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!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Two is too young!

I’m going to address something that affects all breeds, although we hear about it the most in racing and the show ring. For some reason in the not too distant past, greedy assed people decided a two-year-old horse was capable of racing at high speeds or carrying a rider for endless circles in the show ring. If I could take a time machine back to the point when this idea took hold I would kick these people in the ass, flatten their heads with shovels, and bury them in the desert.

There is no really good reason to ride a two-year-old. They are not mentally or physically mature enough the handle the stress. I don’t give a shit if they are 17 hands tall, 1300 pounds and calm as a coma patient. They are still not ready to deal with the stress of a rider, nor the repetitive training that the show ring requires.

Racing destroys the lives, and legs, of many horses every year. The greedy bastards have bred delicate-legged, speed demons and then employ a pharmacopoeia of drugs to keep them going. I think every state should ban two-year-old racing and make it that a horse cannot even step on a track for training until he has past his actual second birthday. Not the January 1st birthday that puts some horses on the track at 18 months of age. I mean the actual birthday that occurs 730 days after that horse is born. I can understand the need to create uniformity in racing ages, so that a horse doesn’t race one week at one age and the next week at another. But they should have started the age limit at three, not two. In the 1700s and 1800s it was practically unheard of to race a two-year-old. Horses weren’t even started under saddle until their late three-year-old year, although four years of age was the norm.

Of course the racing industry knows about the damages of early racing. They’ve known for years.


Face it; the race industry is controlled by greed. We know it, and they know it. As their horses break down more often they approve more drugs to allow the horses to stay on the track. It’s a vicious circle. Of course the greedy jerks try to justify it by saying it’s too expensive to feed and train a horse until it’s three-years-old before it can race and earn its keep. Right! How much more expensive is it to pay for those vet bills and drugs after your two-year-old bucks his shins?

The death of Eight Belles this year was just another example of a young horse that was used up and wasted by a greedy industry. She raced 10 times in her short life, five of them as a two-year -old. Her first race was in April 2007, a mere 60 days after her second birthday. This tells us she had been started in training months before she actually turned two-years-old. She broke down and was euthanized a little over a year later. Surprised? Not even.




I doubt we can bring about immediate change in the racing industry. There is simply too much money, too many lobbyists and way too much corruption. This doesn’t mean we can’t start to turn around the show horse industry. In fact, the tragedies in racing should make cleaning up the show horse industry imperative.

Why ride a two year old? There is no good reason to get on a horse that immature. They are not structurally mature, they are not mentally mature.
Dr. Deb Bennett has a very good article on Skeletal Maturation and every single horseman in the world should read it.


I’m going to point out right now that I am not bashing the horses in any of the featured videos. They can’t help the fact greedy idiots that have no clue about a horse’s physiology ride them.

Let’s start with the worst section of the equine show industry: Tennessee Walking Horses. Not only do these sorry bastards ride their horses too early, but they put pads on their feet and ride with bits that should be made federally illegal.
Look at this sad video. These poor colts are not only in that thin gawky stage, but they’ve got some big ass human on their back, with a bit that has shanks you could pole vault with, and pads that weigh a ton on their feet.


Sorry assed doesn’t even cover it. WTF are they doing abusing a young horse like that? Why is it allowed, even worse, why is it approved of?

Here’s an American Saddlebred being ridden by a complete piece of shit. Can you believe the seat and hands on this person? Look at the immaturity of that horse!


It’s bad enough in the gaited horse industry, we expect abuse from any group that would pad up a horse and ride in bits that should only be used as toilet paper holders.

To my everlasting shame the stock horse industry has turned showing two-year-olds into a pre-requisite for making a name for yourself in the pleasure industry. Just once I’d like to see a big name trainer flat refuse to show in two-year-old classes. It will never happen, because like racehorse trainers and owners the two-year-old show industry is run by greed and greed alone. It does not benefit the horse to any degree to be ridden as a two-year-old. It doesn’t make him happier, healthier, smarter or better able to cope later in life. In fact a whole lot of two-year-old show horses burn out early and become ring sour. They end up being dumped and, provided they don’t have to many stress related injuries, they become someone’s trail horse. I can already here the proponents of riding two-year-olds calling me uninformed and bitter and other such bullshit. Sticks and stones right back at you, dipshits.

Two-year-old Western Pleasure


Two-year-old Hunter Under Saddle


Go search dreamhorse for 2 year olds. I found 1850, the majority of which were started under saddle. It’s just crazy.

Two-year-old reiner, already in training for five months.
Can you say complete dipshit trainer?


Oh look, another one! I remember when the reining people on one of my yahoo lists denied that anyone would train a two-year-old for reining. Must be our imagination.



Whoops another two-year-old reiner, sliding hard.

The only thing that pisses me off more than two-year-olds being ridden in western pleasure and reining is two-year-olds being worked for cutting. WTF is the deal with that?


Most of these horses are physically immature and they’re being ridden by guys that look like they swallowed a hay bale whole. Why? What is wrong with waiting another year and helping assure your horse stays sound? Don't you understand the damage to young tendons and bones that those hard stops and turns can cause? What about the spinal injuries from twisting and heaving their riders around an arena. It's stupid, just plain stupid.

Sadly the two-year-old show horse abusers industry is fueled by organizations that promote and condone riding horses that are physically immature. National Snaffle Bit Association, American Cutting Horse Association, all the stock horse breed associations, most of the gaited horse organizations, all promote riding and showing two-year-olds. I’d bet there is a direct correlation that shows that the increase in two-year-old events is related to the approval of more and more drugs. There is no way that these show horses can be started so young and perform soundly year after year. Nerving, hock injections, special shoes, pads, all these things are commonplace in an industry that used to look down its nose at anyone that showed an immature horse.

Now trainers brag about riding two-year-olds. Sorry, but I’m not impressed. If you want to impress me then show a sound, sane fifteen-year-old, without drugs. I’m looking for longevity, not short-term gratification.

With all the bitching about the show industry here’s what I don’t see; two-year-old dressage horses or two-year-old jumpers. Which is not to say that some uneducated idiot hasn’t tried to make a two-year-old piaffe or pop a fence. But there are no competitions geared toward horses that young in either event. Makes sense to me.


Unknown said...

I am always disgusted when people not only ride/train their 2 year olds, but trot out the old, "I had his joints x-rayed! He's done growing!"

Well, dipshit, call the media, because your horse is a freak of nature that matures like no horse on the planet. Or maybe you're a greedy moron who would rather do what you want than do what is right.

Allison.Lowe said...

I agree with you here. When our horse are two we do thing like, clipping work, ground manners, we put sursingles on them so that, when it comes time for a grith and saddle they know kind of what it feels like to have something on their back and around their bellies. We bathe, load, basic work on the lunge line and in the long lies so that they can get used to what we expect them to behave like.

For one of my classes last year I had to write a position paper on a topic of my choice and I chose they racing industry starting the horses TOO young and the effects it has on them. It's sad what happens to some of these horses after they are done racing or, in some cases (Eight Belles, Barbaro, Charaismatic) breakdown ON the track.

People need to learn, asking a 2-year-old horse to perform under saddle is like asking a 7 or 8-year old child to do complex math while running with 10-20 pounds on their backs, you wouldn't do it to your children, don't do it to your horses.

Unknown said...

Would also like to point out one GOOD organization. AERC, the American Endurance Ride Conference, has age limits for it's competitors. In Limited Distance (25-35 miles), horses must be greater than 4 years old. In Endurance (50-100 miles), the horse must be 5 years old. To my knowledge, no other organization has something like this in place.

Also, I believe that the Arabian Horse Association is one of the few registries that does not have 2y/o classes, but they do have 3 y/o classes.

Aelfleah Farm said...

There are other organizations that won't let babies play...

he American Driving Society won't let horse in CDE's until 4 in training level and 5 in prelim. Our driving horses don't have to carry weight per se, but we ask a lot from them.

Pleasure driving (ADS style, not "main ring formal harness style), allows 3yos to compete.

Neither type of ADS driving will let 2yos compete.

We also have very strict limits on shoeing and the use of such things as overchecks.

JohnieRotten said...

While we train cutting horses, we do not start them at 2 years old. We may get in them late in their 2 year old year, they are not started on cattle for another 6 or 8 months.

But the futurity ages of the NCHA futurities is supposed to change. It may have already, but I at the we at the moment have not been keeping up with it.

TheHorseGirl said...

Oh, my... my filly i'm training didn't even have to be longed with a saddle until she was months past her second birthday, let alone ridden!


Cut-N-Jump said...

I have an OTTB mare who is 9 now. She raced as a 3 y/o. Had 11 starts and a career ending blown knee.

She will obviously never jump. She has limited flexion due to the scarring under the tendons and hoof work on that hoof requires patience.

So I don't think even racing them at 3 is the answer. It may reduce some of the injuries, but it will certainly not eliminate the number or the severity of the injuries seen on the track.

She was headed to the auction when I intercepted her and put a detour in the route she was taking. She is a well bred mare with nice enough confo otherwise, but I can say without a doubt, with a knee like hers- she certainly would have shipped. She would have had a space reserved on the one way ride over the border as soon as she stepped off the trailer at the auction yard, with no need to run through the sale...

Sid said...

Wow...and to hear "johnierotten" talk, you'd think the cutting horse industry was beyond reproach...imagine my surprise!!!

Solva-Icelandics said...

Well, at least Icelandics are NEVER started that young. For all the problems in the show ring, the absolute youngest they are started is 3,and most not before they are 4 or even 5.

Solva-Icelandics said...

Well, at least Icelandics are NEVER started that young. For all the problems in the show ring, the absolute youngest they are started is 3,and most not before they are 4 or even 5.

GoLightly said...

Oh, my god. That first TWH video, almost made me lose my lunch. Those poor, sad, creatures, and the a-holes on their backs.... I can't watch anymore right now. I am going to go pat my dogs, I'll hopefully feel better.
Thanks TJM. Great work, keep it up, how can I possibly help?? Oh, the poor, skinny creatures, the first one looked so lame, so done. Two years old. GAH.

ShameintheHorseShowRing said...


I agree. I found the first video really disturbing. Why anyone would think there was anything "lovely" about that crap is beyond me.

I also find it ironic that the WP industry uses the TWH ndustry as a excuse for their sorry methods.
They claim their horses are never treated like that in the show ring.
No, WP is much more subtle, they do their abuse in the warm up pen.

I think I'm going to go to a few shows with Wp and film the warm up pen and then post the videos. Then maybe people will understand just how far WP trainers will go.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Trojan Mouse- Go to any 'A' Arab show and film away too! You will surely get any of the following-

Halter- horses with coolers or midweight sheets on being whipped on the blanketed areas, or whipped on the lower legs where there is less 'flesh' under the skin to produce welts.

Just about any performance class- draw reins, martingales, spur jabbing, crop whacking, rein yanking- unless the horses nose is alreay to their chest and even still... Not a lot of good to report from there either.

As long as there are no visible signs- welts, blood, etc. they don't get penalized.

That's at the 'A' shows. It gets worse at the schooling and open shows... :-(


Sid- I'm not sure how your comment was meant. JR & I, can only say how our own horses are trained and treated. Sure there are shameful, no talent hacks who lack any sense of ethics out there in every sport, giving each a bad name.

Our horses will never worry about such treatment. Just because they can be shown at 2 doesn't mean they should, and doesn't mean we will be showing ours. (I guess that's obvious, since neither one has yet to have worn a saddle... LOL!) There are a few of us who value our animals as more than a mere 'ways and means' to make it into the spotlight and collect a check.

We have heard rumors that NCHA is considering pushing the futurity age back to 3. As of yet, it has only been rumors and talk, that we have heard through the grapevine... but we are hopeful.

To us, it would be a nice step in the right direction, but as you can see in my post above about my TB mare who was raced at 3, the longevity of the horses (let aone their careers) would only benifit further still, if the age were pushed back to even 4 or 5.

When you are talking about industries fueled by ego's, money and greed, the first ones to suffer, almost always are the ones with little or no voice- the horses. It also it makes the wheels of change, turn... ever... so... slowly...

Singasong said...

Back in the day, we showed a 2YO in our state's 2YO futurity. Back then, there were 4 or more splits for this class. Today? There haven't been any entries in the 2YO classes at the last 3 circuits in my state.

If this is part of a trend, then perhaps more people are waiting to put their young horses to work until they near the end of their 2YO year, or the beginning of their 3 YO year.

BTW, we do have a 2YO in our barn that was started in June. This filly was ground driving, etc., until June, then just walk-jog/trot and work on steering, etc. She's sound, happy, and is going to be a fabulous 3 YO! She's also got the basics of showmanship down!

anniebanannie said...

Solva-Icelandics said...

Well, at least Icelandics are NEVER started that young. For all the problems in the show ring, the absolute youngest they are started is 3,and most not before they are 4 or even 5.

Well, now that makes everything else so very much better. It makes it so you can easily mistreat them well into their teens.

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.

Carrie Giannandrea said...

I have only met a few 2 years olds with the mind to actually handle work, but their bodies are still fragile. I need both, mind and body, to work with before the horse can be trained for competition under saddle.

And what is up with those weanlings and yearlings wearing shoes?? I don't get that at all!

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

Anonymous said...

Trojan Mouse,

Your comments on the TWHs are spot on. I'm a sound TWH owner and exhibitor, and there IS a federal law against what the "trainers" do to these horses, although it doesn't have anything to do with bits. The majority of the horses in that video were probably sored, a practice that causes pain in their hooves and lower limbs to make them lift their feet higher. There is a federal law against soring, but because the industry "polices" itself, the main way to "train" these horses is still to sore them. There is NO beauty in it and we are trying desperately to end it.
More info is at my website www.silverphoenixranch.com and my blog http://forthetnwalkinghorse.blogspot.com. Please come visit and see what's really going on with these horses.

AND THANK YOU for publicly putting them down. It only helps fuel our fire when even the visual of what they do to them is abhored.