Lets take this blog to the next level

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

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

With a Knick-Knack, Gimmick Tack, the trainer is a bone...head: Updated

We’ve all got equine icons we admire. Trainers and breeders we grew up worshiping and following their every word. We read every article about them, loved their horses as much as our own and tried to ride, dress and train just like them.

Sometimes our icons remained icons our entire lives and sometimes they take hard falls and became the worst of the worst. Recently Cleve Wells lost a lot of starry-eyed hanger-ons ( he also kept of bunch of “completely in denial” idiots too). An even earlier and much harsher fall from grace was 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.

There are several other big trainers that a lot of us grew up trying to emulate. Who remembers Buster Welch and his balanced bits and how he broke reining patterns down into separate components so any good-riding kid could teach his grade gelding to spin like a tornado? How about Martha Josey and her awesome barrel times and spirited gelding, Sonny Bit o’Both? They were awe-inspiring. No one that has ever watched dressage can forget Reiner Klimke and Ahlerich or Hilda Gurney and Keen. We even got to see Rodney Jenkins jump out at the Pima Fairgrounds, and until Joe Fargis came along Rodney was the hot thing on a horse!

One thing I’ve noticed about the big trainers is that nowadays it seems they are more into merchandising than they used to be. Buster Welch sold a few models of bits, and the Foremans endorsed cutting saddles. Beyond that there wasn’t the wholesale merchandising that you see today. With this new merchandising has come the proof that big name trainers (BNTs) aren’t about the horse anymore. They are about the money. In essence they are market whores, selling their name to pimp a product, regardless of how harmful that product would be in the hands of a beginner. Let’s give these people a new name; let’s call them Trainwhores.

I won’t even go into one of the early Trainwhores, Monty Roberts. He wrote a book and sold a whole lot of lunge ropes and halters to gullible people that had no idea what to do with the horse after they “joined” up with it. Real horseman already knew about working a horse within a space and treating it like the prey animal it started out as. P.T. Barnum had nothing on Monty, except maybe his circus was a bit bigger, but the shit smell was the same.

I’m going to list some of the industry Trainwhores, ones that I respected at one time and now think they are less about the horse and more about the money.

1)Pat Parelli . I apologize to readers for not including this biggest of Trainwhores the first time. Pat, where did you go wrong? Before the mysticism and the communal carrot stick you actually made some sense. Then somewhere in the mix you developed a mysticism that made Gawani Pony Boy look like a complete stiff. ( Thank God you never opted for the loin cloth!) Now you're cradling horse heads and acting like an equine Dr. Phil. WTF? We've got Horsenality, rope "hackamores", ( when I was growing up we called those rope halters, but to each his own), and probably the most expensive reins ever made from leadropes. Your DVD collection prices rival the stuff sold in the back of Hustler, although they probably do have better dialog and plot, but still, education should not be just for the rich. $999.00 for a boxed set? I may be an old horse gal, but for that much I want naked cowboys, lots of chocolate, the finest wine in a box money can buy, and that damn carrot stick better not be the longest, stiffest thing in the video. Do I need to head over to Gawani's site to get my money's worth? Pat, you've got a following of middle-aged, starry-eyed, my-daddy-never-bought-me-a-pony women that would rival Englebert Humperdink's groupies. You've got to quit stroking their egos and teach them how to actually manage a horse in real life situations, in acceptable regulation equipment.

2)Richard Shrake . I used to love to read Richard’s articles. Then I saw an ad for this little gimmick and knew Richard had turned to the dark side. Torture Device He calls his methods “Resistance Free” but it amounts to nothing more than making it painful for the horse to move out of the frame. The war bridle restraint device is nothing new. I’m just surprised that any decent trainer would recommend this product to new horse owners. Anyone that has had a horse flip over in front of them knows how dangerous these things can be. And what is with the bits? Bits that suck . Wouldn’t you think that the higher level the trainer, the less severe the bits? That’s the mantra we were raised on. Good western horsemen knew bosals, snaffles, a mild curb, and if they were creating an equine aristocrat they could work in a spade, but that was just for showing off, it wasn’t the every day bit. It was for the ballet sessions. English people used snaffles and either a short shanked Weymouth with a plain snaffle bridoon or if you have a low palate horse a short shanked Pelham. Twisted mouthpieces, or weird ports, were for abusers and idiots. Looks like that line has blurred now. Rule of thumb for anyone selling stuff like this to the open and unregulated horse world: At some point your crap will fall into the hands of a newbie and make some horse’s life miserable. Unless you want to start a fund to start a retirement house all the horses ruined by this crap then don’t sell this shit under your name.

3)The Camarillos. When I was growing up the Camarillos were GODS. Whether it was Roping or Barrel Racingall of us speed junkies followed their every move and read every word written about them. Sharon and Leo article from 1975
So WTF happened? What the hell is this shit and why is it being marketed to an industry that has one of the worst levels of incompetence and abuse?
Black Beauty chain gag curb This is the bit of the month? Ironic label, since a month is all you’d need with this bit to totally fuck up your horse for all time. Seriously, look at this crap! How did the early cowgirls even survive without all this junk? Totally screwed up bits. The elevated ring snaffle is just a travesty. It not only has a rough mouthpiece, it has a donut ring joiner and if you slap a curb chain on it ceases to be a true snaffle and becomes a curb/gag cross. I can just see horses with their noses poked out, shoulders disengaged, concave backs and hocks popping as they evade all collection with this piece of shit. The hack-a-gags are just a sign that a Trainwhore is in the house. Anyone pimping these useless pieces of shit isn’t concerned with producing a long term, sound minded horse. They are all about the act of compelling a horse to work through pain. Seriously Sharon, why did you go down this trail?

4)Anky Van Grunsven I could spend an entire blog on Anky just for the rolkur shit. But let’s ignore that for now and talk about how Anky has gone from being a dressage ring innovator to a Trainwhore. Anky likes to use “crank” nosebands.
For those of you unfamiliar with dressage equipment a crank noseband doesn’t just fasten like a regular one. It fasten by means of a strap that flips back through a ring and allows you to leverage the noseband to hitherto unknown degrees of tightness. Imagine a set of handcuffs clipped over your horse’s nose. He’s not going to be evading that bit wearing one of these gizmos. Crank nosebands are notorious for causing mouth sores as the tender inner cheek it pressed against the teeth the whole time the horse wears the noseband. They also create resentment and with a severe bit you could find yourself between the horse and the ground, wondering how come you suddenly know exactly how much your horse weighs and how sharp his withers are. Anky also has a clothing store. Really Expensive Crap to Wear to the Barn Yep, because I want to spend $150 bucks for a vest I can get at Wal-mart for $30.00. Anky’s heavy hands and crappy lower leg already piss me off, but her pimping of equipment that tortures a horse just makes her a huge Trainwhore.

5)Cleve Wells . Aside from the fact he got suspended for his part in the abuse of Slow Lopin Scotch Cleve is a major Trainwhore. He pimps a group of bits that should never see the inside of a horse’s mouth. These bits should serve no other purpose than to be used as
toilet paper hangers in a bunk house. Totally Fucked Up Curb Bits Do we really want to see these bits in the hands of some starry-eyed neophyte? How about a youth class? No? Because I really think any parent letting their kid ride with one of these pieces of shit is simply insane. Here’s a clue Cleve: If you’re such a good trainer you could get great results without these gimmick bits. I don’t care how many championships a trainer has, if they got them using these bits then they won by intimidation. Anyone that has ever worn a retainer knows how aggravating having a something stuck in your palate is. It aggravates you all day, and unlike a bit a retainer doesn’t move back and forth. And if you think we hate high port bits then you should know we despise twisted wire snaffles. Snaffles for Dickheads Cleve doesn’t seem to share our view, because he has several nasty models for sale, with the implication that they are great colt starting bits. Cleve, you’re not a horseman anymore. You’re a certified Trainwhore.

There are more Trainwhores out there, selling everything from bits to riding underwear. For the most part their items don’t cause a great deal of harm and may even help prevent wedgies during that extended trot. But there is definitely a group that promotes bits and gimmicks that cause a great deal of trauma to a horse, and potentially harm to a new rider that doesn’t understand the mechanics of a bit, martingale or surcingle. Certain items should require some kind of test before you can even buy them. And other items, such as hack-a-gags and really thin twisted wire mouthpieces should get you thrown into jail for animal abuse if you attempt to buy them. Let’s call these items “stupid bait”. Catalogs could show these items and if you click the shopping cart symbol the company knows you’re stupid and sends a notification to the authorities to pick you up and haul you to jail. You obviously can’t be trusted to own an animal or be around matches or sharp objects. You fell for the bait, and another horse’s life is saved!

Now that I’ve vented about the worst Trainwhores I can think of tell me about the ones that really piss you off!