Lets take this blog to the next level

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

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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fuckheads of the week! Big Lick Torture!!!!!!!

I'll be nice and post a warning right now for those of you sensitive readers that don't like to read cuss words: Put your sunglasses on now, the venom will be at toxic levels!

This site was sent to me by a reader and I have to say that other than watching the youtube videos of Abu Gharaib I have never seen such a bunch of inhuman torture inflicted on another living being.

This horrible site is called "Freak of the Week". It is part of the Tennessee Walking Horse forum, which you can't get on unless you're thoroughly vetted and can prove you condone horse torture and won't spout off about anything sensible like good riding practices or taking care of your horse.

Freak of the Week
( you'll need windows media player to view most of these videos.

Watching these videos will make you puke your fucking guts out. The first thing you'll note is that the horses are mostly young, mostly ridden by big hairy neaderthals and in pain every second of every video. The bits are huge and severe, there are more blinker hoods than you'll find at the Santa Anita meet, and the riding is appalling.
Who the fuck are these people? Why as a society haven't we evolved past this point of blatant vanity based abuse? Seriously, we have congressman worried about gay marriage and they don't give a shit about these poor horses being tortured?

Scroll through the list of horses and look at A Vision of Jose. How the fuck can anyone justify riding a horse in that manner? The hind legs look like they are about to disconnect and fall off!
This is a two year old for fucks sake! At two years old most horses are still growing and thinking about frolicking around the pasture. They aren't bitted up like some sex fetishist and being ridden by some huge bent backed cave dweller!

Scroll down some more and look at I'm Just a Ritz. Yes, that is a wonder gag in that poor colt's mouth. Yes, he looks sore and yes is rider is a bobbleheaded asshole. Most of the videos look like they are taking place at a sale review, but there are a few shot at home. I swear, watching some of them almost made me throw up. I cannot believe that every one of these assholes isn't in jail for abuse. The state of Tennessee has a lot to answer for by allowing, and promoting, this type of crap. I think the US government should put a stop to all funding to Tennessee until they ban the big lick shit permanently!

Once you're done washing out your mouth from puking over the last video scroll down to this the horse called Electrifying Hearbeat. He's about a 1/3 of the way down the page. A Dr. Dale Cannon just bought him and I hope every single one of this guy's patients quit going to him and write him up to the AMA for condoning horse abuse. Watch the video and prepare to be sickened. This colt is unhappy and you can tell that every second of his short life has been miserable. WTF is up with the blinker hoods again? Isn't it bad enough that you keep these horse stalled unless you're torturing them, but then when they are out you restrict their vision? How on earth can anyone justify riding a two year old in that kind of bit? You can see where he falls apart in the video several times and the camera person conveniently quits filming. It's just sickening. Dr. Cannon you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a disgrace to the Hippocratic Oath for buying this colt and giving profit to the people that abuse and degrade horses in this manner.

There are hundreds of videos on this site, each worse than the last. This one site composites everything that is terrible about the walking horse industry. It showcases the abuse, apathy and ignorance that keeps the Big Lick method of showing alive. I recommend that readers take note of the names of the trainers and farms. They aren't an integral part of the horse industry, instead they are all that is bad about it.

I'm sickened by this site, truly sickened. I'm ashamed that the horse industry as a whole has ignored and swept under the rug the abuse in the Big Lick Show Ring. Those of you in the stock breeds, as well as the English disciplines are guilty of agreement by your silence. You refuse to make a concentrated effort to speak out about this abuse because you fear that the abuses in your own industries will be examined more closely. Grow some fucking balls and get together and put a stop to this crap. All of the Natural Horsemanship gurus, Pat Parelli, John Lyons, Monty Roberts, Clinton Anderson and others should all be taking a break from shilling their mystic sticks and dvds and get their asses before congress and tell them to STOP this fucking abuse. A little celebrity goes a long way towards getting a cause recognized. Paris Hilton and the rest of the "I'll show my hoo-hoo if I want too" group need to get off their collective useless asses and put some of their money into stopping this shit!

Let's get this shit banned, there is no excuse for it!


Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

I can't get any of these to play....:-(

Trojan Mouse said...

Click on the play video or the underlined names and they should play!

T Jean Maus

mrscravitz said...

This is un-natural, UGLY, and sickening! The poor horses. They are moving in an un-natural way, and they look so like they are in so much pain! These people need to be ousted, and this practice stopped!

ponykins said...

I am not impressed. All it looks like to me that a group of Tenn. boys got together and started a game of "mine is bigger than yours" and that somehow turned into "my horse can lift his legs higher than your horse can".Guess when they couldn't impress each other with their own "accomplishments" that they had to tranfer that "envy" on to their horses.

Frizzle said...

Oh, Lordy, that really does turn the stomach. Did you see Zhivago, the coming-two-year being ridden?! WTF? Riding a yearling is NEVER alright!
I agree -- if these people are dumb enough to post their abuse on the web, they should definitely be thrown into prison.

Equus said...

Hey, why hasn't the dressage industry caught onto this? I mean, look at that extension and elevation on the front end!!! These videos are RIPE with ideas for my dressage show season this year ;)

I cannot understand how this is valued. I feel sick watching these horses, it just does not even look natural! I mean, would you actually want that out on a trail or hack?! I am assuming too that some of these videos (such as the sale previews and such) are being spectated in person - so people are getting the full version of horses such as Electrifying, not the edited version we're getting. So they're seeing the horse's reaction and that he is sore and ill-trained. Thus they are evaluating him (and his potential) under such conditions and are likely assuming that they will have to take him home and apply the same set of conditions to obtain the gaits he is giving at the preview. Obviously they are ok with this, else they would not risk the purchase - he might not have near the potential if he is not sored/ill-trained and they have no way of evaluating his potential when not sored or without that huge bit. This is not just one odd individual here and there doing this, this is an entire industry, with the exception of a few (I know of two personally who do not sore and who breed fabulous TWH's). This is just sick. The more people I meet, the more I like my dog. Erm, horses, I mean. Hehe.

PS. Hope that all made sense...I am only about half with it at this point, lol. Zzz's are needed.


Psychotic Raccoon said...

I can't get over how ever big lick person is a white trash hillbilly. And the fact that the horses are judged and valued for nothing more than how high they lift their front legs. That's real professional.

It figures. And nobody who would actually be taken seriously is willing to step up to the plate and put a stop to it.

horsndogluvr said...

Poor horses.

There is a pretty good effort being made to ban soring - which has always gone hand-in-hand with the "big lick" horses - and yes, the government is involved. The program is not perfect, but it has helped.

The good news is that, at least outside Kentucky & Tennessee, the "Big Lick" classes at shows are getting smaller and smaller. The registry that allows this abuse, TWBEA (?I think I missed a letter?), was booted from the "horse village" or whatever it is at the WEG, and its breeders are no longer getting incentive money in Kentucky.

Katphoti's blog, For the Tennessee Walking Horse has the accurate information.

If I had my way, all TWs whould have to show barefoot for the next 10 years. Stacks & plantation shoes would be banned absolutely (forever).

And if I were Dictator of the horse biz, I'd ban showing or working any horse under 4 1/2. (See the famous Ranger piece for my reasons.)


skellie said...

Well, I find watching 'Big Lick' horses repulsive. I admit I don't know that much about it, but to me, coming from a working horse background, I just can't get round how unstable these horses look, it's the complete opposite to the type of movement I was taught to look for in a top quality horse. I would prefer to see a horse drag it's feet than be that exaggerated.

And I can't see why people want to get on their horses at two. Are they just too chicken to wait til three or four when it'll be strong enough to buck them off?
So I was never going to be a fan of these videos. But that colt 'I'm Just A Ritz', is really gangly still. You can tell he still has a lot of growing up to do, he's going to be a late developer. If I had a horse that looked that coltish still at two, I wouldn't get on him until his fourth birthday, and then maybe turn him away until his fifth summer. I just can't understand how some people can look at that poor colt's build and the way he moves and say 'He's ready to be worked.' It just sickens me.

Jennifer said...

I can't see the videos, sadly, or I'd probably have snide comments to make. Sorry.

Capilet said...

Big Lick is so beyond me I am always simply aghast. My first pony was half TWH, and I never knew what big lick was until about a year ago (I'm a left coaster). Its just sick, sick, sick.

Cheval Noire said...

They are the sickest and most disturbing examples of horse riding I've ever seen.

What exactly is the point of this style of riding, other than horse torture by large ignorant bullies??

This should be outlawed and the purportrators prosecuted for cruelty.

Sickening doesn't come close to accurately describing this pointless and blatantly cruel (and bizarre) riding 'style' ( I use the term loosely as this type of riding is anything but stylish).

I cannot believe how twisted these sick individuals must be if they look at one of these highly gaited horses and believe it to be attractive and not cruel in the extreme; especially to inflict such barbaric torture on such young animals.

You are horrible examples of the human race and should be barred from owning any animal and preferably barred from breeding (get sterilised!!) more sickos like yourselves.


Morgan_Horse_Queen said...

Finally got them to play.

The most heartbreaking thing about this to me is that in spite of the huge shoes, awful riding, etc etc a lot of these horses have their ears up and are trying, trying for their riders. It pains me to think that that willing spirit is partially why these goons get away with this sh*t!

Poor, poor horses.

horsndogluvr said...

"Hey, why hasn't the dressage industry caught onto this?"

Different strokes for different folks. Dressage has rollkur. Every branch of showing has its abusive practices.

They will continue until (1) owners are NOT in a hurry to see their horses in the show ring, and (2) there is no big money in it.

As long as futurity wins have big payouts, there will be futurities.

Aside from the cash prizes, these "hurry-up" owners and trainers sell their young winners for big money. That way, they don't have to pay the vets down the road when the inevitable problems show up.

Or they just tell everyone that hock injections and daily painkillers are "normal" for the breed and/or discipline.

Since these futurities are supported by the registries... Either change must come from within, or new registries are needed. There is already one for Tennessee Walkers, the NWHA . Time to make one for AQHA!

thecityhorse said...

wow. I see terrible equitation in a lot of the western speed events, but these boys really take the cake.

How can you buy a horse from someone who rides like a slug... never mind on a horse that moves like a crippled spider..

Admiral_Moody said...

Okay, so I don't know a lot about the Big Lick horses, but I imagine they don't stay sound for long. What happens to these horses once their show days are over? The ones that aren't used for breeding, do any go to rescues or auctions? If they happen to be sound, do they need to be re-trained in order to be trail horses? Does that even happen?

cattypex said...

UGH! I, too, wonder who the hell think this looks GOOD?

What is WRONG with these people?? Why doesn't it occur to these owners that their horses are IN PAIN, AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO BE? The trainers know, the trainers don't give a shit. I guess the owners just don't care either. It goes beyond ignorance and into "I just don't give a shit as long as I win." Same attitude that keeps the Cleve Wells, Boggs Bros. and Ankys of the world making money.

I'm also not surprised that they all look like ignorant rednecks. These are the morons who stick rebel flags on everything and insist that it's OK. "Heritage Not Hate!!" Yeah right. The rest of the civilized world knows better. Same mentality with the TWH bullshit.

None of these people can ride, btw. Even a lot of the nicer TWH sound horse people can't ride very well.....

I had a boy in my lesson last year who grew up on his family's TWHs, just trail stuff, and he had the WORST CHAIR SEAT EVAR and hung all over the poor horse's mouth.

Amy said...

I think my horse would honestly kill me. She's bucked me off for far less.

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

Hey everyone. Thought I'd speak up since this is my breed and I'm a sound horse advocate. Thanks for posting my blog, Ruthie.

We are working our asses off to end this. For many of us, our goal is to see the BL gone forever. No more pads, chains, bands, or action devices in the ring, period. We are seeing the end of it, but we still have to fight to keep these people in check.

I just want to explain a little about why this still goes one after 39 years of the HPA being in place (Which is the only Federal law that is specific toward a certain type of abuse particular to horses, BTW). This is truly a group of redneck backwoods people. These are people who usually just barely graduated high school and have been "breaking" horses since they were 11 years old. Their granddad did it, their dad did it, my uncle Joe does it, so why shouldn't I do it? This type of cruelty is so ingrained in their culture that they truly believe they aren't doing anything wrong. And for some of them, they do know they're doing something wrong, but they pass it off as it's tradition, you don't know what you're talking about, we've been doing this for years. Many of them make big bucks off of what they do, whether it be "training",* owning, breeding, whatever. It's the only way they know how to make money. So it's a lifestyle that they don't want to lose, so they'll fight it until the bitter end.

I can go on and on and on about this. But overall, I urge you to PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE go to the TWHBEA website and email them. Let them know that you are sickened by this look. Let them know that you cannot believe this is desirable and it is horribly ugly and unnatural. If they hear how the outside world is sickened by this, whether or not they know about soring, then they will start changing their tune. They need to hear from outsiders why continuing to promote this is wrong. They will give you the old song and dance of "we're just a registry." Well so what? You still promote shows and showing and allow BL horses into your registry. And until a by-law is written so HPA violators stay off the BOD for TWHBEA, then we have every reason to complain to them. And please, do so intelligently--BITCHING WILL BE IGNORED.

The USDA needs our help. If you hear of a TWH show in your area that is not a NWHA, HPC or FOSH show, then report it to the USDA. Go to the USDA Animal Care website at www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare and click on the Horse Protection section. You can email Dr. Cezar there. She and her staff are our go-to people for helping us end this madness. They need to know when there are shows going on in backwoods and hidden areas and things like that so they can show up and inspect horses. Because of our dilligence in informing the USDA about the Western States Celebration in October, the USDA showed up and the show shut down. IT DOES WORK.

So please help! If you want to learn more, check out my website www.silverphoenixranch.com. And help us out by coming to the WEG and cheering on NWHA, who will be exhibiting the true, natural Walking Horse!

* I call it "training" because it isn't. All they do is toss the saddle on, put the pads on, juice 'em, put a 10" shank bit in their mouth and ride them up and down the barn aisle a few times. If they aren't going right, then you tweak the juice or the bit and then ride some more. Once you figure out the formula for the most reach and lift, then they're "trained."

katphoti said...

PART 1 of 2...

Admiral Moody, I thought I'd answer your qestions.

"Okay, so I don't know a lot about the Big Lick horses, but I imagine they don't stay sound for long."

Nope they don't, although the industry will claim they do. The only reason they still can perform is they are in so much pain they don't know what else to do. They push these horses far beyond their physical limits.

There was a study done by the Auburn University back in the 80s to study whether or not pads and chains hurt the horses. Of course, it was bought and paid for by the TWH sore industry. They found that no, the pads and chains didn't hurt the horse, although they didn't study horses that wore pads and chains all the time. They did find higher instances of laminitis and thrush in TWHs on pads, but you'll never hear the TWH sore industry agree with that.

"What happens to these horses once their show days are over?"

Many of these horses that don't make the cut, called "duds," have their shoes pulled and are sent to the auction and auctioned off as trail horses. They are touted as trained to ride, although the training consists of pushing the horse as fast as possible while jerking your hands in their mouths to get the headset and find the gait. Many horses that come off of stacks are a bit disoriented and really need new training from the ground up.

These horses can be 100% sound once you get them past their hoof problems. Usually they will come to you with unusually long toes and potentially hollowed out where the frog is. This is for all the devices they use to cause pain to force them in to the gait. You will also find that many of them will flinch if you bend down in front of their front feet--they are expecting to get sored. Many of these horses have scars up and down their pasterns and in the bulbs of their feet because that's where they get sored. I always recommend to anyone who gets a former BL or Plantation or Lite Shod horse from the sore TWH industry to have its legs x-rayed for potential future problems. Many TWHs develop arthritis in their later years in their knees and hocks, and I see a lot of swayed and hollow backs and hoof problems. Now, this is from horses that have never had good care or training their whole lives, or it came too late. My mother-in-law's old mare that lives on our property is 23 and completely retired. She has permanent nerve damage in her left shoulder, very strange hooves that grow weird, arthritis and a serious swayback problem. She also cannot bend her head at the poll due to ligaments and tendons having fused there. My mother-in-law bought her when she was 16, and she'd never had good care. Her toes were horribly long, she'd been a BL horse and a baby machine (4 babies in as many years), and that was it. And at the time, we didn't know anything about how to care for a TWH properly, so she unfortunately deteriorated over time until she's no longer rideable.

Anyway, for horses that do get good care early on, they do just fine and are 100% sound. And if you get one, don't be discouraged by the above information. We are managing my mother-in-law's mare's condition with Devil's Claw Plus and Cetyl M. She's doing great. I think she could be ridden again by children or anyone under 150 lbs on just walking trail rides, but only after some muscling up. But she is a severe case. Any TWH can be brought back around to be sound again.

"The ones that aren't used for breeding, do any go to rescues or auctions?"

There are some rescues out there. Horse Lick Creek in KY is one of them. I am going to start a rescue for former BL horses someday. However, most of the mares are bred if they don't make the show ring, and they all usually go to auction. There are TONS of auctions in KY and TN with TWHs and SSHs because of the sheer numbers. The TWH industry breeds just as much as the racehorse industry does, looking for that one perfect horse that will make them the millions in the show ring.

katphoti said...

PART 2 of 2...

"If they happen to be sound, do they need to be re-trained in order to be trail horses?"

Yes they do. All these horses know is the show ring--they know nothing about trails or trail riding. They need to learn how to carry themselves without heavy shoes on and learn about obstacles and all the basic stuff we can encounter on the trails.

"Does that even happen?"

No it doesn't. Well, at least, it's extremely rare. I would say 90% of all the TWHs I see on the trail today were trained by someone just jumping on their back and going fast down the trail. They never start with a snaffle bit--always a single piece shanked bit. Very, very rarely do I see a TWH that has been started from the ground up. Most times when I meet someone who has bought a TWH they are in the process of getting better training on them. I also find that most of the TWHs I see on the trail are not gaiting correctly because no one took the time to teach them how to use their bodies, nor do people take the time to learn what correct gait is. They figure since it's smooth, then they're gaiting. Well, true, but when your horse has his neck up in your face and his back is completely hollow, you're doing more detriment to him than good. I get a lot of phone calls from people waiting to learn how to get their horse to gait, and every time it all has to do with the horse being so hollow backed and high headed that he can't gait because he's in pain. The riders don't know this--they just want the smooth ride. So I have taught a lot of people how to get that smooth gait on the trail and how to get your horse to relax.

To their credit, the TWH is one of the most tolerate breeds I've ever met. The ones that are spooky or hard to handle are so because someone really abused them when they were younger and no one bothered to train them correctly. Gentle training methods brings them around in no time. TWHs can take some extra time to learn, but once they learn it they never forget. They are more likely to want to please their human and try to learn than not.

Overall, our TWHs need all the good foundation training that any breed needs. In fact, my studies of the breed have led me to learning that the exercises pf training level and levels one and two of dressage are wonderful muscle builders for the gaited horse. I've also learned that they enjoy groundwork because they're so eager to please. So I of course highly recommend to anyone who owns or buys a TWH to take the time and learn about proper riding, proper exercise for your horse, and what the gaits are supposed to look like. Then your horse will last you a long time and you'll always have a safe and happy horse!

katphoti said...

P.S. Forgot to mention....

Blinker hoods are used so the horse cannot see so he will reach higher and "feel" for the ground when he steps. They are kept in dark barns because when you bring them out into the light, they get wired and are out of whack and all firey for the show ring. Yeah, stupid, huh? It's not like they're showing at home.

I won't even begin to go into all the stuff they do to their feet to make them do this....

Admiral_Moody said...

Thanks Katphoti! That was really helpful. I am in grad school right now, but I would love to one day have horses of my own and maybe get a TWH or a MFT for my father as he has bad knees. It makes me so sad that some of the most trusting horses are abused. I guess the problem occurs with dogs and even humans though.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Haven't seen any of the videos, nor feel the need to do try to watch, but Mouse I say this in hopes of helping bring and end to this crap and also as one of your peers.

Spewing forth with all of the colorful language, does nothing to bring attention to the main issue. Instead it gets you labled as a loonie and what you say, discredited as no more than another one of your 'lunacy rants' gone horribly awry.

Yes, I know. I do the same from time to time and when something such as this comes up, that pisses us off to no end, it all starts to fly in several directions at once. There is no dodging the f bombs and other verbal artillery being fired, but just as bullets do not descriminate or choose who they strike, words can also strike down everyone in their path.

That being said, as far as my concern goes for the two legged creatures of which you speak, I'm not sure what should be done TO or With them.

Death would be to quick and would in no way begin to repay them for what they have done to countless horses for the sake of showing. If others were to torture them in the same way they do the horses, nobody comes away as being the 'better' person or 'above' that level of abuse. In some cases and eye for an eye can leave a country blind.

Bottom line- This shit needs to Stop! But then it never should have started to begin with.

HorseCommonSense said...

Shame, you bring up valid points about the "worthless" movie stars and "especially" so called, Horse Whisperers??? Parelli, Roberts, Anderson, and so on... what about PETA??? where has the "loud" voice from PETA been on all this abuse. That is suppose to be their specialty, stopping abuse. Right? Where is Pamela Anderson and her big beautiful boobs? God love her! She's great! Haha...

They are the ones that should be contacted... Just a thought. PETA is an organization and Pam has a loud voice, these are the one's we need to contact to get anything done, In my opinion. Fuck Paris Hilton, I wouldn't put any investment into that toilet seat, she couldn't figure out how to pop a balloon with a pen! However, I believe Pam would love to shut this shit down and be a "huge" success in doing so.

So I believe to get a "big green ball" rolling... everyone needs to email...


Click on ASK Pam...


HorseCommonSense said...

ps.. Lead the way Shame, I'll follow suit with emails also.

cattypex said...

Actually, if you think that celebrity pressure would help, given the likely demographic of the perpetrators & leadership of the TWHBEA, I'd get horse-oriented NASCAR drivers & country musicians involved.


I don't think it would likely work, but that seems smarter than PA.

In fact, we had this discussion ages ago, but wasn't Gene Autry's horse Champion a TWH?

Tia said...

Someone asked what happens to these horses once they're done showing?

We have one, and he's still a mess 15 years later. He's going on 28, still sorta sound, but getting arthritic in the legs. Farrier has to work quick on the fronts because the opposite shoulder takes the hit. We got him when he was 14, bought him from a gal who wanted a TWH for arena work, and he hates the arena (gee, wonder why?). We just trail ride, camp, hunt, etc., and my husband has a bad back so wanted a TWH, and his gait is awesome.

The nerve has been cut in his tail, and he's VERY stoic. He'll shy away (still standing), and grunt or groan if he gets freaked out. He's head shy (all over shy actually), hardly relaxes, and constantly chews on something imaginary (not cribbing, and the vet has done his teeth...just a habit?).

He's OK to ride, but has a temper. Still can't ride him on a loose rein, and even though I'm a snaffle fanatic (all other horses ride with one), he's in a TWH bit; the mild shorter-shanked low port curb, which he's OK in. We don't ride him much any more, and would never sell him because of his issues. He's our charity case basically. The idiots who ruined him, really did him in. He'll live forever in his stall w/paddock, next to his girlfriend, and get quality hay, senior feed, beet pulp and corn oil every day until he's either too crippled to be comfortable or passes on his own.

HorseCommonSense said...

I "could" be wrong... but I don't believe you could find a country music singer or Nascar driver to step into this horse shit... and "that's" exactly why... demographics.. that would interfere with their fan base, in which is their income. Just don't see it happening... with PA, she don't give a shit who she offends, she's out spoken animal rights defender, and an outspoken "liberal", who puts her "philanthropy" first... where as, for most of your "conservative" people will not put philanthropy first, if it where to interfere with their demographics.

Willie Nelson would be the "only" one I believe who would care to speak out, but I wouldn't put too many eggs in that basket either. For he known this has going on, and hasn't spoke on the matter.

I could be wrong, but getting a famous person who is not already an outspoken animal rights defender is likely going to remain just that, quiet.

cattypex said...

Yeah, I can totally agree with that.... and really, there are sooo many other "photogenic" issues for celebrities to put their name on.

There's an awesome old TWH mare in my 4H club. A girl who was in 4H with ME rode her, and now her kid rides her. And I'm 40.

She's still going strong, and sound. Pretty black mare, very old-school conformation.

Somebody did this one right.

Jennifer said...

DON'T involve PETA! They want our horses, dogs and cats extinct and humans locked up in little metaphorical cages with no contact with other species. Some of them want *humans* extinct. Sure, they have money and power, but ANY penny given to them is a penny that will be spent, ultimately, on KILLING animals, not helping them.

horsndogluvr said...


"...most of your "conservative" people will not put philanthropy first, if it where to interfere with their demographics."

First, support for PeTA, now this!

Common sense - NOT. I suggest you research both PeTA and the owners/founders of the big philanthropic funds.

Buh-bye, Ruthie

horsndogluvr said...

Back on topic:

Found an interesting video - you can see the development of both pads and the "Big Lick" style over the years.

One of the things it illustrates for me is the tendency to think "more is better" on the part of the majority of judges. (In just about every exhibition sport.)

I think - and hope and pray - that it has just about hit its limit in TWs. More and more people are showing in flat shoes. The Big Lickers (!) try to say it's because those people don't have what it takes to show in "performance."

I hereby present some slogans for your approval:

Big Lick - little d*ck

Don't Pick Big Lick

Want Sick? Big Lick

Be a pr*ck - train Big Lick

I could go on....

Ruthie, thinking of crowd chants at the Celebration!

Cut-N-Jump said...

Y'all want some celebrity that cares about horses and can be outspoken? I offer you none other than another red head-> Shirley MacLain.

One of the boarding facilities I was at had an Arab stallion that was owned by her at one point. Well mannered & behaved horse.

Then she was on the morning radio show here. Can you believe they had to bleep her for dropping the old F bomb? Yep at 71, she was being bleeped while on the air.

Gotta love 'em.

Reba McEntire, rides cutters as well as Tanya Tucker and a few others. Many of which would be openly disturbed about what is going on in their "Land of Music".

cattypex said...

"One of the things it illustrates for me is the tendency to think "more is better" on the part of the majority of judges. (In just about every exhibition sport.)"

There's the problem in a nutshell, across the board.

Shirley MacLain always cracks me up!!!!!!!!!!! (And the older MY MOM gets, the more she drops the f-bomb.)

Yes, quite a few country music ladies are also into horses. Some men, too. There was a nice little show a year or so ago on Animal Planet that featured famous musicians and their horses.

"Big Lick - little d*ck" so ROCKS. I'm hoping that you're right, and that the Big Lickers eventually go away. Maybe that's one positive thing about the Natural HOrsemanship fad - at least beginners don't get sucked into the crazy Big Lick scene!!

*insert unkind comment about ignorant redneck Big Lickers here*

HorseCommonSense said...


I, as well as others are brainstorming to come up with a plan, unlike you... coming up with a wasteful post about ridiculous, worthless, complete waste of time of the re-naming of Big Lick... ???

quit wasting your time picking a fight with someone on the same side. *rolls eyes...

katphoti said...

As far as famous people with the TWH...

First, we have serious issues with Senators in the midwest that either know of or own sored TWHs that are continuing to fight to KEEP the sore horse in the community. The reason why is they get kickbacks from the rich owners and trainers for turning a blind eye.

The Ross Perot family has tons of money in the industry and has helped keep it hush-hush. I don't know if they have much involvement anymore, but they did in the 80s and 90s big time. The owners of the Ritz-Carlton own Waterfall Farms, and I have evidence from friends who have been to the farms that they sore their horses. However, I think they're seriously getting away from it--they have taken all their photos and videos of BL horses off their website and are actively looking for a flat-shod trainer.

We do have George Foreman supporting NWHA, which is great, but he hasn't done much more than help NWHA out with sponsorships and stuff like that.

Sheryl Crow owns a gorgeous b/w TWH mare named Lady that she bought from Walkers West and she's been featured in some gaited horse magazines. However she ignores the BL issue (all they talk about is the trick training her horse does) and Walkers West is not known to support the sound horse. In fact, I know people who have talked to the owner and she says the soring no longer exists. HA!

Lemme talk about Monty Roberts for a second. He and I worked together to try to end soring and he tried to start doing it by working within Waterfall Farms. However, the whole thing backfired on him, and his contract with RFD-TV was canceled early due to the backlash of TWH sound horse supporters writing in to RFD-TV. He has Waterfall Farms ads during his show, and they had BL horses in their ads. They tried to change to regular videos without BLs, but it was too late. I truly believe that Monty was duped. He fell into the trap that lots of people fall into, where the owners say we would NEVER hurt our horses, we LOVE them. It's all a load of crap. They DO love their horses, but only because they make them lots of money. I truly believe poor Monty was screwed royally by WF and they should be ashamed of their actions. I tried to help him big time, and things just never worked out. He contacted me directly because of a letter I sent him, and I wish I could have helped him and explained to him what was truly happening behind the scenes.

Also, we do have the HSUS on our side. Keith Dane, the head of the horse protection portion of the HSUS, is a TWH owner and advocate--he rehabilitated several formerly sored horses and helped with some serious undercover work a few years ago.

PETA does not cover the TWH issues because it isn't "big enough." That's the info I got from several different folks who have tried contacting PETA.

Bringing a celebrity on this won't help. Seriously, how many celebrities do you know that have TRULY made something end in the animal abuse world? Even Pamela Anderson hasn't done it. What WILL work is education and getting the USDA more support. We also need to push the USDA to start punishing bad HIOs by shutting them down. We need to pass the word around about what's going on, and we need to encourage people to join sound horse groups and shun sore horse groups. Don't go to sore horse shows, don't buy horses from BL barns, stop rewarding their behavior. This is where we will win the fight--we MUST hit them in their pocketbooks.

katphoti said...

As funny as Big Lick, little d*ck is, I think it's a bit harsh. I like Don't Pick Big Lick a lot and I think it would work for a slogan!

The best one I've ever heard is Go Natural or Go Home. I have a T-shirt with that on it. We also use Sore No More (and the Sore No More products were very hard for me to separate from the TWH issue when they first came out).

cattypex said...

KP you are a wealth of good info and ideas!! :)

Y'know, I attended the Hoosier Horse Fair this year and saw NO informational ANYTHINGS about soring.

A little table of brochures & a tv playing videos and a knowledgeable person would've been great!!!

HorseCommonSense said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
HorseCommonSense said...

katphoti.. great information there! I personally am not into TWs, but thought I would throw out some ideas... but you cleared up a lot with your post!

I don't think we should give up... and like you stated, keep educating people... for TWs are becoming more and more popular here in Texas, along with other states, so something needs to be attempted.

attafox said...

It's been mentioned on other places, but if you are looking for a celebrity ...

Oprah has walking horses.

katphoti said...

HCS, since you are concerned, then you can help by encouraging those you see with TWHs to join FOSH and NWHA and avoid the big lick and barns that showcase it or promote it. Whether the BL horses are sored or not, it's an unnecessary characterature of the gait that we no longer need to see in our breed. What needs to happen is start to showcase the natural going horse, both on the trail and on the rail.

hndl, thanks for that video. I watched it and commented on it and pointed out how we need to get back to what the true gait of the TWH was all about.

ALso, NWHA has a tracking registry that is used to track trail hours in the trail riding program, show points, shows in general, endurance riding, etc. It's still in its baby stages, but we're encouraging people to register their horses NWHA to show them how useful a sound tracking registry can be when you don't want to support the BL.

cp, those are great ideas as far as booths are concerned. I encourage everyone to email FOSH and NWHA and say hey, can you spare a few bucks and time to do a booth at exhibitions like this. That's one of FOSH and NWHA's major flaws: they don't advertise enough. Although NWHA's going to get some major advertising since they will be the breed reps at the WEG! If you can help run a booth or donate the money to have one, by all means, please do it. It helps us out tremendously.

Yes, attafox, Oprah has TWHs. I wonder what kind, though. Does she have BL horses? Does she own show horses that are "trained" by BL barns or those who use gadgets and gimmicks to train? Does anyone know? I know folks have appealed to her before about helping us fight to end soring, but they've never heard back from her.

raprhowe said...

You have a lot of great information posted on here by katphoti. I want to also note that its not just the big lickers who are soring their horses. My concern is that these same trainers are now showing more and more in the flat shod levels and because those horses do not have the action devices to irritate the inflamed, sored flesh around their pasturns that they are actually sored harder (worse) than the stacked horses. BTW, I refuse to call them padded... that connotes something soft and protected. "Stacks" is appropriate.

This is a cultural and very political battle that has been fought for many years and is still active. We need public opinion such as what we see here to be known to the TWHBEA (www.twhbea.com). But know that this is the same organization that failed to pass a bylaw amendment last year requiring all executive committee and board members to NOT have HPA violations on their records. Many of the committee have multiple violations, so the cancer runs deep.

This battle lines up on two sides: those who protect and defend the status quo... the traditional industry. And those who are fighting for the horse, which is the most awesome breed I've had the priviledge to work with. These horses are the golden retrievers of the horse world. They can be abused more because they have such huge hearts they STILL want to please.

Most TWH coming from the BL barns are in more need of mental rehabilitation than physical, even though the physical is most apparent. They are like abused children. I know, I train and I train barefoot, using natural horsemanship and classical exercises to rehabilitate both minds and bodies on this touchingly soft hearted horses.

I hope you guys take all this anger and funnel it into constructive action. Show support for organizations like FOSH (www.fosh.info), NWHA (www.NWHA.com), the USHS and the USDA. Contact every horse expo and multibreed organization and request ONLY sound, naturally trained and ridden TWH be allowed to participate. USEF has long ago banned all TWH from their program, but they need to be persuaded to allow the sound, naturally gaited and trained horses in for demos to show their support and allegiance.

Deered said...

This relates to your blog 29 August

""Barney Ward, who decided that electrocuting the Olympic winner, Charisma, was more profitable than giving the great horse his well deserved retirement. My family has never forgiven Barney for Charisma’s death. To speak his name is to then spit in disgust. Thankfully the USEF put a lifetime ban on the SOB so he can never compete again.""

You've got your facts wrong there - If you mean the eveter Charisma, ridden by Mark Todd in 84 and 88. That horse died in the last few years, on the New Zealand farm he was retired to after the 88 Olympics.

Silly said...

This is one of the worse cases of misinformation and BS that I have seen in years. There is nothing wrong with bands on a horse. Padded TWH horses can and do show well into their 20's At the national show they even have a class for classic horses (15 years and over). The abuse that some of you have brought up is not in the main stream! As long as the angles are correct the shoe do not hurt the horses. I felt the same was as you did until I did more research and found that it does not hurt the horses, the soring of the past did hurt them, but to classify all TWH as being sored or to classify all Padded horses as sored is ignorant. This is really the pot calling the pot black, as much worse goes on in your other breeds. There are many doctors, vets, CEO's and attornies that show and support TWH, so I would not call them all backwoods uneducated fools. As far as being ugly, beauty is in the eye of the behholder, I don't like to see a QH with his nose on the ground either!
Give me a break, most of you have never seen a padded horse in person. As far as NWHA I have seen road soring going on there, so don't give me how great you are. My flat shod and padded horses are clean, happy and healthy and spoiled (in a good way). Don't knock something if you don't know anything about it.

GoLightly said...

Deered,please check Your facts. Many horses have had the name Charisma.

"In 1998 thirteen owners and trainers suffered expulsion from the American Horse Show Association for anywhere from five to twenty five years after their horses suffered much worse fates than they. Nancy Banfield, from New York, arranged to have her horse, Rub The Lamp, electrocuted. Lisa Brandon participated in the murder of the horse Cloud Castle. Jerry Farmer, from Georgia, was involved in electrocution schemes. Ross Hugi, D.V.M., witnessed a trainer kill the horse Jatomic Streaker by flipping him out of a horse trailer and beating the horse to death with a hammer. He then falsified the cause of death records. Alan Levinson, from Illinois, schemed to kill Rainman, who was later electrocuted. George Lindemann JR, from Florida, and Marion Hulick, from Massachusetts, hired a killer to electrocute Charisma, who brought $250,000 in insurance money. Ronald Mueller from Spring Grove, Illinois killed many horses by means of sledgehammer, crowbar, live cremation, and electrocution. Barney Ward of Brewster, New York, arranged to electrocute four horses. Steve Williamson of Chicago, Illinois stood "lookout" while the electrocution of Empire took place. He later helped create the colic symptoms that would be deemed the cause of death."

from a good article at http://www.horse-country.com/jriders/papers/lindsay/index.html

Found this on another newspaper engine:

The complete list of the accused:

Kenneth Hansen, 61, of Chicago, three counts of murder; Richard Bailey, 65, of Chicago, racketeering, mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and crimes relating to murder; Robert Brown of Michigan, racketeering, mail and wire fraud; Jerry Farmer, 61, of Augusta, Ga., racketeering, impeding the IRS; Dr. Ross Hugi, 50, of Mundelein, Ill., wire fraud (pleaded guilty); Barney Ward, 50, of Brewster, N.Y., mail and wire fraud, obstruction of justice, threatening a witness, and conspiracy; George Lindemann Jr., 30, of Greenwich, Conn., wire fraud; Marion Hulick, 60, of Greenwich, Conn., wire fraud; Paul Valliere, 43, North Smithfield, R.I., conspiracy; Nancy Banfield, 36, of Mathews, Va., conspiracy; Donna Brown, 37, of Palm Beach, Fla., wire fraud; Tim Ray a.k.a. Tom Burns, conspiracy; Dr. Dana Tripp, 34, of Valencia, Pa., conspiracy, failure to file tax returns, and concealing a felony; Johnnie Youngblood, 32, of Napierville, Ill., mail fraud; Steve Williamson, 51, of Plainfield, Ill., mail fraud; Tammie Glaspie, 36, of Walker, Mich., mail fraud; James Hutson, 53, of Winona, Mich., mail fraud; Alan Levinson, 52, of Highland Park, Ill., mail fraud (pleaded guilty); Michael Hunter, 45, of Mundelein, Ill., mail fraud (pleaded guilty); Donna Hunter, 43, of Mundelein, mail fraud; Phil Sudakoff, 76, of Chicago, mail fraud; Herb Kroninger, 53, of Bolingbrook, Ill., mail fraud; Scott Thompson, conspiracy; Ron Mueller, 62, formerly of Harvard, Ill., lying to federal peace officer."

Khatpoti, kudos.

And to CNJ. Maybe Trojan'll listen to you.

OH, SillY?
Your name is perfect. Crippled spiders is an apt description for many of the examples Trojan and khat have posted..
No horse deserves these terrible contortions forced upon him, in the name of fashion.

mand_asbfan said...

I know very little about TWH but I just want to point out that the head bob on the video is a characteristic of their gait and some horses have a more pronounced bob - I think most people who aren't used to gaited horses associate that with the horse being lame (that was my first thought until I remembered the head bob thing).

My second point - I don't really understand why so many here have jumped to all big lick walkers are bad and have jumped on the hate train.... When we found out about Cleve Wells we jumped on the Cleve Wells hate train not on the "we hate western pleasure" horses train.... People who sore their horses SUCK, "big lick Walkers" may not be your thing and you may not agree with their training methods but please take into account that many of these people are responsible owners who love their horses and care for them like you and I.

horsndogluvr said...

On the head bob, in case of misunderstanding:

It's not the bob itself that shows lameness. The harder they "work" at the walk, the deeper the head bob. When it goes deeper every other stride, it indicates lameness. Any bob at the trot also indicated lameness.

Silly - Netiquette requires that you lurk for a while before posting, so you know what the general trend is before jumping in. Look up "Western Pleasure" on this blog. We feel the same way about it as we do about padded "performance" TWHs. An ugly, artificial gait that is far from anything the breed was intended to have.

As for stacking being harmless, here are some quotes from a letter from R.S. Sharman, DVM, Assistant Professor at Auburn, to Dr. Schwindaman at APHIS:

"...a high rate of thrush in the horses we have shod with pads and used in tests.
...we have observed with thermovision varying degrees of abnormal inflammation on the posterior aspect [back] of the metacarpal area where the flexor bundle is located [fetlock].
...[Four vets and a farrier mentioned] sheared heels, quarter cracks, and laminitis as other abnormalities of the forefeet of Tennessee Walking Horses shod with conventional pads. They [said]they could not adequately examine the feet unless the sole was exposed."

And look at these pictures of bloodflow at different angles. The first one is the "normal" angle for a stacked horse.

Since the damage occurs over time, stacking horses may not be as obvious a form of abuse as is soring, but it is still abuse. And at least, (since you brought up QHs) the artificial gaits in Western Pleasure don't damage the joints the way flinging a stacked hoof out do. (Over-rotation of pasterns, hyperflexed knees, etc.)

The quotes of the letter to APHIS are from here, where strapping is also debunked:


cattypex said...

Personally, I am against ANYthing that hinders or destroys a horse's natural potential for beautiful movement.

You can define "beautiful" in many ways, but few will equate it with "painful" and "abusive."

Anything that causes injury - physical or mental - is ugly.

The Big Lick soring/padding/etc. that's called "training" is one of the ugliest things EVER DONE in the history of horsemanship.

Interesting that it's also one of the MOST artificial regimes....

Carrie Giannandrea said...

The USDA and the State of Tennessee have their heads in the sand!!

2 year olds?? OMG...I am very sad about that. My coming two year old will NEVER EVER know torture!!

My heart aches for all these fine, patient animals that withstand so much just for someone else's vanity.

Thanks TJ...your venom is well warranted!!

Carrie Giannandrea
Dances with Horses
Formula One Farms

katphoti said...

Part 1 of 2

Silly, I'm so sad for you. So sad that you are living in this dreamland.

"This is one of the worse cases of misinformation and BS that I have seen in years."

Well, the USDA and those of us who have witnessed soring first hand will definitely beg to differ.

"There is nothing wrong with bands on a horse."

No, there's not, but there is when they are screwed down so tight that they put pressure on the hoof to cause pain. Bands should be banned just as they are in NWHA and FOSH.

"Padded TWH horses can and do show well into their 20's At the national show they even have a class for classic horses (15 years and over)."

That's because they are forced to do so and are not respectfully retired like most other breeds do. Just because they are forced to continue to compete does not mean they're sound. In fact, they probably aren't.

"The abuse that some of you have brought up is not in the main stream!"

Well, from the amount of people who continue to scatter from the show grounds when the USDA shows up and the fact that over 400 horses were ticketed at the Celebration last year and one trainer was banned, I'd say it's pretty much mainstream.

"As long as the angles are correct the shoe do not hurt the horses."

I'm sure you've heard the same thing that most people spout: the pads aren't a big deal, they're just like us wearing high heels. Well, I'll tell you, when I wear high heels for more than 10 minutes I'm in a lot of pain. And I don't wear them 24/7 and stand on my feet for most of that time. Do you really, REALLY think that the pads are no big deal? The horses' hooves are cut at unnatural angles for the animal themselves overall, whether or not the horse is sored. Do you see horses going on the trails or in other competitions in overly long toes and sheered heels? No. Standing like that IS going to cause damage, I don't care what you think.

"I felt the same was as you did until I did more research and found that it does not hurt the horses, the soring of the past did hurt them, but to classify all TWH as being sored or to classify all Padded horses as sored is ignorant."

We're not doing that. But it's a known fact that the way to get that crouch and reach is to sore the horse, period. It can be done through pressure shoeing, sanding, road foundering, soring, whatever method you want. We know these horses are in pain, and it's all for the sake of a blue ribbon and egos. That is wrong.

"This is really the pot calling the pot black, as much worse goes on in your other breeds."

This is classic: passing off the TWH abuse as being okay by pointing out other forms of abuse or stating this or that looks bad in the ring. Soring of the TWH is the ONLY specified form of abuse against horses that there is a federal law against. Until we can make the USDA enforce this more thoroughly and stop the trainers from producing it and the judges from rewarding crouch and reach, then we cannot start pointing blame at others.

katphoti said...

Part 2 of 2,

"There are many doctors, vets, CEO's and attornies that show and support TWH,"

Because they are PAID to do so and/or are frequently lied to about what is being done to their horses in the barn.

"so I would not call them all backwoods uneducated fools. As far as being ugly, beauty is in the eye of the behholder, I don't like to see a QH with his nose on the ground either!"

The fact remains that the majority of those who see the BL are disgusted. Whether they know about soring or not, it's known that the majority does not approve. What raprhowe said is right: the TWHBEA and other groups need to know how disgusted we are with the look and that we need it to go away.

"Give me a break, most of you have never seen a padded horse in person."

You can read here about my experince watching sored horses: http://forthetnwalkinghorse.blogspot.com/2009/10/story-of-show_23.html

And what's the difference between seeing them in person or on a video? They still look horrible either way.

"As far as NWHA I have seen road soring going on there, so don't give me how great you are."

Yep, another way to try to pass the buck. I'm sure you've heard the same thing that most people spout: the pads aren't a big deal, they're just like us wearing high heels. Well, I'll tell you, when I wear high heels for more than 10 minutes I'm in a lot of pain. And I don't wear them 24/7 and stand on my feet for most of that time. Do you really, REALLY think that the pads are no big deal? The horses' hooves are cut at unnatural angles for the animal themselves overall, whether or not the horse is sored. Do you see horses going on the trails or in other competitions in overly long toes and sheered heels? No. Standing like that IS going to cause damage, I don't care what you think.

"My flat shod and padded horses are clean, happy and healthy and spoiled (in a good way)."

So maybe you can answer these questions. Are your horses at your home? If not, are they at a trainer's barn? Do you shoe them yourself or watch while they're being shod to watch for signs of pressure shoeing or other soring methods? Are you with your horses every time they are worked in training? Has the trainer you're using ever had a horse in his training barn ticketed or received an HPA violation? Has he been suspended or banned from any shows? Are you inspecting your horses for signs of soring? Are you pulling their stacks and shoes on a regular basis to see if anything is being used to cause them pain? When at the show and you have to leave your horse for any period of time, do you have someone standing in for you to make sure no soring is done to your horse while you're gone? Or are you just paying someone to do all of this for you and not worrying about it? EVERY TWH owner who has their horse in training or showing should take the responsiblitiy to check on their horses in training and find out the methods being used to train them. We all know soring is going on, so owners need to be monitoring their horses at all times.

"Don't knock something if you don't know anything about it."

But we do. We know it's wrong and that soring is continuing. There is a reason why the WEG won't allow TWHBEA at the games. There is a reason why the KRHC has denied all HIOs except NWHA, FOSH and the HPC to inspect horses to receive the BIF. Are you really going to keep your head in the sand and continue to lie to yourself about it? If so, I really, really feel sorry for you. It's sad that you can continue to think this way, and that it's highly possible that your horses are suffering because of your choice not to believe the facts.

Listen to raprhowe, everyone: she owns one of the best barefoot TWH stallions out there! If you are who I think you are, that is! :)

Funder said...

I'm late to the comments party, I know. I wish raprhowe had a blog, because I've loved her stud since I first got into TWHs!

Katphoti has done a much better job than I could about explaining the big picture. I can tell you about the small picture.

I own a TWH mare who was padded and shown for a year or two, then shown flatshod for a season. I've had her for two years, and I am just now developing real trust and relaxation with her. I took her barefoot as soon as I bought her, and her feet have recovered 100%. She was a completely ignorant 5 year old when I bought her - she didn't know to stand for a rider to mount, she didn't turn, she didn't change gaits, she wouldn't halt and stand. Any leg at all - either leg - meant "go forward as fast as possible at a rack." The only way to stop her was to haul back on the reins as hard as possible or to steer her at an immobile object. If you moved your hands off the reins, she thought you were about to hit her in the head and she'd leap sideways in a huge startle.

The first barn I boarded at was a real redneck ghetto. We had some padded horses, but no sored horses that I knew of. I knew people who had burned their horses' feet in the past, and they'd talk about it just as casually as a dressage rider talks about switching bits. Don't stereotype them - they listened to country and hardcore rock and rap. They watched NASCAR and football and Animal Cops and House, MD.

Once you decided to pad your horse, you couldn't do anything with it other than show. The ONLY reason to pad a horse is to win at shows, and once the newness of the heavy pads wears off, the horse quits stepping high enough to win. That's when the owner decides to sore the horse - (s)he's paid $$$ for the shoeing, the horse can't be trail ridden, and taking them down off stacks takes several months.

A padded horse can't be turned out. It's either in its stall or it's being worked, and getting worked is a 30 minute affair. They can't even be turned out in a muddy round pen - if they get a padded hoof stuck in the mud, they can very likely tear the entire hoof wall off.

Last - the head nod in those Freak videos is fake. A horse nods his head at the walk, even if it's a really fast running walk. Those horses aren't walking. Watch the footfalls - it's a pace (both legs on each side pick up together) broken up by the weighed front shoes. They are nodding because their feet hurt, or because they've been taught to fake it. My horse failed out of being a padded show horse because she doesn't pace - which is exactly why I bought her. Well, I fell in love and had to rescue her, but I knew she'd make a good barefoot horse because she very rarely paces.

FlyingHorse2 said...

Sadly, these aren't even horses anymore. They're like some tragic evolved species of mutant equines. I can only assume that these people do not like horses because they alter everything from the nose to the tail.

Impromptu said...

Once I got past the shock of those high-flinging front legs, the back legs were what I couldn't take my eyes off of. The way the horses step so deep underneath themselves necessitates extreme flexion of the rear pasterns. I wonder if they hiper-extend the ligaments when they do that? Either way, it looks to be such a demanding way of movement that it is bound to put great strain on the "rear suspencion" system of the horse and cause premature wear and tear. Just my opinion.
Also, looking at the video of early TWH champions, I noticed how lovely the riders used to carry themselves - very well balanced in the seat. Tradition doesn't make it right though, and so I still don't like the long-shanked bits.
Trojan Mouse, I know that even fewer people are familiar with Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos than with TWH, but I would be extatic if you write a blog on their topic. We got into horses mere 3 years ago, and soon were in posession of gaited horses. And so we took it as a matter of fact that gaited horses were ridden in gaited bits. With more experience I realized that's BS, as long as you can collect your horse a proper gait can be achieved, and some horses will collect ridden in a halter bareback. In fact, they are more likely to collect when they aren't scared about the possibility of pain. Anyways, we worked with a scared to death 15 y.o. Paso gelding. I began working with him in a full-cheek snaffle - and he was gaiting just the same. That's when I had the revelation: why in a wold would you put a harsh bit on the one (or two) breed(s) that gait so naturally and effortlessly? What the heck is going on with giving them such an extreme high head set? And have you even seen the "traditional" paso fino bits? They look like something Spanish Inquisition has used on the very naughty ones. And those harsh bits are usually attached to a bosal too, with a nose band for extra pressure. I haven't really held all of the said hardware in hand, but just looking at pics, I can't stop asking myself - what is this all for when the horse gaits of its own accord?

kestrel said...

Stifles. Look at the stifles.

katphoti said...

Good post, Impromptu. I find that about 90% of gaited horse "trainers" know absolutely nothing about training. They think tossing a shanked bit in their mouth, getting on the horse's back, jerking their head up in the air to "set their head" to get the gait, and taking off at gait when the horse is 2 years old is training. If the horse doesn't buck you off on the first four or five trail rides, then he's trained. I'm not joking about this. Then

This of course continues on into the gait. About 90% of all gaited horses I see on the trail are absolutely not performing the gait correct to the breed. They are in either a stepping pace or a rack, no matter what the breed. They are high headed and hollow or strung out with sagging spines. As the horse is continually ridden this way, then the horse eventually stops gaiting and starts pacing or trotting to get away from the pain. Then the rider calls me and says can't figure out why the horse can't gait anymore. Plus, the horse is afraid of being ridden and has no idea how to slow down because no one ever taught him. They also walk off when you get on their backs, won't stand still for saddling, all kinds of stuff. They're never being mean--they just were never trained. So I find that the majority of the horses that need help with their gait actually need retraining from the ground up to teach them relaxation and respect and/or trust.

But the best part is that I find that most gaited horse breeds were bred for sound minds, so they tend to come around really well. It might not be fast, but there is usually minimal resistance and once they learn it, they got it.

kestrel said...

I like gaited horses a lot, but I have noticed one interesting thing in retraining. Some show bloodlines seem to have an incredibly high pain tolerance. I guess they would have to, under these circumstances, just to survive the process, but boy can some of them tune you out! Sad deal.

Trojan Mouse said...

Kaphoti and others,
Thank you for all of the commentary from first hand experience with these horses. It's people like you that might finally bring about the end of big lick!

T Jean Maus

soundhorseskickass said...

Thank you so much for this blog, the more awareness to this horrible abuse the better. I am one of 50 founding members of NWHA. A totally sound horse organization that shows the natural beauty of the TWH. We started with a small group of people who were willing to risk everything for a place to show sound horses. Many of us were outspoken against the abuse during a time that was unexceptable. Years ago, I had turned a trainer in for beating a stacked horse in the aisle way with a metal pipe. He was attempting to teach the horse not to test to a pain response after he had sored it. He wanted the horse to pass a pre show inspection since the USDA was there. The USDA went back to the barn and pulled the horse out of the cross-ties. The trainer was fined and susupended for 5 years for bilateral sore. I suffered many ill consequences from this including death threats. I have also observed horses being beaten out of there stalls because they were so sore they could not walk. I have seen internal mouth twitches inserted into a horses mouth. This causes another source of pain for the horse so it will be distracted by the pain in it's feet. This is another attempt to get the horse to pass a pre show inpection. The trainer of this horse came over to my group in the warm up arena and cut the internal twitch out of the horses mouth with a pocket knife. The twitch came out followed by a stream of blood. I have seen horses almost fall over during inspections because they are in so much pain they are unable to stand. The inspectors pass the horse and it is beaten into the show ring. This is just a few episodes to name a few. So all the horror stories you are hearing are true. Don't let anyone fool you by saying they have stacked horses and none of this goes on and that they love there horses and how well they are treated. Please continue to spread the word. You can also let people know about sound horse organizations like National Walking Horse Organization.

cattypex said...

Good lord.... these people are MONSTERS.

Horses shown in TWHBEA events might just have it the absolute worst when you look at all the cruel methods across many disciplines and breeds.

The sort of people who do this?

No wonder you got death threats.

When "freaky" = "desirable" in an animal-related milieu, you know there's some nasty stuff going down.

horsndogluvr said...

Ignorance. How do we fight it?

The two biggest problems in the education process are, first, to get people to look at things they don't want to. "My stacked horses seem sound and happy. That's all I need to know. I might see something ugly if I investigated."

Second, to get them to put doing the right thing above status, winning, and money. Refusing to show under Judges with HPA violations; pressuring friends to vote against club officers with HPA violations; stepping up and volunteering to be an officer or board member; most of all, setting aside the desire to trust their trainers, and checking to see if there's any evidence of soring.

See here for the latest bad news.


graphicdesign99 said...

katphoti said...
They are kept in dark barns because when you bring them out into the light, they get wired and are out of whack and all firey for the show ring. Yeah, stupid, huh?

Maybe THAT'S why the gaited shows in my neck of the woods are all held in the evenings & into the night? Hmmmm... BTW they are USDA inspected now, just the last couple years, and not many people show the Big Lick horses there any more.
Regarding pads, I recently bought a Nat'l Champion Half-Arabian, and even though she was a HUNTER, she had funky shoes & pads. Her feet were a mess but she is barefoot now & doing all right so far. Arabs don't wear near the stacks that the Walkers do but I understand even the WESTERN and HALTER horses are wearing pads now?!?! UGH~~~~ Someone needs to start a BAREFOOT show circuit!!

graphicdesign99 said...

Check out the # of Spectators they had at this show; unbelievable. I can't even stand to watch one class, let alone an entire show of just Walkers:


Synna said...

I agree that the last one seemed to struggle, but maybe it just fell over in trot. You shouldn't judge before you know more information, and most of these videos were fine.. There are bad apples of course, and riding them at 2 is way too early, but that happens many places. Most racehorses are only 2 yrs old for instance. I think most of the owners of the walking horses love them and try their best, but some of them shouldn't own a horse.

BUT what people need to remember is that these horses have a different gait. It may look unnatural to you (and me), but that doesn't mean it causes pain in any way!

Walkongirl said...

I hope I don't step on any toes here but I'd like to chime in.

I have been involved in the TN Walking horse industry as a exhibitor and owner for several years. I own three padded horses and one trail pleasure horse. My husband owns a "Freak of the Week" two year old. Luckily, his horse has not been dragged through the mud by posters. My other padded horses are 8 and 15. Yes, 8 years old and 15 years old and they have both been shown padded since they were two.

I will first comment that yes, there are unfortunately some Tn. Walking horse trainers that use unnecessary, stupid, immoral training measures to enhance the horse's gait. I hope that they will be weeded out soon so this breed can gain the respect it deserves in the general public's eye. I do not, nor will ever allow my horses to go though those type of things. I trust my trainer and understand my horse from hoof to tip of the ears to know that they are sound and in compliance.

What I am getting at is that I implore the public to not jucge the Walking horse, all trainers, owners and exhibitors on bad examples. The walking horse does have a odd gait but on a well-bred, true walking horse the ride is smooth and exhiliarating. If you watch videos or visit a farm with walking horses and watch the colts in the field you can see for yourself that they are made to move differently then a dressage, quarter, hunter jumper, etc. Each horse breed has their own gait. Each different showing/competing breed has their own set of "bad apples".

Many people are angry over the use of chains and pads. That is not the cause for any problems. As I posted earlier, I have two aged horses that have shown padded since they were two. There is also another formally padded horse in the barn that showed till he was 20. It's not the pads and chains. The problem lies within illegal showing methods (ex. pressure shoeing) and soring. The govt. and the HIO groups that work the shows are working to help put a stop to this. I am all for these horrible methods to be stopped so the natural going, well bred, padded show horse can place in the classes that they are showing in.

So before you throw stones at the Walking horse people, make sure that you are not hitting the ones who are trying to promote this beautiful breed in all of it's capacities. Get to know the Walking horse and the trainers, owner, exhibitors before judging all. Support the people that are doing the right thing, pretty soon the "bad apples" will rot away and we'll be left with greener pastures.

Side note: Just because I can't leave this one. Psychotic Raccoon- Please make sure the vet administers your rabies shot. I am well educated and well informed. Just because I ride a padded horse and own padded horses does not make me or all of the "big lick" people white trash hillbillies. I might live on a farm in TN but white trash and hillbilly are far removed from my upbringing and lifestyle.

Hyenadon said...

I couldn't agree more with you. Gaited horses need to stop getting abused in this kind of way; who knows.. maybe they'd make a nice horse for someone who ACTUALLY cares about their welfare >.<

Sara said...

It is very amusing how everyone commenting here, has no idea what they are looking for or talking about when it comes to big lick Walkers...

It just makes me laugh to read all these people's comments; getting themselves so worked up and spouting off about things they -so clearly- have NO idea about. Big lick is NOT all about who can lift their front legs the highest, for one thing.

I don't condone soring. But, riding 2 year olds is a widely accepted practice, one which I have never seen cause harm to a horse in MY EXPERIENCE.
I agree the bits used on these horses are ridiculous and the trainers are stupid to use them; they are harming themselves because a young inexperienced horse will typically work better (ESPECIALLY gait-wise) in a more mild bit; but those guys are so dumb they insist on trying to use brute force rather than training.

That said, I enjoy going to big lick shows and seeing a padded horse that can "do his thang" and do it well, without his head in the air, etc. It would be nice to see them properly trained someday.

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