Originally Posted by TheNuturalEquine View Post
Saddleseat is the sport I enjoy the least. I have judged saddleseat in horse judging contests for years now, and I get so stressed about the poor animals involved. The horses show obvious signs of discomfort, and the bits are just ridiculous, double bridles... really people?! The normal saddleseat horse has drool or "foam" running down its neck, sweat covering it, and its mouth working to evade the pain from the bits. I understand every discipline has downsides, but none is so evident of abuse (mentally and physically) as the saddleseat industry.
And if you believe that tail-nicking is ok, then I question you ethically. That is abuse, even when its just a foal. Saddleseat enthusiasts never seem to come up with an ethical (or even close to good) reason for the way they treat the saddlebred breed.
Yes, saddlebreds do have a naturally high head carriage, they also have a beautiful gait. So why must people "enhance" them? People should show what the horses can really do, instead of what the "trainer" can FORCE them to do. "none are so blind, as those who refuse to see."
While foaming in conjunction with other symptoms may be worrisome, mouth foaming is encouraged in many disciplines, particularly dressage, as it shows the horse is relaxing and connecting to it's training.
This action of the forehand into the neck cause the salivary glands to stimulate and produce more saliva, which then runs down into the mouth and is foamed by the movement of the lips and jaw. In a relaxed horse this will produce foam around closed lips. Notice in this description I have said nothing of the bit. I believe that the presence of foam has nothing to do with the bit, but is actually a product of correct body mechanics and mental state.
(source: The Fuss About Foam | Dressage Different
Also, at least in my experience, horses are not ridden and trained in their "show tack" (bits, bridles, sometimes even shoes etc). The reason upper level riders and horses (dressage, saddleseat) should
be using double bridles is that the horse has had the necessary training under it's belt to accept and understand the use of both bits. The rider also has the responsibility to use their hands, seat, leg, and artificial aids the correct and humane way.
This website Dressage Double Bridle Misconceptions
explains how the use of the bridle may be abused, if the horse and rider are not properly schooled. (But can't we say the same for something as innocent as a crop?)
This Website even gives a list of prereqs one must have before using a double bridle (and that's just for the rider).
1. Seat of the rider must be correct, with no reliance on the reins for balance in ALL gaits (including the extended gaits)
2. Steady hands
3. Body/hands remaining steady during transitions
4. Ability to weight seat bones at will
5. Control of the lower legs and spurs
6. Ability to sit in the center of the horse, both side to side and front to back
7. Ability to control the length of the reins, and to shorten/lengthen them at will
(source: An Explanation of the Full Bridle for the Rider
I have used a majority of Dressage references as it is a much more colloquial concept to most mainstream equestrians than Saddleseat would be.
And finally, YES saddlebreds carry their head high and naturally step high, and you ask why do we as riders work to enhance this? That is what EVERY horse rider strives to do in EVERY discipline! They take a horse's natural abilities and enhance them in order for that horse to excel in a certain discipline. That's how humans work too. (example) If someone is a naturally gifted dancer, coaches strive to enhance that natural ability through practice and training. This breed of horse has a natural way of going that makes it a prime candidate for such riding:
(source: American Saddlebred Stock 5 by LuDa-Stock on DeviantArt
(source: Charlie XIV by Jag6201 on DeviantArt
Do not bash a riding style and tack without specifying that it is completely the fault of misinformed, unschooled riders doing things the incorrect way.