As far as saddleseat aids go, there is a difference between the abuser and the correct user. I have never witnessed nor endorsed soring, and it seems like everytime (on most forums I frequent) anything saddleseat is mentioned, people jump in with soring and how inhumane and abusive the riders and trainers are.
I ride morgans and have two. I'm not sure what you meant by "strange hobbles" but I have used surgical tubing on my filly for breif intervals of 5-10 minutes, I actually haven't done in almost a year, I just wanted to see what kind of motion she would give me. I put it on my 25 year old gelding who has never had the desire to move his legs any higher than a western jog would allow, just to see the difference... He didn't do anything, I lunged him and he trotted normally, he pulled against the pressure outward instead of upward, like intended. My filly pulls against the pressure upward and brings her knees up.
I've always preached, that you can't make a horse do something their not physically talented enough to do.. and even then they have to want to do it. Soring is a whole other case, I have never seen it.. All of the horses I've seen that compete saddleseat are happy and friendly, I actually got to visit one of my favorite stallions two years ago, who is a national champion and produced national champions, and he was one of the sweetest horses!
I know a lot of this seems irrelevant, but I hate the negative prejudice saddle breeds get. There is nothing wrong with any of the aids I use when training. I use chains, even the weighted ones feel nothing other than loose bracelets to the horses wearing one. (Horses weigh upwards of 1,000lbs. The chains are less than a lb, you do the math.. It'd be the equivalent of a person wearing a bracelet that weighed an ounce) I use chains, rollers, leather straps, weighted bell boots, and stretchies. The weighted bell boots help the horse get used to the weight that would be added by the shoes, and they also pull against the weight. The purpose of the chains has been stated, and I just mentioned the stretchies.
Another note on the stretchies, its purpose is to build muscle, and some saddleseat farms don't believe in them, but it would be no different for you to do resistance training at the gym to your arms. Would you have done that 1000 years ago? Probably not, but its for the sake of competition, and I'd feel much more comfortable on a horse that has built up muscle using the stretchies.. You are more likely to pull a shoe or muscle when you go into a high energy atmosphere, where the horse will naturally push themselves farther because of how excited they are to show (yes these horses do get excited before going into the arena).. If you can prepare their muscles and strengthen them, you are putting them in the best position to send them into the show ring without getting hurt.
You wouldn't run a marathon without training first (and not just running/cardiovascular work).
Also, another note. There are abuses in every discipline, yet when someone asks about such and such a curb bit for western riding, no one responds with all of the abuses in western riding. When someone asks about such and such Dressage movement, no one responds with all the abuses in Dressage (rolkur to name one).. etc. etc. Every discipline has its abusive trainers and participants, yet it seems like saddleseat takes a bad rep constantly, yet I, personally, have never seen the abuse practiced. I have never seen soring or any other abusive technique, I have never seen a single unhappy saddleseat horse, the vets find our horses to be some of the happiest and healthiest horses.
I find it a little bit ignorant that everytime someone mentions saddleseat or a method associated with it, someone has to bring up something negative about it. Its a beautiful discipline, and it takes a special kind of horse to compete in it. You cannot force a horse to possess talent, its something thats bred into them. The idea of saddleseat is something that has been going for years, way back in the plantation days.
I wish people would see it for what it was, instead of relying on certain people's misjudgments or poor experiences within the industry.