Lets take this blog to the next level

If you have a photo of crappy show riding, know of a jerkwad trainer or judge, or someone in the show world that is an abusive piece of shit then send the info to me. This blog is not anti-showing, it's anti-abuse. So there is no truth to the claims from the TWH, ASB, western pleasure and dressage zombies that I'm trying to shut showing down. Instead I'm trying to make showing more honest and to get abusive practices out of the showring! Email me at shameinthehorseshowring@gmail.com

I have a request for my readers: If you have successfully rehabbed a show horse, or gotten a rescue and taken it on to a show career then let me know, I'd love to feature you here!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Made in America

There is no doubt America is a great country. There is no doubt that the history of this country is very closely tied with the horse. Without the horse westward expansion would have taken twice as long, forests wouldn’t have been cleared, prairies plowed, cities developed. Of course, without the horse, wars would have been more difficult to fight and just maybe if our growth hadn’t have been so spectacular we might not have had the energy and vanity to destroy one of the things that helped us build this country: the working horse.

After World War II the horse experienced a decline of epic proportions. Farms were being modernized, automobiles were more affordable, and most cities were running out of spaces to keep a horse. The workhorse was on the way out, and horses as a mode of transportation were swiftly being replaced. However, America was not about to end its love affair with the horse. Racing was growing in popularity, as were polo, rodeo and showing. Equestrian sports replaced equine related work and the horse ended by being saved by the popularity of equine hobbyists. This is both a good, and a bad, thing.

There is no doubt that when an animal is bred to work he has a more balanced, mechanically sound conformation. You can’t plow with a horse that has a weak rear end. You can’t herd cattle for hundreds of miles with some muscle bound, tiny footed head case. You can’t deliver mail across 1100 miles on a horse that’s going to have a stress attack that’s been genetically bred into it. We all know that a true working horse is usually bred for soundness. This is where nature is our best friend, and we are her worst enemy.

What the American horse loving public has done to one of the most incredible biomechanical creations is a travesty. We should be ashamed of ourselves, really ashamed. We took an animal that could pull more than 3 times its own weight, carry 1/3 of its own body weight on its back, live on grass and water, give us affection and trust and we turned it into either a head dragging, short stepping, no impulsion pleasure horse, a bulky muscled, no brained, falling over halter horse, or some high stepping, artificial, head case. We haven’t improved on nature one single bit. We’ve created types based on aesthetics, without ever considering morphology or basic mechanics. Our vanity dictates the uselessness of our animals. And because we create such biomechanically unsound animals we then torture them to make them perform as we feel they should.

Let’s look at one of the “Made in America” breeds and examine what human vanity has done to a perfectly good horse.

The American Saddlebred comes from stock brought over from Europe. Its ancestors were originally pacing stock. They were crossed on English Thoroughbreds and the long production line that resulted in the ASB was started. Several prominent sires, including imported Messenger (Whom was also responsible for the Standardbred and some lines of TWH) Other sires that impacted the ASB are Gaine’s Denmark, Harrison Chief and during this century Rex McDonald. When you look at portraits of these horses you see balance, good legs, nice neck sets and feet that will actually support a horse.

In fact up until the 1900s a good ASB looked much like a nice TB in conformation: not as lean as the race type, but not as heavy as the hunt field type. The ASB was a working horse. It was a horse that carried generals through the Civil War and Plains Wars. It was a horse that traveled endless miles on plantations and farms, or down American roads to market. It had normal shaped feet, a natural tail and was ridden in the same manner just about every other horse was. What happened? Where did the ASB show ring go wrong and why?

I’m sure the Modern Saddlebred Breeder’s forum is going to go all freaky here, just like they did when they reviewed my blog before. According to them everyone that disagrees with their methods is a hater and just “doesn’t understand the ASB”. Seriously people, we get it. We understand exactly what you’re doing because we own horses too. We ride too. We care for horses too. And we know without a shadow of doubt that what you do to your show ASB’s is a complete and utter load of shit.

1) Why the set tails? There is no reason on this earth to break a horse’s tail, or nick the tendons. It doesn’t serve any purpose. It is vanity on your part and it subjects the horse to lifelong disfigurement. I think every exhibitor that subjects their horse to set tails needs to have their middle finger broken and tied back to the top of their hand. That way they can flip themselves off all day long for being such idiots. They should also get daily ginger enemas, just to make sure they step lightly and enjoy the day like their horses have to. Vanity and cruelty.

How would you like to sleep wearing this crap?

2)What is the deal with the long feet? Don’t try to bullshit us that it serves a purpose. Has no one in the ASB industry read a shoeing manual? Do you not understand the pressure put on the phalangeal levers by leaving that toe so long? Do you not get that creating tubed feet is just a quick trip to navicular disease? The hoof angle also impacts the knees, elbows, hocks and stifles. Poor feet can screw up the whole leg. Why don’t you shoe the horse correctly for a working horse and leaving the long toes to ballerinas?

3) What is the deal with your tack? Can you not handle your horses without bits that look like murder weapons? Don’t give me endless crap about “any bit can be cruel in the wrong hands”. Trust me, you guys are the wrong hands everyone talks about. There is no reason for a 9 inch shank on a double bridle. None. Ever. You have two bits at the end of the reins. The snaffle should be the one getting the majority of cues. I have seen ASBs shown where the curb is working almost parallel to the ground. WTF is up with that? Here’s a hint, when the horse does the thing with his chin and lower lip where he has it all wrinkled up it is because the bit and curb chain is hurting him! He’s not making faces to try to score a laugh out of the judges. He’s in pain.

10 inch shank Weymouth

And the bridoons you people use are just ludicrous. Can you not use a plain smooth mouth bridoon? Must you train with things that are better suited to sawing logs in half than being in a horse’s mouth?

4. Most of us understand the principals of saddleseat. Several breeds utilize the form and do so without making their horses look like strung out torture victims. Why can’t the ASB crowd?

5. Why do we do this to a breed we created? Other than the Icelandic Horse people, there is no European counterpart to a tail set, hyperflexed, torture gaited creature. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Scuttling movement, bad hands, horse is winging like crazy

Looks like shit. The horse is hyper reflexed. He is wearing a bit that any non-tortured horse would flip over with. Don’t try to tell me that rider isn’t heavy handing that horse, I can see the strain in his arms. I can also see the hocks and stifles locking every few steps.


If this is the best of the best at DC then the ASB is in trouble. I saw the chestnut horse lose his stifle about five times in one circle. The western horse looks like crap. I can’t figure out why the horses can’t move in a straight line. I get on WP people all the time about the canted moving, but this is way worse.
This is a weanling in a bitting rig, being lunged in a small circle.
WTF is up with that?
Here's a yearling in a bitting rig being lunged in a small circle.
These horses are babies! They shouldn't know what bits are for another few years. A weanling should not know what lunging is.
Oh, but this kind of abuse doesn't happen, we've been told so by ASB riders that have been in the business for years.
Evidently the same people that denied this crap happens in the ASB industry went over and chewed the ass of the video owner so he removed the videos. So for those of you that didn't get to see the videos here's a recap"
Bay ASB weanling in a full bitting and stretchies on his legs. He's being lunged in about a 20 foot circle, while a man with a whip/plastic bag thing chases him. His movment is jerky and stiff and his head is cranked in way to tight.
Chestnut ASB yearling in a full bitting rig. Same size circle. He moves better but is still way to tight and looks off on the outside hind leg. Asshole still has the whip/plastci bag thing.
Both these colts are verified as ASB registered.
And just because people whine that I never show the good stuff, here’s a saddlebred doing dressage. He’s relaxed, his tail is natural, he’s wearing snaffle, he’s got normal feet and a happy expression. He’s getting to do what every saddlebred should be allowed to do: show off what a horse can do without being tortured.

I’ve seen good saddlebreds do everything from dressage to jumping to western pleasure to barrel racing. In 1984 an ASB won the Battle of the Breeds by competing in multiple disciplines and placing well in all of them. These horses can do just about anything you set them at, as long as they aren’t hampered by a vanity monkey on their back.

Look at these little training gadgets to keep the ASB on his toes:

The black rubber boot with the chain around the ankle is called a Ticky Tack Spat. Doesn't that look like fun to wear? The silver thing is a caulking boot! So much for the natural moving ASB.
Here’s my personal opinion: The American Saddlebred is a great horse. They have a level of tolerance that is found in very few animals. I don’t think any stock breed, Arab or TB would put up with the shit an ASB puts up with and not kill someone. I know my old horse would have dumped me and left home if I had even hinted that I was going to make him sleep all night with his tail crammed up his butt, in a harness to hold it straight. Had I used one of those shoddy bits he would have flipped over and refused to get up again. I think the ASB show industry has taken a naturally dynamic animal and turned it into a characticture of a show horse. By doing so they have earned the disdain of the horse industry. We know how talented the horse is, it’s the people we despise. When is the ASB show world going to throw off its cruel trappings and let the beautiful horse it tortures show its natural abilities? And to the saddlebred people that are going to label me a “hater”: You’re wrong. I love the horse, just despise the idiots it attracts.
And the trot.org people need to just save their breath. I'm not talking bad about the Saddlebred, it's a nice horse. I'm talking bad about the scum in your industry that you should have had the balls to get rid of years ago. I at least have the balls to speak out, which is more than you're doing. You're wasting time bitching about me when you should be kicking your breed organization in the ass and getting the cruel stuff banned.
A lot of different people contribute information to this blog. Some of the saddlebred stuff came from people within the ASB industry, so calling the blog ignorant means you're labeling part of the ASB industry ignorant.