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Futurity Bound; the secrets to winning

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.

The world has changed with instant media. People are aware and concerned about what is going on behind the scenes of reining; their expectations and tolerance of dated standards are over. The feedback of cruelty occurring is sickening.

 

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 futurity events.

Some well-known industry stalwarts have publicly communicated their distress as hundreds, if not thousands, of 2 year-olds being started world-wide 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 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

Share the article to Facebook, and they will all appear stating you are wrong.

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.

The reining fraternity is 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, 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 of the reining industry. There is a special place for those people as they enable abusers.

Behind closed Facebook walls a well known NRHA person writes but publicly denies any issues.

The saddest of all is the members of the sport are forced to choose their involvement over horse welfare. They write of the pressure applied for daring to speak out they live in fear of being kicked to the curb for daring to comment or acknowledge anything off script to the Kool-Aid Elixir mantra. The ironic statement is seen consistently ‘I can say this as I am no longer a member.’ Others write they are fed up with the abuse and left the sport.

What type of person decides that the welfare of the horse is no longer a priority? Denying science and logic and convinced that horses enjoy coping the excessive spurring and jerking and all other manner of things to control the animal’s movement and thinking. Could it be that the Elixir has been carefully brewed and shaped for many years? An Elixir that appeals to some people that need to idolize and be accepted in the crowd. The only thing in their life is to gain attention through the horse’s success no matter what it costs the horse? People easily awed by the shiny lights and smooth talking trainers.

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 trainers governing the behavior of their cohorts. To the point of welfare, the focus on medications over abuse exists in the rule book as they attempt to block fellow trainers from gaining a competitive advantage through mixtures of cocktails in drugs. The sometimes abusive journey of how the horse gets to the show a seemingly low priority compared to drugging, based on the imbalance of rules in the handbook and enforcement.

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

© Reiningtrainers.com

 

Does self-regulation of animal welfare and abuse work?

Many associations, like the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA), take an approach to managing animal welfare through self-regulation by trainers and the case study of the Tennessee Walking Horse tells everyone, that it fails.

soringOver the past half-century, the treatment of the Tennessee walking horse has increasingly become more inhumane as they attempt to achieve higher stepping horses known as the ‘big lick’. The trainers and owners have reached a point where now, these poor animals endure vile practices in which caustic chemicals, chains, hard objects, cutting, and other gruesome techniques are used to injure the horses’ front legs and hooves and force them to perform an artificially high-stepping gait known as the “big lick.” This sort of calculated, appalling cruelty should never be tolerated. The trainers self-regulate and the outcome is horrendous.

Like the NRHA, the Tennessee walking horse has a welfare statement within its rules, but that has certainly not protected these beautiful animals from barbaric treatment easily identified on horses attending a competition.

In competition, trainers are looking for that winning edge and across all disciplines you see people stretch the boundaries of welfare with the desire to win; some becoming animal abusers as they justify their actions to themselves. The horse no longer a priority as winning has become their image, their livelihood and there is always another horse waiting to enter the barn.

In reining warm-up pens across the globe, you can watch trainers as they push the boundaries and subject the horses to unnecessary pressure and pain in preparation for that moment of winning. Often sanctioned by others around them and creating a benchmark for other trainers also to push their horses to the limits at all cost to the animal. With medical evidence of the damage being caused by some practices, the trainers are defiant and attempt counter arguments against scientific facts.

Owners may lack the knowledge, and some the heart, to understand the pain and suffering of their horse as they buy into the story promoted by the trainer as ‘how things are done to train show horses.’ The trainer, a perceived expert, using their position of influence on the owners to their own gain in justifying their conduct. Trainers, farriers and owners are indoctrinated into the idea that those is how you must treat the animal to achieve a high level competition horse.

Is reining heading in the direction of the Tennessee walking horse?

Are the boundaries now being pushed with the increasing rise of excessive spurring, jerking of reins, more aggressive bits and rollkur increase in the show pen? The wastage of reining horses increasing as animals are quickly thrown aside that will not submit to the excessive demands of the trainers techniques. The videos of the European FEI and just recently a video taken in the US demonstrate that it is becoming more epidemic and accepted.

For the Tennessee walking horse, mainstream horse industry groups and veterinary organizations such as the American Horse Council, American Association of Equine Practitioners, and American Veterinary Medical Association have

tried to work with and encourage the walking horse crowd to bring about change from within – but more than a few stubborn horse owners and trainers continue to think they are above the law.

The US lawmakers now state the current system of self-regulation is still hopelessly broken, and nothing short of significant reforms will fulfill the intent of Congress and break the cycle of cruelty that is so endemic to the big lick walking horse circuit.

With the awareness of the Tennessee walking horse plight and how they got there, is the NRHA going to move from self-regulation to a system of transparency and improvement that ensures the reining horse does not follow in their path?

What actions are considered horse abuse? Click here to find out more.

Have some news or video of reining horse abuse? We are building a case for reform on trainers and your contribution can assist. Click here to send us information.

Sound familiar – the reining horse is bred for his natural athleticism and shown willingly guided:

The Tennessee walking horse is bred for its smooth, natural gait—the running walk—and The HSUS supports the many owners and trainers who use humane training methods to showcase this natural gait, while also working to end the abusive practices often used to create the exaggerated high-stepping gait that has long been associated with soring.