Lets take this blog to the next level

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

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

Saturday, October 31, 2009

More to follow

Sorry about the delay in posting. Work has been killing me. My sister has forwarded me some photos from her travels and as soon as I get the time to format a post around them I'll put them up.

The Appaloosa World Show finished today and the Paint Worlds starts Monday. Lip Chains are in every halter class, regardless of whether it's a weanling or an aged stallion. What better way to advertise how inappropriate your breed is for kids?


Mary H. said...

If a horse is halter broke and trained to lead properly, there should be absolutely no reason for a lip chain.

I know plenty of lesson horses that know how to respect the wishes of their tiny riders when being led.

If it takes a lip chain to control your horse, maybe it's time to stop showing for awhile and focus on better training. This goes for stallions too. Just because your horse is a stallion does not excuse him from basic manners 101. In fact, if you're using him to make more horses, he better have a nice temperament and good manners.

Mary H.

Abigail said...

hear hear!

ponykins said...

While gum chains might keep your Appy "on the muscle" and whipping your Arabian before his halter class might make him showy, neither does ANYTHING to make the buying public consider such a horse for their kids. And, kids my friends are the next generation that will be buying and showing the horses we are breeding, training, and showing now. We need all the new people in the horse industy that we can get.

Aylisha said...

Uggg...I don't need a lip chain on anything...INCLUDING the stud...only time he will get a "stud chain" is when he breeds in hand, and it will only be on his halter, cause that is how he was taught and knows that the "chain halter" means he is going to go breed, and the "other" (leather, rope, whatever) halters mean he is to be working and NOT thinking about girls. The chain doesn't have to be used though, he is very well behaved, even when breeding. THAT is what needs reproducing anyway, not horses that "need" a chain (and young horses most definitely NEVER need a chain)....

jennybean79 said...

Is there a difference between a chain over the nose and a lip chain? Just curious, I almost alays use a chain over the nose. Horses are big animals and I don't care how quiet and calm they are, if something should happen, I want as much control as possible.

cattypex said...

I'm so freakin' sick of people at shows doing things Because That's How It's Done. Is it just me, or are critical thinking skills simply not taught or cultivated?? Are the folks who show such Yes Master ZOMBIES, and the judges so LAZY?? Whatever happened to the supposed individuality of the Cowboy Way?

You (as in folks like readers of this blog) see this shit and ask Am I just smarter than some people, or merely open to "alternative" non-cruel methods? Why do the owners stand for their precious horses' getting hurt? "Oh, well, I see that my yearling's gums are bleeding, and he looks scared, but that's what it takes to win I suppose....." How sick is it that they don't even KNOW how sick that sounds???

About halters & shanks..... When I was a short, weak kid in 4H with a headstrong large pony, my leader had me run the chain UNDER the chin, thru the ring, and clipped to the top of the cheekpiece. It afforded me a lot of control, and helped me learn how to teach a spoiled (by me) pony a little respect.

NO, I didn't hang on it, and I was ALSO taught NOT to "shank" her all over creation, and ALSO taught that steady tugging on shank or rein was merely "yelling" at the horse 100% of the time, and not only very mean, but ineffective. You give it a jiggle, YES a little jiggle, then a bigger jiggle, then a quick tug-release, maybe a very slightly sharper tug-release. NOT the stuff you see that produces the quivering wrecks of horseflesh. The ONLY time you "jerk" it is if your safety is being threatened, and you have to do the 3 seconds of You Might Die. Then you stop, regroup, and calmly move on.

That chain was NEVER over the nose, never in the horse's mouth. For some reason I associated that with tough guy Macho Complex redneck racehorse trainers who handled FireBreathing Stallions. (Yeah..... *snort*)

I would still recommend a chain used in this way - JUDICIOUSLY - for a small person with a horse that likes to take advantage, BUT only under competent supervision, and NEVER for someone who just doesn't "get it." Like a curb or spurs, it's not meant to hurt - it's meant to get the horse's attention.

Otherwise, cotton leadropes all the way! I HATE dealing with a bunch of loose chain, and nylon gives you such lovely burns.

I'm so freakin' sick of people at shows doing things Because That's How It's Done.

horsndogluvr said...

When I was handling the stallions at the Saddlebred barn, all those years ago, we did it one of two ways. Either in the side ring, over the nose, out the side ring, and clipped back to the bottom of the chain, or same except under the chin.

And, yes, I rarely had to do more than rattle the chain to get their attention back on me.

My boss, while falling for the "wild stallion" bit, was kind. I think he'd have thrown a major fit if anyone suggested lip chains.

Jennybean, a lip chain is when they put the chain in the horse's mouth, across the gums. Very painful.

Personally, if I was a judge, I'd make the handler of every horse with a lip chain take it off and use it on the bottom ring only. If their stallions act up, I'd excuse them from the ring. After that, I'd do the judging.

Ruthie, on her high horse

Anonymous said...

CP and Ruthie, AMEN sisters. That's exactly how I would use one if I needed it. jennybean, that is REALLY sad that you do that. I'm sorry to say that you will never be invited to my ranch as our horses do not need chains and never will, and if you ever used one on my horse, I'd use it right back on youin a heartbeat. Trying to "control" a horse through pain only gets an angry or frightened horse, and that is only going to get you hurt. I've learned through experience that harsh methods only create dangerous horses. If you treat a horse as if he's going to cause a problem, then he will. I find those stud chains make great feed bucket holders on the side of our pipe rail panels, and that's about it.

To prove my point, I just got back my very first horse, whom I cowboyed and treated horribly, and therefore she was a bitch to be ridden. Ithought she needed a double twisted wire trammel to be ridden in, and I thought that having a steel noseband around her nose while I lead her would keep her in control. All it did was cause her extreme fear. Now that she's home, I cannot wait to try all of the new and non-agressive methods I have learned to work with her. I imagine that I will have a VERY different horse on my hands! But first she needs to eat--she is severely underweight and needs a lot of TLC right now. I am so happy she's home, though--I really, really missed her! My soulmate is back, and my heart is full again.

Anonymous said...

TJM, I thought similar things when I saw the kids at the sore horse show I went to (there were only about two or three): way to expose them to animal abuse and make seem okay.

Jennifer said...

I'll say something here.

I grew up in England.

Guess what are not used in England, at least not in the circles I moved in. Chains. Of ANY kind, lip, nose, under the chin.

In in hand classes, all horses except stallions are expected to be led in a smart leather halter. Just a halter. It is acceptable at small shows for horses that are also entered in riding classes to be led in a snaffle bridle, by the reins, if the owner does not have a show halter. Stallions...are led in a bridle, almost always a plain snaffle, with a lead rope and a leather 'Y' strap to connect it to both bit reins.

As a result, if I had a difficult horse to lead, I would reach for that horse's bridle, not a chain.

cattypex said...

I wonder where the whole "Stallions Are EEEVIL" thing in this country came from? Is it an offshoot of puritanical Victorian ideas about uncontrollable masculinity? Other countries - notably the Latin ones - have no problem with stallions being handled like other horses...

What does an English show halter look like? Probably a lot classier than some of the Western ones ...

I'd love to have leather lead straps without chains. Leather is so easy to hang onto, and looks so nice.

cattypex said...

A random pretty horsie for today, after googling "horse shown in hand England"

Are they regularly shown in surcingles & side rein thingies or is this a breed-specific thing?

Amazing how different equestrian culture is in other countries.

Of course, a bit can be pretty harsh too, as we've all discussed ad nauseum...

Anonymous said...

Is that a Friesian, CP? I have seen them shown in surcingles before, but I'm not sure why.

You go, Jennifer. I wish America would pick up on the European attitude about horses. But our stupid I WANT IT NOW society has created monsters.

I imagine the stallions are evil school of thought comes from people doing one of two things: being too lazy to train their stallion properly, and/or treating their stallion as if he IS going to be a problem. I knew a lady who kept her stallion in a medium-sized pen (about 32' x 32') on the other side of the property from the other horses. She would always tell us NEVER touch a stallion's head (I have no idea why, and she couldn't even tell me), that stallions should never go on trail rides, and they must always be handled with a stud chain. *SIGH*

Anonymous said...

English show halters for TWHs:


You can use a leather lead with or without a chain on it. The chain is for pretty looks only--it is not to be used to crank on the horse. There is a ring on the nosepiece portion of the show halter to clip the lead to it.

We actually have what's called a Model class. There is no movement required--the horse just stands and looks purty. They're judged on conformation and manners only. Although some show venues are starting to put in halter classes, where the quality of gait in hand will be evaluated. They also will do showmanship classes for the kids.

We show our horses under 2 yo in a show halter, no matter what the sex. Anything 2 yo and older is shown in a full bridle: http://www.nationalbridle.com/product-p/1-0083.htm Reins are attached to the bit as if you were going to ride the horse. It doesn't mean we're riding the horse at 2--it just gives them the overall appearance of being more "put together." This is the same for both Western and English, but we use a typical Western leather show halter or a Western show bridle. Our Western gear isn't any different from QHs and other breeds.

Cut-N-Jump said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cut-N-Jump said...

CP- Some consider the 'English' version of a halter to resemble the ones they use on Arabs, ASB, gaited breeds, etc. with the patent leather caveson, browbands and a chain under the chin.

Kat- What happened to education instead of alienation there in your response to Jennybean? Coming off a bit harsh there as I read it. Maybe not the intent, but sheesh.

We have found the best use for 'stud chains' is just helping keep gates closed. Our stallions do not wear chains for any reason. Not for showing, not for breeding and surely not for just everyday handling. Including our Arabian stallion. You know, the ones that are supposedly the most difficult to handle and plain wild. (Excuse me while I LMAO over the last statement.) There is no need for them at our house other than as 'back up' on the gates.

Kat has met our stallions. And of all the horses at our place, who have the girls met as their intro to horses? The stallions. Lilli met the Arab when she was a couple months old. She smiled as he nuzzled her over the fence. Vivi met the pony a short time later. He stood quietly and let her put her hand on his forelock.

JB- while I understand the reasoning behind your statement and feelings for the need to use one, I assure you a horse can and will, run you down if they are scared of something- chain in use or not. If they are that scared, shit is about to happen and you may have no control over how it goes down, how the horse responds and who he takes out trying to get away from it. They all have their breaking point. So do chains come to think about it...

The whole thing with chains in the showring is a crock of shit as well! If you need to use one to control a weanling, yearling or twobie- maybe the horse just shouldn't be at the show? And why in the Arab industry do they carry whips in the halter classes for weaners, yearlings and twobies? Oh, sorry, my bad, I forgot. It's not 'Halter'... Why, it's- "Lead 'em & Beat 'em". How could I have ever made that mistake?

Regardless of breed or age, if they are bouncing around and a lip chain is needed, it makes me wonder what you injected or fed them to get that response. There again the fingers point to the 'trainers' and handler for the blame. The owners may or may not know about it. If the horse tests positive, they will deny knowing anything anyways.

If the horse doesn't need a lip chain as a youngster then why would they need it as they grow up? Shows again, someone, somewhere, failed them in life. Discipline is one thing, abuse is another.

Stallions with lip chains- sorry I'll pass. I sure as shit won't be breeding to them and creating a horse with a bad disposition. What's the point? Too many other well behaved, well built, well performing horses out there to look at. Their owners can have my $$$ for breeding fees instead. Vote with your wallet, people. It's pretty easy to do and you might be suprised at the results.

Jennifer said...

A show halter or more properly show 'headcollar' in England is put together identically to the standard nylon halter most Americans use. It is simply made of high quality leather, it is either black or brown (whichever compliments the horse best) and normally has brass buckles and fittings. The lead rein is also generally leather. It's no different from the leather halters used in America, really...just with no chain, nothing but a lead rein attached to the back of the cavesson.

I do think a lot of unmanageable stallions get that way because people think they will be that way. Heck, I think the attitude people have to mares makes them harder to handle. People don't teach a lot of mares what I call 'heat manners'...that it is not acceptable to flirt when under saddle, no matter HOW far in heat you are. There's no more excuse for that than there is for the stallion who puts it all out in the show ring. It is also not acceptable to attack other horses, no matter how far in heat you are. (Had to deal with that last week...stupid half-trained pony mare trying to kick out at any horse that came within fifteen feet of her rear end). It's possible to keep a horse disciplined even if the hormones are raging, if you have its respect to start with.

cattypex said...

I have no idea what breed of horse that is - I think some kind of ____moor or fell pony? Very cute, though.

"CP- Some consider the 'English' version of a halter to resemble the ones they use on Arabs, ASB, gaited breeds, etc. with the patent leather caveson, browbands and a chain under the chin."

I kind of like the old-school agricultural look of the Draft show halters.... and pretty Arab heads with sane Arab show halters .... I had a friend with the cutest 3/4 Arab that she sometimes showed (Western), and she had a very high-quality but absolutely plain rolled leather halter & lead. Showed off the mare's head very well.

I remember when Arab halters were like shiny black cables with big gaudy silver conchos or medallions where the cheekpiece met the crown.

I never had a show halter, since I was huntseat - I used my bridle. Sometimes I did Western Showmanship just for fun, and for that I used my nice Hamilton halter with the brass fittings. Oh, I did have a nice leather halter with "sovereign" braiding on it, but my mare decided one day that she wasn't gonna be tied & broke it. Then snorted, stood there and went back to eating her hay.....

It seems like horses shown at Halter are either whipped up into a frenzy, or else sloooowly draaaag their handlers (usually kids) all over the ring. Or just won't perform AT ALL. (Cue the clucking adults on the rail when the kids' horses won't jog.....)

Ground manners, people!!!! That's what Showmanship used to be about - a demonstration of ground manners, handler awareness and grooming/fitting skills. It's why my 4H leader made us ALL learn it, whether or not we showed.

Then again, it takes a big fat 20 minutes a day to practice this and get your horse to respect your space without making a big deal about it. Without beating or shanking, I might add.

cattypex said...

As for mares....

Why are people so prejudiced? is right!!

I love mares, some of the kindest horses I've ridden are mares, and they're usually not as phlegmatic as geldings.

TigerLily31 said...

I have to say that this could end up causing you way more trouble than its worth. I was showing at a local show (small circuit, generally a feeder circuit for the breed shows) and the woman whose trailer was next to me was showing a yearling in a halter class. This horse, having watched him during the entire morning, was not mentally ready to be at a show, but whatever.

They are getting ready for class and she has him standing by her truck. He starts to rear and she yanks him back down. This is WITHOUT the chain. Class is coming and she puts the chain right over his nose. He rears again. She starts yanking as hard as possible. He starts flying backward. 30 feet later he stops when his butt hits the back quarterpanel of my truck, causing a dent that was rather spectacular.

And all because she just had to have a nose chain on. My trainer told me this and it is unequivocally true-severe equipment like chains or spurs or what have you are catalysts. In the right hands you can control the added power, but in the wrong hands (or even the wrong situations) explosions will occur.

Crazy3dayer said...

OMG..I have to laugh. You know what the funniest thing I've ever seen?

My 15.2h QH dragging my Mom, then my Sister, then ME and then my TRAINER thru our round barn. It was like a cartoon.

Here comes the little QH that could with us dragging, saying "WHOA", yanking then screaming. (Imagine one door and every 3-5 mins that image blunder by..still hear the yelling..then image)

Put a chain on him, yank (not hard but hard enough to get his attention)..You have a horse that can lead.

I'm not a fan of chains, not alot of my friends use them. But my BULLDOG Quarter Horse..Oh hell yes! I've seen him drag Olympic (NOT FEI CNJ) trainers all over kingdom come without a chain.

I think it's harsh to just assume anyone who uses a chain is an Asshat. That boy is 27 yrs old and still takes people for walks if there is no chain over his nose. My friends stallion is like the other one mentioned. He wears a chain at breeding time. Any other time you can bring him in with his forelock. Chain means HOOCHIE

Suzyn said...

I always taught halter classes were not just about conformation, but also demonstrating your horse has ground manners. Am I missing something here?

BTW, we have 30 horses at our barn, most TBs from off the track and all of them lead quietly with a rope around the neck. If we want control for the vet or farrier we'll bust out the rope halters.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Suzyn- you would think? I know I did. My first Arab show- the stallion class of 3 horses- they came in the ring and for one horse, most of his time there was spent rearing. In my opinion- there's the gate, get the hell out! NOW!!! Go home and learn some manners, both horse AND handler.

Guess who won the class? You betcha. Mr. Can't keep my front feet on the ground. WTF? moment for sure.

But then when the trainers admit to using whiffle ball bats on their horses, inject them with vitamin B12 shots (maybe a different 'juice' now, who knows), whip the legs below the knees so as not to raise welts, keep the horse blanketed up to the entry gate paddock area so they can again, whip away on the blanket and not leave any welts before the classes...

What do we expect? What can we expect? I can't blame the horse for reacting, even if it may be considered misbehaving, but then they get whipped on and reprimanded for doing so. They just can't do anything right in the eyes of some people. IMO, those people have no business being in the horse industry, but they are.

CP- the thin halters & big conchos, hate to say it, but still in the ring in the Arabs. They have also now taken to the 'native' halters. Which I think look like a bad 70's macramé plant hanger with seashells adorning of course and someone’s old charm bracelet as a noseband. I apologize if anyone just spewed on their screen.

Cut-N-Jump said...

C3D- I had a mare in my care at BNF back in the day. Big mare. I called her Alex. She hated the trainer.

One day he put the halter around her neck so he could put the bridle on and off she went. He grabbed the halter and hung on as she started running away. He was literally skiing along next to her on the dirt with his boots and we could hear him as they went across the property yelling "WHOA!" "WHOA DAMMIT!" and several other choice things.

She's the horse, who the night of their 'big sale' flipped over when he mounted her. She used him to try to take the pay phone off the wall and came pretty damned close to doing it, too!

Cut-N-Jump said...

CP & Kat- that looks like a Dales pony. Quite the breed too if I might add. I looked into geting one a few years back.

Lucky for them, they have not become a Flavor of the Month and gone down the drain as happens too many times to good breeds of animals.

cattypex said...

He sure is a CUTE pony.

"Chain means HOOCHIE"
That's downright KINKY!!!

Some horses, yup, have figured out how to freeze their necks, lift their heads just SO, and take you water skiing.

Do people still use War Bridles? Or the Be Nice halter? I've not used either one - I assume that a War Bridle is RIGHT OUT for most reputable trainers, but does a Be Nice halter have a legitimate place in the hands of a sensitive and knowledgeable trainer rehabbing a problem horse?

IC that I think Native halters look GOOD on Arabian heads. Appropriate and flattering, plus you can make really pretty individualized ones for CHEAP with very little talent. But then, I also like puffy shirts, lace-up clothing and Renaissance Faires. Especially when the pub tent is rockin'....

Better a macrame plant holder with pompoms than a lip chain!!!!!!!!!

cattypex said...


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I gotta admit, I like the Native Arabian halters and gear, but only when it's done well. A cheap job looks like crap. I am a sucker for the Native Costume class!

Sorry to get snarky, CNJ--chains on horses are just such a problem causer in my experience. But then there's C3D's situation, which I was REALLY laughing at when I pictured it. That sounds like he's just a horse who knew how to push a human's buttons. I knew a similar horse who pushed buttons like that. He would sit back if you tied him up to a hitching post or trailer to saddle him. He would break the rope/halter/snap/whatever he could break, then walk back up to the place he'd been tied and stand there. So they just would never tie him off when they saddled him. They have no idea where he picked it up, but it was one of those things where it was like okay, then this is how we'll do it. This horse would stand in front of a trailer for hours not being tied if he knew it's what he was supposed to do (like if they'd trailered somewhere to ride and then had lunch afterwards, or whatever). Oh yeah, he was an Appy, too, and quite possibly the smartest horse I've ever met with THE WORST canter I've ever ridden--felt like I was being bucked off!

After thought: yes, I can vouch for CNJ's stallions and mares. GREAT horses, very sweet and sensible. Plus they give their horses lots of good attention and they have large pens and turnouts, so that makes all the difference!

Anonymous said...

Jennifer, thanks for the explanation of the show halters in England. I also agree with you about mares. My mare was always a good girl about being ridden when in heat, and honestly, I think it's just because she was ridden no matter what (unless she was sick or lame, of course). I hope she still is. If not, I'll put her on Mare Magic. LOVE that stuff!

Cut-N-Jump said...

CP- He's a Highland pony, listed on their "News" page on their website Finglands Highland Ponies. You've gotta scroll down a ways for that particular picture... But some really nice looking ponies. When reading through their accomplishments M&M stands for the Mountain & Mooreland division.

As for the surcingles and sidereins, I believe they are used so the horse will 'collect themselves' and move forward into the bridle, on the bit, as if they are being ridden.

As I said before though, the Dales are quite the breed as well. I like them and they seem to be pretty stout, stable minded, easy going ponies to deal with. I emailed back and forth with Mrs. Dunkley of Canadales for a short time, before they moved back to England a few years ago. The picture of their stallion Dartdale Freddie has been used in countless places online.

Blooming Dales of Oregon has a beautiful stallion too, that I have always liked- Dartdale Peter Boy.

Does anyone else see a trend here? LOL

Also another stud over in Glasgow, the Kilmannan Stud has a stallion I like- Slaypits Black Magic.

Drool worthy? For some yes, others no. We all have our dreams.

cattypex said...

Halflingers are the trendy kids' breed around here right now. I have no idea why - it's so random!

Aylisha said...

speaking of Haflingers..went to an endurance ride last weekend..gal had a BIG horse...thought it was part belgian or something cause of the color/size (15hds maybe and BIG bone).I ask what it is, she says a Haflinger...I say since when are they that big? She says they are all breeding to 15-16 hds! WTF!!?? I grew up in Germany..>Haflingers are 13+-MAYBE up to 14.2... My friend then made a great joke...Says they must be FULLingers now :P

cattypex said...

Aylisha... I lol'ed!


Halflingers, Quarter horses, Half-Arabs.... I just want a 100% HORSE!

Cut-N-Jump said...

CP & Aylisha- I love the Hafies too, however they are also under the ray gun of being transformed and rather distorted from their original roots.

There is a breeding farm in the midwest that raises Hafies and IMO are perpetuating the 'lightening' of the breed across all the lines. Where certain lines were known for being a bit bulkier, they are certainly not immune and seem to be becoming more refined and 'lighter' in their appearance. WTH?

Is there NO breed or species of animals that we humans cannot ruin, let alone destroy altogether?

Holly said...

I've been around horses almost all of my life and have only seen one who 'needed' a chain for every day use... it was under her chin and not attached to to the lead line. I've never put a nose or chin chain on any of my horses, mustangs, TB, appys or QH. In my opinion it totally ruins any hope of pressure and release training.
The one instance where I will use a chain is under the lip with a horse that tosses their head for medication or worming. My TB mare had to have 60 days of regumate (progesterone) and on the third day decided that it wasn't going to happen. 16.5h of horse, as it turns out, can and will pick you up and move you about five feet before you can let go. For about a week she got an option: be nice or a lip chain.
1st 3 days she tried to pick my up, her head toss made a loose (just resting there) lip chain tighten. next 3 days I had to put the chain on her but she didn't toss her head so it didn't tighten on her gums. I've never had to use it again. I mean, to the point where I don't need a halter on her.
I guess the point is that, yeah sometimes a chain is needed, but you have to ask why. Is the horse doing something that needs to be fixed fast (my TB or maybe a spoiled stud), are you scared of your horse or do you not know any better (some of the people at shows).
Mostly, IMO, the harsher the treatment the more trouble you get into. Of course, I ride my show horses in a snaffle 90 % of the time. They get the big girl/big boy bit once a 1-2 weeks.

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