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, May 12, 2009

Swaying public opinion


I was sent this photo of an ASB gelding that was taken at a show in Arizona. This horse competed in classes at the show.

I have to wonder WTF anyone was thinking to put a saddle on a horse with a sway back that is this bad? Then I question the parent that would let their kid ride a horse in this condition. I also have to wonder at the absolute lack of consideration that show management and the judges had for the animal by allowing it to be shown. The is positively no upside to riding or showing a horse with a back that is this swayed. It should be retired as it deserves, or euthanised if it is in pain. It should never feel a rider's weight again.


Is the ASB association going to take a stand against this kind of abuse?
I can't imagine that any sane person would see this horse on the showgrounds and not want to stick a foot in someone's ass.

108 comments:

an American in Copenhagen said...

I can't imagine a horse with that bad a back being able to even exist. I think it looks like there is a dark strip of the back above where the white reflections end. I love your blog but I think you need a better photo before you start slinging mud at this particular individual.

Elise said...

I do know that saddleseat riders prefer low back horses. I've also read reports that low back horses are no more nor less fit to be ridden. Their spines are just as strong as a non-lowback horse. This of course excludes horses that are lowbacked because of extreme age or injury.

Aly Carm said...

I was looking at that pic and it looks like it was photo-shopped, me thinks. That shiny spot doesn't really seem appropriately located considering the shadows and other shiny spots.... I'm suspicious.

Trojan Mouse said...

AlyCarm,

I don't even own photoshop.

The photo came to me as is. If you zoom in on it you can see the fence rail lines up exactly with the fence rail to the left of the horse. Anything to move the back would have made the rail higher or lower.

cattypex said...

It still looks blurry weird over his hip....

And I can't make out what's going on in his withers area.

Not to say you're wrong or anything, it's just inconclusive.

But given the lordosis issue, I wouldn't be surprised if it were real.

Amber said...

If the horse is sound, why not ride him? I have seen some Half-Arabs that unfortunately had lordosis as badly as any full ASB - to just look at them you wouldn't think they could make it across a stall, but with proper care and consideration towards saddle fit they were 100% sound and did their jobs as kids show horses with no discomfort.

Lordosis in horses =/= lordosis in people. Horses usually don't have the issues associated with the condition in other animals, and if the horse is sound there really isn't any reason to not ride him.
Saddlefit is pretty much the only concern.

I found this, from an old EQUUS article -
"One of the unique characteristics of lordosis in horses is that the spinal deviation does not have a disabling effect," observes Patrick Gallagher, PhD, who researched equine lordosis while a graduate student at the University of Kentucky. "Even the most severely affected individuals can be trained and ridden and can participate in horse shows."

katphoti said...

I am the one who took the picture. I figured this would happen.

See, in the post about ASBs and the crap they go through quite a while back on this blog, I heard all the excuses why these horses are still ridden when they're in this condition. I was challenged that when I see these horribly conformed horses that I was talking about to take a picture.

So, I took a picture.

I took this with my phone and obviously couldn't just walk up to the poeple and say, "Hey! Your horse's back is horrible. Can I take a picture of it???" It is from about 200 feet away. The horse had just been ridden in the Academy classes and was being washed off at the wash rack behind the barns.

The shiny spot on the horse's back is from him just being bathed. There was a weird divet in the horse's withers that literally made it look like the withers were curved backwards over his back. Click on the photo and zoom in on it. You can clearly see where the rail is above his back.

The photo is absolutely not photoshopped other than the photo itself having the lines and the words on it. But I suppose that the ASB people will now say that I've photoshopped it. First they ask for a picture, then they give me shit about the picture not being a perfect, up close, panoramic shot with every little curve and detail meticulously included.

I don't give a shit that horses can be rideable if they have lordosis. When a horse looks like this, it is unacceptable to be riding him. We don't even know if he has lordosis or not--those of you who said lordosis are just assuming. You cannot tell me this animal does not have permanent damage to his spine. Give this poor horse his retirement and let the kids ride another horse!

GoLightly said...

If you haven't read it, please do.Great vet, Dr. Rooney. RIP.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Go to any Saddlebred show and you will see a bunch of these horses. I'm not sure of how all this got started in ASBs, but apparently low backs were being bred for quite deliberately. The rationale? It makes the front end of the horse stand out more.

My niece rode academy classes - going to watch her was the first time I had seen ASBs for quite a while. Couldn't believe it when I saw the low backs. Very very weird and sad for the horses.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

And if you Google "lordosis" and "Saddlebred" you will see that this has been a topic of heated discussion for some time. ASHA has apparently been funding studies about lordosis and is considering banning these horses from the ring etc.

Like many other equine issues, getting the association to take a stand and DO something takes a whole lotta time.

cattypex said...

Wow Katphoti! That picture is indeed nutso shitso.

That being said, I've seen some pretty swayback horses go totally sound under light riders. I used to take lessons on a swaybacked old TB, and he was fine - not even bute was needed to keep him sound and good-natured. He just required a lot of creative foam rubber shapes under his saddle, and didn't get a LOT of work.

On the other hand, it is WRONG WRONG WRONG to breed for this lowback look!!! Because it's just structurally DUMB - like those low hips in German Shepherds. You're doing a breed a huge disservice by encouraging it.

A horse with lordosis/swayback MIGHT not be unsound, but .... um.... yeah.

This individual, I guess I'd have to see him in action to judge whether or not he should be ridden. But I'd certainly not want to OWN him if I wanted a riding horse, let alone a show horse.

In 4H judging, I'd have to mark it as an unsoundness, not a blemish. :P

cattypex said...

And what is an Academy Class?

Super duper equitation?

Don't know much about the ins & outs of saddleseat showing... but I DO know bad confo. !

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

The American Saddlebred Horse Association Academy Awards program encourages and recognizes juveniles and adults participating in academy classes at horse shows throughout the country. Academy classes create an opportunity for beginning saddle seat riders to develop and fine-tune their horsemanship skills, sportsmanship, and appreciation for the American Saddlebred.

An Academy class is any class offered at a local tournament in which two or more stables are participating, or any class at an open show that is designated "academy." Participants compete on horses designated as school horses, or horses that are regularly used in riding lesson program instruction. Acceptable riding attire is jodhpurs or dark pants, boots and dress shirt or a sweatshirt bearing the stable’s logo. Riding suits are unacceptable, and hard hats are optional.

~~~~~~~~~

I have seen people show hunt seat in academy classes as well and place. It's a great way to get started showing equitation. A smart move for the Saddlebred people.

cattypex said...

That's pretty cool!!

And a great way for a horseless rider to get their feet wet without buying a jillion dollar saddlesuit.




On sound horses, of course.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Exactamonte!

My niece still doesn't have a horse, but she was able to take lessons at a top ranked saddle seat farm and show their school horses in academy classes. Mind you, their school horses were as good as a lot of open class Saddlebreds. A very good experience for her.

She tried to get me and my sister (her mom) to show with her. We had to explain that it really wouldn't be fair - it's been a long time since we showed saddle seat, but still - we did show in Class A Morgan shows and have both been riding for a long time. Pretty uncool to crash the academy classes and show against late in life riders etc.

My only gripe was that once in a while there were some people who were showing awfully well turned out and classy school horses. Just seemed like they were stretching the rules a bit and really needed to move on to regular classes.

Otherwise, a great way to go, on sound horses of course! :-)

katphoti said...

Great definition of Academy, MHQ. It's weird, though--the Academy riders at these shows wear full suits.

Overall, they're extremely popular classes. The ASB barns out here have saddleseat lessons for kids on their used up show horses. This way parents don't have to buy a horse. They pay the trainers and the entry fees to ride the horse for the day. The horses all look like they've been through the ringer, but none of them have as bad a back as this guy does. I'm sure I'll see him at more shows so I'll take more pictures of him.

The horses also aren't just bred for low backs--they start wearing body braces when they're young, which changes the shape of their back. Read the Ranger Study at this link to learn more. If you don't read it, at least scroll to page 12 and check out the photo of the filly.

Yes, severely swaybacked horses can be ridden, but that doesn't mean they SHOULD be ridden. Look, here's my point: horses are not born with swaybacks. It is caused over time by human intervention. Horses in the wild do not develop the kinds of severe swaybacks over time that I see so often in the ASB community, even with breeding mares. Sure, some horse's backs will sway, and sometimes those horses can be ridden. But overall, it's not normal and I believe shouldn't be condoned.

GoLightly said...

Kat, read my link. It states the facts politely.
ASB's have been bred for this defect.

For many, many years.

Would you cull all of these horses?
You'd need to start all over again, wouldn't you?

We bred this into them. Forced their backs into these weird contortions, for that oh-so-special stretch stance.
How do you remove it?

Mass culling of these old darlings wouldn't go over very well.

I agree, lordosis shouldn't Be.
But it IS.

The horse certainly doesn't look despised by his handlers.
Blooming with good health, he is.

Shouldn't we focus on horses that are actually suffering? As opposed to horses that you think are suffering?
I assume you already know this.

"“Low back” or sway back has been recognized in the ASB (American Saddlebred) for a number of years. Although numbers are not available, anecdote indicates that the condition is more common in that breed than in any other. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to examine one of these animals at postmortem, despite a long-standing plea for such an opportunity. Lordosis in the ASB is of the juvenile type, but we simply do not know if the lesion described above is present. I have seen young ASB foals so markedly lordotic that it was obvious that they could never perform and undoubtedly were destroyed – and buried. As with some other conditions in other breeds the choice has apparently been to ignore the problem when possible and bury it when not possible.

In order to make any progress, then, it is necessary to try to construct the pathogenesis with the information, albeit incomplete, available. The show requirements for the ASB are unique. In the standing position the neck is elevated, the forelegs straightened, the thoracolumbar spine (the back) is lowered, and the hindlegs are stretched back, Fig. 3. This is a unique variant of the normal collected stance for a horse, Fig. 4.
figure 4

Fig. 4: Schematic of the usual collected stance of a horse.

As discussed in The Lame Horse (reference on the web site) collection is the normal response of a horse to an unusual or frightening event. The neck elevates, the head tips nose down and the back is rounded up as the hind feet move forward beneath the body. Collection can, of course, be induced by a rider using the reins and leg aids.

The ASB is unique in that the animal is trained to collect the head, neck, and forelegs but not to collect the hindlegs. Indeed, the hindlegs move in the opposite direction.

The elevation of the neck induces a reflex lowering of the thoracolumbar spine. This is countered in usual collection by the forward placement of the hind feet but is not countered in the ASB because the hind feet move backward. Indeed this backward movement of the hindlegs mechanically tends to lower the thoracolumbar spine. The stretching out of the hindlegs is enhanced by the practice of elevating the tail, often with the training aid of a tail set. Elevating the tail induces an extensor reflex in the hindlegs, so that they straighten and move backward. (This extensor reflex induced by lifting the tail is routinely used with cattle to inhibit kicking since the cow cannot kick unless she can first flex her leg. That is true of the horse as well, but the horse can override the reflex easily while the cow is less able to do so.)

So far, then, we have an induced but reversible hollowing or lowering of the back into a lordotic or nearly lordotic position. The more successful horses will be those which assume this stance most prettily (I can’t think of a better word). The horse more likely to be selected for breeding is that individual successful in “best” achieving this stance together with, of course, high marks for movement at the required gaits. [I am simplifying by omitting consideration of the gaits and their evaluation for the moment.]

Given that selection for stance is a determinant, those horses will tend to be selected for breeding which either best achieve the stance or are predisposed to the stance. That is, the horse which is born with a “low back”- some degree of lordosis - has an advantage to start with over the horse which must be trained to this stance. Once one begins to select in this way it is almost inevitable that the low back will be perpetuated in the offspring of that first horse with a low back, and the end stage of low back is lordosis. By selection, therefore, the back becomes fixed in the lordotic position. What used to be achieved by training has now become part of the basic, inherent conformation of the horse.

The static or stance position is reflected in the movement or action of the ASB. The neck is elevated, the forehand action high and bouncy. The hindlegs, too, have a bouncy action. The overall picture is reminiscent (to me, at least) of children bouncing on a trampoline and is somewhat more obvious in some three-gaited horses. This action appears to be the result of the unusual, incomplete collection characteristic of the ASB. Both the forelegs and the hindlegs tend to reflex extension which leads to the stiffly bouncing up and down movement. The low back is of no advantage; it is simply the by-product of the positions of the neck, forelegs, and hindlegs.

Once again, I recognize that this is a delicate subject and that I seem to be saying that the American Saddlebred is all wrong, the stance is all wrong, the gait is all wrong, and so on. That is certainly not what I intend to convey though I recognize that is what will probably be conveyed. In order to achieve some understanding of lordosis in this breed I have had to proceed in the above manner. One may well ask why lordosis needs to be understood at all since it is not a lethal or debilitating disease. I need to understand it because that is what I do, and, in my opinion horsemen need to understand it because it is an abnormality, and breed integrity should entail the elimination of abnormalities. It can be done."

So, do it.

Cut-N-Jump said...

That is on the northern side of Horseworld/Westworld. No I didn't take the pic, but I have seen horses similar to this.

It would be interesting to know which barn the horse came from. You know, so they can get their 15 minutes of shame. And a clue by four to the forehead as needed.

If the horse is not in any pain, then showing and riding- ok. But if there is the slightest idea the horse is in pain and/or suffering- STAY THE FUCK OFF! And I don't just limit this to their back being sore or misshappen.

Cut-N-Jump said...

MHQ-
She tried to get me and my sister (her mom) to show with her. We had to explain that it really wouldn't be fair - it's been a long time since we showed saddle seat, but still - we did show in Class A Morgan shows and have both been riding for a long time. Pretty uncool to crash the academy classes and show against late in life riders etc.

My only gripe was that once in a while there were some people who were showing awfully well turned out and classy school horses. Just seemed like they were stretching the rules a bit and really needed to move on to regular classes.
_______________________________

KUDOS! to you and your sister, for taking the high road and being a competitor with concern for keeping the playing field LEVEL!

I know a few too many, who would have (and often DO) jump at the chance for what they consider an 'easy ribbon' or points. Makes me want to kick them in the shins. Really Hard! Or worse.

GoLightly said...

(head/desk)

So, these poor schmucks are responsible for the last, oh, let's guess 100+ years of breeding these horses?

Oh, okay.
Clue by four to the forehead, by all means, then, even if it's not quite deserved.

good grief.
ditz, as noted, out.
Culling begins at home.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

GoLightly,

With all due respect, you are wrong, wrong, wrong about collection in ASBs. Properly ridden, an ASB (or Morgan, or Arab) shown saddle seat is most definitely collected and gets impulsion from the rear. If you don't have impulsion and collection, you have a strung out horse, just as you would in dressage or any other discipline. It is a very common fault to see saddle seat riders with faux collection that is really just riding on the forehand, but any knowledgeable judge or horse person can see it for exactly what it is - and it's not collection.

As for stretching the horse - totally harmless. It can be overdone and, like many other things in the horse world, looks ridiculous when overdone e.g. the horse is overstretched. My saddle seat Morgan would park out all the time for shows - he lived to be 29 and never had a low back. Doesn't have a thing to do with breeding for a low back.

I'm not excusing the ASB people for deliberately breeding for lordosis - it's freaky and unfair to the horse. But to correlate the high set on neck of the ASB, stretching the horse, etc with lordosis is wrong. ASBs carried themselves the way they do long before lordosis ever came on the scene. You're mixing a lot of stuff up together that historically has nothing to do with each other.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Katphoti -

Thanks, but I didn't write that description of academy classes - stole it from ASHA!

Cut-N-Jump said...

GL- This horses' owners/handlers may not be directly responsible for the last 100+ years of intentionally breeding "Faults For Fashun", but those who continue to do so, by all means deserve a resounding whack (or six) with a clue by four. Which is why I said-
It would be interesting to know which barn the horse came from. You know, so they can get their 15 minutes of shame. And a clue by four to the forehead as needed. (As in the FFF breeders.)

From your comment at the bottom of your lengthy post- So, do it. seems you agree with the last 3 sentences of it.

"One may well ask why lordosis needs to be understood at all since it is not a lethal or debilitating disease. I need to understand it because that is what I do, and, in my opinion horsemen need to understand it because it is an abnormality, and breed integrity should entail the elimination of abnormalities. It can be done."

The bold for emphasis part seems to fit every other breed out there as well. Sadly though, in reality, *shakes head* there is things like this in every breed and every discipline where horses are involved. Dogs, cats, show cattle, if it can be regulated and bred by humans, we can surely screw up what Mother Nature created and had originally intended.

By buying the mutant horses produced by the "Fault For Fashun" breeders... well that's just another way of voting to continue the process with the allmighty dollar. So maybe this horses' owners/handlers are in some way responsible after all? Perhaps.

It is yet again, a prime example of "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

People can breed their animals to intentionally or unintentionally reproduce what is considered in the general horse industry as a flaw or weakness, for whatever reasons or excuses they wish to cite. HYPP, HERDA, OLWS, SCID, Lordosis or any other genetic or conformational flaw is certainly not immune. Crooked legs (seen plenty in my lifetime and surely more to come), crappy feet (thinking Big Brown), baddittudes (War Admiral), parrotmouths/underbites- if someone decides that's the new "Fashun", the horses be damned as the "FFF" breeders will go full tilt in their crusade to ruin the breed for the sake of a few ribbons.


The horses often physically suffer because of it. When they do, this is what really pisses me off and most others too. The only way things can or will change is for those in the middle of it (BNF, BNT, Judges, Show Committees, etc.) to put a stop to it. But as long as the trend or fashion is 'IN', the 'industry insiders' as listed above are winning and so are their buddies, I don't see that happening any time soon.

Instead of breeding for a 'low back' why not instead, train the horse to engage the hindquarters, drive from the rear, lift their now lightened shoulders and go forward in self carriage? A much nicer picture overall wouldn't you agree? You will get more knee 'action' as a result. Isn't that what they want?

The Arab/HA's have Country English Pleasure, English Pleasure and Park Horse classes, where they are also ridden saddleseat and the judging is supposed to be looking for distinct, different types of movement. CEP- extreme 'action' is to be penalized, whereas the PH classes are looking for it. I have yet to see a swaybacked Arab or HA in any of the three divisions. Let alone one whose back is clearly as misshapen as the horse pictured.

Granted there are few Arab trainers whom I consider 'good' when speaking of these three divisions, but from what I have seen in their barns and countless others- even when crossing the Arabs & ASB's they do not breed for a 'low back' to enhance the appearance of front end movement and a high stepping trot.

How in the hell could a horse built like that, physically get their rear end under them where they can, I dunno, actually use it???

Breeding specificly for a 'low back' for the mere sake of enhancing the appearance of extreme or high knee action seems to be defeating their own purpose. Kind of difficult if not damn near physically impossible, to get their butt under them and lift the front end. But then who am I to say?

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Now that I've re-read GL's post, I realize she was quoting someone. I have to say they really don't know what they are talking about, plain and simple. Since I was away from horses for a while, I don't know when these lordotic horses started showing up, but they didn't exist 30 years ago. Mysteriously, ASBs in those days stretched, had high action, and were collected without it. Hmmmmmm.

Again, I think breeding for lordosis is twisted and ridiculous. But don't confuse a bunch of stuff with lordosis.

/end rant

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

CNJ,

No sense in calling out one farm - it's the whole breed. Google "saddlebred +lordosis" and read the BOD minutes for ASHA. They're trying to get their act together to eliminate lordosis. Seemingly at a snail's pace....

Cut-N-Jump said...

MHQ- I don't think GL wrote the lengthy post of which you are refering. It is from the link she provided if I am not mistaken.

I too didn't make any sense out of the springy back, low back, high set neck, parked out position, tail set to keep 'em from kicking... stuff. A lot of it seems to contradict itself. At least that is how I read it.

Cut-N-Jump said...

MHQ- I am all for Whacking the Asshats involved. One or one thousand. The last ones will either get a break because we are tired, or a double whammy from us getting a great workout!

Cut-N-Jump said...

And just WHY are the ASB people so adamant and sometimes downright rabid, in defending their less than reasonable 'practices'?

Even those within the breed call the shit for what it truly is- SHIT! Yet they too are overrun by the Krazzee fucks who condone poor behavior and possess little to none in the morals & ethics category.

katphoti said...

I agree with you CNJ & MHQ--the information GL has gotten is really muddled. But it's probably muddled on purpose--just another way for the ASB people to justify their abusive actions.

GL,

ASB's have been bred for this defect.

For many, many years.
So how does that make it okay? The TWH has been bred for the past 20 years to be pacey because when they stack 'em and sore 'em, they square up. So that makes the culls that TN puts out as "trail horses" so pacey that they are a disgrace to what the TWH was originally bred for.

Would you cull all of these horses?
You'd need to start all over again, wouldn't you?
Yep, and I'd do it in a heartbeat to save the breed. It's why if I were ever to get into breeding TWHs that I would ONLY select stallions and mares that have natural four-beat gaits, hopefully true flat walks at liberty. They're few and far between, but they are out there. And I would not compromise on that because this horse was pretty or that horse has great bloodlines.

We bred this into them. Forced their backs into these weird contortions, for that oh-so-special stretch stance.
How do you remove it?
First of all, who's "We"? I know I have had no hand in this travisty. Second, the way to remove it is simple: STOP DOING IT. Train the horses for natural impulsion in the rear, correct collection, and lift in the front. It can be done without bitting rigs, tail sets, and other mechanical devices.

Mass culling of these old darlings wouldn't go over very well.So this means the ASB industry continues to perpetuate the problem. Therefore, they should stand responsible for creating freaks of nature instead of giving excuses of "that's normal" or "you just don't understand how this breed is supposed to move." I absolutely DO understand how this breed is supposed to move, and it's a far cry from what I'm seeing in the show ring on a regular basis.

Oh wait, I have an idea. How about you pick out the naturally high stepping horses with impulsion in the rear and work with those horses for pizazz in the ring rather than just forcing all ASBs into that frame? I ask a million times over: WHY THE MECHANICS??? WHY NOT WORK WITH NATURAL TALENT????

Oh yeah, because of money and the bragging rights of a blue ribbon. DUH.

I wish I could somehow record the comments that the non-ASB people make about the ASBs when I'm at the shows out here. EVERYONE is disgusted by what they look like and how they get to looking that way. Lots of shaking of heads, tsk tsks, and "that poor horse" muttered behind the riders and trainers' backs.

GL, I seriously question why you are against things like the BL horse, the peanut roller WP horses, and other such insane charactures of the breeds and yet you support this type of show horse that is so obviously man-made. I just don't get that. Why is this form of abuse okay (and yes, it IS abuse to make a horse live its life in a 12x12 stall in a bitting rig to reshape his back and only allowed out for "training" and showing) and the others aren't?

katphoti said...

CNJ, there were several different barns there that day, but I can't remember which ones were there. I'll keep my eyes peeled for this horse, though, and watch where he comes from and what they do to him.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Just some clarification:

1) I don't think the article GL refers to is pro-Saddlebred. I read it as anti-SB. It horribly confuses causation and correlation.

2) Tail sets don't have anything to do with collection.

3) I had the privilege, and it was a privilege, to take a few lessons from one of the best SB trainers I know of. Her horses were always beautifully collected, actually trained to do the job they needed to do, well turned out, treated well, etc. No low backs anywhere. She, unfortunately, was in the minority.

I'll just make a blanket statement here - whether you're talking Arabs, Morgans, or SBs, the horses I've seen shown saddle seat recently are generally poorly trained and ridden. There are one heck of a lot of people out there showing saddle seat who don't have a clue about collection, use of the full bridle, and the fact that saddle seat is supposed to be pretty. What I do see is pretty alright, pretty bad. Top that with the fact that your typical amateur show person really can't afford to maintain a full blown saddle seat show horse and it's no wonder that the sport horse is rising in popularity - as are academy, hunt seat, and western at the SB shows. These are all things that the typical amateur can have a fair shot of competing with.

Saddle seat riding is slowly becoming irrelevant, at least for the majority of amateurs. A shame too, because it can be really fun to ride. I love it, but I bought my current horse to do competitive trail riding because that is even *more* fun than saddle seat, and something I can do that is pretty natural and fun for the horse.

/end of second rant :-)

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Katphoti -

Weird about academy riders showing in full saddle seat suits. Around here they ride in the clothes described in the ASHA info I posted - jods, boots, shirt and tie or turtle neck and sweatshirt. If they wear a shirt and tie, they will also sometimes wear vests. Never a suit tho.

My sister bought my niece her vest at Goodwill for $2. Yes, it's very affordable to show academy!

GoLightly said...

I am not "supporting" it, fcs.

I don't understand how you can single out some, and not others.

This breed is man-made. The QH's that are a travesty to their breed are man-made.

How will you stop it?
Euth everything??
I'd love to hear from attafox on this.

Oh, and you'd cull everything?
Wow.

Too bad english is so difficult to understand.
Dr. Rooney tried very hard to not sound anti-ASB.
He's simply pointing out facts and correlations. He is a Vet. Sorry, was a vet. Well-respected one, too.

If you truly believe this wasn't around 30 years ago, you really should do some more studying.

I don't condone it, at all.

I'm saying it's done. People made it, people have to fix it.

That's all.

Sheesh.

GoLightly said...

Heck, I'm still feeling queasy from reading how to get a horse to rack.
That's condoned?
wow.

Tender-footing their front feet?

That is scary.
The chair seat seems to be de rigeur for three year olds?
I stay within my rock's range. I'm never going to get some of this stuff.
Venturing out into horse show land is for the
never mind...
You can train a horse to just about any cue. To sore his fronts, on purpose.
Beyond odd.
Into demented.

To Horses, with happy feet.

katphoti said...

Sorry, GL--I didn't realize the article was against the stuff that's done to ASBs. I guess I just read it wrong. My bad!

But, I truly would cull and force better breeding practices on those who breed these animals. Hell, we need it right now with TWHs, and it's not just because of the problem of overpopulation of horses.

Making any horse's hooves tender for showing purposes is against the Horse Protection Act (HPA), no matter what breed. The HPA makes it illegal to use any means to cause pain in a horse's limbs in order to make him to step higher in the show ring. ASB "trainers" are not immune to this law. It's just that the TWH BL is such an ugly gait that the public has focused on it. We'll just have to push for the ASBs to have their turn. (But I do know that with ASBs, it truly IS in the minority--their training gadgets do enough work as it is for what they want to accomplish.)

katphoti said...

"There are one heck of a lot of people out there showing saddle seat who don't have a clue about collection, use of the full bridle, and the fact that saddle seat is supposed to be pretty. What I do see is pretty alright, pretty bad."

Right on, MHQ. I totally agree. Half the time I see riders that are practically flying horizontally off the back of their horses because the saddle is so far back, and it's like they're hanging on the the reins to keep from falling. Hands are too tight, they are just pushing the horse into the bit(s) full tilt and just fighting to keep their ass somewhat in line with the saddle. It's a disgrace.

ASBs with normal body conformation and that are trained to have impulsion in the hind end and action in the front are few and far between, indeed. Just like any breed nowadays, I suppose....

GoLightly said...

"Making any horse's hooves tender for showing purposes is against the Horse Protection Act (HPA), no matter what breed. The HPA makes it illegal to use any means to cause pain in a horse's limbs in order to make him to step higher in the show ring."

Well, check out trot.org's article on how to get a three year old to rack.

If it is illegal, I guess it's not "very" illegal. Oh, sorry, the article says it was done years ago. Not anymore.
yeah, sure.
gawd.. The thought processes involved in getting to these training methods makes me feel ill.

Happy Place, I'm going to my happy place:)

I find it extremely amusing that Dr. James Rooney is also perceived as incoherent and muddled.
yeah, me TOO, Dr. R.
Must be all those drugs we did in the 60's.
:)

The guy was a genius.

katphoti said...

"If it is illegal, I guess it's not "very" illegal. Oh, sorry, the article says it was done years ago. Not anymore.
yeah, sure."

Exactamundo, my friend. Just like how dog and cock fighting is a thing of the past. You hit the nail on the head.

Cut-N-Jump said...

MHQ-
I'll just make a blanket statement here - whether you're talking Arabs, Morgans, or SBs, the horses I've seen shown saddle seat recently are generally poorly trained and ridden.


Here, freakin', here!

That's why I stated:

Granted there are few Arab trainers whom I consider 'good' when speaking of these three divisions, ... blah, blah, blah...

One of the good trainers, I have personally worked in the same barn as they did. So I have seen first hand how they handled their horses.
A couple of the others, I have seen only at shows when they travel here from out of state. They are almost ALWAYS in the ribbons, yet I have heard nothing negative about their barns. I'm sure there is someone out there with a grudge or an ax to grind, but until I see it or hear it from a reputable source...

Cut-N-Jump said...

GL- I don't think too many of the ASB's would have to be be culled. Just like the number of 'beef on the hoof', halter only, crippled QH's would need to be culled.

When compared to the overall number of QH's, competing in various events- racing, cutting, rodeo events, reining and various other performance events, I would bet that the number of 'halter only' horses would be a small percentage of the breed. Yes, created, distorted and ruined by people, but still a small percent. That may not be a difficult loss if they were all culled from the program and existance.

I have seen plenty of ASB's who are not sway backed or 'low backed' as the ASB rabid defenders like to call it. I wouldn't see a need to cull them from the group, either.

They may not be from the most popular of bloodlines, but then those are probably the same lines where the conformational issues lay and are being reproduced.

As for Dr. Rooneys explanation of the low backs, the stance and lack of collection, I think where it got so muddled and confusing for everyone, was where he started describing the rear legs trailing along out behind allowing the back to drop down and become hollow as the head and neck raised up. To me this sounds as if it would be painful for any horse to carry a rider, of any size, for any length of time.

I'm going to break this up into another post...

appywoman said...

This is OT but I have to ask. this weekend I announced at a local riding club's show. I observed one of the exhibitors riding her horse around the grounds and in warm up with a miracle collar on him that had a horseshoe actually stuffed into the strap where it would put pressure on him if he lifted his head above the knee.

Of course I think this was to keep him so uncomfortable when he raised his neck that he would keep it there for a period of time after the collar was removed.

My question to anyone here is this...is there any LEGITIMATE reason for a horse to be schooled wearing this device? I think not, but enlighten me if I am wrong. I brought this issue to the attention of the board members of the club and they say they will address it.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Katphoti-
Oh wait, I have an idea. How about you pick out the naturally high stepping horses with impulsion in the rear and work with those horses for pizazz in the ring rather than just forcing all ASBs into that frame? I ask a million times over: WHY THE MECHANICS??? WHY NOT WORK WITH NATURAL TALENT????-------

I know you and I have discussed the 'mechanics' thing a few times via emails and on a slightly different variation of the word, but for the sake of this discussion...

(And this was also sort of the long winded post I had typed out for the draft horse thread that blogger ate, in case anyone was wondering...)

As far as the horses conformation, talent and abilities go, we have to understand how the horse is built and how it relates to their movement. If they are built to move a certain way, it will be easier on them to do so. They possess the build and the natural abilities. The horse may also be 'talented' enough to carry it to the next level and perform the movements or gaits with more animation and action than another horse of a similar, but slightly less 'desirable' build for that particular breed or even the entire species. This would be the ideal and what breeders should be striving to produce. SHOULD, of course being the operative word...

Understanding how the horse is built and being able to recognize when the rider is getting the most from a horse that it can possibly give, is something I am still working on myself. I was given a lesson in this by two (& in part a 3rd) horsemen at the Scottdale show during the one and only adult hunter eq class.

There was a horse who was quite pretty to watch, but just didn't seem to have his butt up under himself far enough to lighten the shoulders and move as 'pretty' as some of the other horses in the class. I commented and asked about it and was told to look at the horses shoulders and how they were built, look at the hip and the angles there, look at the topline, LOOK, LOOK, LOOK, LOOK, LOOK...

Yeah, and the horses are all MOVING! Not so easy to draw 'ideal lines' for mental notes and comparisons sake!

The horse had a bit of a straight shoulder, was slightly downhill and had a few other minor detractions, which would and did, restrict certain 'ideals' in his movement.

The fact was, his rider had him as light in the front end and working off the rear, with his butt as far under him as he could possibly get it. He physically couldn't do any more. The 3rd person giving me this lesson- was the judge, who without any idea of the conversation we were having just a few feet from the gazebo, placed this horse and rider second. He could see this and recognized, the rider was getting everything from the horse, that he could possibly give. Thank you to the horse and rider (whomever they were) for being there and making my lesson that day possible!


While I believe you meant the word 'mechanics' in the form of artificial movement, such as four beating at the lope, which is so prevalant in the WP classes and at the AQHA shows in general... there is a certain degree of mechanics that we as riders and trainers have to learn in order to make the horses job of understanding what we are asking for, as easy as possible for them to translate into the movements and responses we seek.

The reason so many 'trainers' don't work with natural talent, is quite simple really- they don't possess any themselves. They lack the talent, knowledge and skill to achieve the results they desire. This is why they resort to shortcuts, gimmicks and devices like draw reins, martingales, gag bits, soring and the myriad of other shit people do to their horses to get the instant results they feel will win them the ribbons, put them in the spotlight and fill the barn with clients.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Appy Woman- I am trying to picture how the shoe would only put pressure on the horses head if it came up above a certain level. The tightness of the straps maybe?

If it were too loose the shoe would fall out. At least that is my guess.

Either way, when the horse is 'done' and finally flips out because of crap like this- somebody is going to get hurt!

I have seen it more than I care to. When the horses are 'done' they are DONE, and often their brain is so fried there is little to no chance of getting them back.

Paigeley said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2v7djtzbckE&NR=1

just check it out
this video makes me wonder whether i want to be a human anymore

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

CNJ-

While I think trainers may not have any talent, maybe the bigger problem is that they don't know how to *recognize* talent in the horse. Perhaps they think they can take *any* horse and make an English superstar out of it. What a waste of effort! and sad for the horse when they have to resort to all that artificial crap.

I guess there's a bell curve of horse talent - small number of superstars, big middle number of mediocre horses, and then the truly awful (at least at that one thing). It would probably help if owners got some sense about their horses as well - not every horse can do what people want them to do.

Crappy, ain't it??

OT: how are the girls??

appywoman said...

CNJ: Yes, the straps are definately tightly holding the shoe in place. The shoe is in a position to affect the horse's ability to breath properly if his head were to be raised even to wither height!!I think that the miracle collar alone would restrict the horse's head carriage. That bothers me quite a bit, but to add the additional pressure of a shoe to this configuration is pretty inhumane.

Additionally this horse is close to being "DONE." He hates this rider...not only does she use this torture device, she turns her spurs to his side ninety degrees and rakes it up and down his sides while holding him back with the bridle. This is usually done just before upward transitions.

katphoti said...

CNJ and MHQ,

I agree completely about what you both said about trainers. I find that trainers get caught up in the money and the owners' demands to DO IT NOW in our I WANT IT NOW society. But to me, that's not a quality trainer. Resorting to gadgets, gimmicks, and tricks will backfire on you eventually. It's by far better to focus on what the horse can do rather than "fixing" what he can't.

I meant mechanics in the sense of using gadgets and gimmicks to achieve a certain look, like Appy's horseshoe example. And I do have a problem with people expecting their horse to do X because it is Y breed, not because it has the mental or physical capabilities to do so. Which also comes down to breeding, of course--if breeders were more selective then we would have a much better gene pool to select from.

I don't mind the not-so-perfect horses still having a home and a job. One of my students has a QH/TWH cross that looks like a hodgepodge of horse and honestly, is just not very good looking. But she and him are developing an awesome relationship, and she just wants to trail ride and maybe do some W/T classes at small shows. So the important thing is that he is being used for what he's capable of and she doesn't expect any more out of him.

CNJ, I got a pony!!!! He's a rescue. I'm blogging about him at http://whenthepaintedhorsecomes.blogspot.com He was bought by a friend of mine for me to train. He needs a ton of work, but he'll eventually get there!

katphoti said...

Paigeley,

Yep, a horrible practice. It is not a sport--it's torture. I want to slap the crowd for cheering (the same way I want to slap the crowds for cheering for Big Lick TWHs). We have a serious problem with it here in AZ since we're on the Mexican border. We have some good people in high places trying to stop it, though.

Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Appywoman,

Reading about that poor horse is making me want to pick up a baseball bat and go after her - and I'm generally a pretty calm person.

What the h-ll does she think she's doing???

Kudos to you if you can stop her from showing...

GoLightly said...

CNJ:)
"As for Dr. Rooneys explanation of the low backs, the stance and lack of collection, I think where it got so muddled and confusing for everyone, was where he started describing the rear legs trailing along out behind allowing the back to drop down and become hollow as the head and neck raised up. To me this sounds as if it would be painful for any horse to carry a rider, of any size, for any length of time."

Agreed. But back then,it was a-okay, maybe. He was just reporting what he saw, I think.
Doesn't it make intuitive sense?
The camped out "desirable" stance?

Breeding for it?
It would be interesting to do a study on conformation in breeds with lordosis. That the ASB has the highest incidence, seems to imply that Rooney was right.
A long back, camped out behind?

Both my old ASB schoolie and my old morgan cross schoolie had low, flat backs, and stood camped out. They indeed had a tough time with any type of collection, but they muddled along just fine.

Pain has been part of the equation of horse training for a unbelievably, unbearably long time. Lovely example would be the check rein on the driving horses.
A la Black Beauty.

Pain as a training device should stop.
It is shameful.

Boneheaded pseudo-trainers take advantage of the incredible kind nature of equines.

A friend e-mailed me a pic of an old "pinch" bit. Yup, it pinched the horses' mouth together. Nice.

hugs to the kidlings, queen CNJ.

To Horses!
Kind, consistent training always, everywhere.
I'm dreaming.
But maybe it can change, slowly.
Here's hoping.

cattypex said...

"mechanics"

Horse Mechanics: Your 17 hand hard-keeper jumper is just NOT going to be an endurance horse. Your 15-hand barrel horse is NOT going to be a park horse.
Etc.

Artificial mechanical devices: WRONG! SO wrong.

That being said, you could argue all day, what IS an Artificial Mechanical Device? You could define a snaffle bit as one...

On the other hand, that horsehoe/cribbing collar rig should get that woman laughed out of town, after someone strapped one on HER.

I STILL don't get bitting rigs, tight tiedows, those tube/strap contraptions to make a horse lift its feet higher, see-sawing on a horse's mouth.... UGH!

And again, on the other hand, if you've got a horse who carries his head EXTREMELY high, I can totally understand some work with a martingale of some sort. Carrying a stick to wave at a laaaaazy old smartypants lesson horse. A buggy whip to gently taptaptaptaptap a recalcitrant horse into a trailer. That kind of thing.

GL, you've hit it on the head: don't use - or abuse - devices that can cause misery.

ASB people can shout at me all day long about how tailsets, bitting rigs etc. are GOOD and NECESSARY, just like stumbling peanut-roller aficionados can shout at me that their defeated ouchy horses are HAPPY to move that way, just like HJ people can shout at me that Aced ponies are perfectly safe for kids.

WHATEVER!!!!

Smurfette said...

Appywoman....it sounds like that little twit has come up with every bad WP training practice known to man, and wrapped them all up on that one poor horse. Was the tail blocked too? I do think that is very, very sad. I ride a WP horse that I am very proud of, we basically use slightly altered dressage principals to achieve the look/action that I am trying for.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I'm just catching up and typing out my lengthy (as usual) post in Word...

Cut-N-Jump said...

Appy Woman- The whole horse shoe, miracle collar thing just floors me.

I have an OTTB mare who cribs. Incessantly. It could drive me nuts. If I let it. An old client gave us her slightly used, Miracle Collar. She had upgraded (if you can call it that) to the electric shock collar, endorsed by Clinton Anderson. I would just like to know what is soooo "Natural" about That??? *eyeroll*

Even with the MC on, my mare would and did, still crib. She figured out she just had to move up a rail... Problem solved, collar ineffective, cribbing continues. Annoying? Yes, it can be, but I can deal. She’s a pretty mare, sweet, and still has plenty of years left. She is 10 this year.

(I think my dog ate the MC. It is now, ironicly enough, pieces of shit(!) laying in the yard. LOL!

I imagine if horseshoe moron (HSM) allowed the horse to stick the nose out, in an unnatural pose of course, the neck would 'thin out' and the shoe/collar contraption would be just as ineffective, no matter how high or low the horse carried the head. The mere fact HSM has resorted to this measure? No relief will ever happen for the poor horse. It's no wonder the horse is sick of her, her contraptions and lack of skill or talent. Often times when the horse is finally 'done' they are too far gone, their brain is fried and they are ditched at the auction as "unmanageable". There, they are pretty much toast.

AW- He hates this rider...

I am assuming the second strike against this horse- he is a gelding. Probably a sweet as all get out, do anything you ask, type of horse, but still a gelding. Once they are 'done' it's over. You can't breed them, you can't ride them- it's over. They are now a giant pasture ornament that eats, shits and needs just as much care, as a horse you can ride.

To me, that is the saddest part. Paired with the fact it can all be avoided- well that just makes it even worse...

How about we strap her to a tree, by the throat with the MC adjusted just as tight and take turns throwing the shoe at her head? Any takers? Who wants to go first?

appywoman said...

CNJ: she does not let the horse avoid the collar by stretching his nose even a little. She is on him to carry it a little behind the vertical when the collar is in place and in the ring she wants it on the vertical. I have written a letter to the board of directors asking that they make it clear that this not be seen on the grounds again. Unfortunately we cannot do anything about what she does "behind the barn" so to speak but it can be prevented at the shows where impressionable riders and spectators may begin to think this is OK. The sad thing is that this horse wins a lot of the time.
Ironically, this horse was shown on FHOTD early this year or late last year. She was blogging on unrealistic pricing of horses and his pic made him look so much worse than he actually was as far as body condition went.

Cut-N-Jump said...

MHQ, Kat, & GL-

The girls are doing well, rolling over, wiggling their way across the floor and just being way to cute. All the time. Nobody can resist them. Nobody! LOL!

Kat-
CNJ, I got a pony!!!!

Funny, did you catch the notes being passed back and forth like 5th graders, between Cliffrose and I? As soon as the vet gets back and removes a few spare parts, and all traces of his 'former reproductive life', I will, I mean, the girls will be getting one too!!! LOL!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Appy Woman- What suprises me, or maybe it doesn't anymore(?), is that people have no qualms about acting like this, using such contraptions and being outright abusive to their animals- IN PUBLIC!

They are out in the grand, plain view of their peers and have no problems with what they are doing. Call them on it, and they scream at you that you have no idea what you are talking about. "I get results, I am always in the ribbons, therefore I MUST know what I am doing..."

Usually the more 'wrong' they are- the louder they scream when they get caught. That's always been our experience.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Ahhhhh, mechanics...

Yes there is the how and why part of it, and then there is the other part of it. Shortcuts, contraptions and gadgets to get the unnatural gaits, part of it...

The second two kind of go hand in hand really, when you look at it and think 'Logically' about it.

The horses with natural talent- it will show through, to who ever gets to watch the horse in action. (Yes, I do mean- Gets To watch the horse) No matter how lacking in the three areas Talent, Skill and Knowledge (TSK! Funny enough!) the 'trainer' rider or handler is, the good ones, are just naturally 'THAT GOOD'. Surely we have all seen at least one horse in each of our lifetimes that just stood out, for their natural grace, beauty and talent, no matter who was on their back or holding the reins.

Pair that horse with an equally talented trainer and/or rider = beauty in motion. They can get anything and everything from the horse who willingly gives it. It gives the rest of us something to aim for, a goal in our riding and goose bumps or 'chicken skin' to watch.

The 'mechanics' in both of the less desirable forms, (mechanical contraptions/ mechanical gaits & movement) comes about when those lacking TSK, hang their shingle out as a trainer... They see the combination of TSK in the ring in all its glory and wonder, and try like hell to find a way to attain it. They lack TSK to get there so they employ 'mechanical devices' (martingales, tie downs, draw reins, [Miracle Collars with a shoe strapped in them] gag bits, crops & spurs being overused, severe mouthpieces- chain, twisted wire, etc.) to achieve the 'winning look' which anymore has become no less than 'mechanical movement'- four beating, heavy on the forehand, over bridled, low headed/half dead looking, drugged, cranking to the outside and 'dumping' the horse onto the correct lead, no lateral aids so the hackamore horses are ridden with the hands way up in the air and out to the sides... The 'trainers' are compensating in every way they possibly know how! They are trying to achieve a goal, but often have no idea how to go about it.

MHQ-
>>While I think trainers may not have any talent, maybe the bigger problem is that they don't know how to *recognize* talent in the horse. Perhaps they think they can take *any* horse and make an English superstar out of it. What a waste of effort! and sad for the horse when they have to resort to all that artificial crap.<<

I like to think every horse has some amount of talent for doing something. As far as taking any horse and making them into a superstar, the horse can be a show ring superstar, but only in the right hands. To me that is not wasted effort. A horseman with TSK can make even the lowest grade of horses on the scale- as long as they aren’t physically crippled or lame of course!- into a horse someone can enjoy, even if they are just plodding around the ring doing no more than a walk. Even then, in someone’s eyes, that particular horse has become a *superstar*.

Now when you are talking square pegs and round holes- Yes, wasted effort certainly applies. I have seen my share of horses who may be good at something, but don’t enjoy doing it. Those horses don’t last long. They may win ribbons, but they are usually the first of the bunch to snap. That’s when it gets ugly and someone ends up hurt, or worse.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Damn it, blogger ate my responze to GL!

CP-
And again, on the other hand, if you've got a horse who carries his head EXTREMELY high, I can totally understand some work with a martingale of some sort.

I can’t. My jumper mare came with bridle issues. Take up the reins, make any contact, her head came up (into your lap, it seemed like), she hollowed out her back, braced against the bit and sped up. Stop? Whut? Yeah for bad hands! Ugh! She’s almost 20 and was being ridden in a hackamore at least... but still.

There are ways to get what you want without resorting to other devices. We put her in a French link, did a lot of walking, one rein, the other rein, one direction, the other direction, take hold with the inside rein, bump and release with the outside rein. Nothing for her to hang onto or brace against. Stop is stop riding and sit down. Still nothing to brace or pull against…

When there was contact it was soft and following- she learned she wasn’t getting ‘banged’ in the face. When the head came down into position, lots of praise as long as it stayed there no matter what gait we were in.

It’s all in how you ride the horse and how and when you ask.

Ok, I'll shut up now.

GoLightly said...

CNJ
Humphf, a likely story:)

Betcha the twins did it.

cattypex said...

CNJ... That's why you are a real pro!!! I could learn a lot hanging out with more good trainers now that I'm easing back into horses... I'm still not totally against a judicious martngale as a "hey there horse" temporary aid, but I don't get why people think that a horse can't jump without one! Also the seesaw hands hasve got to go. You need to invite the horse to contact, not climb all over him.

I still think that too many amateurs get suckered by trainers with lots of gadgets, cuz it just LOOKS like more is going on. Subtllety and quiet hands? Not so much.

Didn't there used to be prestigious "Good Hands" classes in saddleseat? Did they ever mean much, or are they still around?

cattypex said...

(also, you need to replace the Dream Home on your avatar with some cute kidlet shots!!)

Cut-N-Jump said...

GoLightly said...
CNJ
Humphf, a likely story:)

Betcha the twins did it.

----

ROFL!

Love it!

Difficult, since I was at work and they were at home... They must have powers I am unaware of!

We are doomed until they figure out how to use those powers for 'good' things...

GoLightly said...

CNJ, the twins are red-heads, right?
They have powers we haven't even imagined yet...

(shivers)

Cut-N-Jump said...

GL- I remembered part of yesterdays long winded blathering... and then I think I added some too. :D



GL-
>>Agreed. But back then, it was a-okay, maybe. He was just reporting what he saw, I think.
Doesn't it make intuitive sense?
The camped out "desirable" stance?

Breeding for it?<<

I’m not sure when the overstretched stance became popular, (surely long before my time!) but it seems as if halter is the true bane of existence in many breeds. Popularity is another one. A breed becomes ‘popular’ and kiss it goodbye as it goes down the toilet, save for the few horses owned by dedicated, selective breeders.

ASB, Shetlands, Hackneys, TWH, Morgans and even to some extent the Arabs & H/A’s all seem to go for the super stretched out, long flat back, high set necks and tail, ‘look’ which somehow, somewhere, some time ago was deemed “Elegant”. Breeders took it to the extreme and seem to have taken it way too far in many cases. Look at the stock breeds and their ‘beef on the hoof’ mutations. Even the mini’s seem to either go into halter as a more refined type and shown ‘Arab style’ (as they call it here) or if they are more sturdy in build, like a stock horse they are shown ‘western’. I’m not entirely ‘up to speed’ on all things mini, so please excuse me for that, but I would hope there would be some separation between the two types and their respective classes. Pinto has 5 different ‘type’ divisions, which seems to keep everything on a level and equal playing field.

The conformation that wins in the halter classes anymore has become, in many cases, a horse that simply cannot perform the jobs for which the various breeds were originally developed. Kinda sad, really. Halter was supposed to be a showcase of how spectacular the horse you bred for the job, was put together and how close you came to breeding a horse who fit the breed standard or type.

What we see in the stock breeds and even the ASB and Arab classes, called WP, is such a far cry from what any working cowboy would have used to ride many miles of fence line or to check the herds in the south 40. When did ‘uber slow’ become the norm? Is that a direct result of the horses being so weighted down with silver? There’s no way anyone would have gotten anywhere shuffling along at the paces currently seen in the ring.

GL-
>>Both my old ASB schoolie and my old morgan cross schoolie had low, flat backs, and stood camped out. They indeed had a tough time with any type of collection, but they muddled along just fine.<<

At first glance I wondered, did they have difficulty with collection work or just getting their back end under them for proper balance? Sometimes both can be difficult with ‘low, flat backed and camped out behind’ conformation. I often hear the referencing confusion between the two being made. ‘Collection’ being used for the term of gathering the horse in balanced self carriage, with the rear end under them, instead of the forward movement in the collected, shortened variation of the gait. In reading back over it, it seems they fared well enough in the normal working gaits, but had difficulty in collected work. Am I reading that right??? LOL!

katphoti said...

OMG, the twins comments are hilarious!

CP,

"That being said, you could argue all day, what IS an Artificial Mechanical Device? You could define a snaffle bit as one... "

I agree. Even a snaffle bit in the wrong hands can be a torture device. I try to instill in my students that it's HOW we use the devices, not the device itself. That being said, I still only use snaffle or Wonder bits and nothing else as far as mechanics.

CNJ, great ideas for the mare who gets her head up. I am using a disengaging method on Red Hawk. Once he gets his head up on the trail and hollows his back and starts racking, that's it--no brain. So I disengage him by turning him in a circle. Not spinning or jerking on him--turning using my rein and my leg. After a couple of times of that, his brain comes back to me and I suddenly have a beautiful, head-nodding flat walk on my hands that is easy to maintain! WOW!

I am going to be trying a new bridle with Red Hawk, my husband's gelding whom I'm riding. It's called the Nurtural Bridle - www.nurturalhorse.com. The woman who owns the stallion I'm breeding Sophie to uses it. The more I watch her use it, the more I think I need to get one for Red Hawk. So I'm going to buy one to try. I figure the nylon one isn't more expensive than a couple of nylon halters, so it'll be a good bridle to try. I have a student with a mare that is having a hell of a time being ridden, and I am going to try it on her to see if she will be calmer. They make driving bridles, so I'll probably get one for Jedi (the pony) as well. Luckily the sound horse groups I show with allow bitless bridles, so if it works, I can show in it!

katphoti said...

CNJ,

"There’s no way anyone would have gotten anywhere shuffling along at the paces currently seen in the ring. "

It's so funny that you said that. Reminds me of a funny trail story. Went on a moonlight ride with a bunch of gaited horse friends. One woman came with her daughter. because they only have one gaited horse, they brought their QHs. So we would just stop on the trail and wait for them to catch up rather than expect them to trot or canter to keep up with our horses. At one point we stopped and called back "you guys still back there?" "Yes!" came the reply. So we waited and were chatting and eventually we could hear the horses walking up the trail. Then, out of the dark, came a shout: "I don't know how cowboys got anywhere on these things!" We all about died laughing!

cattypex said...

""There’s no way anyone would have gotten anywhere shuffling along at the paces currently seen in the ring."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

nope... and the horse would go nuts from the flies his blocked tail couldn't brush off. and he'd run into things he couldn't see... keel over from blood loss... etc. :P

on Halter: I wish we could go back to a "strip" class mentality: Go thru a performance class, then the best 10 horses are stripped & also judged on confo.

Oh, btw, I'm still working with the girl w/ the ironmouth old pony. I told her custodial grandparents that she needs LOTS of lunging sans reins to help her develop an independent seat, and I introduced the concept of sitting down and using short tugs rather than Leeeeeeeaning on the bit to slow him down.

Baby steps.... *sigh*

Maybe I need to threaten Yarn Reins!!!!

cattypex said...

(They also got her a grab strap on the front of the saddle... I'm not sure I love it, but if it saves Cherokee's mouth....)

Cut-N-Jump said...

CP-

Judiciously used, for certain reasons, yes there are some things that have their time and place.

In the discussion of Rico on FHOTD a short time ago, (the horse with the German martingale for sale for $5K) that particular piece of equipment came up for debate.

In the pic, the GM is adjusted to the last ring. We see this many times as an effort to force the horses head down into an unnatural 'frame'. This is not the how or why for this piece of equipment.

When adjusted properly, the GM doesn't interefere with the reins as it is slack and disengaged. When the horse lifts the head in an attempt to hollow the back and evade the bit, the GM engages and discourages the evasion.

I have used one on a horse who routinely popped his head up when asked to stop. He tried to pop his head up, hollowed out and slammed everything onto the forehand. We checked his back, checked the bit (plain snaffle), the bridle adjustment and ruled out everything he could have had as an excuse and concluded he was just evading the issue.

When we first put the GM on, it is adjusted to the last, most forgiving position for that particular horse. This let him work things out with himself and he learned when he came to a stop you keep your butt under you where it belongs and nothing happens. Two or three upward and downward transitions with some stops thrown in and he had things figured out. The GM came off and no problems since. It is now somewhere in the house or the horse trailer. I'm not sure where it has spent the past few years...



As far as the 'newbs' seeing all the gadgets and contraptions, they may just jump on the bandwagon from seeing Big Name using it. It works for them, it will work for me. But they often don't know what the horse is doing before the gear is put on, how the gear is designed to work, how it is to be adjusted properly let alone how it is to be *used* properly… Therein lies many problems.

Sort of like the spurs discussion on dead sided horses. They can feel the flies, they can feel your legs. The horse is just choosing to ignore you. Maybe because of overuse, inconsistent cues or ????

Sort of like the hard mouthed pony discussion. They can feel the bit, but hanging on them, jerking on them, just leads to the horse ignoring and/or evading your efforts. By trying to ‘take control’ you end up losing it.

My mare was also ‘brought back to earth’ by asking for some bending with my leg. There were the gentle tugs on the outside rein, but we did some slow work, bending and flexing, going both directions. Boring? For me, yes, after a while. But when she got it, it was all worth it. Her head still comes up, her back will hollow some degree, but a bump of the calf and tug of one rein, a resulting bend in her neck and body and bam, the head drops back down into a natural position, the balance returns and we continue on…

CP-
"That being said, you could argue all day, what IS an Artificial Mechanical Device? You could define a snaffle bit as one... "

Yep. Agreed! Anything that hinges or uses leverage can be called mechanical. Just like anything we use on the horse can be considered ‘unnatural’.

Cut-N-Jump said...

GoLightly said...
CNJ, the twins are red-heads, right?
They have powers we haven't even imagined yet...

(shivers)

--------------

So, what? Did you hear us joking that they are either going to save the world or destroy it?

I didn't think we said it that loud or often...

Cut-N-Jump said...

CP-
I have been looking for a new pic for the avitar. The 'blue' makes this one easy to spot and seems overbearing, until you open it in all it's glory...

but I agree, it is time for it to go.

katphoti said...

I have a friend who's a John Lyons trainer who says she hates the term "natural horsemanship." She pointed out that there is NOTHING natural we do with our horses. We're asking them to carry us on their backs--what's natural about that?

I definitely agree with her. Plus I associate the term NH with Parelli, and I can't stand those people....

Cut-N-Jump said...

I changed the avitar pic.

This is one of my fav's from the website. It shows horses and riders getting turfed or otherwise parting ways...

Look at the 'try' this horse has though. That kid is hanging on for dear life. Too bad it's on the reins and the horses mouth.

katphoti said...

I like the new pic, CNJ!

cattypex said...

Bending.... *sigh* I wish I could spend more time with the kids and introduce them to the concept!!!

Many of them only get a lesson at meetings. Nowhere else. And Fair is SUPER EARLY now... June 19.

I wish my avatar showed up better. It's a sign I saw at a draft horse show that read like Engrish:
"PLEASE BE CONSIDERATE.
Do not put hands or fingers into horse's stalls.
It is the nature of the horse to bite, though not always in a vicious way."

GoLightly said...

CNJ, my blathering point is this.

Even though my ASB & Morgan schoolies didn't have the classic confo for it, they were balanced within themselves. Both horses were my best boys ever for caring for beginners.
They didn't "fit" that ideal conformation that makes a super "dressage" horse, but their temperament made them angels.
Their own natural balance allowed them to carry themselves. The Morgan may have looked strung out behind, because that's how he was built. He could still do flying changes and look adorable over fences.

Self-carriage. Horses have it, or they don't. Kinda like people:)

A horse can look like a complete mess, witness Seabiscuit, and still have the heart and the mind and his own natural balance to do the job you want.

Kat, so true. I think maybe the only "natural" thing we do with horses is let them eat grass:)
Hopping up on their backs was our idea.
Breeding for a low back, and then cranking their heads up into our faces, probably didn't help their "natural" back much.

Okay, I shaddup now too.
Promise.
I'm getting dizzy.
77th comment! That's GOT to be lucky.

To Lucky, Happy Horses:)

Cut-N-Jump said...

CP- That was my experience with 4H here as well. I would see trainwreck after trainwreck, all coming down the rails at the shows.

I asked the mom who was leasing our mare about it.

Is it the parents not being so much involved? Not knowing what is right or isn't? Not caring, not wanting to put out any money or effort into improving anything?

The group leaders? Do some of them just not know much, but are they the only volunteers so that's it? Are the leaders just not getting any outside help from trainers to help the kids? Are they not holding 'lesson days' or learning days... Kids not showing up when they do?

The kids just not having the desire to learn, just do it and get the ribbon attitudes?

She looked at me, nodded her head yes and said, "Yeah. What you said. All of it, combined."

Kat and I were discussing the gaited club she tried to start here. Same thing. Everyone wants everything planned for them, all spelled out, tell me when, where and how much, and everything else is to be done FOR them. Nobody wants to help out with anything it seems. It must be easier to bitch about the problems than to actually do something to change it for the better of everyone!

I tried to help out the local Arab club with their sport horse program. They needed serious help. They had no idea about how to set up the triangle, the distances, what the judging was looking for, how the classes were run- nothing. The association offers the class so we will too.

I could bitch or help improve. I offered to help. A clinic perhaps, judge a few horses, let people handle other horses... They welcomed the idea, and asked if I wanted to do it through the club or through the local techno-ag-highschool program? Whatever works best for everyone. I even enlisted the help of one of my friends who was the SH chairperson for the local WB/dressage club of sorts... She was excited too.

The Arab club people had my contact info, I was introduced to a few others involved with show management- the outlook was good.

Never heard from them. I emailed, called, left voicemails...

Nothing. Not. A. Word.

I gave up for the time being, but maybe my friend and I should just do it on our own?

Cut-N-Jump said...

GL-
Self-carriage. Horses have it, or they don't. Kinda like people:)

A horse can look like a complete mess, witness Seabiscuit, and still have the heart and the mind and his own natural balance to do the job you want.



A horse can be taught to balance themselves in a better way than what they will do on their own. They aren't born knowing to plant their butt when they stop, but when they are taught how, it becomes easier to do even when playing in the field.

My OTTB mare naturally carries her weight on her back end, even when turned out or while lunging. She started her life on the track. I consider her trainer to have been knowledgeable enough to apply this to his race horses. She is not a dressage horse, but instead has the long and low movement of a hunter. Her neck is set a bit lower where this discipline would be easier for her to do.

The knee injury that ended her racing career, will also keep her from ever jumping, but the flat work is entirely possible. Tight circles are out of the question too. However she will jump 4' off the ground, kicking out on the way up, while airborn and upon landing (on the 'bad leg' of course) and then race off at top speed, slide to a stop at the fence, spin and race off again. Wonder why I would ever climb on her back? Me too, sometimes!


As far as *heart* goes- you can't train that into any horse. Usually the smallest horses have the biggest *hearts*. They have nothing to prove, but seem to work twice as hard for the same result as their bigger counterparts. You win them over, they give you everything you ever asked for and more if they could. Those horses are awesome!

appywoman said...

CNJ: Your summation of 4H where you live also could describe ours. It is run by people who really know little about horses, showing, etc. and don't want learn either. It is a travesty and not what I thought 4H should be. It does not encourage local professionals to become involved...in fact they run in the other direction now. Too many years of offering their talents, being welcomed at first and then rebuffed if someone in charge thinks they know more than the pro or more experienced volunteer.

On the note regarding the cribbing strap "training aid." I wrote a letter to the board and they had their meeting last night. At this stage they will keep their eyes open at the next show for both the spurring and the device. If it is seen, she will be asked to stop. If she doesn't comply, they will then take steps to sanction her. Well, here's hoping, I know my eyes will be peeled.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Hooray Appy Woman! Her horse would surely thank you if he could.

Sad part is, the hag would probably ditch the shoe/collar contraption in the trailer, but the spurring would be subtle and less noticable unless there were plenty of eyes on her at all times.

Then she would complain, "You have something against me or my horse..." If she stopped showing at that show, she might simply move on to another where her shoe/collar hasn't been noticed or brought to anyones attention. Another shows management might be easily swayed or cave to any threats she may throw out in her hostility. Nothing would suprise me. You either? Nah, I didn't think so...

Cut-N-Jump said...

4H- There was one little girl competeing against our horse that I would really like to have helped. She truly enjoyed showing, but her poor horse needed to be retired.

It was a gaited horse with serious structural issues in the back end, which affected how the horse moved. When asked to back, either in the showmanship patterns, eq, or any other class, the horse simply could not do it. It was obvious she loved the horse, and just being around horses in general, but to do what was best for this one, may have meant she didn't get to show anymore.

I would have loved to have been able to let her use our horse, helped her out with her showmanship- of which I am NOT a master of, but could have helped her out... and helped outfit her in attire that would have made her stand out for good reasons.

She lived on the other side of town though, which would have made things difficult, but not completely impossible.

katphoti said...

Glad to hear you got in contact with those show people, appywoman. That's exactly what more people need to do--stand up and say this isn't right, especially if it's not in the rulebooks (you have a better case when you can argue that training devices are banned on the grounds, things like that).

As far as self-carriage, I believe both GL and CNJ are right. Some horses are built perfectly for certain disciplines, so all the trainer/rider has to do is bring that natural talent out. Then some horses are built like crap but because they have the *heart*, they can learn and be trained for a discipline. Then there are some like the Arab and Morgan you have, GL, where they aren't built the best but they still have good training and good breeding in their background to overcome that.

And then there are flukes, like Midnight Sun in the TWH world or Secretariat in the racing world. I call these the Michael Jordans of the equine world. Midnight Sun had an amazing natural carriage, with huge overstride and a snappy, far reaching front end. His head nod was huge, and he was amazing to watch. When he went in the ring, barefoot, mind you, with just bell boots on, he won everytime because of his natural timing, cadence, and billiance in the ring. So that's where the Big Lick came from--everyone wanted to duplicate what Midnight Sun could do, which lead to heaver shoes and soring.

After Secretariat died, the necropsy showed that he had a larger lung capacity and stronger heart muscle than the average TB. It helped him run faster without as much effort as other horses needed to win the race. As far as I understand, no other horse has shown this same fluke since.

My point is that these animals are like Michael Jordan--the genetics all came together to make this physically sound and strong machine that is perfectly built for the job at hand. Plus, the work comes effortlessly to them. However, as hard as we try to breed for this, the chances of getting that kind of animal are slim to none. It's just that its always a roll of the dice with genetics--as hard as we try, we can never predict what genes will come through each time we breed, so we can't always produce that amazing athlete like Midnight Sun, Secretariat and Michael Jordan.

Okay, enough babbling. :)

appywoman said...

Well the people on the board of this club really are good ones. I have every confidence that they will address the problem. Unfortunately we cannot control what she does to "train/torture" her horses at home. I am sure the eyes that count will be on her in the future.

SeaddleSeatRider said...

THere was a named Rossini at a barn I used to ride at. He was a saddlebred. They showed him in eq with three egg crates (those matteress things) under the saddle.

katphoti said...

SSR,

HOLY SMOKES! That's how low his back was? FREAKY! I just don't get it.

I like the photo you have for your avatar. The horse has a nice level back! I'm assuming it's a Morgan per your blog title?

SeaddleSeatRider said...

Katphoti-
Yea, his back was way to low. If you google Rossini Saddlebred a sale ad comes up, and if you Google Image search a shot of his back comes up.

And yes, the horse in my Avatar is a Morgan, KHF Emerald and Gold.

cattypex said...

Hey... A little OT but we talk so much on this board about how people misuse bits, contact, etc. In fact I just went to a sizable open show this weekend & saw the usual disheartening headset crap & all the Wenglish folks winning the huntsest classes.

Well I finally got to my June Practical Horseman, & there's a nice photo essay featuring george Morris, with awesome commentary about how it's become so fashionable in all disciplines to overbend & compromise our horses' movement. I couldve wept. Gorgeous horse too...

attafox said...

GL -

Okay, I'm checking in. Are ya happy? LOL. I'm over here in the Alps, and haven't checked in much - so knew it was going to be a train wreck when I saw the topic.

Not going to say much (HA) as I'm packing to come home (30 days away from the Saddlebreds - and not a low back amongst mine).

But, the good doctor was unable to examine an ASB post mortem. The ASHA put out a call to all owners that when their horses died, if they had a low back, to please send hair samples as the ASHA in conjunction with the University of Kentucky has funded a large study on lordosis. As with all gene based research, it takes a long time. I believe this one has been going on for 3 years now.

They are getting closer to identifying the genetic make up that is a carrier in the breed. Truly lordotic individuals show up as babies.

Now, they did NOT breed for a low back - BUT, they DID breed for a high neck. You put the physics together. That neck coming higher and higher out of the withers, and something has to go to balance it. It's the back.

Most lordotic individuals move like they are broken in the middle. They may move incredibly up front, but the back end - eeek! FYI, you don't see it in the 5 gaited horses because - they have to get those legs up and underneath themselves to rack.

Originally, you only saw it in the eq ranks. Totally frowned on in the performance ranks. Why in eq? Well, a horse that sets its head up "purty" plus a dip in the back for the kid to sit in ... it was all the security of a close contact saddle without the rolls for knees, thighs and butts ;)

Then, it moved to the performance ranks. I'm happy to say that they've written it into the rules that they are to be severely penalized - and are calling it out over such defects as parrot mouths, club feet, toed in, etc. They *almost* passed the language to have 'em disqualified, but still the judging language is there, and *most* judges are adhering to it.

And, I don't know a single breeder who breeds FOR this.

BTW, the UK studies have shown that these horses can be ridden and that it doesn't hurt. Now, would I deliberately buy one? NO. But, if for some reason my flat backed mare bred to a flat backed stallion had one, I would attempt to find it the best home that it could have - and would not be putting it down (if gender possible, gelding it YES).

Now, I'm tryin' to figure out what in that "how to rack" article (besides the age) was soooo bad. In general - you get them to shuffle going down hill. Maybe add some weight to the front feet to unbalance them. Have even seen aluminium shoes on the rear that might be a bit slick to aide in the initial slide.

Anyway, guten tag ... carry on ...

Cut-N-Jump said...

For the sake of those wondering-

Rossini ad.


Rossini, Ross, is a 14 year old American Saddlebred chestnut gelding. Ross has been shown all over New England in the equitation division. Ross has even been shown a few times at Louisville in the Walk Trot division. He has the perfect tea cup canter and can execute any pattern you ask. Rossini is the perfect if you are looking for a first time show horse. He loves kids and is perfect for the walk trot division or someone starting in the wtc equitation division. Rossini is only for sale because owner has outgrown him. He's an easy keep and loves to run around in him pasture. Ross can be put out with other horses. For more information or pictures call...


Ok, the third pic of him under saddle... where do you even start?

GoLightly said...

Thanks, Attafox.
Enjoy the Alps!

I just didn't like the part about how "they" "used to" pull front shoes to make them sore.
That I found kinda creepy.

appreciate your input, attafox.
as always.

attafox said...

CnJ -

The horse you posted is being used as an equitation horse, not as a performance horse. He's a gelding and is not being bred on. He's serviceably sound and has a job. While not my cup of tea, he's also not being used for performance (where the trailing hocks from "broken in the middle" would affect the judging).

If he was a performance horse (or if the one TM posted was a performance horse), then I'd be a whole lot more upset. Used as equitation horses? If they can pack the kids without stress (and the studies seem to support that), and aren't being "bred forward" I don't see the reason to stress a whole lot.

jennybean79 said...

I have actually seen ASB's with swaybacks this bad or worse. One gelding in particular, people just stare at him with the mouths open, it's unbelievably low - have to see to believe low. He's an older guy and is a one time world champion. His owner seems to just take him for a quick spin under parade gear - the announcer just talks about how the horse has won so many times and I guess he's very well known. It seems liket there are alot of saddleseat type horses with the low backs like this - I don't know if it has to do with the way they set their heads or if it has more to do with the way they're built.

attafox said...

jennybean - if you'll read thru the comments, lordosis (sway back) is more common in the Saddlebred breed than in other breeds. It's genetic. They are working to isolate the gene as it isn't a clear dominant or recessive (you can breed two low backed individuals and not get a low backed horse, can breed two flat backed individuals with flat backed parents and still get a low backed horse, etc.). There are some lines that are more prone to it than others, so obviously those are being studied.

The lordotic individuals show up before they start training. It's not a matter of riding style. It's genetic.

appywoman said...

Just a quick follow-up on the cribbing collar/horseshoe incident. We had our second show this past Saturday and she was there with the horse. Guess what...no collar and the horse was INCREDIBLY mellow. Methinks word got out and this time she used a needle. If I didn't know better I would have thought I had been imagining last show's incident. Different demeanor. I KNOW that didn't happen overnight. At any rate, eyes have ben opened (I hope) and others will be watching for this kind of crap.

Equus said...

I've seen horses with backs worse than that competing - and winning - at the National level in Canada and the US. Oh joy.

www.theperfecthorse.blogspot.com

katphoti said...

It fascinates me how so many ASB people ignore the Ranger Study and don't seem to understand that the biting contraptions and body braces the horses wear, starting when they're yearlings, actually cause swaybacks in MANY ASBs. It has nothing to do with lordosis, although I am sure that continuing to breed for a low back and high head has lead to lordosis.

Here is the Ranger Study which proves how ASBs in biting rigs are prone to swaybacks: http://www.equinestudies.org/ranger_2008/ranger_piece_2008_pdf1.pdf

I emphasize once again: WE DON'T KNOW IF THE HORSE IN THIS PICTURE HAS LORDOSIS. I didn't ask. I wonder why ASBs are so quick to pass it off as lordosis and won't admit that perhaps it is something they've done that's MANMADE that has caused this. Well, I guess I don't wonder--I know. No one wants to be responsible when their used up show horse looks like this--it's all about how much more money can I make off of him.

attafox said...

Katphoti;

Nowhere in the article cited (and I've read it before) does it indicate that this was a study. This is an observation on bone maturation. The one photo (Fig. 12) taken by Dr. Bennett of Lucy states that the low back was due to this, however, since it happened when she was a young horse and definitive lordosis studies have been undertaken since then, it can be argued that it was genetic. Exacerbated by training, but not caused by it.

If it were caused by it, you would see a much higher incidence. The date of the article is 2001, and the photos (even of Ranger) are from much earlier. Much has been learned since that time period regarding the low backs.

katphoti said...

attafox,

"since it happened when she was a young horse and definitive lordosis studies have been undertaken since then, it can be argued that it was genetic. Exacerbated by training, but not caused by it."

Oh, okay, so it's genetic, the biting rig didn't cause it, so it's okay to just continue putting these young horses in biting rigs before they're even old enough to be ridden.

The point of the article was obviously missed on you. The point is that it is proven that horses' bones are still growing at the times when we think it's okay to ride them, and therefore it can cause severe bone problems in the long run. Why take the risk of putting a horse in a biting rig when they're too young (or at all) if lordosis is common in the breed? I won't even begin to get on a horse's back until they're three, and if they're still too small then I wait until four. There is no reason to have to put any horse of any breed under saddle at 18 months or older except for the greed of money on the part of the humans running the show industry.

"If it were caused by it, you would see a much higher incidence."

Actually, it seems from what people are saying in this blog, there IS a high incidence of it in ASBs. Lots of people are talking about how they're seeing these deformed backs on these poor animals. Plus, I would assume that since there's studies being done on it, then there must be a high enough incidence of it to cause concern. The majority of the Academy horses out here in AZ have unusually low backs, and several are as severe as the one in the photo I took. It all seems to be too common to "just be genetic"--I'm sure the biting rigs are helping genetics along to make their backs worse over time.

Oh, and one more point: it's hard to take serious any study that is funded by the people who continue to perpetrate the abuse. For example, the TWHBEA industry did a study on whether chains and pads hurt a horse's feet over time in the 80s. Problem was, they paid their own vets and farriers to do the study. The study said that when horses wear pads and chains for a short period of time, as in during training, there is no problem. Problem is, we know that these horses LIVE in their pads and chains, a fact that failed to be mentioned in their findings. Plus, they hid the fact that the study showed that there is a much higher incidence of thrush and laminitis in horses that live on pads.

This is what I don't get, and it isn't just ASBs, it's the same with HYPP, HERDA, DSLD, twisting hocks in TWHs, and many other issues: WHY ARE YOU PEOPLE CONTINUING TO BREED FOR CONFORMATION AND MEDICAL FLAWS THAT ARE TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE HORSE???

Oh wait, I know the answers.

1. MONEY.
2. Everyone else is doing it, so it can't be that bad.
3. It's okay--it's just lordosis/HYPP/HERDA/etc. It's not that serious and isn't a big deal.
4. She's never shown any back pain/never had an episode/she's okay for light riding/insert various excuse here.
5. It doesn't hurt the horses--we love them and would never do anything to them to hurt them.

Get your head out of the sand, you idiots.

katphoti said...

Oops--I meant to say TWH industry. I have no idea if TWHBEA was involved in the study or not.

attafox said...

katphoti;

How many times do we have to tell you that it is NOT bred for? The fact that you are seeing it in the Academy horses and rarely in the performance horses even is anecdotal evidence that it is not desirable.

And, before you start throwing accusations at me, remember, I have a 4 year old ASB who was NOT shown as a baby and to this day has still not been ridden or shown. FYI, her back is flat as a pancake as is her mother's (who you have seen in Arizona).

I don't like babies showing and I don't like them being pushed - but YOUR point was that the discipline causes the low backs. It doesn't.

And, we have also stated that the incidence of lordosis in ASBs is higher than the general populace, not that it is high within the ASB populace. And, going back to Dr. Bennett's article, many of the horses that some point out as being "low backed" have quite straight backs and very high withers - as did her own horse that she used as comparison.

And, it is the University of Kentucky who is doing the study. Because it is important to find the genetic cause, the ASHA is contributing to it, not underwriting it. And geez, finding out that something is genetic, developing a test for it and then eliminating it is the goal. So, on one hand, you've been going off that the ASHA does nothing - yet now, because they are helping to fund research they must be "up" to something? Come on. You can't have it both ways.

The ASHA has recognized that there is an issue. The rules have been changed to penalize the lowbacked horse more than any other conformational defect out there (parrot mouth, narrow chest, cow hocks, etc.). They are also, at the behest of the breeders helping to fund research into the genetic cause. They have asked for owners of low backed horses to contribute dna, and, if close enough to Kentucky, cadavers upon death. And for this, you don't want to take that seriously? That's idiotic.

As to me being an idiot (since I'm an ASB person and you've lumped us all together)

1 - A 4 year old that does not have a low back. Never shown. Never ridden.
2 - I bred her with careful research to stay away from lines that could throw a low back.
3 - I've never owned, sold, shown or made MONEY off of a low backed horse.
4 - I applaud a breed organization who is willing to DO something regarding a genetic flaw.

If those make me an idiot, well, then, so be it.

amwrider said...

Just adding to what Attafox has posted.

Dr. Patrick Gallagher who is leading the lordosis project, works at the Maxwell H Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of KY. He works with Dr. Ernest Bailey who is head of the Equine Genome project.

Here is the article from February 2004 Equus magazine:

http://www.equisearch.com/horses_care/health/anatomy/swaybacks_081205/

I currently have one low-backed horse in my lesson program, he is not a severe case and many people don't even notice it until I add an extra pad under the saddle. There are no low-backed horses in his pedigree that I am aware of.

He is happy, safe, and much loved by my students that he safely carries around.

I do have an ASB gelding in my barn that is sired by a low backed horse. My niece's horse has a back that is textbook perfect. Short, strong and he has an uphill build. At age 14 he was started over fences and is currently jumping 3'6" and I have turned down a few offers on him from dressage riders, one of which seemed to think that Gus could go as high as Prix St. Georges.

Just goes to show that you cannot predict how the lordosis gene is inherited, it is one of the big mysteries of the ASB world. it appears to be a recessive gene, BUT it also appears to be part of a gene "cluster" or possibly several genes working in combination with each other.

It is true that in older days you did not see low-backed ASBs. This was discussed at an industry convention I attended a few years back, this was back when ASHA was first discussing funding the research for lordosis and we started changing the judging standards to penalize lordotic horses.

Several old-time breeders mentioned that way back when, if a lordotic horse was born, the foal was taken out back and shot.

Times have changed and people see that these horses can and do lead happy and productive lives. That is why you see more and more of them.

Tiffani B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiffani B said...

To add some more information... not only has the ASHA rewritten the class rules to severely penalize low backed horses - they have instituted a rule that all Championship classes must be STRIPPED. This allows everyone to see the horses' conformation without the illusion of saddle pads - and it has shamed many people into not showing. Exactly as intended... and when people won't show a horse - they won't BUY the horse. Therefore, the breeders won't BREED the horse. Any horses born with this condition will be funnelled into the equitation ranks as in the past - where they belong. As long as they are pain free and sound, they can have a useful life.

Also, as has been discussed ad nauseum in a prior post on this blog, NORMALLY horses are not put into bitting rigs (two "ts" in bitting, btw) as yearlings. The practices of a few idiots do not an industry make...

Regardless, the discipline does not cause lordosis. It can cause WEAKNESS in the back, if the horse is not allowed to work low now and then. Always carrying their head up can create VERY strong abdominal muscles - but weak backs. Many of the ASB trainers I have worked with spend a lot of time working the horse with its head in a lower position than desired for showing, and doing a lot of lateral work. I think they are rediscovering some of the old secrets that died out with the great trainers decades ago.

saddleseat4life said...

Rossini is my American Saddlebred. There is absolutely nothing wrong with riding or showing a horse that is sway backed. He has done an EXCELLENT job in the show ring. He went to Lousiville, the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP horse show when he was younger and has placed in some of the top equitation classes in New England. It is just rude that he was brought up in some ridiculous blog.

saddleseat4life said...

Rossini is my American Saddlebred. There is absolutly nothing wrong with riding or showing a horse that is sway backed. He has done an EXCELLENT job in the show ring. He went to Lousiville, the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP horse show when he was younger and has placed in some of the top equitation classes in New England. It is just rude that he was brought up in some ridiculous blog.Rossini is my American Saddlebred. There is absolutly nothing wrong with riding or showing a horse that is sway backed. He has done an EXCELLENT job in the show ring. He went to Lousiville, the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP horse show when he was younger and has placed in some of the top equitation classes in New England. It is just rude that he was brought up in some ridiculous blog. Low back horses are no more nor less fit to be ridden. Their spines are just as strong as a non-lowback horse.

HorsesAreMyLife said...

I own a saddlebred that has lordosis. I have taken him to countless vets and they all say the same. He is fine! I start him on a low warm up on the ground with walking and then massage his hips and back for twenty minutes. Then I tack him up and walk him again. WE ARE NOT BEING CRUEL TO OUR HORSES!!! My horse lives to be ridden and you can see it by the way he's hyper and excited to get out. I do understand that most of you guys do not work with saddlebreds daily, but most of these horses are fine and padded with plenty of comfortable saddle pads. I can understand if the horse is hurting that he should retire, but these horses deserve to be ridden too. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me! :)

Leah Bornhorst said...

This is lordosis. I'm currently studying it in school and it is not just in saddlebreds, though that is where its most commonly seen because it is genetic. While lordosis is other animals and humans causes pain in horses it does not. This is because the way the spine of a horse is made up actually protects and surrounds the spinal cord. It can show up at early ages, which is a sign of dominate lordosis gene in the breeding. However in some horses it isn't even noticeable until later in life, this is because of muscles weaking around the barrel which causes the back to droup. Here is a great website that does a wonderful job explain how and why it happens. IT MOST CERTIANLY CAN NOT BE PREVENTED OR CAUSED FROM A HUMANS DOING. Most people who have sawy back horses go to great measures to make sure they have proper saddles and padding. Its not abusive and not preventable. Ive shown saddlebreds for 12 years and have worked as a groom and I assure you over here in the Midwest these animals are better taken care for than the workers that love them so dearly. here is the link if you actually feel like educating your self on this medical condition. http://equusmagazine.com/article/swaybacks_081205-8221