The sad thing is, so many in the "gaited horse" world of show horses have talked themselves into believing that what they do to the horses is totally normal and acceptable. They claim it's the way things have ALWAYS been done, and because they may have grown up in a "show horse family" they have seen it done the same way and never had reason to believe there was anything wrong with it. Those trainers often have clients who know very little about caring for horses - they just want to own a "champion show horse."
The trainers aren't going to say to those clients "well, I'll be honest with you. . .we use some methods that cause the horse discomfort in order to achieve the desired movement. . .but it is what wins ribbons and trophies."
They still claim "the movement is natural" but I have yet to see ANY performance/Big Lick horse, with all pads and weights and chains and chemicals removed, that still moves with as much action.
I've always admired David O'Connor (and his wife Karen). They are amazing, talented equestrians but also excellent, classy people. The horse world needs more people like them.
They give them drugs to calm or hype them, saying they are so TALENTED, and JUST need this little help. Lance Armstrong and other bikers are now saying NOBODY can do Tour d France without SOME help....