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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.

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

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.

Who is protecting the reining horse’s welfare?

“Unfortunately we do have our share of abusive trainers in our industry that I consider a minority, and when identified, they should be removed, period. It is these individuals that attach a bad stigma to the industry” says Rick Dennis of Wind River in May 2015. A highly respected quarter horse performance breeder and competitor and author of many articles on horse abuse.

You do not need to look too far to find examples of extreme reining horse abuse. In 2013 reining horse trainer Kyle Ronald Weston, from Alberta, CA was charged with horse abuse. The photo on this page is the result of his excessive spurring of a horse at home in his barn. The mares mouth was reported to also bleeding badly.  The NRHA did not take any action against him until after he was charged by the law-courts.

There are extremists everywhere in both the level of abuse and the animal rights advocates who don’t even want horses ridden. In the middle ground of treating a horse respectfully, there is a place for sound and logical welfare of the horses. Would you do it to a child? Then you should not be doing it to an animal is a constant measure. The over sight of horse abuse should not just be in the show arenas and warm-up pens, but back home at the barns. That is where the most of the abuse actually occurs and where people have the most direct experience with reining trainers.

For their welfare, a middle ground must be struck where horseman from other disciplines can evaluate and define what is reasonable, not just people that are indoctrinated into a way of thinking like the culture of the reining horse industry.

The problem is that the public, newcomers, and members are wooed by the photos of expensive barns of the extensive breeding and training facilities and horses presented like rock stars. The glitz of the show entertainment, expensive advertising campaigns and the lure of big prize money. This glamourous image is a far cry from how most of the horses live and are trained by the hundreds of people across the world proclaiming themselves as reining horse trainers. Behind this glamour are many tales of physical and mental abuse of horses. It is not just limited to the horse under saddle, but how they are treated in their day to day lives. What happens away from the spotlight and public eye and seen only by people investing in having horses trained, whether they are NRHA members or not.

The truth of what happens can be seen with horses like trainers Weston’s and Arballo.

bella-wider-shot

 

 

Reining horse trainer Mark Arballo, a repeat offender of being charged for horse abuse, in 2015 was charged again over the horrific death of Bella. Again, with full awareness of the matter, the NRHA is reported to have not taken any action against this person until after he was charged by the law courts.
The shocking attack at the major show, Reining by the Bay, in 2015 where three of Andrea Frappani’s horses were poisoned, and one had a U-Shape nail driven into his foot.staple-in-foot Horses at the top of the game that were targeted by someone who was most likely more motivated to win than care for the well-being of horses. A person that was either personally motivated or paid to commit extreme acts of cruelty against those innocent horses; evidencing a potentially highly competitive ‘at all costs’ culture within reining.

 

For many people reporting horse abuse can mean the end of their involvement in an association.

An association they have invested heavily in, both in money and emotion. The few that stand up for the horses are quickly finding there are few avenues for complaints that are not met with criticism and denigration by trainers and their friends. For some complaints, they are pushed toward the courts as the only option, where outcomes of such matters are reported to be unlikely to succeed due to the lack of knowledge and priority of animal abuse in the court system. Westons case giving measure of extreme abuse and getting just a $4,000 fine.

For a complainant, trainers are often victimizing the person for speaking out as they see the person as turning in one of their own. Many trainers are quickly justifying their actions by saying the person knows nothing and vilifying the person relying on the cult-like behavior of their followers to support them. You will see many social media posts where they victimize the person who dares to stand up for horse’s welfare.

Unfortunately and very real is the fact that many people reluctantly condone the abuse, by remaining silent, as the fear of being ostracized for speaking out against someone is more penetrating on them personally than living with the knowledge of a horse suffering out of sight. They attempt to reconcile the abuse through closing their minds or moving to another trainer. They fear becoming a victim of social media keyboard warriors as uninformed, often very ignorant and closed minded people make wild and often threatening statements against the abuse reporter. People who quickly protect the abuser due to their public persona and their desire to stay in the group, with little to no regard to the horse. The more the celebrity status of the trainer, the more likely this will occur.

Could all of that really happen to someone reporting horse abuse? Sure, it could, and it does and anyone active on social media will most likely have seen it first hand.

People are reaching out to Reiningtrainers.com, sending shocking stories of horse abuse and how they became the victim for attempting to help the animal. Some have just walked away from the reining industry, others have paid the price for speaking out and been pushed out. Moreover, an appalling outcome is the people that are attempting to live with the knowledge they let the horse (and more in the same barn) down by not speaking out.

However, what would happen if you all would send a loud and clear message to the reining horse industry that you will not tolerate horse abuse at any cost?

Consider the famous quote of Albert Einstein, who once said,

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Think about it and reflect on the horses.

It is the responsibility of the National Reining Horse Association and its affiliates to provide the tools and mechanisms to permanently weed out the abusive trainers and give members and the reining horse enthusiast public the confidence to report their concerns. Set a standard by removing peer reviews of complaints where subjectivity is rife and, agendas can be at play. Install independence to ensure complaints receive the balanced hearing they deserve. A place where the horse becomes the priority and actions are taken to filter out those that are abusing the animals and setting a underlying standard of acceptance in the market.

What do you think?

Are you concerned over a reining horses welfare  – send us the details via our contact page.

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

© 2016 reiningtrainers.com  All rights reserved.