I don't mean to offend, but how can the discipline of Saddleseat be accepted as a legitimate equestrian sport? The horses, mostly Saddlebreds, are locked their stalls most of the time, ridden for 15-20 minutes a day and shod in ridiculous shoes. They have no to time to just be horses, and in the less reputable barns have ginger put in their rectums, chains around their ankles, their tails "nicked"(the nerves cut so that they can hold the tail unnaturally high) and put in tail sets which look suspiciously like torture devices, and sharp bits put in their mouths, all to enhance their "natural" gaits. Natural saddlebreds are sweet, intelligent, beautiful horses who have been enslaved by their riders. In my personal experience, I came across a saddlebred so destroyed by Saddleseat that he was unrideable, sore and his spirit broken. Rumors came in with his owners that firecrackers had been thrown at him to excite him to perform his gaits more extravagantly. People compare it to show jumping and dressage, saying they also use harsh bits and force horses to do things, which may be true, but the real issue is how an entire breed is being exploited, treated as though they are just gaits, not living breathing animals who need to be respected and allowed to act as their instincts dictate, not left in a stall for hours on end wearing a tail set to force them to carry their tail high and shoes that make them snap their feet up. How can the equestrian community ignore this obviously inhumane discipline?
People like you ^ really grind my gears.
You don't mean to offend? 99% of the people who start a sentence with "No Offense, But" are really just trying to defend themselves from the backlash they know they will receive from saying something ignorant.
Saddleseat is a legitimate equestrian sport, I have never shown in it but I have taken lessons. I ride Morgans, so I'm sure there are some differences in training techniques.. but, I must say that I have never seen a horse with a tail set (I do not personally agree with them either) nor have I ever seen a horse being "sored" nor would I EVER CONDONE it.
Our horses are only in when they have shoes on, they get handgrazed for a couple hours or turned out in SMALL paddocks within sight distance of the barn (so they cannot pull shoes) for a few hours. The main reason to keep them in, is so they don't pull shoes. Open your eyes, "thepie" there are plenty of other disciplines which practice 24/7 turn-in. Do you think Olympic caliber horses are turned out all day? So they can bow a tendon running in the field? Our horses get regular turnout when not in competition training (so from October to Aprilish) and if they are not competing, they do not wear "ridiculous" shoes and get regular turnout all year long. They are actually probably some of the most spoiled horses in the whole equine industry..
They also get more than 15-20 minutes of exercise.. usually anywhere between 45mins to an hour.. sometimes a tad more. They may only get 10-15 minutes with the "hideous devices" on their feet, but anymore than that and I might agree with you- it is abusive.
Sharp Bits? I'm assuming you've never ridden in a double bridle. They are also in dressage. (A big shock, I know) Yes, the curbs are longer and the bradoons a bit smaller.. but the horses are most often schooled in a plain snaffle with a running martingale (and work fine in it). Have you ever heard of the phrase.. "A bit is only as harsh as the hands who hold it"? Most of the horses I have ridden (that competed in Saddleseat) have the lightest mouths of any horses I've ridden- including your typical H/Js
/TBs/QHs that like to dive onto the forehand and annihilate rider's hands to avoid real work.
I'm sorry about your "personal experience" but I can tell you plenty of my own "personal" experiences with Hunter/Jumper barns, Thoroughbreds, QHs, all run down by INDIVIDUALS (who I understand don't make up the breed or sport as a WHOLE).
Rumors.. are just that.
These horses are not forced to "snap their feet" up. If you took your time to educate yourself on the breed (youtube), you would find plenty of videos of mares and foals (with no shoes on... BIG SHOCKER, I know!) TURNED OUT IN PASTURES (omg! They must have devilish owners) "snapping their feet up" just the same.
The training methods are used to keep the horses in shape.. so they don't injure themselves at shows, so they are used to the weight of the shoes..
I cannot speak for the saddlebred industry, but I'm 90% certain that the MAJORITY of the breed enthusiasts (including saddleseat riders and trainers) care very much for their animals and would do nothing to hurt them, and are probably more spoiled than your horse.
Keep your rash generalizations to yourself and maybe you won't offend anyone. Next time, instead of blaming the breed/sport enthusiasts- try blaming that individual for ABUSE (if it even occurred). It happens in all disciplines. Saddleseat gets a bad rep from people like you who find that ONE horse who fell into a bunch of wrong hands, and the rumor mill starts up, and the ignorance spreads.