Beverly Horse 90210
Things seem to have gotten completely out of hoof...
I'm not a competetive person; perhaps it's best to say that straight out and right up front. Sure, I participated in shows when I was younger. Did I want to? Sort of. But the morning of the show would always find me in a frantic state over something (usually along the lines of turning my room upside down searching desperately for my missing glasses...you know, the ones I was holding in my LEFT HAND???? Sheesh). So I think it's safe to say that showing was not really my thing. Did I have the skill to win? Yes. But it wasn't something I truly enjoyed. In fact, I suppose I can best sum it up with the results of my very first show (at age 7). I participated in two classes: Hunt Seat Equitation (skill) and English Pleasure (enjoyment). I won first place for the Equitation class and placed last for Pleasure. Yep, that pretty much sums it up all right. While I did continue to show and win some ribbons and trophies over the next few years, it really just wasn't for me.
That was a long time ago, over 30 years (cringe), and we can fast forward through the horseless years to the here and now. Horses came back into my life a few years ago, via the best Christmas EVER, and I have spent these past few years relearning AND (more importantly) UNlearning much of what [I thought] I knew. I'm still learning; hopefully I'll never stop. I readily admit to messing up on a regular basis, but then I tend to think that if you're not MAKING any mistakes, you probably aren't DOING anything :o)
So now that you're wondering if I actually have a POINT, I suppose I'd best get to it. We decided awhile back to go to a local AQHA (American Quarter Horse Association) horseshow; not because I have any interest in showing, but just for fun. I'm sorry, did I say fun? No, I do believe fun and reality have gone off together - straight out the proverbial barn window...
Now to tell you just how far out of the loop I was, the first thing that struck me were the tails. There were only a few horses I noticed with the shorter "Quarter Horse" version I remembered. How could almost ALL of the horses on the show grounds have been born with these perfect, long, lush tails? I remember leaning over and telling my husband (we were watching a western pleasure class) that if I didn't know better, I'd swear they were wearing fake tails. You know what? They were! A woman behind me, who I'm sure was vastly amused by my observation, leaned forward to tell me you could buy tail extensions. Hmmmm, oooookay - weird, but I guess if your horse has a lousy tail it's an easy solution...right?
I was deep in thought pondering this new revelation - and wondering what else had changed - when I heard the request for a lope emanate from the show ring speakers. I glanced up at the ring and found myself goggling at the spectacle before me. THAT is a lope? What happened to it? Only one or two of the horses in the arena seemed to be actually practicing forward motion. The rest were barely going anywhere at a seriously funky angle along the rail. It was a strange parody of movement that I could only regard as utterly bizarre.
Now out of this class of perhaps 20 competitors, there were two that really caught my eye. What I guess you'd call polar opposites. One was an older woman decked to the nines (she kind of looked like "Ode to a Rhinestone" well, more like a few thousand of them) and sitting astride what I'd classify as a gorgeous pushbutton horse (ergo: a hideously expensive and fully automated equine). She didn't seem to be doing much of anything from a participation standpoint, other than smiling broadly and seeming to enjoy the ride. Her horse was huge, looked very well cared for, certainly polished, and was sporting what I now knew to be a tail extension. His lope, which looked extremely comfortable for the rider, was not looking too easy from the horse's perspective; it appeared very unnatural and seemed to require an awful lot of equine effort to achieve.
The second rider was much younger, and far less glitzy. Her horse was also a nice looking horse, again well cared for but with a shorter Coke-A-Cola tail (you know, the real thing?) Her horse was one of the few showing actual forward motion at the lope; with his rider actively participating and demonstrating skill. I suppose that's one reason they caught my eye - their lope was recognizable as such :o)
The last instruction for the class was to back the horse. Polly Pushbutton had a little trouble with that one; she actually had to ASK her horse to back (twice). Plain Jane, however, executed a flawless back...as one for partnerships over pushbutton I thought, "You GO girl!" Confident they had done well, I waited for the results...
Would you believe Pushbutton won? First place? Are you kidding? How about seriously nearsighted? Adding insult to injury, Plain Jane didn't even PLACE. What kind of competition is this anyway? Certainly not a real one. We watched a few more classes and walked around a bit, but it only confirmed the sad state of affairs that had become the new norm. I tend to avoid shows nowadays, they don't do much but make me cranky and hurt my feelings anyway...
TO HELP PUT THE MAN-MADE GAIT IN PERSPECTIVE: Imagine moving around on all fours (not on your knees, but palms and feet) several times a day. Can you do it? Of course you can, but it would be very uncomfortable and eventually do damage to your back. Why? Because the human body is not designed to function in that frame, and forcing the issue will cause more and more problems over time....The older you get, the harder it is.
My back hurts just thinking about it (oy :o)
How to take a bad idea and make it worse - Collection by Hyperflexion - Where do people come up with this stuff??
Bad Riding in the "Big Leagues"
This irresponsible rider is in way over her head. Unfortunately, the one who ultimately suffers the most is her horse; yet he is obviously struggling to do his best in spite of his rider's constant interference.
I found the video through this great blog: Behind The Bit
The Horse Industry Seems to Have Misplaced Their Clue - Of course this is assuming they HAD one to begin with...
PLEASE keep your comments "G" Rated! (We're kid-friendly around here don'tcha know ~ Thanks! :o)
Do you think the horse show and racing industries have gotten out of hand?
An Equine Epidemic: H.B.S. [Halter Butt Syndrome] Among other things...
The Impact on the Quarter Horse Industry
The horse in this photo is probably someone's champion stud; I don't know whose (other than not mine). I picked him because he is an excellent case in point - and not copyrighted - of another mind boggling trend in the show ring: H.B.S. otherwise known as Halter Butt Syndrome. I'm pretty sure a horse's rump is NOT supposed to cause the phrase "Twin Peaks" to pop into your head...
Somewhere along the line it became terribly desired to create a 2,000 mass of rippling steroid-induced muscles carefully perched atop teensy weensy hooves. Of course you cannot actually SEE this guy's feet; wanna know why? They probably don't look too good, likely just barely held together. Actually, once you start paying attention to it you'll notice that there are a whole BUNCH of QH studs whose feet are mysteriously hidden from view in their advertisement photos. I asked our farrier about that very thing one day during a trim (our guys are all kept barefoot). Would you believe he said their hooves DON'T really support them? Most of them spend all their their time in a stall; no running, no playing, nothing. They go from stall to show and back to stall. As soon as the show is over, the shoes (which are often times GLUED on because their hooves can't handle nails) come straight off - because apparently the feet can't handle the shoes EITHER...Good grief! Not much of a life, is it?
Puts me in mind of Chinese foot binding practices; breaking the arches of little girl's feet and binding them tightly so they would NOT grow. This was done to produce a dainty woman's foot. Of course these women and their dainty feet had to be CARRIED everywhere they went as they were pretty much unable to walk...
BODYBUILDING 101: Horses come in all shapes and sizes, just like people. There are, however, some basics to it. Young horses grow their way through gangly phases just as we do (well, I had a gangly phase, anyway; I might still be in it :o) I'm not talking about draft babies vs. finer boned horses; I'm talking about muscle and weight. It is NOT normal to see what should be a gangly 1 or 2 year old nearly up to the same size as a 3 or 4 year old and seriously muscled out (it's kind of scary, actually).
STUDLY DO RIGHT (NOT wrong!): It amazes me how many people Ooooh and Aaah over a stud that is barely under control. While it hurts my heart to see some of these animals restrained using a chain run across the gums, (or a stabilizer), I can only lament the fact that someone would allow things to get that far out of hand in the first place. I have seen far more of these testosterone tanked titans (heh heh) than the world needs.
PAPER AND PLASTIC: Who's your daddy? That is apparently a terribly important quality in a horse. I'm not sure it really matters if the horse himself is any good; just what you read on the papers. Of course I'm thinking it probably doesn't matter much if your horse was sired by Man O' War himself if Mama was HYPP positive...
Hollywood notwithstanding, is it really very nice to keep a horse in a stall all the time - or covered head to tail - so they don't get a scratch? I don't know about you, but I had plenty of scars before I hit the age of 10. Some from accidents, some from foolishness; one thing's for sure - I have them. How many people do you know that don't? I can understand judges passing over a horse that has some kind of major CONFORMATION flaw, but small scratches or scars? I'm afraid I just don't understand the big deal, not really. I wonder when it was, exactly, that a horse's ultimate goal was to become just like Barbie...
FOAL MILLS: Sadder still, are the breeders that "breed back" over and over again. Weaning early to flood an already saturated horse market with tons of babies that have never been handled; all so they can breed back as soon as the mare hits foal heat. Of course you just know they all have GREAT "papers"!
POINT TO PONDER: Careless breeding practices are at the root of the biggest problem facing the horse industry right now: unwanted horses.
Superficially, a ban on slaughtering horses sounds great - all warm and fuzzy thoughts, right? At first I thought so too, but...okay, you've closed all of the slaughterhouses. Great. But um, here's the thing: WHERE DO THE HORSES NOBODY WANTS GO NOW? Are you willing to keep one in your spare bedroom? Backyard? Apartment? Rescues are overwhelmed, people don't donate like they used to because of the economy so now the overwhelmed rescues are going under and horses are slowly starving to death all over the country. And - just to make things interesting - let's not forget the terrible hay shortage we've had in the South over the past couple of years...
Yep, it's a soapbox thang all right....sigh
Moron The Quarter Horse Industry
First Place or Bust [make that block]
And no, that wasn't a typo in the title. Have you ever heard of tail blocking? I had (sort of), but didn't know much about it (or why it was done) until I came across an article the other day entitled, "Tail Blocking Gone Wrong". I've added the hyperlink below if you'd like to read the whole sad tale.
It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which people will go (or in this case allow themselves to be steered) in order to win. Apparently, it is completely unacceptable to have a horse swish their tail for ANY reason in the show ring, so someone came up with this brilliant (and seriously brain damaged) solution to eradicate this terrible [?] problem.
Up until I came across this article, I'd only heard some stories about people deliberately doing something to the nerve that would render a horse unable to move his tail for an extended period of time. I didn't quite "get it" other than it struck me as being pretty mean ~ what about the flies then? I'm not talking the little pesky housefly sized ones, I mean those big nasty things that are built like flying trucks with teeth. Man, those things HURT! Can you imaging not being able to get them off? Yikes.
Of course then I read this article and the scary fly scenario was pretty much completely eclipsed...
Here's Some Great Places to See - Well, we like 'em anyway! :o)
- Read the full article on Tailblocking
News and veterinarian-approved articles on equine health care from The Horse magazine.
- Visit FOSH (Friends of Sound Horses)
The organization is incorporated as a public benefit humane and education organization. Its purpose is to provide information to the public about the humane care, treatment and training of gaited horses, with a special emphasis on the Tennessee Walki