Report Horse Abuse of reiners

Report Horse Abuse and Your Attacked

NRHA Members and Reining Enthusiasts write they are abused if they Report Horse Abuse

In an enlightened world of what is and is not acceptable in horse training methods, the Reining Horse World comes under the spotlight equally to that of the Tennessee Walking Horse – Big Lick for many people.

The fear in members is evident when you read the conversations they have regarding the welfare of horses and reporting horse abuse. The comments read of intimidation, victimization, ostracization; their real experience of reporting horse abuse.

Like the Big Lick, it is seemingly a closed shop with trainers and self-regulation being how the sport of reining is managed. They adamantly deny cruelty or abuse whilst others are shocked when they learn what goes on in the training methods. Unlike Big Lick, there are good and kind trainers within reining but there are also trainers and non-pro competitors that have no issue in their horse’s sides being blooded with spurs, mouths sored and blood, wired mouths, cut or injected tails to stop movement, drugging and numerous other atrocities occurring back at their training barns. All these things are abuse, their cruelty, (refer AAEP Guidelines on equine abuse), and certainly not how you would treat a member of the family; as NRHA marketing espouses.

When people with a consciousness toward their animals stand-up, or those that see blooded sides, torn mouths, and other atrocities at shows report them, the response from those that are governing the sport, working in the office, or show pens is downright shocking.

Read from the people in the sport. Some of these people talking below are well known in the NRHA world and it includes comments from 2020.

While the NRHA spends tens of thousands of dollars of membership money creating a public persona of clean family sport, this is what is happening behind the scenes in 2019/2020.

These types of conversations are endless across Reining Horse Forums.

Let us know your experience in attempting to report horse abuse to the NRHA or NRHA Show Officials.

What are your thoughts:

  • Is this acceptable conduct by a governing body?
  • Should member money be spent on marketing or enforcing the rules?
  • Who Should Manage Reining Horse Rule-Making and Welfare

Vote Now on Improving Rules and Management of Horse Abuse

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The Reining Tail Obsession

The 2020 NRHA Derby did not disappoint with horses showing the quiet reining tail look; achieved through equine suffering.

The quiet reining tail look is a signature of the reining horse, and despite the suffering to the horse, it continues. Judges reward quiet tails; even when it is clear to the public, they have been tampered with! High scoring horses with flat tails hanging like dish rags.

They are so obsessed with the look; members report yearlings presenting at NRHA sales with their tails done!

To achieve, ‘the look’ people knowingly cause harm – including hair loss, permanent nerve or muscle damage or, worst of all, amputation. With some veterinarians becoming more concerned over their reputations for tail blocking, trainers and their assistants’ step to needle horses tails with alcohol or other potions, some finding different solutions to numb the tail. Tourniquets are very popular now. Members report their horses being done without permission!

The horse’s tail serves many purposes:

  • Indicator of emotional status
  • Assists in temperature regulation
  • A protective barrier for the anus and vulva
  • An appendage that aids in balancing
  • Insect deterrent

With penalties for swishing tails, the motivation to stop it at all costs is high for trainers and show riders.

Horse Tail Anatomy

  • There are between 18 and 22 tail vertebrae, which begin where the sacrum ends.
  • Muscle and ligament continue to the end of the dock.
  • The vertebrae size reduces in diameter from the root of the tail to the tip. The end is pointed.
  • Two arteries supply blood to the tail. Circulation is not efficient in this narrow pathway.

Quiet Reining Tails through Tourniquets

The tourniquets are increasing in use as they can seem harmless but if wrapped tightly achieve numbness. Quickly pulled off just before the horse enters the arena it can achieve the quiet reining tail look. BUT:

Too Much Pressure Cuts off Blood/Nerve Supply  –  The dock is extremely sensitive to pressure. Any wrap applied above the last vertebrae that apply prolonged pressure acts as a tourniquet, which results in loss of blood and nerve supply to the entire dock. Repeatedly wrapping too tightly or too close to the end of the tailbone can cause the whole tail to die.

Sign this petition link if you believe any form of tail alteration, numbing, or blocking should be outlawed.

Read More Articles on this Topic

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Preparing to earn a million dollars in The Last Cowboy

A quick video looking at how reining horses are trained by one of the million-dollar cowboy featuring in the film ”The Last Cowboy” and “Run for a Million” competition. 

This is the event that is being promoted as the greatest exposure of reining in its history by program writer and NRHA Hall of Fame Inductee, Taylor Sheridan. The Paramount Network distributing the film of The Last Cowboy. The Run For a Million Competition held in Las Vegas.  The reining horse also appeared in the hit series Yellowstone.

Watch the video and see how the horses are trained by what is written up as one of the NRHA’s best trainers.

 

Craig Schmersal

In case you missed it here is a short video of his training method. Some people may have an issue with the spur gouges in that horse’s sides and marks left, but in reining its part of the training – this guy is the expert. Some may wonder about the jerking of the reins when the horse is already pinned against his chest – but that is reining training. Watch the tail – all that spurring and jerking and no wringing or clamping of the tail. Wonder how he achieved that?

Is the Paramount Network promoting cruelty to horses?? Is this like the old days of Hollywood where entertainment was more important than the journey of the horse – thinking back to the stopping and flipping of horses with the Running W – banned in the mid-1940s.

 

 

Do you think this breaches the AAEP Guidelines of Horse Abuse?

Remember to sign the petition to stop tail blocking too

© 2019 Reiningtrainers.com. All Rights Reserved. Re-publishing of this post by written approval only excluding Facebook Share (unedited).

Outlaw Tail Blocking – Its Pervasive in Reining – its Cheating, Unethical and the Horses Suffer

Tail blocking is pervasive in reining events and members believe it is a necessity to win prize money.

There seems to be a “cheat to win” mentality that has become pervasive in the show horse industry1. Tail blocking is unethical for veterinarians and shows the decay in training programs when it becomes a necessity to get a horse shown.

It is a cosmetic procedure for the “show look” being used to disguise heavy spurring and sour minded horses. It can also disguise soreness in horses for some ailments.

Tail Blocking is painful for the horse when being done, and they suffer for months following. It must be outlawed.

Tail Blocking is disrespectful and abusive to the horse, and it is only done for the trainers and owners financial gain.

According to DR KATE HEPWORTH-WARREN, DVM, DACVIM – the Quiet Tail is “perhaps the most dangerous tail alteration procedure, which the AVMA defines as “numbing the tail to cause it to hang limply.” This practice is most often performed on horses competing in Western disciplines, such as pleasure or reining classes, where horses are penalized for wringing, raising or moving the tail side to side excessively. “

Read the Full Article from Kate Hepworth Warren on Tail Blocking and its effects on horses.

According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners:

Hepworth-Warren says “Because tail blocking is considered inhumane and unethical, it is not taught in veterinary schools. Thus, any individual who performs the procedure most likely has had no veterinary training and may have minimal knowledge of the anatomy and function of the tail. If it is performed by a veterinarian, it is unethical.”

It is a cosmetic procedure and if performed is done so for financial gain only by the veterinarian.

Click here to read the Veterinarian Board position on tail blocking.

Some veterinarians are cashing in on this condemned procedure.

These unscrupulous veterinarians need to be outed and penalized for doing the surgical procedure, whether shown as the procedure or not on the invoice. If they are the attending veterinarian to the training facility or property, they must be reviewed when a horse is tested positive for a block tail.

The Veterinarian Association has a duty of care to ban Tail Blocking with severe fines, if not barring where done excessively, veterinarians who conduct the unnecessary cosmetic procedure.

Associations soft handed approach toward tail blocking is seeing a rise to epidemic proportions. Often boards are run by trainers. They are compromised in their ability to enforce rules, with conflicts of interest between owning-showing-training horses and rule enforcement.

Independent Testing

This is a serious welfare issue that needs independent testing. Testing provided by a 3rd party to ensure fair play in the show ring and the welfare of the horses.

Independent testing is the only pathway as boards are remiss in their duties.

Why Trainers Tail Block Horses?

Penalties are applied by judges for tail movement that put trainers out of the winners circle or top placings.

Because a swishing tail is penalized in some horse show events, particularly reining classes, handlers sometimes resort to methods, commonly called “blocking” or “nerving” that numb the tail or block the sensation of the nerve endings so it cannot move. Because tail-swishing is often linked to poor training methods, improper use of spurs, or to the horse being “ring sour”, i.e. burned-out on competition.

What is means for the horse’s welfare?

The tail is part of the horse’s spine. It is used for balance as it performs various manoeuvres. It is also used to remove flies and other biting insects from its sides for comfort. Tails can tell when a horse is suffering anxiety, frustration or indicate potential illness. It is a signal used by mares to the advances of stallions and used in herd (two or more horses) communication.

Blocked tails hang lifelessly, rather than swaying slightly with the movement of the horse. The animal has no way of lifting its tail to defecate and therefore defecates into its tail. For mares, they pass urine into their tails and often have bacterial issues in their uterine as the urine leaks in. This can lead to permanent breeding issues. Some trainers tie the tail around with string to their neck to save the constant washing.

In some cases, the discomfort of the injection leads the horse to move stiffly in the hindquarters.

In worst cases, the tail is permanently damaged and in severe cases infection spreads into the hindquarters and tails can fall off.

A horse with a blocked tail cannot be left to pasture. They require full -time care to clean them each time they pass manure. Without the care they are subject to being fly strike (maggots under their tail) and other bacterial infections.

Horses naturally position themselves to urinate and defecate in such a way that it does not fall/splash on their legs. The mental frustration of not being able to do that continually mess themselves is torturous.

NRHA Action on Blocked Tails

Horses competing in NRHA reining events, particularly high prize money and title events like futurities are observed to have blocked tails, regularly. Watching the live stream of the recent futurity it was clear the problem is escalating. Members cited in 2018 up to 80%, if not more, of horses competing at the NRHA Futurity event in Oklahoma City had altered tails.

The NRHA has a statement on blocked tails but there is no evidence of fines or suspensions being given.

Action Being Taken

As the NRHA is not effectively managing the rules, the matter is now for public input through petitions to veterinarian associations and law makers. This is an inditement on the sport and a sad state that those that should be protecting them have abandoned them. The members are fully aware of tail blocking and do nothing.

As some say, this is no different to the self-regulation applied to the Tennessee Walking Horses Big Lick, which is undeniable suffering for the horses.

Sign the petition On Change.org today to stop Tail Blocking by clicking on this link


1 – Dr. Messer is a Professor Emeritus of equine medicine and surgery at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine and a member of the AAEP’s Professional Conduct and Ethics Committee

Horse completing Reining Futurity signature slide

Reining Futurity Bound; the secrets to winning

The Reining Futurity is the signature event that defines all breeding and training of the reining horse. But what is the journey for the horses that are reining futurity bound?

Behind the plethora of images showing the famous reining horse slide, is a sport that is coming into question more and more by the public and a small number of members within the sport. The Hollywood style images are blinding individuals of having a conscious with lack of care toward the star of all the shows; the horse. For the gullible, and those that need to believe it, those images portray a horse that lives a life of utopia. Long flowing manes and tails, carefully manicured presentation, and matching outfits; it’s so pretty how could anything be wrong?

The world has changed with instant media. People are aware and concerned about the growing trend behind the scenes of reining horses being trained for the futurities; their expectations and tolerance of dated standards are over. Much like the growing trend against the Big Lick horses. The feedback of cruelty occurring is sickening and seemingly unstoppable. Not all reining trainers are cruel but the number is rising and their counterparts do not take action to stem the trend.

In Facebook Forums the following extracts are just a sample of what you would read.

As some owners and trainers show a menacing compulsive obsession toward winning, that seemingly crosses the line to no longer caring about the horses; just the prize money and bright lights of the Hollywood style reining futurity events,

Some well-known industry stalwarts have publicly communicated their distress as hundreds, if not thousands, of 2 year-olds being started worldwide with only a handful coming through. Many dumped within months as trainers look for their next big prize. Some of those horses that fail to make the journey suffering life-ending injuries, others crippled, broken, and damaged cast aside by owners that have no interest in anything that is not a reining futurity prospect. Some poor souls are ending up being slaughtered. One well known top breeder left the sport saying “I can no longer live with what the horses go through, so I am out of the business.”

People raising concerns are publicly ‘bullied online’ for daring to question any practices, training, or conduct associated with the sport. Rebuffing any points raised as a lack of knowledge of this what they attempt to call unique sport. Their top statements are:

  1. You know nothing about the sport
  2. You don’t know what it takes to win
  3. You’re not a trainer what you would know
  4. You are one of those PETA or animal rights people, you know nothing

All pivoted around ignorance of the sport, as their camouflage for horse abuse. According to the AAEP Horse Abuse Guidelines, many practices come into question.

As the modern world is more enlightened and less tolerant, the ability to plausibly explain those training methods is becoming more difficult. People are more educated and not willing to accept quip answers to questions. Outside the bubble of reining, observers are shocked at what it takes to win, and they don’t like what they see. People who are highly experienced horseman and horsewoman from other disciplines cringing.

The prize money is much bigger, and the horse is paying the price. Winning the Reining Futurity is everything!

The reining participants are showing no care for public opinion as its vocal members attempt to belittle observers. Their attitude is it is better to attack the evidence-based opinion than acknowledge there is a problem – little own fix the problem? Some members have shown their outright recklessness denying proven court documents, videos, and images of abuse. Some enablers are holding themselves up as experts in the reining industry. There is a special place for those people as they enable abusers.

In Facebook forums, they even talk of hoping animal rights people don’t read the comments or they will be shut down. Actively working to hide the abuse. Like this well known NRHA person writes about the abuse and their concern but publicly denies any issues.

Long-standing well-respected members write of their concern over the changes being seen in the sport in training styles and treatment of horses. Some cite the horse now is seemingly a disposable product.

One person writing “they pay $100k for the horse – they don’t want a pet it has to win.”

Trainers rule with an iron-fist quickly dismissing any questions of poor conduct with the slickness of a car salesman and with the prowess of well-practiced responses. The NRHA board, stocked with breeders and trainers with financial interests in the sport, governing the behavior of their cohorts.

As a sport in quarter horse events internationally, the number of members is just some 11,000 with active members lower numbers. It assimilates into being a small cult-like group of people with the obsession of the Reining Futurity and the thrill of extreme spinning and sliding. Culminated in the annual pilgrimage to the Reining Futurity.

It is time for the rules to change and the NRHA to show compassion for the horses over the passion for the dollar.

To vote for change click here

Experienced any abuse and believe hiding it will not solve the problem? It is time to start outing this sport for what really goes on.

© 2018 Reiningtrainers.com. All Rights Reserved. Re-publishing of this post by written approval only excluding Facebook Share (unedited).

 

Isn’t It Abuse No Matter How You Attempt to Justify It?

The reining horse training is now renowned for the excessive spurring and jerking of the horses which can be seen in many warm-up pen at shows across the world. People cringe at the movement of a western pleasure horse but they are shocked about what they see away from shows or in the early hours of the morning at big shows.

Reiners say it is done with masterful techniques but a trip to horse show tells a different story when you see it first hand. Craig Schmersal Top 20 Reining Trainer looks very masterful in this old photo taken at FEI competition as he runs spurs up the sides under the saddle and leans over the wither to gain more leverage hauling on the horses mouth in a curb bit. A quick look at a recent show and you can see its an epidemic style.

Reiners claim that anyone not seeing it is masterful must be from PETA or a tree-hugger. It is become laughable to hear as some of their own high profile people start to break away and state it is abuse and excessive abuse, throwing a spear into the heart of their well rehearsed lines.

You just have see the poorly managed tempers and frustration taken out on the horse while their egos take over in the relentless show down between riders of who is bigger and better in the warm up pen.

The un-inducted and non-reining horse people are often left speechless as they watch how these horses are trained to achieve those moments of flashiness in the show ring. Many observers coming away with the conclusion that it is abuse; something any reining horse rider denies. They deny it publicly but jump into their private groups and they talk of excessive abuse and cite things that leave you shaking your head. Those writers are fearful of speaking out or they will be out of the ‘family’. The people relationships being more important than horse welfare.

Reiners believe that the obsession with over bent head sets and hauling on reins is fine. As like the believe that constant spurring is fine. The running of horses from end to end of the warm-up until they are exhausted known as fencing. Some horses actually running head first into the wall. Their best excuses heard as the blood drips from the horses sides and mouths as they apply their ‘kind and masterful’ spurring and jerking. A quick bit of show ring preparation of rubbing sand from arena surface and a towel through the mouth before they enter the show ring.

Sitting high in the stands, are the crowd and judges, often unable to see the evidence from afar. They only care about the lights – show – action for a brief couple of minutes. The show stewards seemingly caring more about group acceptance than welfare.

What is seen is the show ring is polar opposites to what goes on behind the scenes and back home in the barn but the gullible believe its all loose reins and soft.

The argument is always ‘what is abuse’? Smooth talking trainers could talk their way out of any corner with a justification and often ‘baffle owners and non-pro’s with BS of what is or is not abuse. It would be a fool of a trainer that would actually stand there and say ‘hell yeah, I abuse horses’ instead they craft magical tales to deflect the obvious to person intend on believing anything but the truth.

The FEI, the international body governing horse events defines abuse simply.

Article 142 – Abuse of Horses
1. No person may abuse a Horse during an Event or at any other time. “Abuse” means an action or omission which causes or is likely to cause pain or unnecessary discomfort to a Horse, including without limitation any of the following:
– To whip or beat a Horse excessively;
– To subject a Horse to any kind of electric shock device;
– To use spurs excessively or persistently;
– To jab the Horse in the mouth with the bit or any other device;
– To compete using an exhausted, lame or injured Horse;
– To “rap” a Horse.
– To abnormally sensitise or desensitise any part of a Horse;
– To leave a Horse without adequate food, drink or exercise;
– To use any device or equipment which cause excessive pain to the Horse upon knocking down an obstacle.

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) and National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) also run world title events with reining. Their rules implicitly consider excessive spurring and jerking as abuse too.

The NRHA, however, believes all is good, and no changes have been made to rules to address this now worldwide epidemic of abuse again this year.

The definition of a reining horse is: The best reined horse should be willingly guided or controlled with little or no apparent resistance and dictated to completely. Any movement on his own must be considered a lack of control.

The dictation has gone too far but those saturated within the system cannot see the woods for the trees. They believe the Kool-Aid.

Sending horses to reining trainers can be a big mistake for many horses with an increasing number landing in the discarded yard.

Please click on our poll and vote for change to the rules.

One of these Reining Professional Trainers is a convicted horse abuser?

Do you know who? Would you know if any of the Reining Professional Trainers have records for convicted horse abusers or NRHA reports for horse abuse?

Right now, there is a person who is a repetitive horse abuser, charged in a court of law in recent years, is promoting his status as an NRHA Professional.

At the court hearing for horse abuse, witnesses came forward and told how they had seen this man over a number of different incidents, over time, cause harm and severe distress to horses on his property, even leaving them tied high without food and water for extended periods of time. The horse in questions showed severely gauged and blooded horse sides and mouth photos were sickening. Evidence from other horses were presented. He pleaded guilty to four counts of horse abuse.

That man now struts around promoting the badge of honor of being an NRHA Professional. He has a shiny website and a FaceBook page that tells a great story. He has the videos and all the trimmings. You would think you are booking your horse into one of the safest barns because he is an NRHA Professional. A highly promoted standard of the NRHA.

He appears at shows, and you could be unaware of his track record for abuse as only those in the inner circle may know, and they do not speak ill of their ‘family’. It is like horrible Uncle Bill, knowing he commits domestic violence but no-one interferes with many excuses as to why.

His fellow trainers and NRHA Professionals are slapping him on the back saying what a good man he is, knowing full well of his history. Probably thinking it is a shame he got caught. They welcome him and join him in the festivities before, during and after the shows.

Is a convicted multiple time horse abuser the standard of horse management they accept in the NRHA? 

With first-hand knowledge of this person and his conviction, the NRHA has approved his membership, and he has passed the litmus test of the board being ‘a person in good standing.’ They have even gone on to approve his membership as an NRHA Professional Trainer.

Here is his handy work on the a horse he was entrusted with to train and severly abused including a torn tongue and bleeding mouth. Is this how you train a reining horse?

The question is “how many other horse abusers are out there promoting themselves as NRHA Professionals or Reining Professionals and the public are not being informed?”

How do you find out who it is? All the trainers and die hard reining enthusiasts chasing the lights, stick together and keep those skeletons hidden behind barn doors.

In fact, many equine victims and their owners are hunted off to the abyss away from the sport to remove all evidence as though they committed the crime not the trainer. We have many tales posted by the public of the horrific suffering that left the sport. Some NRHA members doing everything they can to deflect and whitewash the fact ‘a convicted horse abuser is accepted as an a-ok trainer for reining horses’. They even attempt to deny abuse is occuring and have become online trolls attempting to gang bash any one who makes a comment about concern for reiners.

Times have changed and these barbaric practices and guarding of the guilty are over. Society no longer accepts this attitude and any association or its members supporting such practices is as guilty as those who commit the abuse. Those bad apples need to be ejected from the sport, whether they are on the board of directors or in a barn out west.

Please click here and vote for change and improved transparency and accountability of reining trainers.

Wondered who it is and can’t find out elsewhere, click on the image.

©2017 Reining Trainers Enigma. All Rights Reserved

Are Reining Trainers Getting Away with Blocking Tails to Win?

The trainer or non-pro is riding to win, but that dang horse’s tail keeps wringing. It is not a penalty but it detracts from the overall quality of the run, and the score goes down. There is a fix for that; tail blocking or nerving the tail.  If you watch reining classes or are loping around in a warm-up pen, you will see a tail just hanging flat even in spins, slides, back-ups and fast circles.

Under the medications rule it is illegal, but have you ever seen someone being pulled out of competition for a lifeless tail? Most likely not. Are the horses drug tested – rarely.

SIGN THE PETITION ON CHANGE.ORG TO THE VETERINARIANS AND LAW MAKERS TO OUTLAW TAIL BLOCKING

The tail of a horse indicates its discomfort, pain, frustration or annoyance. The vision of a horse wringing its tail when spinning, lead changing, backing up could see you lose a ½ point or more in quality on a maneuver. Over a few maneuvers, those points can be slipping away quickly and out of the money. Is the risk of blocking worth it? For some, yes as they know they will not be pulled up by judges and stewards if they have the right friends and influence. You just have to look at the irregular application of fines and penalties.

Tail swishing is often linked to poor training methods, improper use of spurs, or to the horse being “ring sour,” i.e. burned-out on competition or being hammered day-in-day-out in their training program. If they have a horse that is a top contender, but the horse lets the world know its issues, then the line of ethical and unethical is confronted.

How do some reiners solve the problem; numb or nerve block the sensation of the nerve endings so the horse cannot move the tail.

Now the reining people will start shouting this down as that is how they manage all awareness of cruelty going on in their sport. Intimate, deny and bully. The more they shout, the more likely you have hit a nerve, so to speak.

A horses tail is part of its spine and plays and important role in their balance. While there are signals of problems with the horse, prior blocking, the issues increase ten-fold when they lose the function that is part of their balance to perform.

Tailing blocking is quite controversial because many seem to believe nothing is wrong with the practice and it can be done without a trace (sometimes). Like all cruelty, its justifiable to anyone who is over-trusting, stupid or gullible enough to listen. After all, many think it is only temporary. Wrong.

Trainers can nerve tails without owners even knowing, just to keep the horse in the barn or to win an event. Some get away with it time after time. It is only the physical evidence that tells the owner something is seriously wrong, if they visit the horse at the barn. If they care for their horse they will be seeking for justice, but the NRHA does not impose fines on anyone outside of a show event. Most tail nerving problems occur back at the barn before a horse gets a show. The barn is where the NRHA hides behind their (un)governed code of ethics for all trainers that is not enforced. Why have a code of ethics if its not enforced on those that signed up for it???

What horses suffer from tail blocking

There are many cases where the tail blocking is permanent, and more than people may realize. The tail is left damaged, hanging limply with the horse defecating all over itself cause it cannot move the tail to the side. The mare is peeing down herself. The horse cannot flick flies away. The horse becomes an invalid, requiring frequent daily attention to wipe the manure and urine away. Without the manual cleaning, the horse can become flyblown. Mares can become infected in the uterus and become problem breeders or barren.

Another complication that may occur is a temporary inability to defecate and/or urinate due to paralysis of the muscles that control rectum and bladder emptying. This requires veterinary care to assist the animal to defecate and urinate. In extreme cases, especially if the alcohol injected migrates from the tail to nearby muscles and skin, damage can be so severe that necrosis can set in. Another damaging outcome is the development of a form of body paralysis due to nerve damage in the hindquarters.

These can be problems for a few weeks or months, but many have permanent damage with owners sending them to the slaughterhouse.

How is the tail blocked or nerved?

The tail can be blocked by veterinarians, much like a nerve blocking to a leg. However, more often it is done using alcohol for the cheap, untraceable, behind the barn version that no-one is to know about. The bad trainers and owners preferred method.

The major nerves of a horse’s tail are injected with alcohol to stop the horse’s ability to lift, or even move it’s tail. The results from injecting can be the introduction of an infection to the tail. Tail circulation is poor, and injuries are slow to heal, and infections can persist and spread into the leg, into the back, etc. Worst case, you have a dead horse on your hands.

While simple local anesthetics could be used, such medications can show up in drug tests.

Conversely, grain alcohol acts locally and degrades the myelin sheaths of the nerves so that the horse cannot move its tail. Injections are usually applied directly to the tail at a certain point at the base of the dock. If the wrong point is used the problems of infection escalate. Some inject slightly down from the base of the dock so that the horse may appear to carry its tail in a natural manner, but only for the first few inches, and the animal still cannot move the entire tail structure. This is often undetectable, though injections can sometimes leave white spots above the tail dock like the horse in the image or the sliding horse with obvious tail marks in the main image. These are often treated with hair die to cover the evidence at shows.

Needless to say, with an untraceable drug used; tail blocking can, and is, happening more than one cares to believe.

While promoters of the practice claim that most grain alcohol injections eventually wear off, if done carefully, a poorly done injection can cause abscesses or permanent nerve damage. Sometimes normal tail function never returns.

Read the story of Gator, where a trainer convinced an owner it was just the done thing to inject tails. Gator went from a world champion paint contender to a long-suffering, then ultimately a pasture horse.

Next time you see a reining horse flying down the pen with a flat tail – you are most likely looking at a blocked tail. Take note if the judges or stewards do anything about it on the day. Were drug tests being done? Most likely not according to the low number of horses tested. Does the person appear in the suspended list?

Don’t forget to vote on our poll for change to improve the regulations to stop this happening.