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!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reichert Celebration...er Free For All

Let’s talk a bit about Western Pleasure, again. When I was starting out WP was a class you did to get your young horses acclimated to the arena and noise at a show. WP was always the start of a career that included cattle, reining or speed events. No one really took it seriously and BNTs didn’t exist for that particular event. In fact it was considered kind of “girly” for the guys to go in a pleasure class.

That’s all changed now. WP is a huge industry. It has purses that beckon like tales of lost gold mines. The horses are priced in the upper levels and the accoutrements will mean a second or third mortgage on your house. A simple class with three gaits and no pattern or interaction with cows has now become the top draw at the stock horse shows. Why? I have a few theories about this phenomenon.

1)It doesn’t take as much time, training, or work to produce a WP horse as it does a reiner/barrel horse/cattle horse. Say what you like but all stock horses can walk/jog/canter naturally. It’s the artificial shit that has to be created through endless circling and canting.

2)Trainers can turn out a WP prospect pretty quick and even manage to make their “mid life crisis” client look good at a slow jog. Trainers dislike having to train the horse and the client at the same time, because criticizing the one that writes the checks is not a good idea.

3)Trainers can get a bigger name faster with WP than they can with events that require real training and skill.

4)People are naturally attracted to sparkly things. Face it, add some silver and sequins and we all end up drooling and speaking in one-syllable words.

5)Trainers perversely enjoy screwing up what nature created. There is nothing natural about the gaits used in WP. Nature created the perfect biomechanical machine and BNTs weren’t happy so they altered the natural gaits in such a way as to make the horses look crippled.

6)It keeps the veterinary pharmaceutical industry flourishing. Those hock injections for two year olds aren’t cheap. Neither are the anti-psychotic drugs and syringes.

7)It keeps the tack industry going. Face it, without all the new fangled training gadgets getting pimped by some BNT there would be no reason for Myler to produce the same bit with 15 mouthpieces. There would be no need for head setters, draw reins, ball spurs and all the other torture equipment that real horsemen did without for centuries.

8)There is no better way to bring up the next generation of riders than to subject them to silver, sequins, riding horses too young, with equipment that is too harsh, and teach them horrible sportsmanship.

Case in point:

The Reichert Celebration is one of the biggest Western Pleasure shows in the world. It brings in stock horses from all over and offers purses that equal major horse races. It’s had its share of criticism for offering classes that promote the abuse of young horses, but on the whole I think the idea was founded with good intent. They do drug test, they do ban blocked tails and they don’t tolerate abuse. Unfortunately they don’t ban stupidity or poor sportsmanship.

This is a tale of two trainers, one of which allowed something to happen that no self-respecting horseman would ever allow to occur.

Meet Keith Whistle and Ty Hornik. Both were showing in a Western Pleasure class at this year’s Reichert. Well really not A WP class, they were showing in THE Western Pleasure Class; Reichert’s $250,000 Challenge 2 Year Old Western Pleasure Class Both were riding horses that were nice examples of the discipline. Both had made a name for themselves within the Western Pleasure industry. Now they’ve made a name for themselves in the Poor Sportsman Hall of Shame.

Ty’s horse, a young stallion, decided that Keith’s horse, a young filly, was quite the fetching thing and mounted her while they were going around the rail. Say what? Yep, evidently all that training to create unnatural gaits didn’t override the natural urges of a young stallion. Testosterone poisoning kicked in and during a pass the stallion jumped on the filly. The rider of the filly had to deal with a horny stallion in his back and his mount (no pun intended) suddenly acting like a Mesquite Rodeo bronc. She bucked off the stud and then bucked out her fake tail. Guess what the judges saw? Her bucking AFTER the stud was down. So guess who gets marked down? The filly that was just minding her business until she found Mr. Horny Hoofs on her back. A few things should have happened at that point.

1)Mr. Horny Hoofs should have had his ass beat until his penis retreated inside and would not come out again until he was at least 5 years old. I don’t advocate horse abuse, but a stallion acting that way in the ring is UNACCEPTABLE in any situation.

2)Mr. Hornik should have recused himself to the center of the ring and thereby taken the option of placing him out of the judges’ hands. A true sportsman would acknowledge his major screw up and make a public display of remorse. Instead Mr. Hornik accepts his 11th place award and acts like nothing happened.

3)One of the judges should have seen it. With four judges in the ring, as well as ring stewards, SOMEONE should have seen this horse mount another horse. It’s a fricking show ring. There is only so much space that has to be eyeballed at any given time. The filly should have been given a pass on bucking because of the attack by the stallion. Instead the stallion places in the class. WTF? So Steve Lackey, Beckey Schooler, John Tuckey and Chris Jones I hold you responsible for not seeing this crap. If you’re so blinded by sequins and silver, or trying to decide which BNT will benefit the most from your inattention to the class then you don’t need to be judging. There were 22 horses in the ring, that means that you all had to watch 4.5 horses at any given time. It is not that big a chore.

None of these things happened so the saddle soap opera gets worse.

After leaving the ring Mr. Hornik encounters a disgruntled spectator, the owner of the filly, and gets popped upside the head. Not very sportsmanlike, but understandable because the guy was pissed that his filly might have been hurt and she blew the class after Mr. Horny Hoofs jumped her. Then a brawl happens and everyone is pissed and yelling, police and some EMTs were called. The mother of one of the trainers thinks she’s having a heart attack and a big fistfight ensues. Come on people; is this the image you want the horse loving public to see? Do we need to change it to WWF Western Pleasure? Who the hell does this shit?

I grew up around the Arabian industry in southern Arizona. I cannot recall a single instance of a stallion mounting a mare in an under saddle class, and this includes the classes where kids were showing stallions. It may have happened, but I never saw or heard about it. Brawling? Are you kidding me? Even after years of rodeo, both adult and high school, I’ve only ever seen and heard of a few brawls, and most of them had copious amounts of alcohol in the mix. Western Pleasure brawling? It sounds like a cat fight at the Radio City Music Hall amongst the sequin covered Rockettes.

What has become of this industry? A discipline that encourages low and slow has spawned more high-end drama. A sport with three gaits and no pattern skills has turned into something where even basic manners aren’t put on a stallion so he can show safely.

Here’s what would have happened had it been my mare. I would have pulled her off the rail and immediately ridden to a steward and reported severe interference, meaning he would have had to request the class be stopped. I would have requested the removal of the stallion and the replacement of my horse’s tail. Any decent set of judges would comply. This wasn’t an “oh these things happen” sort of occurrence like throwing a shoe, or a number coming off. This was a physical attack by another horse. Stop the fricking class!

Then later I’d have found the stallion’s rider at the barn and beat the shit out of him with a lead lined tail bag, just because no one that irresponsible needs to be in the show ring. I hope some good comes out of this fiasco. I hope NSBA, AQHA, APHA and ApHC will learn a lesson from this and require more training and more skills from their BNT trainers. I hope they will crack down on the back scratching, drugging, abuse and poor sportsmanship. I hope it, but I doubt they will do it.

Western Pleasure, bring your draw reins, and your boxing gloves.


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BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa Truthseeker.

People who rope do NOT want a horse whose head is hanging out there at poll level all the time. Particularly if the horse is incapable of raising his head to rate or stop when the steer or calf hits the end of the rope. A rope horse/barrel horse/or any speed event horse needs to be able to raise and lower his head for balance. This is something we simply do not see EVER happening in a WP class.

The sad thing is is that ridiculously low and keep it low headset is becoming more and more common in the reining horses as well. WTH?

I do heartily agree with you that most of the horses bred for WP, this day and age do have those personality traits that you described. I also think that a lot of them have a lot more athletic potential that what they are ever allowed to express-due to class requirements and crappy training methods.

But I also agree with roanhorse saying that the current WP class requirements are an END and not the means to show off what your horse can do.

WP used to be just that, a class to show off a well-broke horse. Yes, I do believe some areas have improved. Quite frankly it is more attractive to see modern horses more relaxed in the poll and with a leveler headset than what we saw in the 70's. Not to mention the improvement in the ability of these horses to reach up under themselves. But somewhere along the line, the focus of showing off a well balanced, clean moving, cadenced horse has gotten lost in all the crappy little details about headset, uber-slow gaits and whether the damn horse should or should not be moving his tail.

I have no idea of how to fix the problems. The show world is overwhelmed with inexperienced owners/exhibitors, who have been told "this is how it is done and this is what wins", trainers who don't know the difference and judges who are stuck placing the crap that is in front of them.

SFTS said...

Truthseeker wrote:
If you don't like Western Pleasure, then just don't do it. But please stop criticizing it if you're merely displaying your ignorance about it or parroting what some other ignorant person says about it.
- - - - - - - -

Exactly how I feel.

CP, you are right on about the abusive training methods and unfortunately unless there are folks who are willing to come forward and make reports about actionable abuse it's going to continue. The same goes for people getting involved to effect rule changes which penalize things that should not be happening. If you don't like something, WORK TO CHANGE IT. Don't simply sit on the sidelines and criticize. Put your money where your mouth is. :)

BEC, very well said.

cattypex said...

BEC ... very cool thoughts.

SFTS, if I ever get involved in showing anything Western, it would probably be a Morgan or something random for fun. There was a girl showing this fantastic funky horse in "saddle type" western pleasure, and about a dozen of us ran up to her after the class. He was some kind of Welsh Cob mix.

If my daughter shows interest in Western, I hope to gently steer her in the right direction.

Otherwise, I see myself getting back into h/j, learning dressage, trail riding, maybe even Endurance someday.

Maybe even with an Arab! I have a picture in my mind's eye of a cute round Crabbet Polish or Spanish type mare with snorty nostrils and sparkly eyes. Just not fleabitten gray... ; )

Kirri said...

I have NO idea what Western Pleasure is as, thank goodness, we do not have such classes.
I do know, however, the difference between a stallion and a colt.
What that man was riding was a COLT, a baby, two year old, COLT.
It had no business having a man on it's poor back, let alone being expected to deal with mares in season and training, since, well, you tell me, since it was a long yearling???
I have shown two year old entires, and I have required manners form them, I may accept a little more bouncing around than I do form a grown horse, but not a lot, they do not draw in the ring, they have no business doing so, they are NEVER gong to cover a mare in the ring so why would they get ready to do this?
I have ridden mature stallions in mixed classes and the same thing applies to them, no drawing, no bouncing, a little chuckling under their breath now and again is allowable, but no more, not even at other stallions.
We nipped "stallion baiting" in the bud fairly early on, too.
I can't believe this, if someone has a video of the "event" the owner of the filly should sue the judges, or the society, or possibly even the owner of the colt.

SFTS said...

Prejudice against flea bitten greys, CP!? Hmph!! LOL

roanhorse said...

"Truthseeker"...the AQHA may well have put out a video in hopes that some of the trainers will acknowledge what judges "want to see in the pen"...but until you have trainers who are WILLING to go along with the "ideal" of the WP horse and it's movement, and change their attitudes, it's just another waste of AQHA monies.

People (trainers) have to want to do this, their opinions and training are the influence of the WP class, but I've seen very little change in the "attitude" since the 80's. The real shame here is the con and the bullshit. I'm not buying it, I'll never buy it. I've spent too many hours with a successful dressage trainer learning what correct movement is and it ain't happening in the WP pen, PERIOD. It's a dam long way from it. As a matter of fact, the current WP horse in the pen is the laughingstock of the dressage folks.

"Behind the Barn" "the horses have my sympathy. After all, this is all they have to look forward to under saddle for the rest of their miserable, hoppy-crawly, bobbing-up-and-down, jerked-and-snatched lives".


Your comments are just totally right on..you have a clue and aren't afraid to say what you're thinking...more power to you and I agree 100 percent....You Rock!!!!

WiltedZebra said...

Truthseeker, as an avid WP rider I can understand where you are coming from. I think what may be going on here is a misunderstanding.

Not a single person here has gone after me for being a WP rider, they do not dislike me or my chosen discipline. They just want to see it done in a way that truly demonstrates the lovely way these horses can go.

I think the people commenting here, for the most part, have a good understanding of good collected movement. They all seem to appreciate freely swinging legs, impulsion and head/neck/body carriage that supports those things.

Nobody here is suggesting that the heads of QHs should go shooting up in an equally bad position for good movement. I think, instead, what people are taking issue with is the poor standard of judging correct, free flowing, true gaits. There is also strong objection to some of the things that are being done to train these horses. I think rightly so.

I can aknowledge that the very best WP bred QH is never going to have the head/neck/shoulder conformation of the very best warmbloods. No one here wants to see QHs going like warmbloods or Arabs. What they would probably like to see is that very beautiful gentle arc that starts at the tail and ends at the poll of a correctly collected horse. the nose won't factor into that because it should just be dangling in a natural and relaxed position from the poll.

Now, even though QHs generally have more level toplines when relaxed, you can still have good movement with impulsion, collection, freedom of movement and a 'long and low' frame. It can be done. I have seen several WC QH stallions working at liberty with that gentle arc and very slow, very collected, very free movement.

It is not my intent to offend you or anyone else. I just hoped to clear some of this up so that you could maybe see where they are coming from. Tempers can run hot here as these people are passionate about all horses and the things that they see as being a disservice to them.

roanhorse said...

Food for thought...in the days of the TRUE AQHA all arounder, the horse showed in the bona fide halter class in the am, none of this "performance horse halter class" nonsense; went from there to EP, then WP, trail, western riding, then on to the cattle classes, working cow horse, the roping classes, cutting and or the reining....NOW, can you imagine the WP horse of today taking a steer down the fence going Mach 3 and turning it on the wall....it AIN'T gonna happen...do you really think this horse is athletic enough to pull this off....hardly; "Hopping and bobbin" won't catch up with a steer in the pen.

The age of "Specialization" has taken that athletic ability right out of these horses. The last to really accomplish this, for example, were two stallions, shown by Bob Avila, Major Bonanza and his son, Major Investment..those of you who are current AQHA members, go to the AQHA website and check these stallions out and their pedigree and performance records...they speak for themselves. The current crop of "specialized athletes" is a non functioning mess...there is NO comparison to what these horses were originally bred to do and could do on any given day. The QH's "moniker" WAS "versatile" and they are no longer that....they've become a real tragedy in the pen.

cattypex said...


Can you please go clone yourself and be judges?

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

WiltedZebra-You are so ever correct.

But, roanhorse has very valid points. For things to change people-essentially the trainers have to change it. Trainers really don't seem to want to improve. Mostly because it is easier to train horses in the current style than it would be to enhance natural abilities or work to improve weak areas. Because that takes time.

People are breeding specialized horses these days, so they don't have to train as much and then they still screw them up. Because in reality, no matter how much natural talent a horse has bred into him, he still needs time to develop that.

Time has become the greatest enemy of all for horses. People used to take great pride in spending years into developing a solid, well-broke, well-rounded horse. These days, they just want to slap a few months of training on them and go to the show pen...or the arena.

Believe me-this is a huge issue in the barrel horse industry as well.

cattypex said...

BEC... you're so right. It takes several years to develop a special rapport with a good horse, and it's well worth it. Any pride you have in that is certainly justifiable!

Kirri, you are also right!

SFTS said...

Very well said WZ and I second CP.

Roanhorse, that same thing has happened in the Arabian world and it really saddens me. While we don't have the "performance halter" yet, we do have Sport Horse In Hand which, while created to show off the H/J, Dressage and Endurance type horses that had great conformation and movement but were overlooked in our Halter classes, it's become *the* place to show your in hand horses that couldn't compete in Halter. I love them because my amateur handlers can show their own horses and have fun, unlike they can in many cases with our Halter classes.

The Arabian breed's motto some years back was "The Versatile Breed", and I have had a number of horses over the years who really epitomized that term. My 24 year old gelding began life as a Halter horse, winning a Regional Top Ten as a yearling, then became a Country English Pleasure champion, added wins (including at the Regional Championship level) in English Show Hack then became a Hunter Pleasure horse with great success. He's won Hunter Hack classes, Dressage Suitability classes (though I always wanted to show him as a Dressage horse, he too used to be able to do beautiful pirouettes and single tempi changes) and we embarked on a new career several years back in Western Pleasure, bringing home a number of big Championships and Res Championships. He's also won as a Trail class horse.

But of course that specialization thing hit the Arabian breed as well back in the late 80's (it was growing before that, but became noticeable then) and these days NO ONE shows their horses in multiple divisions. It just isn't done. :(

horsndogluvr said...

Cattypex said, “Now they're unitasking freaks..... like a low-rider show car that's completely useless as a daily driver.”

Excellent metaphor! May I use it?

Truthseeker said,
“THINK! Cowboys don't want the horse's head to get in the way of a thrown rope.”

I beg to differ. Here’s some proof.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bxb7i1Myfk (just the first 35 seconds)
You can see more by searching YouTube for “roping cattle.”

Notice that they adjust their roping to suit the horse’s head level. A REAL cowboy – and I know a few – wants a horse that can get the job done. Cowy, turn on a dime, fast or slow as needed. He/she does NOT want a horse that can’t move out, or that drags its feet, or that can’t watch what’s going on!


BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

cp-Some of my horses I have a good rapport with. They ALL love me at feeding time-LOL.

But more specifically, what I meant was the time it takes a horse to develop mentally and physically. It takes years. The competitive world(at least the western world) puts way too much emphasis on forcing too much info on young horses. Not only do their bodies not hold up, their minds often don't either.

You know, it's like what we are doing to our kids in school these days. They are expected to learn twice as much stuff as we did and in fewer days. Are they learning more? (shrug)I don't think so. But they are more stressed out. And they are having a hard time learning to think for themselves.

Same with young horses. So many people expect to be able to force all this info on these poor, young horses and they never learn to think for themselves. To find the right position. To comprehend. Their bones need time to develop. Their muscles need time to develop. Their brains need time to develop.

These days, way too many of our kids and way too many of our horses lack common sense. Too much is directed-do this, do that. It must be like this, it must be like that. What ever happened to letting that develop...over time?

Tuffy Horse said...

Truthseeker wrote:

>A level topline has always been desired in Western horses of the Stock breeds. THINK! Cowboys don't want the horse's head to get in the way of a thrown rope. Stock breeds have a reputation for being calm horses, and calm horses tend to carry their necks and heads low, relaxed.

You're incorrect and there are decades of photos to prove it. WP used to required a collected horse. A collected horse collects from the shoulder. You CANNOT collect a horse that has a flat level topline, it is biomechanically impossible.
My old stallion was a tri-state WP champion and went on to be a three day event horse. He made the transition easily becase he was NEVER a peanut roller or a flat-back. He was rounded from the haunches to the poll. He collected at a touch and used his rear end properly.

Go look for photos of Co-Stephanie, who won one of the largest WP classes in history, 226 horses, at the Columbus Nationals. She is ROUNDED. Her frame is collected and her neck and shoulders are in a position where she could be picked up and moved around with little effort. THAT is what WP used to be.
However, Co-Stephanie was trained by a master horseman who brought her up through the proper steps and didn't try to create a 90 day wonder. She was a bridled horse, not a rein draper.

WP has devolved into creating an artificial horse that cannot use the natural mechanical frame it was born with.

I'll say it again, and I mean it because I've done it: Training a good WP horse is easy*. It's when you are trying to create artificial gaits and carriage that it becomes hard. A good moving, nicely carriaged horse is BORN. They don't require endless, repetitive training in order to do their job.

*easy being relative to sweating your butt off day in and out doing barn chores and all the other stuff that goes along with horses.

Tracy M

roanhorse said...

SFTS...I'd heard that about the Arabian...

"Roanhorse, that same thing has happened in the Arabian world and it really saddens me. While we don't have the "performance halter" yet, we do have Sport Horse In Hand which, while created to show off the H/J, Dressage and Endurance type horses that had great conformation and movement but were overlooked in our Halter classes, it's become *the* place to show your in hand horses that couldn't compete in Halter".

It's just a sad deal...at this point, I'm really hating what specialization has done to not only my breed but also the Arab....makes NO sense!!!

roanhorse said...

IS there a video out on youtube showing the "sexed" up stud and victim mare in the pen???? Or, an article out on the incident???? No doubt there is..........Thank you!

Tuffy Horse said...

Kirri wrote:
>I have ridden mature stallions in mixed classes and the same thing applies to them, no drawing, no bouncing, a little chuckling under their breath now and again is allowable, but no more, not even at other stallions.
We nipped "stallion baiting" in the bud fairly early on, too.

I agree. At what point would ANY stallion think it is okay to mount a mare while wearing a working bridle? What kind of horseman would think that this was okay?
By the time our stallions are under saddle they know that the luggage stay packed away, no matter how "i'm a raging slut" the mare is.

Tracy M

ZR said...

Truthseeker, shows what you know about roping. I spent an unemployed summer many years ago hanging out with some team roper friends of mine, ya won't see any of their horses doing their job with their head looking at the ground.

Don't see these horses heads interfering with the ropers getting their jobs done.



Hmmm, let's check out the penners. Nope, no peanut rollers here either. I wish they had had more of these near me, my old man was good on a cow.



Nope a horse that really needs to use themselves is not going to have it's head down leaning on the forehand.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

ZR-Barrel horses that have a conformationally level topline often have a distinct style of turning the barrel on the front-end. It's the least desireable form for turning a barrel and often these horses hurt themselves in the stifle and the hocks.

My barrel horse now is made that way and I do tons of work with him to keep him collected and working off of his hindquarters. I can't change his conformation, nor his entire style of running, but I do have to work extra hard to keep him correct. I don't do anything that would encourage him to lower his head even more.

In another life, I do believe he would have made a fine HUS horse.

cattypex said...

Someone is channeling someone else somewhere, because this month's Practical Horseman (which I'm just now getting to) seems to feature a lot of stuff about long, slow, careful training, and self-carriage. (It's the annual Dressage Issue, btw.)

Dressage used to be considered the epitome of "correct" by many disciplines, and still is, when it's done right.

But Arab dressage (and other disciplines) really seem to emphasize that rolled under looking-thru-bifocals thing.... "Cowboy Dressage" is an interesting concept that seems (with just a cursory glance at what they do) to be a little related to methods used to finish a "bridled" horse.... of course many of us hate rollkur...

Anyway just some musings.

Also, so many Europeans take their STALLIONS everywhere.... with no ill effects.

SFTS said...

Long, slow, careful training unfortunately does not offer the "benefits" (to the trainers and owners, not the horses) that the quickie, shortcut training does. It's all about the bottom line, not what's best for the horses. That's why two year olds are being shown, so there can be the fastest return on the dollar.

Personally, I don't even like starting horses at three years anymore, other than in special circumstances (they are physically and mentally ready). I would like to see Futurities in the Fall of the year and for four year olds, with Maturities for five year olds. Make Junior horses through six years, then add a Senior horse division for the seven through ten or fifteen year olds year olds, and add an Aged division for horses sixteen and older. All with prize money as an incentive to actually keep horses sound and get out there and show them.

CP, you need to look into the "Arabian Dressage" horses of today. They ain't your mother's "Arabian Dressage" horses!! :)

Jennifer said...

1. As a dressage person, I hate rollkur. I consider draw reins and Market Harboroughs (A kind of martingale that has a similar effect) evil. I have seen my trainer (Who will hopefully recover soon from a stupid groundwork accident) get on a six year old who had never been taught to go correctly and a 20+ hammerhead Appaloosa I thought was too *stiff* to work correctly...and both were carrying themselves like dressage horses within a couple of minutes with no tack, no gadgets, no fixing of the head...it's all done from the hind end, with the inside hind stepping forward and the back arched. If the hindquarters are engaged correctly, the neck arches and the nose drops *naturally*, as the most balanced place for the horse to put its head. I see so many 'dressage' horses that have their heads fixed in that position, but the rest of the horse is still strung out and on its forehand! It's the same thing. Don't knock western pleasure, knock the people who use training methods to ensure it.

2. I used to know somebody who had his stallions trained by bridle. Working bridle: Listen to mommy. Covering bridle, with different bit: Time for some fun. They KNEW the difference, and those studs could be taken everywhere, they showed, they followed hounds, they were regularly ridden with mares...because they had *manners*. Many of the elite dressage horses are kept entire. And I bet none of the Spanish Riding Horse stallions would even think of playing with a mare while working.

3. People have brought up a good point. MARES need to be trained too. A properly trained mare should not be flirting with the stallions (or geldings, for that matter) in the arena no matter where in her cycle she is.

4. This highlights the undesirability of riding two-year-olds. Both of these horses...most two year old horses are *adolescents* and thus have hormones all over the place. It's got to be harder to keep a 1-2 year old horse in line in these situations than a mature animal with more settled hormones.

SFTS said...

Very well said, Jennifer!! Outstanding!! Sounds like you have a wonderful trainer. :) We need more of them!

cattypex said...

Jennifer.. your comments reminded me that a horse properly trained to move off the leg is CRUCIAL to any discipline.

And yep, baby horses need to grow up.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

SFTS said...
Long, slow, careful training unfortunately does not offer the "benefits" (to the trainers and owners, not the horses) that the quickie, shortcut training does.

Ain't that the damn truth.

I'm all for getting rid of every 2y/o futurity there is. Move everything available in every discipline up a year, at least. WP to the 3y/o year. Cutting and reining to their 4y/o year and barrel racing to their 5y/o year. And for god's sakes-get rid of all the longeline classes.

That would give the good trainers/owners a little more incentive to participate in these activities and then maybe the judges would be provided with some better examples to place.

We'll never get rid of all the crappy training techniques people have developed to cheat time, but at least we could give the good trainers/owners the time they need to develop their horses. That's one way to get rid of some of the no-talent trainers that are winning at the moment.

SFTS said...

BrownEyed Cowgirls wrote:
That would give the good trainers/owners a little more incentive to participate in these activities and then maybe the judges would be provided with some better examples to place.
- - - - - - - -

That's one of the biggest problems, is judges can only place what is presented to them. If the show rings are flooded with good, beautiful, correct moving and well trained horses, they can't ignore them. :) It will become quickly evident that the trainers who utilize the poor methods and shortcuts will have to rethink what they're doing or get left behind.

And for god's sakes-get rid of all the longeline classes.
- - - - - - - -

LOL...this year for the first time ever I am competing in Yearling Longeline. Since I am used to Arabian shows and we don't have those classes, I was flat out lost. So, I broke out the handy APHA and PtHA rule books to learn about what I had to do. But I hate, hate, hate longeing babies. :( So, for "conditioning" purposes we do other things, the longeing is only to teach her what she needs to do for the class.

horsndogluvr said...

Cattypex said, "...this month's Practical Horseman ... seems to feature a lot of stuff about long, slow, careful training, and self-carriage."

Yes, it looks like there's a groundswell wanting to return to the classical principles. I noticed on Saturday (at a USDF dressage show)that only two horses looked like they had been hyperflexed, and didn't see *any* of it in the warm-up area. Plus, while still in the minority, there were people riding in regular cavessons. There were a lot of happy horses, and some really good riders!

Oops, sorry, off-topic.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. A stallion is just a horse with balls. It might take a bit longer to train them in manners, but they're just as capable of learning them as a gelding or mare.

Huffily, Ruthie

SFTS said...

horsndogluvr wrote:
I've said it before and I'll say it again. A stallion is just a horse with balls. It might take a bit longer to train them in manners, but they're just as capable of learning them as a gelding or mare.
- - - - - - - -

That's something I have said for years! A stallion is still a horse, and around here they are treated no differently than any other horse.

Dena said...

BEC no more 3 yr old finished barrel horses?
But, but, but...oh okay.
Are their knees even closed?
Never saw one anyhow.
No more 2 yr old cutting futurities?
That's okay real horsemen know better.
And baby longeline classes? Can I take a moment to just say, EWWW...Ewww...ewww...

We just train them to show it but we don't believe in doing it.
SFTS have I mentioned that your avatar looks nice and it is good to see you posting?

Cattypex I am channeling my inner bitch.lol

Ruthie what do I have? Do you know yet?
I am so impatient.

SFTS said...

LOL...uh, thank you? I think?

Btw, my avatar is a quick sketch my daughter did this past Winter of me as a dragon. Silly girl, obsessed with horses and dragons. Supremely talented artist, though. :)

cattypex said...

Dena, sometimes we NEED to let the bitch out to play... most of the problems I've created in my own life have resulted from being a doormat.

Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! #233!


cattypex said...

I definitely talk too much.

And post too much.....

ZR said...

Didn't realize this was on the second page when I posted, so thank you horsndogluvr for the roping horses don't keep their heads down videos before mine.
One of the ropers I knew had a mare that had pleasure points, but ya know when she was roping there was nothing on the forehand looking at the ground about her. However, canter her to warm her up, egads! that was the worst canter I have ever ridden. Pleasure, I think not.

I do know in the not so distant past AQHA didn't allow barrel horses to run before they were 5 years old. Now they have 2yo barrel futurities. That more then the peanut rollers shows when the AQHA sold their souls.

I own three horses. My first horse I bought when he was ten, he's now 33yo and doing well. Has a little hitch in his step at hard left turns, but will still pull and want to throw in a few fun bucks when the mood hits him. Silly old horse.

The second I bought as a 3yo, a trained to race, never raced Thoroughbred, at 16.2 hands, who never grew appreciably taller, but didn't fully mature (and I'm not talking knees and such, I'm talking the whole package) until he was about 8. I think we concentrate on the knees too much, we should be xraying their backs, which don't finish maturing before 5yo on most horses. Meaning, likely longer for some.

The third was bought when he was 6 years of age, 15.2 hands. Recently from comments of other people at the barn and my own thinking he seemed taller. I dragged the measuring stick out and I'll be damned that somewhere in the last 4 years he didn't grow another inch.
Don't believe in statistics and averages, horses are just as individual as you and I as far as development goes.

I'm not saying you can't ride a horse before they are 4 or 5, but it should be done with care and physically stressful competition avoided until they really are closer to being totally physically and mentally mature.

You want to develop a long lasting relationship and partnership with your horse, slow down your expectations and wants. You will find you and your horse a lot richer for it. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

ZR said...

BTW that's shouldn't have been hard left turns so much as tight left turns.

Anonymous said...

Question to all.

I'm curious to find out why fake tails, low heads, and short, navicular-type gaits evolved. I mean, I can clearly trace the evolution of the Big Lick/soring, but I can't find anything about WP horses. Anyone know?

SFTS said...

Back when the fake tails and crippled shuffle worked it's way into stock breed WP, I am not sure. But the peanut rolling was evident back in the 70's. Someone who has been in the stock breed world, like Tuffy or a few others can probably help out in that.

cattypex said...

OK..... here is something pretty cool:

Vectormom said...

Just another reason I turned in my judge's card for one of the associations involved. It was a disgusting incident on part of ALL 4 judges and the stallion, stallion's rider, trainer and worst of all, there are kids watching all of this go on. Copious amounts of vulgar disgust!!!! Does that make sense? At the top of the WP world it does.

ZR said...

I'm surprised a video of this class hasn't surfaced yet. Or a picture for that matter. That or I'm not searching for it right. A show this big was sure to have had professional videographers, not to mention fans in the arena with their video cameras and cameras.

I also find it interesting that the AQHA is only interested in the altercation that occurred after the class even though all involved in that none wanted to press any charges.

ZR said...

Oh and the fake tails just crack me up because you can tell they are fake.

ashy517 said...

i show the big tim shows. I know all of those BNT inside this story even the one not mentioned. I can believe and understand why he punched Ty in the face its understandable but in Ty's offence there wasnt much he could do to stop the stallion. Although he should not have accepted the award still.
But the author of this story might want to learn a lil bit more abkut WP. If you have a nice horse just like all the BNT horses are the horse do not look crippled at all. Its actually quite amazing that we can get horses to go that slow and look that good. It isnt easy to do it like she says it is . It takes lots of time and hard training. They can take horses lke mine who are 17hh and get them to do WP. And guess what my horse kicks ass at it. OOO and guess what else he DOESNT look crippled. He looks awesome.
And WP doesnt just include the 3 gates and no patterns like the author says it does. There is a thing called Horsemanship. In that class we ride our horses in patterns but we do it while equitating and having our horses go slow. Yes it is not the stuff dressage horses do but stock horses are not meant to do that type of stuff they arent built for it. But we do get our horses to move like no other. We do get alot of training skills from dressage riders. We get the horses hips in, and we do it w/ there heads down.
OH and spurs and draw reins are not torture if you use them correctly. Which all of the BNT know how to use correctly some just choose to abuse them. But 95% do not abuse their horses.
If your gonna talk about WP you might wanna know something about WP.

cattypex said...

Ashy.... Who's Big Tim, and why are you at his shows? :P Sorry, but you have enough typos and other errors in your post that I kept hitting little road blocks.

"We get the horses hips in, and we do it w/ there heads down. "

"Their," not "there." Sorry, it's the English major in me.

That's only the FIRST thing wrong with this statement.

You strike me as a younger person who's grown up showing AQHA under various trainers who have subscribed to this nonsense because that's where the money is, with little experience outside your own discipline beyond maybe watching the Olympics.

So I will try very hard to not pull out my hair (yeah, I know, I split infinitives all over the place) when I re-read what you've posted.

The only HALFWAY DECENT moving WP horses I've seen (at Congress, mind you, not just open shows) only make me think "WOW, that horse could be awesome if they'd just get out of his mouth, let his neck come up, and get his hind end under him. Poor horse. Oh God, look at those post legs and tiny feet. No wonder they all get ouchy by the end of the season..... and still win."

Sorry, I've seen NO modern top-level AQHA Western Pleasure horse that I'd want for my own. It would take way too much retraining to make him halfway correct, and soundness would probably always be an issue.

And when I say "correct," I mean tracking on a straight line, normal response to leg/spur pressure, weight OFF the forehand, moving his body around a nice circle, and some tendency toward true collection.

I don't mean to sound bitchy. I'm so sick to death of how poorly these horses are trained. It's not ethical to ruin a good horse like this. Even if it's done without riding long yearlings, tying up their heads in the stalls, draw reins on a curb bit, lunging till half-dead, spur stop "training" till they bleed and scar, blocking their tails, or the dreaded see-sawing of hands (I see that at ALL levels, and it's a testimony to the sweet nature of the American Quarter Horse that they all don't throw up their heads and bloody their riders' noses)... it's still not right.

And if you have always been OK with it, I suggest you start with a little reading here:
Go to some dressage shows, hunter/jumper shows, other breed shows... with an open mind. Pick up the August issue of Practical Horseman for some real dressage advice, NOT the Lynn Palm pretend stuff.

I wish you luck, humane fun with your horse, and a journey into true, educated horsemanship, not just "slow and low is the way to go."

Anonymous said...


"And WP doesnt just include the 3 gates and no patterns like the author says it does."

I didn't know gates were involved in WP. I thought it was gaits.

"There is a thing called Horsemanship. In that class we ride our horses in patterns but we do it while equitating"

WTF is equitating?

"and having our horses go slow."

WHY? Why do you want your horses to go slow? Because the judge wants to see it? That's not a valid reason. Give me a real reason why WP is supposed to be slow. I know most pleasure riders I know want their horses to actually go, not be slow.

"Yes it is not the stuff dressage horses do but stock horses are not meant to do that type of stuff they arent built for it."

That's too bad that you believe that. If you really opened your mind, you would realize that ANY horse can do ANYTHING it is trained to do. Yes, gaited horses CAN do barrels. Yes, draft horses CAN jump. No, a stock horse may not get to upper level dressage, but they CAN learn basic dressage even up to 2nd level or higher. It's exactly that kind of attitude that leads to poor riding, poor training, and poor horsemanship overall.

cattypex said...

Hey, they have "gates" in trail! ; )

I had a really nice QH mare. I looked into doing some local circuit stuff. But then I looked at what "Hunter Under Saddle" meant to the AQHA, and it isn't what my former field hunter was doing, that's for sure! Heh....

Really, I'd like to point out again that the nicest dressage horse at the barn where I ride is a foundation-bred, ranch-born, registered Quarter Horse. But because he has been classically trained, he does NOT resemble those pencil-necked things trit-trotting around the Western Pleasure arena.

You don't GET any more "stock horse" than his build, but because he has proper muscling and true softness in the bridle, he fools you into thinking that he's an Andalusian or Lusitano cross. He's naturally athletic and would probably have been a good roping or reining horse, but somehow he made it into the hands of a dressage enthusiast.

A very good example of the true versatility of the "stock horse." Remember, Western (as opposed to "English") originated in the Middle Ages, and the Spaniards brought it to the New World via Mexico - which used to own California, Texas, Arizona, etc.

That's why I posted the Modern Vaquero link earlier. That's MUCH truer to an honest version of Western Pleasure than the freak show you see today.

Vectormom said...

I read Ashy's comment & my soapbox walked over & pulled me on. It is not the author of this blog who needs to become educated about WP. Read the comments & you'll pick up a few things.
As far as your 17hh horse showing WP, I don't understand why you think that is such an extrordinary feat. Height has nothing to do with WP. Hell a mini can be trained to do it & so could the Budweiser Cldyes. What you have missed by not reading the comments is that people here may make some fairly broad industry sweeping statements (like all Arabs in WP stink - that is not a direct quote or directed at anyone, just an example),yet I understand them to be against the artificial movements that are shown in WP & some harsh tactics to achieve that movement. Also their dislike for a large MONEY BAGS show promoting the use of 2yo horses for WP $$.The very statement that the stallions' rider could not do anything is the one that really prompted me to get in here & reply. Read the comments. There are many well educated reviews here. Considering he missed the idea of even training a 2 year old colt for a money bags....uh I mean top level western pleasure show; considering he missed all the body language of the horses; considering he stands to make untold amounts of money from the campaigning of this soon to be standing at studly do wrong horse and already had up to the point of that class; considering he is raking in the money just for being there (by his clients), well, I'm sorry but I have to say there was many things he could have done. Prior to this show, in the ring, exiting the ring, and public statements that he should be making since. Read the comments & learn a little yourself. There are things you may not have realized that he very well could have, should have done. And as much as I would like to get off my soapbox, I just have to say, horsemanship is a pattern class judged on the RIDER. It is not judged on the rider to be a western pleasure rider and it has nothing to do with western pleasure. There are NO PATTERN classes in WESTERN PLEASURE!!! And before anyone defends the western pleasure horses shown at the top levels, please read the rulebooks. Going slow while keeping their heads down is no where in the rulebook!! I don't care if BNT is riding the greatest horse of the universe and has won king of all kings of the sport of the kings horses futurity!!!! The rule is the standard by which judge's are SUPPOSED to be held to whilst judging these insanely moving horses (horse of today). The rule is free flowing stride of REASONABLE LENGTH in keeping with the conformation of the horse. ...cover a REASONABLE AMOUNT OF GROUND with little effort...BALANCED, FLOWING MOTION, while exhibiting CORRECT gaits of proper CADENCE....QUALITY & CONSISTENCY are of major importance...The horse should carry it's head and neck in a RELAXED, NATURAL position with his poll level or slightly above the withers....this isn't word for word. Please, read your rulebook. I think I'm the only western pleasure rider I've ever heard say to their horse....pick up your head and move forward!!!! I love my mare to the max, but sometimes that ass draggin' stinker can really get on my nerves.
(smashing my soapbox....slinking off to get blood pressure meds and a beer to wash it all away! )
PS - Forgive the length of this post and please understand the caps/shouting was meant for Ashy and any others that are trying to defend what is in the ring these days IS NOT what is in the rulebooks.

ashy517 said...

Haha sorry english has always been my worst subject. And i type to fast. But anyways getting the horses hip in means getting the horse under themselves. And your right i did grow up around AQHA but i also grew up around USDF. I have been taught to ride everyseat except for side saddle and eventing. And if you think what we do to our horses is bad you should see what saddlebreds have done to them to get there tails set. Its horrible. And the bits the use on them like for example a BICYCLE CHAIN BIT. THats just inhumane. O and i guess you didnt know that blocking tails is illeagal on AQHA. Along with drugging horses. And in my whole life i have only seen once horse have scars from spur training and the only had them cuz he was crazy and the trainer didnt know what he was doing. and half the time the only reason a horse gets there head tied uo in a stall is cuz it seattles them down or else the trainer doesnt want the horse to lay down cuz it has tack on. and people rarely put draw reins on a curb bit they know better then that. and i could eaisly tell you horses that are worth while at congress and wrolds for example: do you have a minute, vital signs are good, natural iron, natural traveler, natural kat, i can keep going but i dont wish to.

ONce agian i type to fast thats why i have the typos. And euitating is how well you ride your horses dumbass. And we want our horses going slow because its more pleaureable. If you have ever ridden a WP AQHA horses you would see how smooth they are. And yes i know a stock horse can do dressage and pretty much anything since i do dressage with my horse. And if you are saying i have poor training riding and horsemanship skills then you would be wrong. I have been taught to train a horse properly, without hurting iy. Im also a very good rider and i have good sportsmanship, and i can ride any seat i want since i have been taught to by grand pre dressage trainers and judges, class A jump trainers and judges, 10 time Saddlebred world winning trainer, top of the line WP trainers. etc.

cattypex said...

Dear Princess Ashy,

Grand Pre??? Is that the latest smartphone from Palm?

Actually, either you are full of bs or your trainer is, because I've yet to meet a reputable dressage trainer encourage any of the crap in the wp world.

Key word: reputable.

You are also pretty blind if you claim to never see horses' heads tied up. I've seen it in the barns at Congress, the podunk county fair, and it is standard practice for the trainers around here, which include some biggish names.

Anyway, if you have actually ever trained with a GOOD USDF trainer and left to do WP, then you're a sorry excuse for a horseman. What a lot of trainers do to quarter horses is just as bad as what happens to Saddlebreds, and if you think that nobody blocks tails, then you are an idiot.

Andrea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

WELL SAID, Vectormom. I was shocked when I first read the rulebooks for APHA WP and saw what was in the ring. I had to do some judging at a small all breed fun show, and I was shocked at how many horses DIDN'T follow the rules, yet I got lectured after the show by mothers with "champion bred" horses for their kids. Yeah, if they're such champions, then why are you showing at BY fun shows? I would just tell them please read the rulebook--it's what I went by.

Judges are to blame in a lot of disciplines, including the TWH sore horse industry. Stop rewarding crap and start rewarding correctness!

Anonymous said...


How old are you? Probably about 15? That must make you the expert on everything, doesn't it?

So you have ridden all disciplines, huh? Okay, so if you've done it all, what is the difference between a flat walk and a running walk in a Tennessee Walking Horse and what are the prevailing physical characterisitics of those two gaits? If you can answer that question correctly, or answer it at all, then I MIGHT take you seriously.

Equitating is not a word in the English language, and neither is "dumbass". Your bad grammar also just brings another testament to what a know-it-all child you obviously are. So you type too fast and have a lot of typos? Learn how to use spellcheck. I have very little respect or use for anyone who can't write.

Honey, here's a fact: placing blame on other breeds for their faults does not make what the WP riders do to their horses okay. Here's another fact: you do not have good sportsmanship if you are writing the kind of posts you are writing here. A know-it-all attitude and calling people names will reflect on what you do in the show ring.

I won't comment on the rest of your posts because it's the same stuff I hear from every girl your age who knows it all. You will learn, honey, and unfortunately you'll learn the hard way.

cattypex said...

Yay Katphoti!!

: )

horsndogluvr said...


If you ride as well as you write, and/or as well as you think, then you are a piss-poor rider.

I could say more, but Kat and Vector have said enough.

Your comparison of WP horses to Saddlebreds is what's called "ad hominem" logic, AKA a "straw man" argument. Google it, if you're not too lazy.


punkswthrt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SFTS said...

punkswthrt wrote:
man, you have a lot of nerve putting this on the internet. you do realize that if some of my friends that went to the richert and witnessed it could find you, they'd beat the shit out of you, right? as would many other people including me.
- - - - - - - -

So, it's okay to make terrorist threats to someone as long as you delete them, right?

See, some folks have these comments sent to their email inboxes. Like me. They don't get deleted out of our inboxes when the moron who writes them in haste removes them from the blog entry themselves.

It wouldn't be hard for TJM to take your screen name and track you down via Blogger, no matter if you have an anonymous profile, and press charges against you.

Some people. *headdesk*

cowgirlup said...

Shit happens! There was nothing the studs rider could have done to stopped it. As for acting like nothing happened, i would have done the same thing. Do you know how much money the trainers are paid to exhibit a horse in a class? Do you know how much money they can win in that class? Classes at the Reichert are a big deal, and can greatly improve the marketability of a horse. It DOES take time, training, and work to produce a quality western pleasure horse. If not MORE time than any other discipline. Every horse is different, some take longer than others. Maybe they can turn out a pleasure horse "quickly" as you say, but its not done without hard work. Getting a big name in western pleasure IS NOT EASY. Its the same with any industry. You have to work your butt off and do well at many big shows, perhaps for a few years even. You dont get it from winning one class. You don't think these trainers spend hours upon hours with these horses? They do. Its no different than any other horse industry. What does "sparkly things" have to do with any of this? I will agree that some horses look artificial, but the ones winning or placing high in the big classes are not artificial. Judges are trained. They know whats right and whats not. EVERY horse industry keeps the vets busy. Horses work hard, and stuff happens that cant be controled. Just like humans. A professional athlete can get injured easily. And at this level, trainers take special care of there horses. They do everything they can to prevent the horse from getting hurt. Sportsmanship is important, but you dont go in a show ring telling everyone good luck and i hope you do great. No. You're there to WIN. They are your competition. Fist fights are a little much, but competetors are going to let someone know if they screwed up their ride.
And how do you know all of these details? Were you there? As far as the judges seeing it happen, maybe they didnt! Theres a lot to look at with horses in the pen. They could have been watching, writing down notes, or many other things. Its very possible they didnt see it. And i garuntee you that stud had manners. I dont think they would enter him in a class that COSTS MONEY to get into, with such a big purse and so many horses if he wasnt well behaved. The fact is that it could happen anywhere to anyone in that kind of situation. We cant control a horses instincts. If the judges didnt see it, they cant stop the class. The rider could just be lying to them for all they know! If one judge had seen it, then it would be different. But they cant just ride to the middle and address a ring steward in the middle of the class. And all in all, i find this "blog" innacurate and hyppocritical. At the end you state that you would have found the rider back at the stalls and given him what he deserved. Whats the difference in yous so called "abusing horses" and beating the crap out of a person for something THEY COULDNT HELP. And you forgot where you were going with this because there is no point. You're very wrong in what you've said, and i understand that its your own opinion. But try to get the facts straight and understand the industry before you go writing again.

roanhorse said...

"Shit happens"! Really? Laughable comments.

Mike Riter said...

Let's see, you do not condone horse abuse...but you say that Mr Horny Hoofs should have his ass beat until his penis shrivels up???


How is that not condoning horse abuse???

Forget what happened at the show. Assclowns are prevalent in all parts of society. But...the very one who is supposed to be the advocate is saying that a horse should have his ass beat....

I am thoroughly confused. And disgusted.

roanhorse said...

"Let's see, you do not condone horse abuse...but you say that Mr Horny Hoofs should have his ass beat until his penis shrivels up"???

Lets beat the trainer's ass until HIS penis shrivels up.....LOL

zomerm said...

I know this is late but i stumbled upon and couldnt help myself. Not all horses are beat into becoming outstanding WP horses, the greatest ones are born with raw talent. My horse has over 100 AQHA WP points and my trainer and I have never drugged, beat, or abused him in order to achieve those points. If you think the same things dont happen in the arab show pen then you are seriously naive...it happens in every industry and breed. When you watch a horse in the the pasture the way it moves under saddle is different.

I am not saying that abuse is good,it is terribly wrong. But not everyone does it. And Ty Hornick and all the others involved could have handled it better. But you could have also handled it better. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but you lashing out on the entire Western Pleasure industry is not right, or fair. It actually is just as bad as the fist fight. Is this the way you want to represent yourself?

oh, and remember, judges are humans too.

Howaboutlife said...

Talk about abusive... The Steve Lackey I know from Greensboro is the most abusive trainer I've ever had the displeasure of knowing! I worked at his barn for a while and I saw his "training methods" first-hand. He would work a young horse until it was exhausted then tie the horse out in the sun with it's neck stretched out as far as it would go and leave it there for hours on end! He would "control" his stallion by beating the crap out of it with a bat! There was a halter mare that would bolt out of the stall when you tried to take her out. She had been abused as a foal by a complete idiot who thought it was a good idea to hit the foal with the stall door to make her come out. Steve would not address the issue and the mare was a danger to herself and others. In one day of working with the mare, I had her calmly walking in and out of the stall with no problems. For my efforts, I was fired! Having a horse that is scared to death all the time apparently makes it a great halter prospect! Who'd have thunk?

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