Just like the Trainers, teachers, and hands on experience of the people who sore TWH's? They will swear up and down it does not hurt the horses, that they were bred to do it, that they are in no pain whatsoever. Then again some of them will also say that horses do not feel too...
Unlike the scum who sore, condone soring, and "train" by soring(that is not training), one thing every Saddlebred trainer knows is that you cannot sore a Saddlebred to achieve an elevated, even trot. For the sake of science, I invite you to conduct your own personal study on the subject. Come to Tattersalls, pick up a few cheap prospects, and experiment. Just tell yourself it is all for the sake of science. You'll be one of probably many to try and fail.
Our horses very much do feel. Our horses must be sound, and expressive. They are very quick to express their feelings. I know many champions who, if they are in pain, are flat dangerous. American Saddlebreds do not have a high tolerance for pain either. You lose their minds REAL QUICK through pain. A major thing for us is a horse "using his ears", "looking through the bridle", meaning they have to have their ears up and look happy about it. Broke my heart to see a horse we raised go into the ring at Louisville with an expressionless eye and his ears pinned. He did not place well and that was a contributing cause. Thank goodness for his new owner and trainers. They are fixing him well.
Yes, I was taught to use them by people who used them before me. They explained it, and I could see the form to function through HANDS ON experience. If you have no idea how something works, you are more likely to use something incorrectly. How better to learn than from someone who already knows. I am sure that is how you learned to get your degree. You didn't just learn it all yourself? Of course not.
There is no major for Saddlebred Trainers. If so, I would be on a lifetime course in the Saddlebred Education Field. Our graduation is to prepare a horse for the championships. To graduate with honors is to place.
I do not twist what I read, and I don't read propaganda unless you call case studies and University experiments and articles propaganda... I take the information I know and apply it where it fits.
When said that the horse thinks it needs to step out of something, you have then twisted that to where the horse is in serious mental distress, which is not the case. Without hands on study, how can you make this claim?
So you say(with the whole chains discomfort and irritation thing) that because you do not see it it isn't there? Ok. Basic sociology, if you believe it enough it becomes true in your world. You make yourself believe it and refuse to listen to any logic but your own and what you have been taught.
I believe in evidence. I have sought out the answers first hand. I didn't just take tid bits of information and twist them to fit my own assumptions. You get something before you. You test. You test. You test. You compare data. You do field work. You test some more. You come up with an answer through study, tests, and data. Maybe when you gain enough evidence to support your thoughts and theories then you can make an educated statement pertaining to the subject.
Can you honestly give me a reason that the horses continue to react to the chains if they do not bother them? Not the whole walking in snow thing, Tom walks perfectly through snow and mud and high grass after he has been in it for a bit... And not the whole "stepping out of them" thing, as has been said, they wouldn't try to escape them if it didn't bother them, when a horse becomes desensitized to something they stop reacting to it. And so does every other horse I have ever been around... But a black and white reason for their continuing reaction?
"Irritating" does not equate to "suffering", "pain", "distress". Flies irritate and illicit a response. MANY flies in excess and ferocity can cause mental stress and the wretched biting ones cause pain. Chains used properly do not cause pain, distress or suffering. Large chains used improperly, or chains used in conjunction with soring cause pain.
The only set of chains MEANT to cause pain are kicking chains, and I have seen people from every discipline in the horse world from racing to hunt seat to western and dressage use them when needed. Those are supposed to hurt, though they are not applied like action chains.
Our horses are not desensitized to them. That is the point. We want our horses to react to them, and how they react is by trying to step out of them. They are put on for work, and then removed. If they were not there to create a reaction, then they wouldn't be there at all. They are not play pretty jems we put on for looks. If we wanted something shiney on their feet we could just glitter spray their hooves.
Chains are not the only thing used to achieve this "stepping out of" affect. Leather bands work sometimes, but the horses are often desensitized to those. Chains are very flexible and move and sound differently than a straight leather band. Metal chains are not always used, though those are the most common. Plastic chains are used as well, though those are more easily broken and lost. I said this before, but my friend's horse only needed to feel a string of fishing line(could that possibly hurt? Seriously?) in order for her to react accordingly.
The chains do not distress the horse. They do not make them angry or upset. They don't induce panic in them. I have seen all of these emotions in Saddlebreds, and not once because of the chains. Our horses don't think that way. If they panicked and felt they HAD to escape, such as they would a predator, there would be no trotting. There would be no collection. There would be blind panic. Running, bolting, spinning, climbing the walls, flipping over backwards... You can't train a horse when he is in a panic. Go put a pair of leather dog collars around Toms pasterns(since I am sure you wouldn't want to spend $10-$60 on a pair of action chains). See what he thinks. He might take a few awkward steps, but likely will forget about them before too long.
A thorn branch caught in the tail is about the only reason I have seen my horses flaming upset over something touching their back legs. I wonder why? Maybe it was all those little points stabbing them and causing pain.
Tom is not a Saddlebred. I am guessing he isn't conformationally comparable to a Saddlebred either. I would assume he doesn't move like a saddlebred, or think like one either. I would bet the only time his knees come above his chest are when he is getting up after laying down. I would bet that no matter what you did to him, you couldn't make him trot like a quality Saddlebred. I would bet that he moves like his breed, whatever he may be. I would bet that he can only do what he is capable of doing. My sister's QH doesn't trot like a Saddlebred in snow or high grass. He trots like a QH, neck out in front of him, legs plodding along. My low-quality Saddlebred colt doesn't either. He is not built for it. He is forward headed, and not capable of bringing his feet up. My broodmare who is a fine example of an American Saddlebred trots like a hackney pony on bare ground. Even my fat little girl can put her knee above level and she was never even started as a Show Horse due to an injury. I don't think she has worn a pair of chains before either... if she has it has been 10 years ago.
The horse is the one who decides if he is going to react to them or not. The chains do not force the horse to do anything.
American Saddlebreds are bred UP. They are born with their necks UP. They are born with thier tails UP. They are born with their knees UP. As with anything, you must condition and train for the correct movement and response. Yes, our horses can trot out in the field over level. We still have to teach them to do it when asked. We have to teach them that, yes, that is how we would like them to move, just as if we were going to put one in dressage, we would have to take his natural ability and condition it for the discipline.
I will say it again, though no one ever takes me up on the offer. Anyone who wants to come investigate at my farm, and see how our horses are trained, or if they would like me to help them set up a tour with a barn near them, I would be glad to help.
(BTW: QH folks, I am not ragging on the QH. I keep bringing them up because they are about as far away from a Saddleseat Saddlebred as you can get.)