Friday, June 26, 2009

Unethical practices in the show ring

"Can you not breed a horse that is just handsome or beautiful without disfiguring their bodies?"
-Bennie Jean Kuehnle, The Animal Institute of Holistic Health

What actually got me started on this blog was reading FHOTD's Oh What a Tangled Web. In it, Cathy mentions an Arabian stallion - Magnum Psyche, having his throatlatch thinned via cosmetic procedure. Which got me thinking about all the other atrocities I hear about, or have heard about in the past, in the show ring. I started doing more research, and here's what I've turned up (I am sure it is just the tip of the iceberg; in the grand scheme of things, this is only a quick blip, or brush-up, on the matter):

A Saddlebred stallion with a manipulated tail

Tail Nicking
Nicking involves slicing the retractor muscles below a horse's tail, then placing the horse's tail in a tail set. New muscle is laid down in between the cut ends to reconnect the original muscle, thereby creating the muscles and ligaments to heal longer than they were initially. Once healed, the tail-set may be removed, though some trainers are reported to put it on their horses during stall time. While wearing a tail-set, horses must be confined...which of course then limits their time outside as nature intended. There are other methods of tail-setting, with this being the most severe form. Proponents of the procedure claim it is "harmless" and "painless". I point to the above quote.

Another Saddlebred stallion, this one with natural tail carriage

Tail Docking

I understand how this practise came about; to prevent the tails of horses ploughing fields from becoming entangled in their harness. However, how many horses with docked tails nowadays are ploughing fields? Furthermore, driving horses compete all the time with full tails. Sometimes *gasp!* they even win! On the other hand, I can understand how a tail could possibly get in the way of a harness. A) if you've done your prep work with your horse, you should have no problem reaching over and untangling the harness, or even leaving the tail a little tangled, until you can get to it (just as an example, all horses under my tutelage learn it's okay to have a rope under their tail or things tangled about their butts). B) if you really have that much trouble with it, simply braid your horse's tail! On the track, we reguarly braided up our horses' tails when working in mud. Took all of...yea maybe 30 seconds. I do admit to not ever haven driven horses though, nor having ever ploughed any fields behind a draft. SO, I admit, perhaps I am missing something and the odd plough horse does require a docked tail so as to work more efficiently. However those horses (perhaps docked for a legitimate purpose) are much more limited than the number of docked tails we see around. Not only is the procedure itself painful, but a horse uses its tail for a variety of purposes - balance, body language, signals, fly-swishing, etc. Our "fashion show" should not trump a horse's natural need for its tail. My theory is that if a horse doesn't need a wouldn't have one in the first place!

Blocked Tails

Aaah, this one's quite controversial, because there are many who seem to believe nothing is wrong with the practise. After all, it's only temporary, right? In this case, the major motor nerves of a horse's tail are injected with alcohol so as to affect the horse's ability to lift, or even move, it's tail. This is done to prevent a horse from wringing its tail - something a horse will do if experiencing discomfort, pain, frustration, or annoyance. Some horses have it done because their tails are too "natural" looking. Wouldn't want our horses to express themselves now, would we? Of course this has inherent risks to the horse. First off, injecting a horse can introduce infection. Tail circulation is poor (considering) and thus any injuries are slow to heal and infections can persist and spread - into the leg, into the back, etc. Soon, you have a dead horse on your hands. That's just the possible worse-case-scenario. Short-term, the horse loses the ability to move its tail for a few weeks or months...sometimes permanently. As previously mentioned, horses need their tails. That's why they are there. In other scenarios, untargeted nerves are hit mistakenly. There is just so much risk - and for what? A ribbon? I would rather be known for standing above, for refusing to risk the life and best interests of my horses by sinking to the level of competitors who are willing to block their horses' tails.

Chemicals Under the Tail

Chemicals like...ginger salve. It's a chemical irritant that is placed in the horse's rectum and generates heat. I can recall, as a kid, hearing about various substances being placed in horses' rectums at shows so that they held their tail in a permanent "banner" carriage (such as shown above). Ordinarily, a horse will only carry its tail in such a fashion when excited; afterwards, they will of course relax their body - spine included. Since the tail is an extension of the spine, the tail relaxes as well and thus lowers. So, we introduce an irritant. The horse, experiencing irritation and pain, lifts its tail and carries it as such in an attempt at avoiding the discomfort and pain. Cruel?

I fully admit I am unaware as to the appropriate names for these tails...but those look far from natural, even if they are show-winning

Other Tail Procedures

I am not fully aware of all the procedures out there, but manipulation of the Paso Fino tail is apparently a common one as well. I am not sure of how the specific tail shapes are achieved (my theory involves broken bones - anyone care to educate me?), but it can't be in the best interests of the horse.


Thanks to drug-testing, I hear that tranq'ing one's horse prior to competition is not as common as it used to be, however it still obviously exists and there are loopholes. Look, if you have to drug your horse for it to perform for you, you've got a problem with your part-ner-ship. The ultimate solution to an overly-excited, unmanageable horse, or a horse that is too fast in the show ring, is prior and proper development - of both the horse and your partnership with said horse. Drugging an animal is neither in the animal's best interests, nor is it in yours.

Tying Heads

I hear this is still rampant, and it most certainly occurred when I was showing in my teens. This is most prevalent on the APHA and AQHA circuits, particularly in the WP classes. In this scenario, horses are left tied in their stall, often overnight. Their heads are tied far high above the level of their withers (the height a horse should normally be tied at) so that their necks are stretched upwards and thus their muscles fatigued. In this fashion, said horse will have a tired neck come morning and will thereby carry it at a more appropriate "show" (read: fashion) level in their class.

Exhausted/Starved/Anemic Horses

I hear the trend of exhausting a horse prior to displaying it to the public is not only occurring in the training world (trainers putting on demos), but also in the show world. People longeing their horse incessantly the morning of a class or riding it heavy the day prior, to ensure a calm horse come showtime. Same as with drugging a horse, if you have to exhaust a horse prior to riding it - perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your partnership with this horse, why it doesn't want to work with you, and your methods of training said horse. Just throwing it out there. Same follows for neglecting to feed or water a horse several days prior to a competition to ensure it lacks fight come show day. Or, drawing blood from a horse prior to a class to cause it to be anemic, and thus tired. Take a good, thorough look at your practices, because there are plenty of individuals out there NOT partaking in these practises who can win, or even who can put on a demo riding their horse bridleless. Horses that were former problem horses or presented their own respective challenges in the past as well. Developing a partnership takes time, and there are no problem horses, only problem riders. One shouldn't have to stoop to these levels to compete on a horse and if someone can do it bridleless, heck, you can definitely do it with a bridle!

Fishing Lines as Draw Reins

I very much doubt this is being done at the higher levels and I imagine it presents a false look to the flat-necked the judges look for. If a horse braces against said "invisible" draw rein, the horse's neck will obviously be rounded and tense. I'll go into more detail on such tools in the future, but personally I see any tool such as draw reins as an unnecessary shortcut and crutch (as a whole, on average). For those who believe they are a useful tool - do your prior and proper preparation so that they are only that - a useful tool to prepare your horse for the show ring or in extreme cases on certain horses. They should not actually accompany you into the ring (as evidenced by...well...rules).

Tongue Ties

In the racehorse world, a tongue tie is used to prevent a horse from getting his tongue over the bit and then swallowing his tongue as the jockey pulls on the bit. In this way, it also gives the jockey more control, because the horse cannot get its tongue over the bit. It is also supposed to help horses that have troubles breathing running because their tongue is inhibiting proper respiration, by keeping the tongue flat against the floor of their mouth. It can consist of any number of materials - we usually simply used vet wrap twisted into long strings. We'd wrap the tongue tie around the horse's tongue once or twice, then tie the ends under the horse's jaw, thus keeping the horse's tongue flat. A horse, just as a human, naturally carries his tongue pressed against the roof of his mouth, sliding saliva to the back of the throat and allowing for effective swallowing. Obviously a horse with his tongue tied down is somewhat inhibited from doing so. Supporters of the tongue tie claim the tool is absolutely harmless and painless. Well, time for a little experiment. Lower your own tongue flat against the floor of your mouth, and hold it there. See how long it takes before you have to swallow - except, oops, you can't, because you are not allowed to lift your tongue! From my own personal experience with tongue ties, the horses always resisted having them put on, and a good 95 percent or more would have bitten their tongues during the race - due entirely to the tongue tie. The tongue tie would be the first piece of equipment we'd remove, and it was nearly always a bloody mess. Now, I hear that some horses in the show world, such as WP, are wearing some version of tongue ties - a rubber band around the tongue (not tied around the jaw, so not visible to judges), to ensure their tongues lie flat. Obviously this is another contraption designed for our benefit, not the horses'.


Posterior Digital Neurectomy. I understand that humans often undergo this procedure (such as in individuals with Carpal Tunnel Sydrome), however I would be rather suspicious of doing it to a horse who has no choice in the matter. This is often a matter of personal preference though, rather than of ethics. My reason for feeling this way is that if you de-nerve a leg in the event of an incurable lameness, for example, what are you possibly setting your horse up for in the future? If he cannot feel his leg, he cannot possibly avoid some possibly dangerous situations. A parallel example is with a racehorse whose legs have been numbed - he might run until he breaks down. On the other hand, it may permit your horse living a number of additional years, pain free. Yet, are we keeping the horse alive for his sake, or for our own emotional purposes? Personally, I think I would rather have my horse euthanised (I suppose only being in such a situation will truly tell though). Where this matter could cross into a matter of ethics, is when people insist on continuing to compete on a horse who has been de-nerved. Not ethical whatsoever in my books, because a horse in competition is placed at larger risk of injury after a PDN than a horse simply living out his life in pasture. Horses do not desire to show - they do not lust for fame or monetary gain. That is an entirely human trait. If one is having their horse undergo a PDN for the horse's sake, then they should have no problem not competing on said horse - possibly placing the horse at an increased risk - for the horse's benefit.

Saline/Air Pockets

Apparently some individuals find it necessary to inject saline or air beneath their horses' skin so as to fill in sunken-in areas, particularly on older horses. Why can we not simply age naturally, and allow our horses to also do so? Have any of these individuals ever felt what it feels like to have saline or air beneath the skin? Somehow...I doubt it. Just for those wondering minds - saline burns, particularly if you are extra-sensitive, as I am. Large amounts of saline really burn. The amount necessary to inject beneath a horse's skin to appropriately fill in sunken areas would be particularly uncomfortable to a horse. So would air. Hence the reason neither substance is actually found in large quantities beneath the skin (surprise!).

A horse working deep and round


This is a long and in-depth topic, and I would recommend anyone interested as to why and how Rolkur harms the horse, to check out Sustainable Dressage (even if you are not involved in dressage). To sum it up, it essentially involves the rider (some very top level riders included) working the horse "deep and round" - nose to the horse's chest - purposely. It is a method very damaging to the horse physically when used for long periods of time. Another training tool lacking in benefit to the horse.

What is it about human nature that we feel it so absolutely necessary to submit an innocent animal to such abuse? Why must we disfigure and have our horses undergo harsh training methods or tools, for the sake of a ribbon or money? What does that say about us?

I am sure, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, that I am merely nicking the surface. There are a lot of additional abusive practices out there occurring in today's show world (we'll talk about Saddlebred practices in a whole other blog this week). On that note, if you are aware of other practices, please note so below. I understand too that this post may encounter its critics, that the observers of the above traditions and practices believe they are doing nothing wrong. My first motto, however, is "do unto others as you would have done unto you". Imagine yourself experiencing any of the above procedures. Our horses have no choice in these matters, thus it is our responsibility to ensure their best interests are observed, at all times. Furthermore, think for yourself! Just because the pro's are doing it does NOT make it right. The professionals we admire in the horse world are only human too - humans often motivated by money, fame, careers, and winning a class - they are not infallible and are not always looking out for their horses' best interests either. God may have put animals here on this earth for our use, but he most certainly did not condone our abuse of them.

Okay, time to hit the hay before my brain starts malfunctioning on me at such a late (or early?) hour...if it has not done so already (you be the judge). Before I go though, here are a few of the sources and links I found helpful (other than the ones already posted in links throughout the blog):

Tails up or Tails Down?

Born to Perform?

Forum on tail-blocking Response from an individual who is an experienced (including Worlds) AQHA show steward involved in the AQHA world for 55+ years

Wikipedia Saddleseat tail-setting explanations

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Equine Cosmetic Crimes and other Tails of Woe A 2003 report by Sandra Tozzini documenting some of the abuse experienced by show horses; a very well-sourced essay.

The rest are sourced throughout the above blog!

Check 'em out for your own research purposes as well, as I merely touched on the above topics. There is much more information to be found - too much to be listed here. If you're an owner with a horse in full-time training and who is being shown by your trainer, take a vested interest in your horse and DO YOUR RESEARCH.


Anonymous said...

I started driving last year and while I would never dock the tail of any driving horse, I do understand why it's done. I was driving a friesian gelding with a lovely, long and thick tail; he swished his tail and actually got it stuck over one of the reins. Now with him, no big deal; we got him stopped and put his tail back in it's proper position; he was a perfect angel about it all, but as a new driver, it did make me quite nervous...the trainer was there, so no harm, but I could see that potentially turning into a dangerous situation.

horsndogluvr said...

Excellent post. I was a Saddlebred groom in the early 70s, and the trainer I worked for was more humane than many. For instance, he used the same bell sets that Native American dancers use (very soft on the inside) rather than chains. No stretchies, and no soring; in fact he told me how to tell if a horse in the ring had been sored.

But, yes, all the horses wore tail sets in their stalls. He also used ginger for the show ring - but "cooled them out" with vaseline as soon as they were done in the ring.

I still love Saddlebreds and saddle seat riding. But I dream of seeing natural tails, normal hooves, and calm eyes in the saddle seat ring.

Equus said...

Thanks for another p.o.v., Anon. Do you think that thorough training (such as in that Friesian's case) or a braided tail could have made a (safer) difference though?

Thanks horsndoglvr. Thanks for the insight, as well! I dream too of the day when horses are left "natural" - where we are not so intent on manipulating our horses physically to suit our own agendas and fashions.

Anonymous said...

I think training is always the key, but like any animal, horses can be unpredictable even with the best training. I wonder if a braided tail would make a difference...the horse might have a harder time getting his tail up and over the rains, but if he managed it, you would have a similar problem. The interesting thing to think about is that in all the times the trainer and I have driven, this has only happened once, so it certainly isn't a common occurence; just something to mention. Like I said though, with horses, you could eliminate the possibility of a tail getting caught in the harness...and encounter some other random freak occurence.

Equus said...

"horses can be unpredictable even with the best training"
See that's why I believe it has to be more than simply training. It has to be thoroughly developing the horse so that they are smarter, braver, calmer - so that they learn to think through situations and therefore are calmer horses, so that they are not unpredictable.

Freak accidents are everywhere, regardless of a tail being docked or not, IMO. I just believe that having a full tail should not increase the chance of an accident...but, then I am not a driver, which is why I appreciate your input! Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you've said...a full tail shouldn't increase the chance of an accident...but life in its very nature is unpredictable. I was just pointing out that things can happen regardless of whether the horse has a tail or not...along with many other factors. I also like what you say about developing the horse and teaching them to think through situations. With that approach, generally you can avoid any misfortunes; but you are working with a living being...because of that you cannont guarantee predictability. As people who have the rational ability to think things through, and don't have to fight against our prey instincts, we can be unpredictable...and sometimes react and make mistakes. It's all a part of life. We have bad days that sometimes cause us to do things no one would ever have predicted...horses are no different.

OldMorgans said...

Years back, on a Morgan discussion group, the topic turned to tongue ties in the showring. Apparently, they were allowed (and probably still are). One proponent for it said it was necessary for children's mounts and amateurs to keep the horse safer for them. Sigh...the excuses and reasons are endless and endlessly silly.

Morgans do not have their tails nicked for high carriage. However, it is common for them to wear a bustle 24/7. The bustle is like a hugely thick crupper of a harness. When it is removed, the horse will continue to carry the tail higher then normal. Wearing a bustle, means that it needs a harness to hold it in place which means the horse always is wearing this stuff. It is commonly said by those in favor of this nonsense that the bustle also helps the horse's back muscles to relax so it will be more comfortable with saddle or pulling a cart. sigh... again.

Equus said...

I hear ya Anon!

Thanks, I was honestly wondering if Morgans had their tails nicked, so thanks for the insight. Does a bustle possibly lengthen the appropriate muscles for the higher tail carriage too (over time of course)? That was another theory I heard for Saddlebreds. As for the bustle helping the horse's back muscles relax...I'm rolling my eyes right along with you. Seems every tradition or practise without logic is acompanied by some old ridiculous wive's tail.

Anonymous said...

Soring??? Are you kidding me??? Im a Saddlebred TRAINER and ANYONE who actually knows SADDLEBREDS will tell you that you CANNOT sore a freaking Saddlebred!!! They will go LAME you freaking idiots!

And Tail cutting was actually started as a safety precaution back in the livery stables... bet you didnt know that one huh? They nic their tails to it grows back and is more flexible. Anyone who drives or lines their horses knows that it can be trouble if they get their tail under the lines.

You talk about Saddleseat and Saddlebreds like were Walking horse people. Your wrong. My Saddlebreds (and every horse in every barn ive ever worked for) has been treated better than most people. They have chiropractors, massage therapist and are always being checked by the vet because we dont want them uncomfortable! And most Saddlebred show horses get the whole winter off to run and play in pastures. They enjoy their time off but they also enjoy their time in the ring. Remember... this breed is meant to show.

We tie tongues because some horses will get their tongues over the bit and could hurt themselves... Theres you another safety precaution... Would you like for an 8 year old to ride a horse and his tongue go over the bit and him take off with the child?? NO. Were helping the horse just as much as were helping the person riding it.

Sounds like you really need to get your facts straight before you start writing this nonsense

Equus said...

Hey Anon,

Thanks for your input and it's fantastic you obviously treat your Saddlebreds very well. Just as a little note, I do not compete in all the disciplines mentioned and I do not claim to know everything, which is why I admit I could be incorrect in some areas, however what I write is based on a lot of research AND testimony.

As far as the soring goes, well it happens. I cannot say whether or not it occurs just as often in the Saddlebreds as in the TWH industry, because I do not compete there; you are probably correct and the Saddlebreds are a lot 'cleaner', since you are from within the industry yourself. However to say they are never sored is a falsehood as well, as a) there is plenty of testimony to contradict that and b) I have seen it before my own eyes, on National-winning Saddlebreds by top trainers. So it does happen, just hopefully not nearly to the extent as in the TWH industry. This is not a bash against Saddlebreds though, I love the well-bred and well-conformed ones myself.

It does not matter where tail-cutting started, though I find that tidbit interesting and will research it further, because imo 'tail flexibility' is not in the best interests of the horse. Why would a show horse need tail flexibility? And why is tail flexibility so important to drivers? They do not all do it, so why do some do it and others do not? How does it work for the ones who do not nic? I am not a driver, so cannot profess to know :)

I know how and why a tongue-tie works, as I worked on the racetrack, where we used them regularly for the very same reason. Our goal was not so much safety, but rather so the horse did not get their tongue over the bit and block their airways. Control was important, but obviously airway was moreso ;) I do not buy the 'well it makes the horse safer for the 8yo' theory, because if the horse is putting its tongue over the bit and bolting, there is something wrong! WHY is the horse behaving as such? If the horse is a known bolter, it should be re-schooled. I would not put an 8yo on such a horse, because if you tie his tongue down, the root cause of his bolting may manifest in other ways, such as bucking. I do have pony experience.

Thanks again for your input :)

Anonymous said...

The tails on the Paso Fino's are "j-hook" tails. Some Pasos will naturally exhibit a slight form of this hook, but most of them have their tails cut. There are even more extreme examples of this kind of tail. On some, the bottom of the tail bone actually curls up. This is something that the breed association is working on stopping.

Anonymous said...

You people really have no idea about what goes on in th esaddlebred world do you!!!??????? Look at a well bred saddlebred foal in the feild and he will prance around! We have many show horses who do NOT like being out in a paddock! They are so well taken care of they don't like being bothered by flies or being in the sun! Further more Saddlebreds sometimes show into their 20s SOUND!!! Plus these horses would go lame if we sored them... They have a VERY low tolerence for pain! I just had to point that out.

Nicole said...

How funny that the "experts" always post anonymously. What's the matter? Don't want to take "due credit" for your "expertise" in the equine community?

Anonymous said...

hey, i am writing a research paper for my comp class on show horse abuse and wanted to use this article as one of my research sources but my instructor says i need an author but i couldn't find your name or email address. if you would please email me at that would help alot!

Monty Moran said...

I can understand why horses are docked for safety reasons. I have had my horses clamp down their tail when the reign gets caught under it while they swish flies in the summer. It's the tail bone length itself that causes it because it reaches over to the reign when swished. Docking helps prevent this. The only other thing that prevents it is using a brace on a horse who's had their tail nicked.
A horse clamping it's tail on the reign is so freaking dangerous. 1) you can't steer 2) they kick out usually double barrel style. Would you rather have a braced or docked tail or horse hoof in your teeth?

My horses aren't docked and when my mare was young and goosey her tail was nicked and braced.

On the argument of nicking tails ... I feel it's much less invasive than declawing cats, cropping dog ears, or docking dogs tails. Horses when uncomfortable let us know. If a tail set isn't fitting properly and causing pain, they usually take it off. Horses have full function of their tail even though they've been nicked.

Personally, I wish we'd stop cutting tails because maintaining them is a pain in the ass. I'm inherently lazy and messing with the set is more work than I want to do.

Last item to address: soring Saddlebreds. I have been riding and training Saddlebreds for 30 years. I have never ever seen anyone sore a horse. I've trained with many top trainers and if anything, they owners spend INSANE amounts of money to keep the horses sound. This is fact. If any trainers are soring horses they are morons and have no idea what they are doing.
Some trainers do stupid things like rope shackling and dancing on the roof to scare the crap out of their horses - this is ridiculous. But anytime you have competition, money, and politics you're going to have people who cheat to get an desired end result. Karma will be a bitch for them in their next incarnation.
Unfortunately my 4 yr old Saddlebred mare was born with a J hook tail. She must have thought she was going be a Paso and realized she's one of the other gaited breeds.

Sherry said...

This is a great discussion. I have concerns about common practices in all disciplines, and believe the rules have to come from the breed associations. If it were to be a standard that certain practices, such as gingering, were grounds for disqualification or removal from assocition membership, it would be stopped (for the most part)in the industry, and there would be no pressure to utilize practices that go against one's integrity. I don't think someone representing any one breed needs to be targeted or defensive, here. We do become accustomed to the practices in the area we ridem right or wrong, but we all adore these wonderful creatures. Why not offer serious consideration to these concerns? While I love my horse, and my discipline, I also wish some things would change, differentiating between enhancing and distorting a breed's natural attributes.

Patti said...

The two horses with "clamped" tails you doubted were natural -
these are Spanish horses, the black is likely a Paso Fino, the dapple grey might be a Luisitano (not sure). The tail carriage shown is called a "scorpion" tail and is a totally natural tail carriage. My Peruvian mare carries her tail like this when gaiting. The rarely, if ever, "flag" their tails.
These horse will clamp their tail when moving out whether at liberty or under saddle. It's related to their hind end conformation which is built to round and collect.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the tongue tying.
There are plenty of other ways to keep the tongue from getting over the bit.
In Australian racing we mostly use a cheeker noseband. An Aussie invention it's usually made of rubber or elastic and keeps the bit raised in the horses mouth.

See for a pic.
It doesn't hurt or bother the horse at all and does the job.

Anonymous said...

can anyone comment on the "silent" practice of worms in hooves to promote high or fast stepping? first heard of this forty years ago.

Anonymous said...

I ride my big Spanish horse with only a string around his neck, no bridle, no bit. And like that he is ridden in every way amongst other horses and the other horses are not wearing bridles either. It can be done on most horses if given possibility to communicate properly. So I can not see the benefit of tying the tongue. Horrible, and not at all in the horses interest.

Anonymous said...

Can you explain how to tell? I know some are pressure shod. I can usually tell on the weanlings but not so much on adults.

Anonymous said...

Saddlebreds aren't sored.

Soring occurs to Tennessee Walking Horses.

Anonymous said...

Saddlebreds are not sored. Saddlebred trainers have testified before congress and proved this. Please provide the details to the incident in which you thought a Saddlebred was "sored".

Anonymous said...

Paso finos carry their tails low naturally and do not usually swing them- its to keep the rider from getting splattered by mud out on a muddy trail. They do NOT have their tails broken or manipulated! Rex Evans paso owner

Kate said...

I'm a TB race horse owner and have always questioned the vet bills submitted for payment listing "supplements" such as Gastrogard to the tune of $600/month and 'Thyroid medication'. I always wanted to know why my horses were so deficient in their thyroid glands that they always need thyroid medication but I could never get a clear answer until I did my own research on the matter. Thyroxine is used to ramp up their thyroid and speed up their metabolism which makes them "hot".
Ever see a fat race horse in the saddling arena or one that doesn't look like it's dancing on it's toes? Take a race horse off of Thyroxine and after a few months it becomes a regular horse with a lovely calm disposition and demeanor. Gastrogard is a very expensive medication used to treat ulcers in race horse which (IMO) if you didn't ramp them up with Thyroxine in the first place, they wouldn't be so hot and nervous and develop ulcers from being confined in their stalls in the first place. They are certainly exercised enough every day whether it's being on a hot walker, being hand walked, worked in a pool or a work on the track so being confined to their stalls endlessly doesn't explain why there is such a high incidence of ulcers in race horse. The vet bills for racing Thoroughbreds are outrageous and I've never, ever seen a vet bill for routine de-worming or vaccinations. I'm also not a big fan of putting racing plates on their feet every month. Again, IMO, pounding nails into the feet to shoe them with different types of grips and caulks on the shoes and then ripping them out again
every month only seems to cause
them to have weak hoof walls with resulting cracked or torn feet. I'm not a regular visitor of this blog site so if you wish to offer some feedback to me, my email is

maci crowder said...

Just a comment about soring and Saddlebreds. YOU CAN NOT SORE A HORSE THAT TROTS. All Saddlebreds are called to preform at the trot. Having chemicals in their feet would ABSOLUTELY PREVENT THEM FROM DOING SO. They would be limping, off, and just a hot mess. It does NOT happen. I do not know who you have spoken to about it, but clearly they have never shown, or trained a Saddlebred show horse. It is prevalent in Walking Horses because they only preform at the running walk. They are not required to trot. You may have witnessed a Five Gaited class. The slow gait and rack are quite similar to a running walk, but are intrinsically different. Even the Five Gaited horses have to preform at the trot. Soring doesn't happen in the ASB world because if it did people would be losing classes. You can't win with a lame horse. Therefore, there is no sense in doing it as there is no reward. All it would do is loose you classes.

summerhorse said...

I think people mistake Saddlebreds and other saddleseat breeds for being "sored" because of the big old shoes and excessively long hooves that are becoming more common. I finally figured out that because anti-soring ads almost always show TWH stacks, they equate the stacks and chains with soring, not realizing the real culprit is the chemicals, although I find the stacks and chains, etc. disgusting, they are only part of the picture and the lesser of the evils. If your breed is becoming increasingly confused with Big Lick Walkers, you are doing something wrong!

Polly said...

Why show, drive, or race a horse at all! The competition is only to satisfy man's vanity! The horse would certainly rather live a natural life and not be forced to submit to man's whim or vanity.

MLE said...

Polly, I Could not agree with you more! Anyone who truly loves horses will feel the same. A good book to read 'The Horse Crucified and Risen' the most emotionally hard book I have ever read, cried through the whole thing, got angry and then repented, quit showing forever.

Samantha Mattock said...

First, I know that you do not have the photographers permission to use the trotting photo of the Arab. So you are breaching copyright laws. Second, that Arab is not gingered - he is just being an Arab! A gingered horse is most likely seen when standing, not moving. I would suggest that you remove the photo, as you do not have permission and you are, in fact, wrong in using that image as an example of gingering.

Paul and Frances said...

As the owner of the Arabian horse I request that his photo be immediately removed from these pages. He is loved and respected and has never been gingered.. ..he doesn't need that as his high tail carriage is one of his strong points. He was born with it (as all Arabians should be) and it is completely natural. This has been confirmed by many respected show and breeding people in the UK and on Facebook. For 40 years we have been tireless campaigners against any show ring abuses and / or malpractices. Naturally we take strong exception to seeing this sweet-natured stallion so badly misrepresented. Secondly, there is a copyright infringement and the photographer and family would not appreciate this photograph being used in such an incorrect and negative manner. Thank you.

Unknown said...

It is shocking you have taken the picture of a truly charismatic - and 'animated/excited ' Arabian and put this in a bracket of ginger abuse. People like you are the problem, not the solution, and tbh you need sueing. Period.

Anonymous said...

Docking of draft horse tails was not done to keep the tails from getting over the lines as much as to keep tails from getting caught in the equipment, as well as because it enhances the width of the hindquarters in a show horse. Docked tails on drafters don't particularly bother me because the tail can still be grown out to protect the horse from flies, and docked show horses are treated like kings and a fly in a show barn is a true rarity.

Anonymous said...

This use appears to fall well within the Fair Use Doctrine, so there is no copyright infringement.

Anonymous said...

This use appears to fall well within the Fair Use Doctrine, so there is no copyright infringement.

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Anonymous said...

Someone needs to sue this idiot. They are misinformed and passing on false information, or partially incorrect information. All to rally people to their opinion. I have seen this type of person. They seem to think all horses should be in the wild. Poor horses would be in shock. Life in the wild, while natural, is rough. The average life span is 5 years. Wouldn't that be kind.

Unknown said...

i have a docked draft, bred for showing. they are docked almost at birth if they are meant to be shown. it's sad that so many end up not being show horses. i have had him 19 years and his tail has never grown out enough to be useful. i always wear a fly sheet, neck cover, and fly mask on him in the summer, use fly predators on my farm, and keep a fan running in his stall when he's in during the day. i turn my horses out at night in the summer. even if his hair would have grown, there's not enough bone left to swish it. otherwise, he would have a fake tail too. docking a tail is inhumane. you never see an Amish buggy horse docked.