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.