trainer leading horse

Professional Reining Trainer is Looking for His Next Meal

So, you’ve decided to get a reining horse. You have seen the glossy images of horses sliding and those stud horse advertisements. You visited some shows, and wow you are in. You have been told it’s the greatest sport on earth and you want to be part of it. You have heard all about the futurity, and that seems to be the conversation all the trainers want to have. There are horses advertised for sale but its hard to know where to start. Your friends all start advising which trainer is the one to use and what a great fella he/she is too.

So, the first thing that becomes obvious is you need to get a professional reining trainer. Rarely does anyone take on being in reining without a trainer nowadays. These animals require specialized schooling, training surfaces, shoeing if you want to be competitive at even the lowest levels. You also need assistance in finding the right horse – a sound one if that is possible.

You are about to potentially pay $20,000 – $50,000 – $100,000 or whatever sum over to a person that could do whatever they want with your investment or passion and leave you with nothing.

What to know about trainers

From this moment forward is when fools can part with a lot of money only and end up with a broken down, out of fashion horse that is of no value. Trainers have a unique way of dealing with their clients. Many operate on the basis of how much money can they drain from your pocket in pursuit of their personal goal. They want to win a futurity and the owners fund them.

It is much like a pyramid, those at the top get the pick of the crop of clients and horses. They rule the world and convey the view you cannot live without them. They have all the salesmanship of a professional car salesman and operate in an industry with no rules or regulations on how they treat and manage horses and clients outside of the show pen. There is some waffly piece of paper called the NRHA Code of Ethics, but that has as much value as a piece of toilet paper. The NRHA print it, but they do not stand by it in any form. The top trainers can churn and burn clients, and no-one cares what happens to the client or the horse. They have a nickname for all the clients “Next.”

The lower ranked trainers have their own special kind of story. They have learned how to keep horses in barns for a longer period of time, so they feed their families each week. They don’t have the prize money to live off, so they are a good salesman. It’s a survival skill they learn early in the business. They are always on the lookout for what is referred to in the industry as the ‘dinner plate horse.’ An owner that is excited about having a horse in the futurity and dumb enough not to question what is going on. They also come with a healthy bank balance that will hold together for two years.

Then there are those trainers just starting out that talk of great feats of ability as a non-pro and now hang out his or her shingle and proclaim, “Today, I’m a professional horse trainer.” They don’t like working nine to five and decide that a life of training horses is the way to go. Do what you love is what the guru’s tell people to do. They have little experience in managing horses outside of their own, low levels of veterinary knowledge and certainly have not been astride enough horses to add real value to the process. Their fees are a little lighter, but so is the feed bucket the horse will get. They are usually cutting corners on everything, including your horse’s welfare, to keep the lights on in their house.

As recently cited in an article by Rick Dennis “However and for the record, there are a lot of really good horse trainers out there; however, the corrupt, immoral, fraudulent and imbecilic individuals operating within the industry, as well as the ones causing the abhorrent abuses and fraudulent activities, are unfairly stigmatizing the honorable ones. For the record, not all horse trainers are created equally or share the same moralistic values of trust, duty of loyalty, honor and country.”

Isn’t funny that everyone seems to be meeting many of the bad ones and not too many of the good ones these days.

Did you know that thousands of horses are started for the futurity each year? It’s the business of the NRHA – a futurity. Look at the entries that made it through to the event, and the least heard the excuse for a horse not being there is the client ran out of money. Most horses have broken down mentally or physically in the training regime of drilling them numb to complete a reining pattern.

Are references the answer?

People say, get references before picking a trainer. But here’s the thing. The biggest thing you will possibly learn about the reining horse business.

The top trainers have another little skill that no-one new to the industry knows about. The skill of hiding their skeletons and being rid of the evidence. The lesser trainers have the same skill but often not the expertise and political power. The one thing that is standing out to Reining Trainer Engima now is how many people have a civil action against top trainers, and other lesser trainers, for abuse of their horses and welfare problems. Horrific tails of what happened to their animals and the common fact is they, the client, is now exiled from the reining horse industry. To participate in reining, you have to accept the horses are wastage or you’re out on your ear. For people that have a passion for horses and a touch of kindness in their sole, it’s a hard lesson to learn at the suffering of your horse.

Those reporting to RTE their experiences often sought support from the NRHA only to be told it’s not in the rule book so move on. They have a lawyer on a retainer to manage those squeaky wheels called owners. The NRHA ignores what happens outside of the pen, even though one day they decided to publish their Code of Ethics. You have wonder what their intention was.

Another lesson for today

To the newcomer or the unsocialized owner, they would be unaware of the issues in a specific training barn as huge prize money means trainers cannot be questioned – the client is always wrong and just a troublemaker or stupid. No other industry would have such arrogance but reining (and other horse disciplines) prize money brings immunity. This makes reference checking hard, so most people learn through their pocket as they are lured by the salesman.

Back to the purchasing of a horse. Trainers make good money on sales commissions of horses so they can always fit you out with a horse or two or three. They will tell you romantic stories of its breeding and lure you into writing out a nice check.

You finally settle on a horse and after many x-rays and disappointments of failing vet checks (hopefully, you got x-rays) you find your new dream. In fact, the trainer helped you find two. One for you to ride and one for them to take to the futurity – what a great guy/gal.

If you have gone and purchased your own horse and want it trained, just make sure of the following:

  1. Do not put a horse that is not bred by the trainer’s stallion (or tops client stallion) as it will rarely make it. They support their own stock first.
  2. Make sure the person can get along with a mare/stallion/gelding. Some trainers cannot work with some genders.
  3. Be aware that other top clients (ones they have romanced for some time) will always get the winning ride. It’s a loyalty thing – intentional or not. Their horse always gets that extra bit of care.
  4. If the trainer does not get excited about your bloodline – step away immediately. Don’t try and convince them and don’t let them give it a go. Many people report of trainers taking their money only to turn around and say ‘gee I hated that horse’ of ‘I knew that bloodline was useless.’ Nice bit of information to find out after you load it up on the trailer.

What else could possibly go wrong?

You start on the journey, and the expectations are set of what the horse can potentially do. Here in lies the trap.

  1. How do you know if your horse is a dinner plate horse?
  2. Is the trainer really riding the horse or is one of the sidekicks on it?
  3. Is the horse being properly cared for with the right amount of food, clean stable, turn-out time and rugging?
  4. Is the horse stressing being in training, but you are not being told? Does the trainer even like the horse or is it last out to work, if it’s not too late that day.
  5. Is your horse spending seven days in a stall and worked only every couple of days?

You can make regular visits to the barn but that is usually at a set time, and you get a stage show put on every time you visit. Unless you’re an experienced horseman yourself, with good knowledge of welfare and training methods, you can be quickly bamboozled. Remember: they are professional at doing stage shows to clients, they do them all the time. So, don’t think you can catch them out easily. These salesmen have burned some of the best breeders and owners.

Make unannounced visits to the barn during the week. If the trainer does not like it, then bring your trailer. He is in a business that should be working horses daily. Don’t expect the trainer to drop everything and cater to you, but hang around and watch what is happening with all the horses. Stay around at feed time and offer to help. Gosh, the day you visit you may even get to see your horse worked and found it in a stall not tied to a tree out the back.

If you are in doubt your horse is not being cared for or suspect your being led up the path; you can pretty much be sure it is happening. Don’t trust them, don’t believe their stories, verify everything and ensure you regularly visit your horse to oversee its welfare. Good Luck and remember the NRHA is not there for you.

To solve this problem, the NRHA needs to be made accountable or remove their Code of Ethics. Please vote for change.

© 2018 Reining Trainers Engima.

horses head shot

Reining Trainer Gunner Trash

He was standing shivering in the auction pen. Fine coated from being in a barn and still had his sliders on his back feet. The temperature was down in low forties, and this horse was doing it hard.

That is what Matt was confronted with as he walked along the yards. The horse was panicked and becoming a danger to himself. Matt describes “I walked over to the rail and started talking to him to calm him down and he just ignored me. A beautiful paint horse with a bold white face. I could not understand why he was there. As I looked him over, he had great conformation and seemed like he was a well-bred horse.”

Matt is not a horse rescuer nor a person that typically would purchase a horse. A long history of ranching he was there to help out a friend who was selling some gear that day.

Matt when on to say ‘I was there for about ½ hour and it was playing on my mind. I kept looking over at him, and that horse was suffering real bad. I went back to my truck and had an old rug in the back, so I went over to hook him up and put the rug on him. No horse deserved this treatment.’ The yards were busy, so no-one was going to be too bothered. As I approached him, the horse spun around in shock, and I noticed he had a slightly loped ear. I walked over quietly, and he dropped his head. He was a kind soul. He appeared relieved as I slipped the rug on him’. I checked him over, and there was no apparent damage that I could see, but he must have a story. His sides were hardened from spurs, and he was compliant with every move as I walked around doing up the rug. Checking his teeth, he appeared to only about three years old. Why was he here?”

The sale started, and I wandered along with the crowd. When we got near his pen, this horse began to bounce on the fences he was petrified. Someone in the crowd yelled out ‘that’s one of them deaf Gunner horses. Some reining guy dumped him here this morning and said he was useless. He was as mad as hell with the horse. I’ve seen him a few times down here.’

Matt goes on ‘Not knowing what a Gunner horse was I was a little lost, but the deafness became clear. That poor animal was as deaf as a doornail. Before I knew it, my hand shot in the air and I had purchased him for kill prices. I could not leave him, and the last thing I needed was a deaf horse.’ There was something about him.

I found a guy that was heading back out our way, and he agreed to trailer him to my place. When the horse arrived, he immediately looked at the old barn as much to say that is where I am supposed to be. My wife came over and had a fair bit to say about arriving home with deaf horse. We gave him a good feed and let him relax in a stall for the night. The next day we brought him out and turned him out in a yard. He trotted around and seemed okay. We pulled his shoes off, and they were one big set of metal under him.

The next day we saddled him, and he was fine. After a couple of days we hoped on, and he was dead quiet. He immediately dropped his head down behind the bit the moment we touched his face. He reacted to your leg as though he was expecting pain. With all the spur damage to his sides, we knew what had happened. He was nervous and desperately wanted to avoid pain.

We headed out the gate, and he was worried but kept trying to go forward. After a few hours, he relaxed and let his neck go natural, and the rigidness started to go away. We rode him for a few days just jogging along; then he went lame. His stifles were sore as was his back.

A friend dropped over that had a bit to do with reiners and confirmed he was most like a Gunner and out of a nice mare. The way he rode, he was out of one of those big trainer barns.

To make a long story short, we got the vet over, and the report was his hock joints were damaged, and the back soreness was from trying to protect his back legs. He was probably getting his hocks injected by the trainer to keep him going. The horse had been trashed.

The vet said it not uncommon, and they chatted about what happens to these horses. From a prized horse probably sold for a fine price as a yearling to end up trash in an auction pen and only just 3. The can start a few hundred horses and only a handful make it through.

Matt learned a new thing about horse people. It was Reining Trainer Trash. Young horses pushed too hard and broken down at 3. Owners that only care about winning prize money at any cost.

Matt closed our conversation with ‘the horse deserved better.’ ‘We put him in a pasture near the house with another old horse. A good rug for warmth and a shed for shelter. He had a few nice months in life before we do what a responsible owner or trainer should have done. We euthanized him respectfully.’

My wife said it right, how could a person call themselves a horseman, trainer or care for horses when this is the product of their effort.

RIP Chappy.

Serial Reining Horse Abuser Brags Publicly about not being Caught

Horse Abuser Brags of his horrendous treatment of horses and people flock to him for advice on reining horse training.

Warning this is traumatizing to read for horse lovers.

As he wanders the world, staying at people’s properties for weeks and months assisting them training their horses, they open their doors while knowing his reputation for horse abuse.

These old trainers are often referred to as a barn flies. They brag about their knowledge and mumble about their success from by-gone years while skiting, unfiltered, about their conquests of cruelty to win a prize. Their audience of people finding it entertaining as they break the lines of what is abuse and use the mental ramblings and techniques in pursuit of winning. Old-timers swap stories trying to out do the others sitting around squatting barn flies. The horse – nothing but a piece of meat to take out their tortuous theories on to be the winner.

In his bizarre ramblings claiming to have Ph.D. in Psychology, this man enjoys, if not boasts of the cruelty he has inflicted on horses to win. We are sure The Ohio State University is proud of their Ph.D. graduate and the emotional intelligence he gained from a Ph.D. Shame they did not teach him how to spell and string a sentence together nor reference the Ph.D. in the correct format. We would enjoy that certificate of achievement being published with his name on it.

Farcically, this man bursting out against the cruelty that is alleged to have occurred on two semi-finalists in the recent NRHA Futurity claiming he has a video of quivering lips with a loose curb chain as the wire in its mouth took effect in the full knowledge of NRHA Directors and professionals. His attack aimed at the NRHA with little regard to the horse. A horseman would have filed a protest against the horse’s trainer and owner. But that is a whole other story.

On his public Facebook page, he writes of his opinions and conquests and of course, his best friend Tommy Manion, extreme horse abuser who has been suspended many times across different disciplines.

Proud of his conquests he brags:

All we can say is sickening. You don’t need to be PETA or an animal rights extremist to know how sick that is.

Not satisfied in shocking the world with that pearl of information he goes on to say:

Was it necessary?  Heck no. The photo on this page is Hollywood Jac 86 – one of the greatest horses in reining history. A hall of fame horse and hall of fame sire. His floppy ears never stopped him earning. Thanks to the person who messaged us and reminded of this great horse’s ears for comparison.

While many reining horse people support this man, others have a different view. Some top trainers employ him to improve their training skills. Those that have been in the sport for a few years are fully aware of the barbaric treatment he has put horses through. At any time, he could be a hair trigger away from applying it on any horse.

He brags about his talent in not getting caught:

There is commentary that he has been suspended, but a review of the NRHA disciplinary list and his name does not appear. Some people want him banned, and many others in the reining horse community are strong supporters.

Those long-standing people talk of firsthand experience of the horror of things seen when visiting his barn. They talk about his reputation for crippling and killing horses.

What his posts do show, in our opinion, is a person with no emotional intelligence, a person that has little to no ability to show concern for the welfare of a horse. Any teachings he does would be potentially doused in cruelty as he has no measure of what is right and wrong. To the people that he spends time with “Your Vibe is your Tribe.”

Did you miss who this person is: Meet Larry Rose (the guy on the left) on his public Facebook page.  Scroll down and you will see all the people he hangs out with and those that support him. You will see him also going out of his way to be pictured with the famous people of reining to make a bigger man of himself.

Best of all read the most ironic post at the top of the page – he is anti-cheaters. But does he consider cheating differently from abuse?

Then there is the Larry Rose Fan Page with currently 191 people registered that say he is the greatest. There is a saying about the company you keep, so you may want to jot their names down.

If you wish to have a real good belly laugh then head on over there and read about how Larry Rose is going to save NRHA and is best buddies with the NRHA directors. What a team?

WHY YOU NEED RULES IMPROVED?

Can anyone explain how a person like this that publicly confirms abuse for many years can be tolerated to be part of any horse sport? The members open their arms to him?

He should be banned from having anything to do with horses or animals for life.

Vote for Change in the Rules and Enforcement of Rules by clicking here.

© 2017 reiningtrainers.com

Confessions of a Million Dollar Reining Trainer – is this an admission of abuse in the sport?

Million dollar reining trainer, 14 times world champion, two times NRHA futurity champion and one of the most respected people in the reining sport, with an international reputation, Craig Johnson has posted to his Facebook Page on May 29th, 2017 a confession regarding the reining horse sport. Craig writes – “I was asked the other day at an NRHA event by one of the other million dollar riders if I had retired. Umm.”

Craig responds:

“Maybe it’s because I’m no longer willing to do the things I use to, and things I’ve seen, in order to make a horse do what it takes.”

“Maybe I’m not interested until I find a better way. Maybe I’m home experimenting with a better way. Maybe I think we should take longer, wait on horses, and create something that is broke, sound, and happy for years.”

“Maybe I’m not as selfish as I use to be. Maybe I’ve decided it’s more about the horse and what it wants to be rather than what I need it to be.”

“No I haven’t retired, I have evolved.”

There are many other similar statements throughout his confession. A confession of major significance and confronts all those people that say that horses are not started too early, broken down, forced to fulfill giant egos. You only need to read our other posts and people’s stories on our website and Facebook page comments on the atrocities that these horses endure to fulfill the dreams of desperate trainers and their limelight hunting owners wanting instance results and futurity glory. An association driven by making money from horses and lauding their positions over the small membership of just 11,000 odd people globally.

His intent may have been to promote himself to other equine disciplines like ranch riding, or maybe to distance himself from the now epidemic of abuse in the international reining sport. Only he knows the intent of his confession, but the statements made are loud and clear.

Yes, you may be evolving Craig Johnson, but the proof of how far you have evolved is when you use your status to change the rules of the NRHA and influence trainers to back off and put the horses before themselves and selfish limelight hunting owners. Maybe some others will follow in your enlightened example, and the abuse of these beautiful horses will no longer be acceptable at shows and home at their barns. It will be interesting to see what other reining trainers will stand at your shoulder and what you do from here on.

One thing is for sure, the denial that exists from within the industry is now out in the open; exposed by one of their own. Those ego driven and unenlightened people, living in the reining bubble now shown up for their ignorance and/or denial as the horses are made to perform at the cost of their welfare and wellbeing.

His confession speaks volumes to the reining horse sport, the NRHA that defines it and those trainers that endorse what the horses now endure.

We have been asking for change, and the million dollar rider is confirming why we are right!

Please vote for Change on our Poll – click on the link.

 

 

 

 

Reining horses hardly stand a chance

“A lot of reining horses eliminate themselves early on, even if they have the ability and the try, because they can’t hold up.“ – Timothy Bartlett, DVM, of Vincennes, Ind., has been actively involved in the sport as a president of NRHA and an NRHA judge.

An interesting view that it is the horses problem Dr Bartlett, not the trainers or the futurity system.

Half a century ago, when Robert M Miller, DVM was cowboying, he says “colts were started at four years of age or older. Once in a while, one might be started as a three-year-old. Despite some very hard work, barring accidents, those ranch horses were still sound and working into their 20’s.”

Today, more and more, with big money for futurities, these horses MUST be started as two-year-olds; and some are starting them as young as 18 months, thinking more riding will make them more competitive.

Because of this, many of these horses end up with bowed tendons, navicular disease, bone spavins, bone chips, stifle injuries, blown-out hocks, hairline fractures, arthritis, severe back problems, sprained necks and a myriad of other problems and conditions associated with the strain and stress to young developing bodies. Many horses break down in the first year and those that make their 3yo or 4yo end up with debilitating problems at only four or five years of age and live on anti-inflammatory medications and/or painkillers in their feed or through injections.

The sad fact is that of the tens of thousands of reining horses bred each year, only one hundred or so make it to the Futurity. [see footnote] The others are lost in the system, and many end up slaughtered as they are damaged beyond repair and have no value to this futurity driven industry.

The vets are now recognizing that reining horses have one of the highest incidents of breaking down next to race horses; and sadly the same fate.

Dr. Grant Miller, DVM says “we have established that repetitive trauma on the joint from the athletic performance can cause degenerative changes to the cartilage and bones. Race horses and futurity Quarter Horses that train heavily in the juvenile stage of their lives often show early signs of hock-related pain. Reiners commonly have hock issues.”

It seems this futurity driven industry that starts out knowing the pain they will inflict on these young animals actively deny the veterinarians research and evidence and continue their practices. Is this respect and compassion as promoted on the NRHA website?

The management of the reining horses can further exacerbate their health issues as most futurity horses are weaned at three months of age then placed on a high growth diet. They are kept in stables 22-23 hours per day as they are prepped for sales and/or go into trainer barns. Extended stabling time would be similar to you going into your coat closet and spending most of your time standing there. There are mental issues and physical suffering that comes with this confinement. Their joints stiffen at an early age, and they suffer similar pain and stress that we would suffer standing still for hours on end cooped up in a confined space. A life of standing in a barn and then being worked hard for half or a full hour – is that respectful? There are some trainers that provide pasture time for horses each days, but many don’t. They don’t have the room, the time nor the desire to have horses away from the barn taking longer to catch and increasing the work load.

Raise any issue of abuse or mistreatment with reining horse people, and you will be sprayed with comments attempting to justify they are treated like kings being stabled, rugged, fed, washed. They do not think of the horse’s mental welfare and the pain he/she suffers standing in an unnatural environment 24/7. They walk away to their comfortable homes, while the horse stands still.

The horse skeleton and muscle are structured for continual movement through grazing. They are designed to walk many miles each day.

Living in this abnormal stall environment conflicting with their structural make-up and being worked hard, too early, finds many reining horses live on a cocktail of drugs every day of their life to keep them going. The focus has shifted from producing physically and mentally sound horses to being knowledgeable in drugs to keep them seemingly sound enough to ride. The rule book is now saturated with drug testing commentary but little evidence of testing, and only randomly, at some large events. Like any drug testing, the providers are able to keep ahead of the tests much like you see in professional sports people.

Managing young bodies

Trainers rarely x-ray the horses they are entrusted with, and owners rarely demand x-rays until something has gone wrong. The use of blood tests to identify abnormalities or issues even rarer. If the horse looks in good condition and can be ridden, with or without drugs, all’s good to go, and the focus is set hard on the futurity. It has become a custom that horses are injected in the hocks and receive daily medications; never questioning why or changing their program. Many trainers believe they have knowledge beyond science and can just ‘know it’s ok.’ Often drugs are administered based on observational symptoms without validation of underlying causes. Some trainers inject horses without the owners even knowing as they attempt to keep horses in their barns.

The pressure, stress, and suffering of the horses all in pursuit of winning the big money at the futurity. Imagine if the horses were not allowed to be ridden for just one more year, how many more entries would there be? Imagine how those horses would be if they were kept and worked in a program that was more in line with their skeletal requirements. Imagine if the owners all started to demand x-rays and blood tests and were pro-active in their horse management.

Some may say only the best make it, but with the refined breeding programs and the number that breakdown early, you would have to question the program more than the breeding, wouldn’t you?

Winning no matter what?

Robert M Miller, DVM cites the story “One of my clients was a prosperous, educated couple. They were very congenial, and they owned three Quarter Horses. One day, they called me to come to their home to worm their horses and check them over and booster their vaccinations. When I arrived, I found only two horses, so I asked where the third one was. “Oh, he is in training as a reining horse, with ____________” (a successful and notoriously brutal trainer who also happened to be one of my clients). Then the wife said, “We know how cruel he is to the horses, but he wins!”

 

Do you believe the NRHA is standing behind their statement “We expect our members to consider the welfare of their horses paramount and to always treat them with dignity, respect and passion”?

Don’t forget to vote on the Poll for Change

 

Footnote: NRBC enrolled studs, which are the top escalante of reining horses – 182- average 100 mares each a year 18,200 alone. Plus all the other studs that are not enrolled – and a bunch more of them should not even be studs. And that is just in the USA. Then there is Canada, Brazil, Australia and all the European stallions of which is there a very high number too and the list goes on. Tens of thousands is not an over estimate.

Hundred or so is a generalisation across many countries. USA has a larger number whereas countries like Australia have a micro futurity with just 20 all in.