shank that really pays attention to the horse so the horse can be corrected when he starts to lean or when he starts to pull away. Because my partner shoes mostly at show barns, he usually hits a homerun. And quite frankly, it's the reason he's less than thrilled when it's backyard-owner day, though some of these one-horse owners are quite good holders too. So, anyway, that's we he feels is a good handler (or my interpretation anyway).


mns said...

DANG! I ALmost made a homerun. LOL

Where I'm lacking is I honestly can't see if they're leaning on the poor man. The Saddlebred stands on his own, but the QH figures said farrier is a leaning post. And Golden Farrier is too kind to say anything. He WILL occasionally drop a foot abruptly or smack a belly with the flat of his hand. But I honestly don't know what to look for to see if they're leaning on him.

What do I look for in their body language??

mns said...

And yes, I meant "Golden Farrier" as he is truly worth his weight in gold.

Tuffy Horse said...

Sug wrote:
>What I meant by this was that there are many (read: MANY) people that believe holding the horse for the farrier in any way is optional and that cross-tying is sufficient restraint. Not so. If he can convince the owner that someone has to hold the horse while he's working, he's made it to first base.

I agree! It is not the job of the vet or the farrier to train MY horse.
It is my job to make sure the horse makes it easier for them to get their job done so they can move on down the road and make a living.
I do appreciate a vet or farrier that will work a little bit with a baby, because their feelings about people are based on how each person treats them. They have to learn new people = new things.

When I vet teched I was appalled at how much work the vet had to do JUST to treat someone's ill mannered horse. I actually had to ROPE horses in the stall to get a hold of them so we could knock them out to geld. I had to trap horses in pastures so we could vaccinate them. It's just crazy!

I've had one horse that I dreaded holding for the farrier, my senior stallion. Twister played this game called "Mess with the farrier". He woul stand perfectly still, and tug his foot just enough to drive the farrier crazy. I could smack him, give him the evil eye, and everything else, but he'd keep doing it. Short little annoying tugs, right at the hoof.
When I held his foot he'd remain perfectly still. But he couldn't resist messing with the farrier, because he knew the farrier was not going to get after him. Kind of like a kid pitching a fit in Wal-Mart, knowing his mom won't beat his butt.

I kept telling the farrier to get on his butt and make him mind and he wouldn't do it. Finally one day when it was hot and humid and we'd saved the stallion for last the farrier just LOST it on Twister. He hauled back and smacked him in the gut, yelled at him and said nasty things about all of Twister's ancestors. It was great! Twister just looked at the poor man in shock, and then meekly stood there and quit tugging his foot. I told the farrier I was proud of him and that he should have done that five years ago! Twister has never tugged on him since.


Sug said...

Tuffy Horse: You'd get an enthusiastic positive review from my partner, the farrier, though I don't think you would have had to ask twice to discipline him suitably. Pass on to as many horsemen as possible your knowlegeable take of how horses should stand for veterinarians, farriers, and other professionals!

Jamie said...

As someone who trims hooves (normally just my own though)...I can definitely imagine how awful it would be for a farrier to deal with a fussy horse alone in crossties. AH!

Now I have my horse to the point where I just throw the lead over a fence and he stands quietly. A lot of people I talk to trim their horses completely loose in the field. But if you have an unruly horse for whatever reason, it is necessary to hold that horse for anyone working on it. And yes, you should be able to spot a warning that the horse is going to throw a fit or move. Your main jobs are to keep the horse still and to provide eyes for the farrier to keep them safe.

I find this more in the shoeing world where farriers are completely ok with doing his work with the horse in the crossties all alone. But I'm against shoes and do a natural hoof trim and the folks I talk to do not do this. They use a more natural approach.

cattypex said...

Speaking of farriers, anyone ever run across a Peter Drake? He was an AWESOME farrier who had a soap opera of a personal life, and left for ... I think.... the East Coast. ?

Anyway, we were all sorry to see him go. He got in a bunch of titanium barstock and made shoes... my mare did so well in his care.

cattypex said...

I suppose all that whipping, shanking and other abuse are at the heart of the "crazy Arab" myth??

CutNJump said...

CP- A difficult consept to grasp- that they aren't all nuts!- when they are not held accountable for proper behavior in the halter ring.

I was walking behind one at Scottsdale one year. Poor damn horse was about to come totally unglued, because I was walking... I even got yelled at by the handler. Yep, the ballsy little shit went off on the wrong person that day.

Told him in no uncertain terms that is he couldn't handle leading a horse, WTF are you doing HERE? and if the horse can't handle someone walking anywhere behind or around them- it makes me wonder what type of treatment the horse has been handled with??? Should I turn him into show management???

cattypex said...

I actually really like a lot of Arabs... they're so pretty and sensitive, and a little bit complex if they're smart.

Then again I prefer mares to geldings, so I'm a real glutton for punishment. ; )

Seriously, it really IS sickening to think of those babies being so frightened, for NO earthly reason. I wonder if anyone in the AHA is lobbying for penalties for exhibitors of obviously FRIGHTENED horses???

Doesn't sound like it.

I'll be going to Congress sometime this year, and I'll be looking at Stallion Ave. with fresh (yet jaded) eyes for sure!!!

CutNJump said...

CP- the whole problem many people have with Arabs is in fact their intelligence and sensitivity.

They think and react quickly to a lot of situations. More times than not, what we typically tend to see, is the horses are three steps ahead of their handler in the thought process. When you are constantly playing 'catch up' how are you supposed to be the leader?

For these people we recommend a less responsive, less reactive horse or at the least a horse with high tollerance and forgiveness levels. The kind of horses you can make mistakes on and they will roll their eyes and think "You are a dumbfuck!" and just go on, do their job as they know how, in spite of whomever is on their back.

Sadly these horses are few and far between and usually cost more than they ever wanted to pay for anything other than season passes to the Nascar races. Sadder still these type of horses give them an unrealistic sense of being a better rider or competitor than they really are, since the horse saves them more times than they will ever know.

cattypex said...

Yeah, it's one of the things I love about Quarter Horses... they can be SO patient!!!!

Another problem with a lot of people is that they feel like they've always gotta lord it over their horses, instead of quitting when they're ahead.

Sometimes you just say "Enough" and come back to it tomorrow.

I was really impressed once by this "cowboy" kid who was starting a snorty nervous filly. He got his foot in the stirrup and calmly hopped around behind her for I bet half an hour, saying nice things in a soothing tone the whole time. She finally stopped, he put a little weight in, didn't throw his leg over, and he decided that that was enough success for the day.

CutNJump said...

CP- If they are snorty and nervous, they may not be ready to have anyone getting on them. Or they may just need someone to get on already, and then let them settle down and relax.

I don't know the horse or the whole situation, but I'm glad it ended without anyone getting hurt.

I used to just climb on anything you could saddle and some you couldn't. You either learn from your mistakes- usually after you get hurt- or from watching others and thinking "Damn they could have gotten killed."

I learned it is best to wait for the horse to settle down, BEFORE climbing on them. Why beat the hornets nest when they are already pissed?

But there are still the horses who give off no warning signs. They are the ones that get you almost every time...

cattypex said...

Oh, he ended up doing nicely with the horse.

I was just impressed that a young GUY - like 19 - would have that kind of patience, and not just bulldoze his way through.

You know, before I had a kid, the idea of childrearing TERRIFIED me.

Then I had one (surprise! You're 20 weeks pregnant!) and you just kind of... do it.

So I wonder if a lot of decent riders psych themselves out of working with younger horses? I know the whole idea of starting a horse makes ME nervous (even when I was in good riding shape)!

Anyway, like we've all been saying, the whole "Halter Horse" industry is just kind of bizarre, even when done by good people. I guess I just wouldn't want to shell out the big bucks for a horse I never intended to ride (unless of course it was a pensioner).

But then if I ever got really rich (uh huh) and wanted to show off my horses at shows to my other really rich friends (when monkeys fly outta my butt), I guess I'd rather show 'em off with ME in the saddle, doing something fairly impressive. So maybe I'm an even bigger diva than those Barbie horse people!

CutNJump said...

CP- Yep, anything under say 25, is usually not the norm for having the patience of a saint.

Getting on the young horses does require some level of anxiety, anticipation and gets the blood flowing. If it doesn't, you have probably become over confident and a bit cocky as well as too relaxed and in turn letting your guard down. Even in small doses they are all ingredients present to get yourself injured.

As far as our horses go, we expect them to be built nice, sound and able to perform, if they are able to do that, they can usually go into a halter class with no problems. When considering this though, there are some flaws which may not inhibit a performance career, but will certainly get them the gate in any halter class. Not all horses are built perfectly and neither are we.

Tuffy Horse said...

CutNjump wrote:

>As far as our horses go, we expect them to be built nice, sound and able to perform, if they are able to do that, they can usually go into a halter class with no problems.

I think anything older than yearling halter MUST have points under saddle before being allowed to show in halter. They can skip two and three year old halter since most horses go through the teenage fuglies at that stage.


GoLightly said...

hey, what does "OLWS" mean? "overo lame without sense? I have no idea. I found one for sale that was a "known" carrier. What does it mean?
Omigod, went to the Halter Horse for sale ads. i couldn't believe what i saw. Back at the knee, or calf-kneed seems to be the norm?? WTF??

I feel so sorry for these horses, they cannot stay sound with conformation like that.. Sheeesh... I guess it's kinda like pure-bred dogs, take good traits, breed Mom to son, dad to daughter, and completely f-up the breed....

CutNJump said...

Tuffy- we have a two-bie who has remained 'balanced' so far and not one touch of fugly going on there, but wouldn't it be great to see some sort of requirement like that?

Like I said though some faults will not hinder a horses performance career, while it will destroy any thoughts of doing remotely well in a halter class.

Anonymous said...

What propaganda against halter horses. Clearly, a little information can be a dangerous thing. The shame is on you.

Anonymous said...

What a nasty blog of propaganda against halter horses. Clearly, a little information can be a dangerous thing. The shame is on you.

KLCowgirl said...

I know I'm late coming into this with my comment, but I just had to say something. THANK YOU!!! Growing up I always learned that you judge a horse's build by the "Form to Function" rule. My Grandpa was an old cowboy who always knew a good horse when he saw it. We always had horses that could work and were pretty at the same time. Rarely have we had horses wear down due to conformation faults. Well as I grew older I started competing in 4-H horse judging, and that's how our team won at the state level, by judging "Form to Function". Well when we got to nationals, we took a hard hit, because that's not how it was. That's when we got a dose of reality as to where the Quarter Horse was going. Some were so painful to watch move. Some reminded me of an ideal hog (I showed hogs as well, so I know :) ). It hurts to see those beefy, poorly put together horses placing well. I will continue to select and breed my own horses to be able to function. It's sad.

Thefuturenostalgic said...

You have no idea what you are talking about. There are plenty of hater horses that ride; you are focusing on the exceptions rather than all of the ones that go on to careers as riding horse or all around horses after they are done specializing in halter. I trained APHC national and world champions who were halter bred what titled in everything from halter to HUS. Do some research rather than spout opinion