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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.

horse sliding to a stop

How Stupid are Reining Trainers and Their Reining Slide Training Programs?

Look Mom – Look how far my 2yo reining futurity horse and do a reining slide! Like a little child on a bike riding no hands, reining trainers continue to post videos and brag with their buddies, continually sliding the 2yo prospects like they are grown horses.

They ignorantly or stupidly think that if the horse is not lame, then all’s good to go, as like their owners, once again showing their limited capacity to understand science and function. See enough of the videos and visit barns, and you quickly come to realize that reining should be called sliding as nothing else matters. Gosh, you see trainers and their owners bragging that on ride 14 the horse is sliding!

These less than bright trainers, have failed to learn that just because a horse can slide does not mean you put that into their 2 yo program. Whatever happened to longevity? Oh, that’s right Reining Trainer, you only have to get to 2yo futurity sale or 3yo November. After that who cares.

Some even boast about their preventive treatment to care for the horse, with the vets arriving to inject their hocks. The vets sure don’t want this news getting out that they may be focused on the wrong areas! The reining slide is the trademark and if a horse is not dragging its butt then it has no value in their world.

Sitting at the futurity sale, I watched a few 2yo prospects come out that have the maneuvers of a senior horse. They were slick looking horses prepared for sale and ridden hard all designed to push the price high. Those butts were dragging and those little babies were giving it their all.

As we sat there, we once again how money had overtaken the welfare of the reining horse. The desire to have the next big champion had people’s hands high or they did secret deals out the back, so the horse was passed in, so the story goes.

Chatting afterward, we remembered the stories of growth plates in horses and decided to go back and look for the facts on what is happening with these beautiful babies, and all the ones back in barns and those thrown on the scrap heap. Its industry standard to start them in full training at 2, and for some 18 months. Some even believe that if they ride the horse the most times, they will win.

Now we all have heard how Reining Trainers think they know more than vets and science and apply their bizarre thinking that comes from a barn floor to train and vet horses (and spread it to gullible owners), but world experts say a little different.

If you struggle to read science or long articles with no pictures, you may want to get someone to read it to you. It’s a long read, but you may learn something and take more care of your beautiful babies if you love them and not just drink Kool-Aid.

His legs won’t fail you, but his back will, especially when you need him to reining slide.

Dr. Deb Bennett is a world-renowned vet and conformation specialist. She rides and competes giving 360-degree view of horses.

A few years back she wrote the following article explaining about growth rates of the different areas of the horse. For those that work youngsters under 3 – read the part about ‘schedule of fusion’ very carefully….and perhaps reconsider your training methods and timing.

“Just about everybody has heard of the horse’s “growth plates,” and commonly when I ask ’em, people tell me that the “growth plates” are somewhere around, or in, the horse’s knees (actually they’re located at the bottom of the radius-ulna bone just above the knee). This is what gives rise to the saying that, before riding the horse, it’s best to wait “until his knees close” (i.e., until the growth plates fuse to the bone shaft and cease to be separated from it by a layer of slippery, crushable cartilage).

What people often don’t realize is that there is a “growth plate” on either end of EVERY bone behind the skull, and in the case of some bones (like the pelvis, which has many “corners”) there are multiple growth plates. So do you then have to wait until ALL these growth plates fuse? No. But the longer you wait, the safer you’ll be. Owners and trainers need to realize there’s a definite, easy -to- remember schedule of fusion – and then make their decision as to when to ride the horse based on that rather than on the external appearance of the horse.

For there are some breeds of horse – the Quarter Horse is the premier among these – which have been bred in such a manner as to LOOK mature long before they actually ARE mature.

This puts these horses in jeopardy from people who are either ignorant of the closure schedule or more interested in their own schedule (for futurities or other competitions) than they are in the welfare of the animal. The process of fusion goes from the bottom up. In other words, the lower down toward the hoofs you look, the earlier the growth plates will have fused; and the higher up toward the animal’s back you look, the later.

The growth plate at the top of the coffin bone (the most distal bone of the limb) is fused at birth. What this means is that the coffin bones get no TALLER after birth (they get much larger around, though, by another mechanism). That’s the first one.

In order after that:

  1. Short pastern – top & bottom between birth and 6 mos.
  2. Long pastern – top & bottom between 6 mo. and 1 yr.
  3. Cannon bone – top & bottom between 8 mo. and 1.5 yrs.
  4. Small bones of knee – top & bottom on each between 1.5 and 2.5 yrs.
  5. Bottom of radius-ulna – between 2 and 2.5 yrs.
  6. Weight-bearing portion of the glenoid notch at top of radius – between 2.5 and 3 yrs.
  7. Humerus – top & bottom, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.
  8. Scapula – glenoid or bottom (weight-bearing) portion – between 3.5 and 4 yrs.
  9. Hindlimb – lower portions same as forelimb
  10. Hock – this joint is “late” for as low down as it is; growth plates on the tibial & fibular tarsals don’t fuse until the animal is four (so the hocks are a known “weak point” – even the 18th-century literature warns against driving young horses in plow or other deep or sticky footing, or jumping them up into a heavy load, for danger of spraining their hocks)
  11. Tibia – top & bottom, between 2.5 and 3 yrs.
  12. Femur – bottom, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.; neck, between 3.5 and 4 yrs.; major and 3rd trochanters, between 3 and 3.5 yrs.
  13. Pelvis – growth plates on the points of hip, peak of croup (tubera sacrale), and points of buttock (tuber ischii), between 3 and 4 yrs. …and what do you think is last? The vertebral column of course.

A normal horse has 32 vertebrae between the back of the skull and the root of the dock, and there are several growth plates on each one, the most important of which is the one capping the centrum.

These do not fuse until the horse is at least 5 1/2 years old (and this figure applies to a small-sized, scrubby, range-raised mare. The taller your horse and the longer its neck, the later full fusion will occur. And for a male – is this a surprise? — you add six months.

The lateness of vertebral “closure” is most significant for two reasons.

One: in no limb are there 32 growth plates!

Two: The growth plates in the limbs are (more or less) oriented perpendicular to the stress of the load passing through them, while those of the vertebral chain are oriented parallel to weight placed upon the horse’s back.

Bottom line: you can sprain a horse’s back (i.e., displace the vertebral growth plates) a lot more easily than you can sprain those located in the limbs.

And here’s another little fact: within the chain of vertebrae, the last to fully “close” are those at the base of the animal’s neck (that’s why the long-necked individual may go past 6 yrs. to achieve full maturity). So you also have to be careful – very careful – not to yank the neck around on your young horse, or get him in any situation where he strains his neck (i.e., better learn how to get a horse broke to tie before you ever tie him up, so that there will be no likelihood of him ever pulling back hard. And readers, if you don’t know how to do this, then please somebody write in and ask!).

What is very unlikely to happen is that you’ll damage the growth plates in his legs. At the worst, there may be some crushing of the cartilages, but the number of cases of deformed limbs due to early use is tiny. The reining-horse futurity people, who are big into riding horses as young as a year and a half, will tell you this and they are quite correct. Want to damage legs? There’s a much better way – just overfeed your young-stock

More likely is that you’ll cause structural damage to his back.

So, what’s to worry about? Well…did you ever wish your horse would “round up” a little better? Collect a little better? Respond to your leg by raising his back, coiling his loins, and getting his hindquarter up underneath him a little better?

The young horse knows, by feel and by “instinct” that having a weight on his back puts him in physical jeopardy. I’m sure that all of you start your young-stock in the most humane and considerate way that you know how, and just because of that, I assure you that after a little while, your horse knows exactly what that saddle is and what that situation where you go to mount him means. And he loves you, and he is wiser than you are, so he allows this. But he does not allow it foolishly, against his deepest nature, which amounts to a command from the Creator that he must survive; so when your foot goes in that stirrup, he takes measures to protect himself. The measures he takes are the same ones YOU would take in anticipation of a load coming onto your back: he stiffens or braces the muscles of his top line, and to help himself do that he may also brace his legs and hold his breath (“brace” his diaphragm).

The earlier you choose to ride your horse, the more the animal will do this, and the more often you ride him young, the more you reinforce in his mind the necessity of responding to you in this way. So please – don’t come crying to me when your 6-year-old (that was started under saddle as a two year old) proves difficult to round up! (Not that I’m not gonna help you but GEEZ). If he does not know how to move with his back muscles in release, he CANNOT round up!! So – bottom line – if you are one of those who equate “starting” with “riding”, then I guess you better not start your horse until he’s four.

That would be the old, traditional, worldwide view: introduce the horse to equipment (all kinds of equipment and situations) when he’s two, crawl on and off of him at three, saddle him to begin riding him and teaching him to guide at four, start teaching him manoeuvres or the basics of whatever job he’s going to

End of article:

An entire industry built and regulated on training horses hard at 2 year old and finished their careers as a 4 year old. Spurred, punished and belted for not complying with what the horse instinctively knows is going to, and is hurting it.

But then science is wrong for many as the horse looks okay. His eye is bright, and he’s healthy. He is loved and cared for like a prince. Its just he is a bad minded horse that won’t gets his hocks under him and round up – after all, we have done for (to) him.

Sell him and buy another youngster that is better minded says mister Reining Trainer. We can train him for the futurities and you might get some of your money back.

We used to say a horse has only so many slides in it, so use them wisely and carefully. A good learning lost on today’s trainers.

Dont forget to vote to change the welfare rules for reining horses.

© 2018 reiningtrainers.com All rights reserved.

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.

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.

 

Reining Trainer Spurs Mare in the Face

These confronting images are how a man finds his horse after being in training with a high profile Australian Reining Trainer. Badly spurred with spur tracks down her sides and shoulders and even a spur tracks near her eye. He reports that the horse also had a torn tongue on both sides. It was reported that the trainer could not get the young mare to do flying lead changes; she was just two and half years of age. A young mare that is just starting out her career under saddle.

Spur Tracks On Shoulder and Sides

A reining enthusiast, has been concerned about putting this out in the open until now after seeing how much abuse goes on. Like many, he would consider his case to be unique, but people are quickly learning about other victims of abuse of their horses too.

Seeing the promotion of reining and select trainers, through marketing clinics and events, this man may have felt a degree of comfort from all the marketing, and the high profile individual marketed by the association.

So Who is the Trainer?

We are withholding his name at this time with the expectation it is the Reining Association or other reining trainers responsibility to ‘out’ the person.

However, researching online, the trainer states he is a multiple futurity champion, with many national awards too. Promoted by the association as one of the leading trainers in their country, this trainer travels the country giving clinics on training and horsemanship under the “Reining Trainers Professional” banner. An NRHA member competing in the show ring and a professional trainer. A known abuse offender being openly marketed and endorsed by the associations in that country.

Appearing on an NRHA affiliate website the trainer is endorsed as Professional Trainer with the following statement:

“Reining Professionals is an industry body establishing and governing standards for professional reining trainers in Australia. Members agree to uphold ethical treatment of horses in their training programmes and undertake continued education in the form of clinics, seminars and overseas studies to improve their service to their clients and develop the reining horse industry in general.

 A Reining Professional’s primary responsibility is to provide the highest quality service to their clients. They are to operate in a professional manner and at all times act with the highest degree of integrity. The list of Professionals below hold full financial membership and agree to be bound by the rules of the Reining Professionals ‘Code of Ethics’.”

The standards of this Reining Professionals certainly need to be questioned if the person training this mare is one of their best in the land down under. The public in Australia should be careful and prudent if selecting or using a Reining Professional trainer based on the evidence presented to us.

The reining enthusiast says he is expecting threats against him personally by the trainer for posting these images but informs us that he is not concerned. Typical behaviors of trainers and their friends that we wrote about in our article ‘Who is looking after the welfare of reining horses’.

Reining Trainers Enigma has people contacting us that were concerned about the repercussions of speaking out but now are gaining confidence to do so, to stamp out abuse. Their stories are disturbing as to what is really going on. Only when this is out in the open will changes be made to the standards of Professional Reining Trainers and the NRHA Rule Book.

Reining Trainers Enigma is about stopping horse abuse. If you would like to report an incident and photographs or video of the damage, please send it to us via Facebook or our website.

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