First off, I think the way the horses move there is too extreme and ugly, but that's just me. I doubt it's healthy but again, just me.
About the weird hobbles; I don't know how they work. I don't like the idea of putting weird shoes on a horse or lots of the other things that ALL saddleseat showers does (If there is other saddleseat shows than the ones where the horse walks extremely uphill with large shoes/extensions I'm not referring to those more natural ways) simply because I cannot imagine it being healthy to the horse to move that way. It's too extreme. And no, I don't think it's very healthy for a jumping horse to jump 150cm either, but it's still different when it's performed in a gait rather than 1 jump - normal gaits - 1 more jump etc. But those conclusions are just made after what I see that's obvious, and what I know about horse anatomy and so on.
The cruel methods I hear of, I have no idea how common they are. I don't know exactly how the 'normal' training methods are used and works, and then I can't know if they're bad or not. But the movement in itself, in the shows, are too extreme to be healthy.
And I wouldn't use any of the weird (for me) things there are, because I don't like what I see of them, and I can't find a reason to use them.
Yes, you can force the horse to do a lot of things they're not physically fit to do. Look at rollkur in dressage. Can a TWH walk with those high forelegs and extreme posture in the pasture if it has normal hooves and no gear attatched to it?
And of course there is abuse in all sports and diciplines. Especially those judged on appearance (dressage, saddleseat, surely WP too, dog breeding) rather than function (jumping, trail I think etc) even if there is abuse in those too. It's just that appearance sports tends to get extreme and abusive in itself since the more extreme it looks, the better. And extreme is far from natural. In jumping, you can look how you want as long as the horse gets over the fence. In dresage you have to look a certain way and there is no obvious way to see which one is better (no broken obstacle).
But this is not what the thread is about so lets end the discussion. You've had your say, I've had mine.
Before I start, Thank you Beau.
I should have clarified, I would not force any of my horses to do something they weren't physically talented to do, and none of the trainers.. at least the successful ones in the business.. that I know of would endorse it either.
If these horses weren't naturally so talented, you couldn't put a walk trotter up on them, and have them perform almost equally the same with a trainer. I guaruntee you a walk-trotter cannot get a horse to rolkur. If these horses weren't naturally talented, you would not see them trotting above level in a field "showing off" and snorting. You cannot produce a high trot that's not already there, at least without being physically abusive. And lets get real, about 98% of the business are normal trainers and riders who want happy and HEALTHY horses. In this business, you have to have money to make money and very few people are in it to make money. Most people do it because they love it, especially a sport as expensive as saddleseat. (Where suits alone run $2-5,000) If you didn't absolutely love it, then it wouldn't be smart financially for you to waste your time. The horses are worth (well with this falling economy, I'm sure less..) upwards of $50,000.. Some horses sell at auctions for well over $100,000. Why on earth would you want to waste $100k by ruining your horse with abusive techniques?
Tell me how my trainer's mare who competed English Pleasure in the 80s, is in her late 20s and perfectly healthy other than Cushing's, which is safe to say has nothing to do with the way she was trained. Her legs are sound. This mare's full brother who competed western pleasure actually has joint issues, which is funny because western pleasure (at least on the morgan scene) is lower impact. (Ironically, too from your thread, he carried a very long toe and padded shoe at shows, similar to a saddleseat horse.. :P)
As far as TWHs I don't know much about them, cannot comment on them, but you will see saddle breeds (such as Morgans) exhibiting extreme motion, in the pasture, in other disciplines. Its in their blood, its not something that's falsified.
This is a hunter pleasure horse, shod normally and probably had no training or conditioning or reason (other than excitement from a win) to raise his legs so high.. He may have been trained in the past, I don't know him or his personal history so don't quote me on it. But He's extremely collected and probably very excited because he obviously won. And look how high he's trotting, almost equal to an english pleasure horse, without shoes or training: Display Photograph
Another hunter horse, not quite as impressive, but same story as the last one Display Photograph
And a horse who was trained and conditioned Display Photograph
The difference is very subtle. What makes it? Well a lot of very high steppers go hunters when they don't have the correct headset or they don't have impressive hocks. Their not forced to put their head in an unnatural position just to compete saddleseat, their not forced (obviously, or the first hunter would have definitely been an English horse in my book) to raise their legs high.
This horse has shoes, it looks like their padded, but I can't tell. Regardless, He's still trotting high in his pasture, I don't care what you say I couldn't make a horse trot this high in a pasture (shoes or not) unless they wanted to... How could he know what you want?
Another horse free trotting, yes he has shoes, but again, could make a horse trot high without even touching them? If so please enlighten me ;) http://www.broadmor.com/images/05astro.jpg
This one is my filly, she had no formal training at all at this point, except she lunged for the first time that day. She has no shoes on. Nothing unnatural about her movement at all, and she reaches higher.. I didn't catch the picture at exactly the right moment. Anyway, I didn't make her do this, nor did anyone else. She loves to show off. Its in her blood. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...c/IMG_3451.jpg
If you could make a horse (in this industry, anyway) do something they weren't bred to do, or talented enough to do naturally.. EVERYONE would have a world champion park horse. It just doesn't happen that way. (Idk if you know the divisions, but Park is the most extreme of the motion) Park classes at Morgan shows are generally small (under 5 horses per class, usually). At the 2007 New England Morgan Regional (some consider it more competitive than nationals) there were only 2 stallions in the Park Stallions class. (2 Well known stallions, it was a great class to watch) Please tell me, if you could make a horse pick his feet up so high, or if so many people force the horse to do unnatural motion, why the class wasn't filled and split with 20 something horses?
Because it takes an extremely talented horses and there few actually talented enough to make it to that level. I find your "points" insulting, that horses who were bred and conditioned to trot high "cannot be healthy".. I don't find it extreme or ugly, I see horses who love what they are doing.
Let me end on this note. There is a mare my trainer trained and her friend/boarder bred. She is by a well known stallion out of a very talented mare. She's 8 now, and still doesn't know what she wants to do. She rides and drives but none of the disciplines truly make her happy. I used to ride her in lessons, and she taught me a lot. She would take to a discipline (say western, or driving, or saddleseat, or hunters, jumpers, anything she wanted.. she could be someone's trail horse for all we cared.. we just wanted to find her talent and what she liked) for about a week.. Then one day you'd get on her, and she would be completely uninterested in it. She has enough talent (for saddleseat) to be a world champion, in all honesty. If you saw this mare in person on a good day, you wouldn't have a doubt in your mind it was all natural. She was shown in-hand as baby but that was it. Once you got the ball rolling on conditioning her (say for saddleseat), you'd get on one day, and she wouldn't move above a snail's pace, collect, or pick her feet up.
Honestly, if I could have made a world champion park horse out of her, I would buy her (she's for sale and cheap!), she's the perfect size for me. But I can't make her pick her legs up, that's all on her and whether she wants to or not. If I could make her, I could buy her and probably make an upwards of $20,000 or more for her.. just because she is so cheap now and would be worth so much if she weren't so unpredictable.