Chains on front legs?
At a barn I used to ride at, they took in astandardbred gelding from the track and were retraining him to be a saddle horse. Everytime they would work with him they put a chain around each leg, just under the fetlock. They weren't attached either.
I was only 10 or 11 so I didn't really think to ask whatvit was for at the time, but I have been thinking about it lately and have been wondering what they were for.
I can remember a friend of my grandpa's doing that to a foxtrotter when I was a kid. I think it's to make them step higher so they'll have a flashier gait. I believe it's a form of soring and frowned upon in the horse world.
Yes, chains around the pasterns are intended to alter the horse's natural gait. It is frowned upon by those of us who are against any chemical or mechanical soring methods. Friends of Sound Horses is a good resource to learn more about how bad this can get.
I am betting that they are using the chains in this instance to get the horse to have higher knee action. If you look at videos of Standardbreds racing, you'll see that they are either trotting or pacing, but definitely have a long, straight-kneed type of stride. In other words, they don't lift their feet very far off the ground, and reach way out in front to cover a lot of ground. For some in the gaited world, they want to see higher knee action. The chains (especially if they are heavy) cause the horse to lift his feet higher and further out to keep the chains from rubbing his sensitive pasterns. Some trainers use chemical concoctions on the skin of the pastern to cause the skin to be sore even before the chains are added, which must be excruciatingly painful to the horse when those chains are rubbing and banging against the skin.
This thread honestly makes me sick to my stomach and weak kneed from a very bad/unfortunate incident, especially for the horse involved that I found for my then neighbors. The wife had absolutely no prior horse experience and the husband coninued to bolster/brag about having a nearly wild, unbroke and high stepping horse that he could ride when he was a youngster. He boasted that no matter the horse they bought he planned to put logging chains around the horses passterns to get a prancing step induced. I honestly did not think it was anything that was going to happen.
Each of the couple were small framed and so I shopped for and found a very nice stock-type built actual POA that was a charm to handle and ride. Mounted on my own Candy I took the wife mounted on her new horse on many a road riding trip, but had to keep reminding her of proper placement of her rein hand over the top of her saddle horn, 'cause every time I looked to check on her she had her rein hand about a foots length to the right of the saddle horn.
Then one morning the husband shows up in our front yard mounted on their POA with logging chain bracelets around each of that horses pasterns. I was so heart broken for that horse.
Candandy, we are actually pretty close to each other! I live in Norwestern Arkansas. There is a lady who lives a few miles from us that has a donkey that wears a chain on a front leg. I have no idea why! I've contemplated sneaking over there and cutting it off in the middle of the night!
It is a method used to get around the soring rules, I quit and refuse to have anything to do with the TN Walking Horse Association over this.
They say they are against soring, but then judge horses on how well they do something that is specifically caused by it and the unnatural stacked shoes. All they are doing is judging on how well you can do it and not get caught.
Your comment about the donkey and the chain on one foot --- my grandpa, an oldtimer from years back, used to put a hobble on one foot of our pony mare, with a chain attached to that hobble, because she was hard to catch. When she ran away from us, she had to drag/swing the chain and it slowed her down. Plus, if we could step on the chain we could catch her easier. Anyway, it didn't work for long, she was smarter than all of us. She learned to swing the leg/chain so that she could run just as fast as ever. :-)
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