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!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Welcome to the Pleasure Horse Forum

It's been a sheer delight to have you pop in and then stumble back to your forum and bitch about me, the blog, the children on the blog and the photos I used. Your letters of outrage have been most gratifying, and in some cases humorous.

I'll clear up a few misconceptions your insular little group has about me and this blog.

1) I love stock horses. I grew up with good stock horses and I appreciate good stock horses. What I do not like are good stock horses ruined by poor riding and stupid fads.

2) You can't justify plucking on your horse's reins every three strides. There's no reason for it. If your horse can't hold a frame for more than three strides then he isn't trained.

3) Constantly jabbing your horse with spurs while plucking the reins is stupid. Stop, go, stop, go. It boggles the mind that you think this is riding.

4) The rest of the equine world thinks western pleasure is a joke. You're right there with the Big Lick TWH people.

5) Cantering sideways is not indicative of a comfortable well trained horse.

6) The fact the poll on tail blocking showed a surge in yes votes for this cruel and unnecessary treatment shows that you don't have a problem with cheating or abuse.

7) This blog has an ISP tracker, I know where every single visitor comes from, so if you really want to make "ass whipping" threats be prepared to suffer the repercussions. Your ISP is a unique address right to your computer. Just ask Jack Abramoff how that works.

8) I love how you've now gone into speculating about my private life. For the record I'm not married and I have no kids. All this fanciful speculation because you don't have the balls to email me and ask. If you're all such a bunch of mind readers how come you can't figure out your horse hates being spurred and plucked at all the time?

9) You-Tube undercuts all of your bitching and moaning. Sorry, but there is just too much video evidence to show how crappy the pleasure industry is.


These are not isolated incidents. There are entire classes full of leg pumping, rein plucking, spur jabbing riders out there and this is the evidence. If you don't want me to bitch about it then clean up the show ring.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

English Drecquitation

Since I’ve enjoyed ragging on WP so much, and inciting the rage of the various Western Drecquers, I decided to be non-partisan and take aim at the crappy English equitation in the breed show rings. Those of us that have shows USEF hunter under saddle usually consider stabbing our eyes out with sporks while watching breed show hunter under saddle. It really is too painful to watch.

For some reason the stock horse industry decided to take a perfectly good sport, that had traditions, and standards, for hundreds of years, and turn it into a mechanical nightmare. Slapping an English saddle on a WP horse does not a hunter make. Instead it makes about as much sense as doing dressage on a Paso Fino. You’ve got no extension, no impulsion and no collection. And for those of you that read the western version and thought I was in favor of tight reins: you’re wrong. I want collection. Collection starts in the rear end, rounds the back, and lifts the shoulder at the base. Collection doesn’t even require a bridle. What is does require is a seat and good legs. A bridled horse collects with a touch and tension on the reins is an illusion. You ride a collected horse with your seat first and your hands only when finesse is needed. Let’s take a look at a few English Equitation standards. This first one is a handbook drawing.

This is from an actual equitation handbook. The rider is slightly forward at the trot, the heel and hip are in line, the shoulder and elbow are square and going straight to the rein. The rider has contact but the horse is not over bent. The eye is level with the withers. This horse could take two steps into a canter and head into a fence with no problem. This is what hunt seat is about. The intent is that at some point your hunter could pop over a fence. If your horse’s head is below level he’s not going to be able to elevate in order to jump.

Here’s a photo I like of an actual rider. The horse is relaxed and has great lines. It’s driving under itself and is working well on the bit. The reins are slack, but you can see the horse is collecting and pushing from behind. For the record the child is ten in this photo and the horse was bought as a 10 year old rehab that had chronic barn sourness and run away issues when the child started showing it. So we can forgive a few flaws, but overall it’s a nice photo and the child won the class of 18, over adult and more advanced riders. (those of you saying I don’t appreciate stock horse breeds can note that this is an Appaloosa, who also has Doc O’Lena breeding, so can’t get much stock horse than that) And for the record this mare has won high point at open and breed shows.

Here she is again coming into a downshift transition. She’s straightened up for the gait change, sitting deep, leg in line, heels down, hands nice and even, reins in contact but relaxed. Mare has her nose poked out a bit, but considering she was one of the worst rooters I’ve ever seen three months prior to this photo this is pretty good head set. Mare is rounded, working under herself to slow down without propping on the front. Nice relaxed photo. The child is even smiling, she’s enjoying the ride, hell the horse looks like she’s smiling too.
Now we drop a few levels in ability, and rise a few levels in expectations. We’re going to compare some top stock horse HUS riders on top bloodlines to a ten year old on a rehab horse.

Boy, sure love that foot jammed forward and the nice duck butt this gal has going. How about those slack reins but over flexed head? Can you say picked at so much this horse’s tongue is probably black? The head is at least level with the withers, but overall it looks strung out, downhill and uncomfortable.

First thing I find wrong is the fact the heels of the rider are up. WTF is the deal with that? You can see her entire knee is disengaged and her toes are down. If this horse propped or spooked her ass would be riding air. The horse has poor cadence. You can look at the leg angulations and see that the hind leg angle does not match the front leg angle on what should be the top of the stride, since both feet are flat on the ground. Mechanically I can tell you that the front foot of this horse hit the ground well before the hind foot did, making for a four beat trot. Yuck! Loose rein, way behind the vertical. There is a spur stop and a lot of plucking in this horse’s past.

Where do I begin? Leaned forward. This horse is walking, wtf is the rush to the fire? The heel is up. The head is too low. It’s like the hunchback took off from bell ringer duties and decided to take in a HUS class prior to matins. Horse has no collection, strung out, over flexed and not getting any relief from those heels digging in. Of course a quick buck would remove the annoyance from his back, because her seat is so weak she’d flick off like a booger from a redneck’s finger.

If this horse dropped his head below his withers and she ditched the vest this pair could just about win a stock horse HUS class. Heels up? Check. Bad posture? Check. Poor collection? Check. Ass bouncing out of the saddle? Check. We have a winner!

Dreck! Dreck! and more Dreck!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Western Drecquitation

I’m back to bitching about equitation. I grew up riding on a military base, with some seriously equitation ingrained instructors. Nothing like an old cavalry man to make you keep your heels down. It used to be that equitation was based on a balanced seat. You could run a plumb from the rider’s ear to their shoulder to their hip to their heel. Then you could run a line from the rider’s elbow to the wrist to the horse’s bit. These should be straight lines, not ones that look like the peaks and valleys on a heart monitor.

We stopped by a local show this weekend and the kids in it ride better than some of the industries top trainers. Do you think I’m kidding? Then look at the following examples and tell me I’m wrong. I’ve black barred the horses’ faces so they won’t suffer further embarrassment from being ridden by such poor trainers.

Here we’ve got a rather prominent WP trainer. For some reason his arm is behind the line from his ear, shoulder, hip, heel. His arm is straight to the horse’s bit, but his elbow is too far forward. According to AQHA rules the horse’s head is too low. Page 210 of the AQHA handbook states: (l) Faults that will be cause for disqualification, except in novice amateur or novice youth classes, which shall be faults scored according to severity: (1) Head carried too low (tip of ear below the withers consistently)
(2) Overflexing or straining neck in head carriage so the nose is carried behind the vertical consistently.
So why is this style placed so consistently? It looks like SHIT!

Here’s another winner:
Terrible lines, horse’s head too low, not using its rear end, crappy hands. He shouldn’t be able to win tenth in a class of nine.
Why is this shoddy riding excused? Even if every horse in the ring looked this way the judges can surely refuse to place the shitty riding.

Here’s another jewel: This guy is famous for the “lean back” style, although this isn’t the worst picture of it I’ve seen. This is another “top” trainer that looks like SHIT. What is with the hands? What is with the forward foot? Horse’s head is too low, face out of vertical and he’s got that nasty butt slump that tells us he’s not using his rear to move, he’s just skating along like a waterbug. My niece rides better than this and she’s just a kid.
I love this one; there simply aren’t enough words to say how wrong it is:

I love this one; there simply aren’t enough words to say how wrong it is:Head too low, nose out of vertical, poor body lines, slump butt and the horse’s ears are pinned. He’s embarrassed, probably ashamed too. He’s probably hoping he could get into a respectable line of work like carting Las Vegas prostitutes around, or hauling drugs across the border.

This one doesn’t bother me as much, in fact she’s doing a few things right, so the judge’s probably didn’t place her.
Her position is better than the others, even though her leg is still too far forward. Her horse is close to vertical, but he is happier looking and her reins are almost where they need to be. The horse’s butt is rounded and he doesn’t look as slumpy tense. But if this is the best we have in the ring then the entire western pleasure industry is in trouble.

Strangely enough, when I go outside of the stock horse industry I find all kinds of good riding and properly trained horses. This Morgan is striking, balanced and correctly on the bit. His eye is almost level with his withers, his face is vertical, he’s rounded and ready to work off his rear. I didn't cover his eye because he has no reason to be ashamed of his rider. He looks relaxed and happy. Her body lines are nice and she’s got her rein hand properly squared for using a rommal rein. Why can’t QH people ride like this? Is it too much to ask that they sit upright and properly aligned? Is it too much to ask that the horse is lively, alert, balanced and on the bit? I can go to any Morgan, ASB and Arabian western show and see better turn outs, better riding and happier horses in the western classes than you can at any stock horse show. It shouldn’t be this way! When will AQHA, APHA and ApHC actually require equitation and collection from their riders? What we're seeing is dreck, dreck and more dreck!