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!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

OF COURSE, that ribbon is way more important than my kid's safety!!!!

I grew up with horses and probably did things that should have gotten me killed. As teenagers my sister and I would ride anything with hooves, sometimes just to prove we could. But our mother, who was a horsewoman and competed along side of us, never, ever let us put our safety aside to get a ribbon. It just didn't happen. So while we swam the horses in ponds that the ecoli bacteria would probably avoid, and rode bareback until the flesh rubbed off of our butts, we were never put in an unsafe position in an arena. We wore helmets when jumping, we used tack that was age, and experience, appropriate and we never had a parent breathing down our neck to "win".

For some reason a lot of horse parents see their little darlings as ego extensions and no matter how dangerous the horse, or the event, they want the kid to ride to win. I've seen this taken to the extreme in just about every discipline, but it usually pops up in three majors events: Jumping, barrel racing and gaited horses.

Let's look at a few barrel racing videos that just piss me off. Where is the fricking helmet? There is not a youth organization out there that doesn't allow, and in some cases require, helmets.

This is a prime example of a stupid parent with a cute kid and show off aspirations.
No helmet, no stirrups, carrying a whip, holding the leadline too long, jittery gelding, wearing inappropriate clothing ( the thought of sand rash just makes me cringe). It's like a billboard for bad choices made in the shortest amount of time.

This one really outrages me! I've shown it before, and it showcases the point that some parents should be banned from having horses and kids at the same time:

No helmet, horse is too big, feet are banded in the stirrups, no control. WTF? 5 year olds running barrels are not cute, unless they are doing it on size appropriate horses with proper equipment. My niece used to jog her welsh pony around the barrels when she was five, wearing her helmet, no whip, never had her feet tied in the stirrups. 5 year olds on huge horses, jerking the mouth at every stride, carrying a whip and wearing no protective headgear are just advertisments for how screwed up their parents are. Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Now on to jumping. Jumping is an expensive sport. Those USEF and Pony Club fees are nothing to sneeze at and to really rig out a kid on a good hunter or jumper is going to cost you an average of five figures. But for some reason jumping, which is one of the most dangerous equine sports, makes the ego driven parents lose what little minds they have. It's as if they want to prove how brave they are by sacrificing their child. I have seen 7 year olds on 16 hand fire breathing jumpers, faces pale, fists locked around the reins, take courses that I wouldn't take a horse over without a parachute and mattresses beside every fence. These kids, as a whole, ride biting their lower lip, eyes cast down, a dull sheen on their sweaty frightened faces, and meanwhile mom and pop walk about in their "tweeds" sipping iced tea and bragging about how much they paid for "Fencebreaker the Wonder Horse". It's enough to make you puke. WTF are these parents thinking? We know what they trainers are thinking. They are getting paid, no matter if the kid survives the ride or not. But the parents really have to be crazy to put their kids through this shit.

The explanation on this video just screams out how stupid the parents are. New horse, check. Horse reacts badly to new home, check. Horse clearly not a finished animal, check. Recipe for disaster. I have to give the kid credit because she sticks the bucks far longer than I thought she would. But even so her parents were beyond stupid to take a fearful pony they'd had less than a week to a show. It's clear the pony is freaked from the first moment they start filming. Here's what you do dipshits, you untack the pony and spend the day leading her around the show until she calms down. IF, and only IF she calms down you tack her back up and let your kid mount up, while you hold a leadrope, and lead the pony around in a controlled situation. You don't not throw your child on the pony's back and let her pretend to be a rodeo bronc during a class. In the one scene it is very clear that the pony messed up another competitor's ride and had the horse not skittered out of the way there might have been a bad wreck.

Of course on the other end of the spectrum is this child, his clearly pissed off pony and his parents that allowed him to ride the pony with a whip, a second set of reins attached to his saddle and stupidly tried to get him to take the pony over fences. It's been on facebook and fugly, but I thought it was applicable here because it showcases how stupid some parents are, even when they do put some safety measures in place.

Another pony wreck. The kid clearly hits the rail. Do they get an EMT in there? NOPE! They "man" the kid up and walk him out of the arena. Why? Because you "gotta get right back on". Bullshit! If the kid hits the jump get him checked by a doctor. The pony was too hard for the child to rate and clearly had his mind set of not taking the fence before they even got there. I have seen more promising riders ruined by jumping too soon on inppropriate horses than I can count. Back the hell up and take it slow. Five to seven year olds do not need to be battling their way around jump courses, I don't care how cute those fricking Thelwell cartoons are.

I freaking hate padded up horses. But I really hate parents that perpetuate the abuse, poor riding and bad ring manners that are rampant in this discipline. So let's teach our kids to ride with hands so heavy they numb a horse's mouth. Let's teach them to ride in bits that are illegal in just about every other equine event. Let's teach them that screwing up a horses back and legs is just fine, because that fricking blue ribbon means so much more than the horse being comfortable and pain free. You might as well put out a sign that says: I'm raising a child with no morals, no feelings for other living things, and I don't care if he gets hurt, or hurts the horse in the process.

And just because I think it's funny as shit a video about Paris Hilton getting dumped off a horse. Her parents weren't after ribbons, but despite all their money they can't seem to buy this dipshit any common sense. No helmet, no brains, no ability. Perhaps if she'd practiced riding more horses than sleezy porn movie directors she could have stayed on.


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

OH, one of my "favorite" topics.

I worked at an open show this summer, one on a fairly decent-sized regional circuit, and was deeply troubled to observe that NOT ONE of the leadline kids wore a helmet. There were 2 or 3 of the older Western kids who wore helmets, and some of the huntseat kids wore helmets, but NOT ONE of those preschoolers had protective headgear on. So I wrote a letter of concern to the president of the Association, and got this reply:

"Each show committee may choose to have helmets or not. Any child may wear a helmet if they choose and it is not a penalty to do so. Helmets are a 4-H rule - Central State Horse Show Association is not 4-H!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for your input.

Personnally, I live in the USA where a parent can still choose how to dress their children. I do not live in a country where it is dictated how to raise or dress my children. In 4-H there are no rules for other livestock handlers. Steers are more unreliable than a horse is - sholdn't they wear helmets (at our fair someone is drug across the fairgrounds every year by a "wild" steer.) Hogs can step on your feet - are we required to were steel toed boots? A chicken could peck you -- - do we were arm armor? You can get burnt from cooking or baking --- what do we wear for that? Sewing----a needle can run thru your hand---what for that? You see----anything that you do you could get hurt---life is a risk.....you could get struck by a car walking across the street---do you let a child do that?"

cattypex said...

Excerpts from my reply:
"Just to clarify: A helmet is not a hat, it isn't "something to wear." It's safety equipment, like the harness on a racecar driver, or a stop on a table saw, or a welder's mask, and should be as automatic as checking your cinch before you get on.

Would you - or any league - let your kid play football without a helmet & pads? Play catcher without a facemask? What about Hockey? Race a Go Kart without a rollcage? A stomped foot, a separated shoulder, a needle through the hand, getting burnt while frying bacon in the nude, is NOT NOT NOT the same as a concussion or a skull fracture. Ask a few E.R. nurses, or a neurosurgeon.

I live in the USA, too... ;-) and my husband is from New Hampshire, which has the coolest state motto: "Live Free or Die." Oddly, it's a state that doesn't REQUIRE seatbelts for adults, but they do for kids. They have road signs which read "N.H. LAW: BUCKLE UP UNDER AGE 18" and little blue signs underneath that read "Common sense for all."

Putting on a helmet isn't a big deal... and yes, I remember the days before real helmets: there were always unconscious people getting carted off in ambulances at hunter shows & contesting events. (Was there an ambulance at the show the other day? I don't know, I was in the office most of the time or else hiding from the sun.....)

I really don't mean to sound snotty, I really don't!! "

Cut-N-Jump said...

I figure my time to shine in the ring is now. A few years from now it will be all about our girls. I'm fine with that. I can take the back seat to them.

Never will their safety be compromisd for the sake of a colored piece of nylon called a ribbon. Not many of them are made of silk anymore. Besides, the color of them will fade over time. Our memories of them riding a good horse well suited to their current abilities will last a long time.

Sure they will get hurt, but we all can and do. Just like CP said, you can burn yourself cooking, get hit by a _______, trip over a crack in the pavement and fall down. Life happens. Part of it becomes survival of the fittest- not just the physically fit.

cattypex said...

Just protect their precious little developing brains with good helmets!

Oh, wait... you will. ;)

That hunter pony made me think of Jean Slaughter Doty's book The Monday Horses, and one family's insane ribbon race with a hot pony... that some trainer eventually jazzed with strychnine.

horsndogluvr said...

I expect show rules will start mandating helmets after the first huge award to the parents of a brain-damaged baby. Yeah, they're the ones who should have insisted on a helmet - but we all know how it goes in the legal world, don't we...


formyponies said...

My favorite part of all of these is the awesome commentary ("Did you see that move Pinky?" Ugh). Unfortunately it's because of these people that I say without much remorse that "horse people are stoopid."

Kookaburra said...

@cattypex: What are you, some kind of SOCIALIST? Everyone knows that REAL AMURRICANS don't wear no sissy helmets. It's the first step on the slippery slope to being a gay vegan communist. I'm sure Glenn Beck can tell you all about it with his chalkboard. XD

HorseCommonSense said...

I get you on the barrel racing and match up a good horse/pony disposition with a kid's riding ability level.... but ahhhhh nooooo you picked on Ross and Ed... LOL!

Ed Being Good....

My first pony... makes Ed look like a dream pony... my old man asked the horse trader, back in the day, give me the nastiest thing you Got! I don't want my daughter liking horses. He got no where with that theory. Horses are my life now.

HorseCommonSense said...

I'm a true believer in "ponies" are difficult and have their moments, I think ya'll judged the parents too quickly on this one...
Ed had some moments, all caught on tape and posted on youtube, that I think was at the "end of the day".. pretty much a common trait in ponies with kids...

Tiia said...

Ugh, watching those videos made me feel so sorry for the ponies. I was actually hoping the kids would fall hard enough for the parents to see that they could not handle them at all and get another, without having to constantly punish the poor animals with a whip or spurs.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Yes, CP- they will be wearing helmets. If they aren't, they better not let me catch them.

There was one show here, that used to demand helmets on all exhibitors under the age of 18, No. Matter. What! Didn't matter if it was halter, showmanship, lead line, eq or western pleasure. You wore one or you were not allowed in the gate. I loved that about their shows!

They also demanded helmets for the jumping classes. They even DQ'd the deaf woman who rode sidesaddle and had a clean round. She looked elegant doing it- but wasn't wearing a helmet.

Nobody could ever figure out HOW or WHY, the city park where the shows were hosted, DROPPED the shows, citing "Insurance and liability issues", yet they still host weekend rodeo events and the annual rodeo, complete with Mutton Bustin. No, those kids aren't required to wear helmets either. Not unless the parents insist.

Cut-N-Jump said...

I also forgot to add- the shows also did not allow anyone under the age of 18 to handle or exhibit stallions. Period.

I almost got hung up on this one once, by a so called friend from high school. He was showing a stallion there too. We hadn't seen each other in a while and he had to show me his horse before the class. I went and looked, then brought him to see the one I was handling.

He went straight to the sign up shack and told them I was underage to get me pulled from the class. He was afraid of getting beaten in the ring. Which he did.

My horse pulled 2nd of 4 and as I was leaving the ring I turned around to see what the hellacious commotion behind me was all about. His horse was mounting the 3rd place horse... He obviously placed last.

Mikey said...

Such a good post. This is one of my pet peeves, as my child competes in kid's gymkhanas. On top of that I had a bad wreck last yr w/head injury, and I've learned to wear my own helmet all the time.
I see SO many wrecks at these gymkhanas. MY GOD. I swear I grow 10 more gray hairs every time we go.
I really would like to see all these disciplines REQUIRE a helmet.
Don't get me started on the parents. I watched a 7 yr old run a 20 sec barely in control barrel pattern yesterday, while her pro mama encouraged her on. The kid was scared. This should be FUN, not scary.
My kid doesn't win every time (but she wins plenty), but - she rides an appropriate horse, wears a helmet and knows her patterns. I think she's one of the few who doesn't screw up those patterns... Consistency wins above speed, in my opinion.

ooglebloops said...

Great blog - I'm following now. Just experienced my first local horse show run by a Walking Horse group.Also live in Va. I was appalled. We have a retired Thoroughbred (hunter jumper), a rescued Missouri Fox Trotter, and a quarter horse. My daughter was working with a friend's Walker, so I thought I would drop in on this local show to see what it was all about. Never again. High stepping, ankle chains, and weighted shoes- very sad....

Barrelsaddle said...

JUST now found this blog. Should have been here ages ago. Can't wait to join in! BTW, I'm in Virginia too!

Hyenadon said...

Hey, I'd like to inform you of a site I just came across: http://www.grissombits.com/index.html

There, they sell some of the cruelest bits you can think of. They are all for Gaited/TW horses.

If you can, send them an email explaining why what they're selling is cruel/abusive. I did.

Kaitlyn said...

Please, don't hate horse back riding! It is a true form of art. It grows a person's trust into animals and can make their senses stronger! It really is wonderful, some people think it's all about the money and the ribbon, maybe the barn you went to was that kind, but please try it again, I've been doing it sine I was 5, and I never thought of stopping it!

Kaitlyn said...

The horse pulled on the lead rope, horses hate to be pulled like that, also maybe the bridle was too tight, or the saddle girth was too tight, maybe the saddle pad wasn't strapped onto the saddle correctly and was irritating the horse's skin cause it can do that! Horses are extremely sensitive creatures and never mean to hurt ANYONE! People don't always know if they are hurting their horse.

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Chasin Ponies said...

I found the inane "funny" commentary throughout the video with the kid being bucked off the hunt pony very offensive.
Wish I could throw him up on a bucking horse and show him how "funny" it really is.
All of the Western show girls at our barn (except my students) refuse to wear helmets at any time.
Their "trainer" is a 20-something girl who "trains" the lovely peanut pusher, crippled up wogging & tropeing with spurs, very harsh bits and lots of beatings. By the way, these poor horses are so permanently lame that they have to have their legs shot up twice a week.
One day she was sick and didn't get a chance to beat the @$#! out of one of the girl's horses before the girl came out. The girl practically got killed (and it didn't help that she hasn't been taught to ride properly in the first place!) and the horse got blamed and sold off and a new one to ruin took it's place.
These people will do absolutely ANYTHING it take to win but for what?! A piddling piece of ribbon to hang on the stall.