I have seen some nasty things. As long as there's no abuse to the horse, even if it's not my cup of tea, it's fine with me. I don't agree with horses trotting on a big 40ft circle on a lunge line for half an hour before a class for example. I much prefer to change directions on a small circle to lunge, yield the hindquarters, send them another way, change directions more, etc. But that's just my way, not everyone's way.
I think riding the WP horses is cool. I don't like them just having their heads cranked down, but a nice low headed smooth WP horse is a wonderful ride even if it's painful for some people to watch. I much prefer a level, relaxed body, head level with the withers and no lower. I like the WP horse to be soft and on the vertical, truly collected instead of heavy on the forehand and head in the dirt.
I watched a big name trainer (Oh how I would love to say his name and b**** about him, as he also lamed up my horse when she was three, but that's another story) who was showing at our Summer Classic show. He had a reining horse who literally had his nose on the dirt, dumping on his forehand, and was nosing out. He was not soft in the bridle, he was not collected, he was flat out rooting out through the bit the entire run and yet he still placed because he is a big name who sponsored the show and he's won a lot of stuff.
Also seen horses come out of barrel runs with bloody sides and bloody lips, which makes me more angry than you can possibly imagine.
On our HS Equestrian teams here, everyone does every event, regardless if you are actually qualified to do it or not. THAT is painful, let me tell you. The reining, everyone does it, so out of 50+ riders, only three of us had legitimate reining horses. The others broke to the trot for their lead change or flew around on the wrong lead, travelled a good 50ft in their spin, hauled to a front endy stop, kicked their butt out in a rollback, etc. The judges must just be cringing throughout the entire class, just waiting for the people who really want to win to show up.
Don't get me wrong, I love HS Equestrian, but DANG! You could sit and watch for an hour and likely not see one good rider in any given event. You see awesome jumpers entering the cattle events, you see great barrel horses doing dressage, and cart driving ponies walking the barrel pattern. Sure the specialized horses do their events and rock them too, but the odds of you catching the really good riders among 100+ entries, only maybe 30 say being serious about it, are low.