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Do NRHA Judges Reward Intimidation?

Intimidation or Not? You be the judge of these two videos. A horse dropping its head to the ground at every stop? A shake of the reins and the horse is eating dirt. To perform the next manouevre, the horse must lift his head at least 2 feet higher so why have its head way down there?

At a recent judge’s seminar one of our team attended, judges and applicants were advised not to give credit to horses that dropped their heads to the ground as it showed intimidation. The lead judge’s instructor was saying ‘a horse carrying its head unnaturally low, dropping its head lower with every shake of the rein – is not the look we want for reiners. They look intimidated and probably are.’

You be the judge of poor Titan the deaf horse owned by the outspoken Anderson. The horse he likes because he is a dumb horse.

2018 Cactus Reining Classic Open Derby Winner Scoring 234 (78)

Co reserve Champion level 4 Italian Derby Scored a 225 (75)

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️Gunstep❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ co reserve Champion level 4 Italian Derby Score 222.5 Owner : CS Ranch

Posted by Cira Baeck Reining Horses on Sunday, May 27, 2018

What is intimidation training?

Intimidation training, which is repeating of punishment, is the primary way most horse trainers get their horses to perform. They jerk, jerk, jerk on the reins or spur, spur, spur until the horse complies out of fear and force. Of course, a horse that is deaf is already at a set back of submission; basically, the animal is disabled and categorized that way if he were a human.

This method works for those who demand short-term results; just long enough to win a class.

Intimidation is teaching a horse helplessness. A horse drops its head to the ground when it’s being dominated in the wild and when being ridden. Reiners want their horses helpless and entirely reliant on them for every move. Another good reason to have a deaf and dumb horse some might say.

Intimidation training works so well that a great many of the most successful trainers seldom use any other form of behavior modification. It becomes the ‘way of training’ as the majority of professionals use intimidation, and the majority of horse owners who are not professionals adopt the same methods of “intimidation” as their training practice to get a horse to perform. Stand in the warm-up pen, and the fact cannot be denied unless your drowning in their Kool-Aid. Its Monkey see-Monkey do.

With most of the judges and “influencers” of reining policy also being trainers or are “invested” in the showing of reining horses, intimation is accepted. No-one will stand aside and enforce fair change for the horses as it could mean the end of an industry with so many operating with intimidation. Instead, the policy makers concern is increasing the revenue and prize money to feed the intimidation trainers and those invested in the industry.

The proof is that intimidation trainers are continually intimidating their horses. You can observe it during at-home training sessions, during warm up at shows, just before entering the show pen for a performance class and even after exiting the show pen. They even post videos of it now as the standard practice for training a horse.

When a person wins in the ring, Money see-Monkey do goes into overdrive. How many horses now will be victimized to drop their heads to the ground when a standstill?

It’s never-ending because it is never permanent. You often see a horse that performed in the pen, under new stewardship start to fall apart. Less intimidation is applied and the perceived training starts to unravel. Intimidation training does not teach a horse the correct response to a request that will be long-lasting; it only instills fear and helplessness. The horse merely performs out of an effort to avoid pain.

Intimidation trainers don’t use positive or negative reinforcers; they quickly opt to negative as the horse shows a sign of non-compliance. They immediately begin more intimidation—severe bits, tying heads up in stalls, refusing to let horses lie down to rest, excessive flexing without relief. Relief is not just letting the rein go, its letting horse carry its head naturally for a period of time to relax all the muscles.

There are those unique horses that can tolerate the intimidation and can win classes…some even become champions. But, of course, most intimidated horses don’t perform well consistently. They get so nervous, so fearful, they can’t manage a smooth and graceful performance; instead, they get through it with pinned ears, swishing tails (unless tail blocked), sweaty necks, and heads carried as low as their knees or lower.

Judges aren’t going to disqualify professional horsemen since they feed the NRHA money machine. They may have to show under them also at a later date. They are not going to score them down due to the fear of retribution when they are being scored. The judges seminar seemingly an idealogical session that no-one is forced to comply with.

NRHA Directors and Show management are the only people who can set-aside those who succeed using intimidation training. Disciplining the worst to set a standard to all others.

It is just plain stupid to think competitors are going to discipline themselves or their trainers….why would they? The consequences are intimidating!

© 2018 Reiningtrainers.com

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.

Top 20 NRHA Reining Professional Busted for Horse Abuse at Show

This is a story that just keeps on giving. It starts as horse abuse protests and allegations, owners pulling horses and ends up with the trainer saying he is unfairly treated and should be compensated. What about the horse Mr Reining Trainer should he be compensated for being in your barn?

It all starts with this:

Imagine seeing your horse in a stall at a reining show. At first it may seem normal and then you realize, your horse breaks out in sweat and becomes distressed after being hung high for punishment for hours. Is this unusual for reining training?

The world is a buzz with the story of a reining horse suffered this torturous treatment of being hung, while at NRBC  (National Reining Breeders Classic) annual show in April 2017. One of the largest shows on the NRHA circuit.

To assist you understand how it can all turn out for the horse, the image below is a recent snap taken at western trainer C. T. Bryant’s barn displaying what a horse can suffer when it ges hung and loses its footing after attempting to get free. Now back to the reining trainer.

The sound of a thrashing horse could be heard across the facility. The thrashing noise unbearable to listen to and many thinking at first it was a cast horse. People talk about seeing others racing to where all the sound was coming from, ending up at a stall covered in curtains blocking any view inside. The curtains were pulled aside, and there is a horse that has been tied high now in deep distress and potentially could permanently harm or kill itself trying to get loose.

The allegations are the colt was hung by a Top 20 NRHA Professional trainer, but no-one wants to speak of his name as he is one of the worshiped Top 20. Its all hush hush unless you are in the inner circle, until now after his name has been finally published.

Questions are being asked “If this is what he does at a show, imagine what he does back home in the barn?”

Reining trainers, like some others, are renowned for tying horses with their head and neck up to an awkward level; leaving the horse to appear to be on its tiptoes. A mindless method used by many reining trainers to punish horses in an attempt tame those that show any sign of resistance to their dominate training regimes that demand the control of every move the horse makes. Some horses are tied like this, away from food and water, all night. In severe cases, the horses will be left like this for 23+ hours. Some hang them on high walls, others from rafters in stalls and arenas. It is the secret that no-one in the inner circle talks about.

The suffering horses pull against the restraint, half-rearing and shuffling their feet, trying to ease their pain and suffering. The muscle cramps and tearing of muscles and ligaments relentless on them. All the horse wants to do is drop its head down to relax the muscles. These horses are bred to have a low head carriage hung well outside their bearable comfort zone even for a few minutes.

Attempting to escape, the horse can lose its footing and then they are in serious trouble. Others just quit and submit to the helplessness in agony and silent distress. To move around can mean breaking their neck, others kill themselves with a severe hit to the poll while reefing on the tie-up. They can break legs, hips and even smash teeth with the halter pulled through their mouth.

Some clandestine trainers, and their bamboozled owners call it a necessary part of training. Most enlightened people call it abuse. The horse would call it hell.

Unlike the horse in the photo, not all horses reached the point of complete exhaustion and hang themselves, but many suffer severe muscle pain and muscle tearing and are expected to work as performance horses the next day. The trainer is believing they have dominated the horse sufficiently that it will do what is demanded of it instantly to avoid another tie-up session or further pain inflicted.

Most trainers using this technique also have a bag full of other torturous methods they apply to dominate the horse to the point of learned helplessness. Submissive and robotic fulfilling the trainers aim for a winning ride.

This clandestine trainer thinking occurs when the desire to win–or otherwise achieve training goals, overcomes the humane treatment of the horse. When they run out of intelligence and patience and their repressed anger takes over. The trainers in some cases resent the horse will not do as it is told and become aggressive toward the animal. As the futurity season is well underway, horses are exposed to bizarre and oppressive training practices to force the final performance in the hope of winning.

The horses owner has pulled all her horses from the Top 20 NRHA Professional barn and moved them to other locations. It is unknown if a protest has been filed as the NRHA lives in a world of secrecy when it comes to complaints and how they are handled.

What has the NRHA done about the incident and what standard did they set?  What did the stewards on the day do about this incident?

It has been a long wait. On a review of the disciplinary list for May 2017 through to August 2017, the trainer has not been mentioned. The September list was not published even though referenced in the index. However, the NRHA is renowned for not releasing all suspensions and revoked memberships. It often seems that just the occasional one makes it to the list; the ones that they cannot keep undercover.

Update: In the October 2017 disciplinary list, an alleged trainer, Arno Honstetter is finally published with a just a minor three-month suspension. Did they charge him for hanging a horse or was this for another offense, as it has taken so long to appear on the list?

Well the lawsuit that follows shows us that Honstetter is actually reported for another incident in January 2017 by Leading AQHA Horsewoman and NRHA Trainer, Karen McCuistion. A person competent in defining abuse of horses. It is alleged that he was caught bitting up/checking a horse in the barn at a show. The same practice that killed Bella Gunnabe Gifted at the hands of Mark Arballo – who was banned for life, only after the courts found him guilty of abuse. Read the full article here.

Honstetter denies abuse and believes he did not get fair process in how the NRHA handled the protest so he wants it overturned and a payment of $100,000 for his suffering. If only the reining horses could get as good a legal representation as trainers!

No longer is the matter about horse abuse – its all about the trainer being treated unfairly – the culture of reining shining through.

Arno Honstetter continues to market himself as a NRHA Professional which again questions the value of the NRHA Professional program. His lawyer has advised that Biting up horses is a standard practice in NRHA – so all reiners are being abused?

arno honsetter biting up horse

The National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) has a zero-tolerance policy on horse abuse, recently immediately (within days) suspended a well-known high profile trainer for abuse of a horse at a show, even though the SPCA laid no charges. AQHA is reported to have a life ban on bitting up horses.

Vote for change in animal welfare regulations for reining horses by clicking here.

© 2017 reiningtrainers.com All rights reserved.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.