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Discussion Starter #1
Preamble:

So this thread is based on questions raised here http://www.horseforum.com/horse-training/please-tell-me-isnt-common-practice-692201/#post8844273 but I would like it to be more general than that thread.

I would also like it if this thread is confined to abuse relating to the horse industry, rather than any other area, this is not the place for that more general discussion.

I would also ask that we keep it civil, I will be asking for moderator review here right from the start, I understand it might get heated, but hopefully it stays civilised.

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Abuse is a word we hear thrown around a lot, and there are cases where it is clear...a horse found be beaten, bloody, lame etc etc, clearly been abused, I think we would all agree.

There are those that say that any form of metal bit in a horses mouth is abuse, on this I think the majority would disagree, while at the same time arguing at length about types of bits and riders hands:wink:

What sparked me actually posting this thread was a comment on the 'donor thread'

"Its forbidden to use a whip more than three times in a row and when a rider uses a whip in temper its always deemed as being excessive."

Now that to me is very interesting, Jenny and Jimmy can both be warming up for a big jumping class, Jimmy is 6' beefy and strong, his horse is backing off the jump, so he gives it three good hard whacks, and it jumps OK.....

Jenny is 5' nothing and weighs not a lot, her horse is backing off the practice fence, and she gets MAD and gives it two whacks, and the horse jumps OK.

So are the rules saying 3 whacks from a big dude who is in control is more acceptable than 2 whacks from a tiny girl who is in a temper?


Back to the other thread, it clearly shows bad decision making, bad riding, worse horsemanship, not what we want to see, but is it abuse?

Golden Horse is on one of her questions again.
 

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Abuse can take many forms, there is the obvious abuse of misuse of equipment, bits, spurs, martingales and draw reins.

It can be neglect.

Then there is also the cruelty of allowing a horse to get overweight.

The bad loosing rider that gets rough, jabbing a horse in the mouth or whipping it for no reason.

I have come across neurotic owners with highly strung horses that they make far worse because two neurotics rarely gel. That can be mental cruelty.

It can be endless! Much can be unintentional but it can in some people's eyes be cruelty.
 

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I read a bit of the other thread last night, then got distracted. I saw a couple of the videos posted on the thread. The initial part where the horse tripped and what followed after, I saw some not so great in the moment riding but no worse than what I have seen continually at my local gymkhanas, which I no longer go to because they literally made me sick to my stomach.
It looked to me like after the horse tripped and she checked him, she did not take a 'deep breath' and gather herself properly and ask nicely for the horse to move on. She gave the horse something that looked between a tap and a kick (keep in mind, a kick to me is that kid with his legs out horizontal whopping his gymkhana horse) and lost her balance as the horse lurched forward at the excessive command, hauling back on the reins in the process to catch her balance and also because there was a rider coming up on the rail that she would have run into if she had not stopped him (or turned him on the inner circle, as I would have done, but it appears she made a bad decision with her adrenaline pumping as we all can be prone to do.)

The next part where the horse lurches forward too quickly several times and she repeatedly hauls him back, looks to me like a poor attempt at correcting the horse for 'rushing' or 'lurching forward' instead of producing a nice transition.
Unless this girl trains herself, I would place more fault with whatever trainer taught her these horse handling methods than with the girl herself.

Why am I not horribly harsh with her? As I said, I have seen things at my local gymkhana and rodeos that turn my stomach completely. I see better horsemanship with the guys riding the cow horses/ropers than I do with the kids doing poles and barrels. Did this particular girl exemplify riding that I or anyone should aspire to? Obviously not. Was she abusive? To a point, however, I think banning her from shows and the absolutely abusive way people have talked about her is excessive. I board my horse at a rescue, and I have seen the results of real abusers. She probably shouldn't be on the ASPCA watch list. She definitely should learn some new techniques and get a new trainer. We all have bad moments, and before screaming out and calling names, I think we should look up some of her other riding videos on this horse if possible and determine if these are her regular habits or if this was simply a bad day she most assuredly is regretting now.

If it were not for KigerQueen's profile on her arab mare Negra, I would never have found out about one of the most disgusting practices ever, right up there with horse fighting which they practice in remote Asian countries. The Mexican rodeos have favored event called 'horse tripping', in which they chase a terrified horse around a ring while a guy stands in the center and attempts to rope one of the horse's front forelegs. This often ends in death and broken legs for the horse, but only after its been terrorized numerous times.

Horse Tripping Fact Sheet

This to me is real abuse.
 

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Ignorance can equal abuse.
-Heavy hands
-Unbalanced riders
-Improper handling
-Improper use of tack
-Improper care
...just to name a few...so I pretty much just repeated Foxhunter's whole reply...

IMO, It becomes blatant, premeditated abuse when the rider/handler/horseman is experienced and KNOWS better. Of course there are different degrees to this. In my mind, it doesn't necessarily make it better, or worse than abuse at the hands of pure ignorance.

I look at the situation I am in. I have a boarder at my house who's entire relationship with her horse is "out of sight, out of mind." She hasn't had vet care, even after developing an ailment very similar to heaves (again, no vet care so we don't know for sure). She stands uncomfortably due to inconstant hoof care. She cannot eat well because her teeth have never even been looked at...and now she is all alone on my property since I decided to board my mare after I lost my other mare.

So, looking at this situation, is this an "abuse" situation? Sometimes...well, most of the time, yes I think it is. BUT, who is the bad guy here? The owner, who should have full responsibility for this animal? Or me, for allowing it to happen? In my defense, I've had several, if not TOO many conversations (I say too many because frustration has come through and it's now uncomfortable to bring up anything) with the owner on what should change and be done, and I gave fair warning that I would be moving my mare and her horse would be left alone. But still, at the end of the day I put up with it. That isn't fair to the horse, and in the end doesn't make my side of things any better than the owner's side of things.
 

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I think this argument is going to be very similar to abuse when it comes to children. Some people feel VERY strongly that a child should never be touched (to discipline them). Others feel equally as strongly that a child needs an occasional swat on the butt to keep them in line.

I don't really know enough about horse training specifically to add more than that, but I can say with certainty this is not a black and white issue and there is not a clear right or a clear wrong. It's way too based on opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't really know enough about horse training specifically to add more than that, but I can say with certainty this is not a black and white issue and there is not a clear right or a clear wrong. It's way too based on opinion.
This is a very good point, but if we are going to have regulations that are clear and fair, then we have to find a way of getting beyond opinion. This is always the problem with this sort of issue, trying to legislate.
 

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This is a very good point, but if we are going to have regulations that are clear and fair, then we have to find a way of getting beyond opinion. This is always the problem with this sort of issue, trying to legislate.
Agreed. And when you are talking about competition of any sort, the crazy comes out. Even at lower levels. Maybe even moreso at lower levels because it's not regulated or watched as closely.
 

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Agreed. And when you are talking about competition of any sort, the crazy comes out. Even at lower levels. Maybe even moreso at lower levels because it's not regulated or watched as closely.
Hence the gymkhana nuts and 'barrel moms' in my area ... :icon_rolleyes:

And before I get attacked, I don't have any issue with the good barrel racers. Its the bad ones with bad horsemanship that for some reason are the ones these kids model after that I take issue with.

Of course, thus is the case in many disciplines. Its the 'rough and tough' looking riders that for some reason are looked up to by many, especially the young kids. I never understood how being rough with a horse could be appealing, but anyway...
 

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Abuse has a definition but it's totally subjective. People will always have a totally different opinion on what is and what isn't abuse.

I don't really believe in the last thread it was abuse but I do believe it was terrible horsemanship. I have seen worse, such as a trainer chasing a horse so hard it rears up and falls back onto a fence.

None of us are perfect which doesn't excuse it but I guarantee we have all lost our temper or done something extremely stupid at one time or another.
 

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I think that beyond the obvious, there is also a certain situational aspect.

I will give a horse who I think deserves it a whopping. However many smacks I think I need to get my point across. I always try to get it done with less, but if more is needed I will step up and go to war. I don't think this behavior is out of "temper" or cruelty, I think it's born out of understanding horse hierarchy and knowing that when a horse is charging at me, mouth open and ears pinned, I'd rather get it once with a stock whip and let it learn its lesson than hope precious pony over there backs off and doesn't kick my head in.

To a certain degree I also think horses respond differently to pressure. I have Selena, who is literally the deadest horse to ever live. Has been since she was born. Nothing happened to her to make her that way, except letting her get too gentle as a colt. Now she's a terrorist. You could kick, whip, kiss, cluck, beat the snot out of her and she might not even bat an ear for you. I spent a long time of sweating and cursing to get her to be responsive to me, and still when it gets in the heat of the moment I swear to god she doesn't even feel my whip. In moments like those, I'll give one or two good hard whacks to get her attention. Then she will go off the light cue again. Is that considered abuse? I don't think so.

There's a lot of factors to consider....
 

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Without mentioning the extreme cases of starvation, beating, etc, I tend to think of abuse as more ongoing rather than one action.

If someone hits their horse in the face for no reason once, I would unlikely label that abuse. I'd think that is a demonstration of poor horsemanship. But if that person comes back daily and hits their horse in the face for no reason, that is abuse.

What it comes down to "I know it when I see it" commonsense is how I determine abuse.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The situational aspect is interesting, and we get back, as so often in horses to it all depends. Ace, my old Arab, wants to please, I have never done more than raise my voice at her. When I had a new farrier out, I explained that he was not to be strong with her, she will do anything you want, but she is starting to feel her age, so if she wants to put her foot down, please let her take a rest. Gibbs, can be an ****, young fit, knows better, if he messes about, get after him. Two horses having the same thing done, two instructions. To hit Ace for putting a foot down, not cool, for Gibbs, yeah probably deserved it!
 

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I will give a horse who I think deserves it a whopping. However many smacks I think I need to get my point across. I always try to get it done with less, but if more is needed I will step up and go to war. I don't think this behavior is out of "temper" or cruelty, I think it's born out of understanding horse hierarchy and knowing that when a horse is charging at me, mouth open and ears pinned, I'd rather get it once with a stock whip and let it learn its lesson than hope precious pony over there backs off and doesn't kick my head in.
Yes, and there is a lot of people who don't understand this until they are faced with that not so sweet pony themselves. Fact of the matter is that horses are too big to let them get away with pushing people around. Little stuff always escalates, and what was once bumping into you while you walk is now nipping and 'herding' and even charging you.

A little over a month ago I was riding my mare out around the neighborhood by myself. We rode past a few horses that ran up to the gate to say hi (I did not let her go see them), and once we got to the end of their fence line she outright balked. Just would not go forward. I spend about ten to fifteen seconds asking nice before I took the end of my split rein and walloped her good (three times like the common barrel racer run home). After a little attitudey head toss and once over herself, she walked forward just fine. There were two bicyclists there at the time and the way they looked at me you would have thought I was the most despicable person in the world.
With my mare, you have to nip the little things in the bud hard and fast, otherwise she will quickly escalate a balk into a bolt home, rearing, or otherwise dangerous behavior. But if you're in charge and remain in charge, she's sweet as can be.

My mare's a stubborn headstrong mustang who is not the 'forward' type, I had to train it into her. I have never needed to correct the OTTB's I ride in this way, all they need is a gentle tap to the side and persistence.

So in that case, the clueless non-horse people onlookers would have said I was abusive. They probably didn't know what a balk was, didn't understand the situation, and certainly didn't know my horse like I do.

Thus we must be careful before 'crying wolf' and get the full understanding of the situation first...
 

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Yes, and there is a lot of people who don't understand this until they are faced with that not so sweet pony themselves. Fact of the matter is that horses are too big to let them get away with pushing people around. Little stuff always escalates, and what was once bumping into you while you walk is now nipping and 'herding' and even charging you.

A little over a month ago I was riding my mare out around the neighborhood by myself. We rode past a few horses that ran up to the gate to say hi (I did not let her go see them), and once we got to the end of their fence line she outright balked. Just would not go forward. I spend about ten to fifteen seconds asking nice before I took the end of my split rein and walloped her good (three times like the common barrel racer run home). After a little attitudey head toss and once over herself, she walked forward just fine. There were two bicyclists there at the time and the way they looked at me you would have thought I was the most despicable person in the world.
With my mare, you have to nip the little things in the bud hard and fast, otherwise she will quickly escalate a balk into a bolt home, rearing, or otherwise dangerous behavior. But if you're in charge and remain in charge, she's sweet as can be.

My mare's a stubborn headstrong mustang who is not the 'forward' type, I had to train it into her. I have never needed to correct the OTTB's I ride in this way, all they need is a gentle tap to the side and persistence.

So in that case, the clueless non-horse people onlookers would have said I was abusive. They probably didn't know what a balk was, didn't understand the situation, and certainly didn't know my horse like I do.

Thus we must be careful before 'crying wolf' and get the full understanding of the situation first...
Yes. Jumping to conclusions is a HUGE problem when people see a small video or something in person and don't know the whole story.

I've learned a lot in my short time as a horse owner (literally just under 3 weeks), but one of the biggest lessons is that those little things that seem so benign add up. I feel like horses all attempt to see if they can be in charge in tiny ways over & over. Some more aggressively and persistently than others, but if allowed, I think they'd all be riding US. :lol:
 

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Like anything else, there are levels of abuse,, and boundaries are not black and white
THere are grey areas, between downright abuse any one can agree on, and those that are more subjective
Lest go to that video.
It is one thing to take hold of a horse, then back him hard with legs, and quite another to suddenly take slack out of the reins in a sharp jerk-that to me is abuse, no question
I don't think it also serves any purpose by comparing degrees of abuse, between different disciplines, as many wrongs, make no more right that two wrongs make a right!
Most people here would have no problem agreeing that soring of horses, for that big Lick, or pressure shoing those horses, is abuse
Most would agree that using a running W to teach a horse to stop, is abuse
Those that hung the head of a western pl horse, overnight, to get that head carriage, sure would be classified as abusers

Now , comes some grey areas.
many people see no problem in having a tail alcohol blocked, with many vets performing that procedure. One also has to differentiate abuse with illegal, depending on venue. I consider it abuse, same as tail docking, ear cropping.
How about those Arabian halter horses that are whipped in the warm up, to get that animated bug eyed expression, so rewarded?
I consider the way Saddlebreds are shod, abusive-others do not

Show venues, have to have guidelines, so that if a protest is filed, then there is a rule to back up that protest. Thus those arbitrary numbers, far as number of hits, spurring a horse ahead of the cinch, excessive jerking- and when you have that horse just about go up in front, due to that jerk, it is excessive

I hate watching local gymkhanas also, esp as many of those kids never learned horsemanship before running games, and many of the horses used in those local shows were never taught body control, thus are whipped , spurred and jerked around those obstacles, versus guided.
I also recognize a well trained horse that runs those patterns on a loose rein, just lightly checked where needed.
Bottom line, while we all have views far as what we consider true abuse, venues have their guidelines to determine those parameters.
Thus, when anyone notices blatant abuse, and it is backed up, per rules of that organization, they must be enforced, both for public perception and confidence, not to mention, for the sake of the horse.
 

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Abuse definitions change as training methods evolve. When I first started out, it was kind of a "Hurt them before they hurt you" mentality with horse training. We were taught to do a LOT of things that we wouldn't dream of today.

Someone mentioned headsets, I saw a LOT of abuse at Arab shows where either the horse was tied with his head high so he'd be so tired he'd drop it and not throw it up, or tied with a piece of larger diameter PVC pipe in its mouth so it wouldn't play with a bit. Any trainer I ever used, totally understood if I even suspected such was done to my horse there's be Hades to pay. I will never need a ribbon that bad. I also don't like using a rebar hackamore to teach a horse to not fight the bosal.

I hate halter, don't care what breed, because people just get so carried away with what they want. Either the ultra hard stance of Arabs, or the slabs of beef in the stock horse show ring, none of it produces good minded, sound animals.

I'm not against getting up into a horse who is being disrespectful. I will do it, and do it quick and hard to stop dangerous behaviour from escalating. Like others though, I do it hard once and maybe twice and that's normally the end of the need for it. I don't, as someone else said, walk up and slap the horse in the face daily just because. Now if that horse bites me, I am likely to knock him halfway to TX, and convince him that when he gets there he's going to be cutlets. But he'll quit biting.

I'll use a spur or a crop as much as I need to and not a bit more. I also don't think I could draw blood with my spurs, even if I wanted to.
 

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...The next part where the horse lurches forward too quickly several times and she repeatedly hauls him back, looks to me like a poor attempt at correcting the horse for 'rushing' or 'lurching forward' instead of producing a nice transition.
Unless this girl trains herself, I would place more fault with whatever trainer taught her these horse handling methods than with the girl herself.

...

... Horse Tripping Fact Sheet. This to me is real abuse.
The bolding is mine.

My question on the original thread for this was: It looked to me like the horse was going to sleep/ deprived of oxygen, was the horse doped? Heart problems? So the 'rushing' 'lurching' the horse was kicked forward and hauled back. To me the girls bad temper, while disgraceful, is the secondary issue. That horse did not stumble in the ordinary way, it went down.

Blaming the trainer is utterly ridiculous and getting way too PC. Nobody has total control of another person EVER, including your own kids, let alone a student who is not even under your direct supervision during a lesson but out on her own in the show ring. How can the girls spat of bad temper be the trainers fault. Lets keep some perspective. I don't understand why people want to give their freedom away, control by this person or that authority.

I think there was something wrong with the horse. If the owner/ rider was unaware of a problem, she thought the horse was misbehaving. One usually feels obliged to finish an event so one continues if there appears to be nothing wrong, we don't automatically assume something dreadful is going on, so a vet check probably would not cross the girls mind at that point. Possibly if a steward had seen, they may have questioned it, but again, they are not expecting that sort of trouble either. And the episode of bad temper rather distracted from what was going on with the horse.

So we harp on about this incident, setting it as an example of what is unacceptable, but the reality is that every day all over the world this sort of behaviour goes on, and you want witch-hunt one girl for it? Ideal, obviously not but there are horses that have to do daily work with not enough feed, bad if any hoof care, obscene bits that are badly used. . . so, perspective. 'Punishment' does not have to be hung, drawn and quartered. A steward saying to a person, "thats not acceptable, if it happens again you are finished for the day" is perfectly ok.

The word 'abuse' is bandied around willy nilly these days and is rather losing its impact. How about we keep it for what it really means. I was on jury service a few years ago for an 'abuse' case. It was a waste of taxpayer money. Two neighbours who had been lovers and partners in a small business that folded, squabbling over an issue and one touches the other, who files for 'abuse'. THAT makes me sick.

I would like to think the incident with the girl we have been speaking of was a one-off incident. Chances are it happens at home sometimes. So if the FEI spoke to the girl I like to think they have recommended something constructive. We will never know, and nor should we. Here is a shocking thought to some of you younger people - everything is NOT our business, just because we have social media. And just because it is not 'announced' doesn't mean it didn't happen (I am talking about consequences here)

I have not read the fact sheet. I just can't handle that right now.

:cowboy:
 

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Abuse is such a broad word...I have a mare, who like many mares, has her own idea if things. Sometimes it takes a good smack in the shoulder to tell her "hey, I mean it" when I ask her to do something (like quit fidgeting while I'm trying to close a gate, or go around a corner she doesn't want to)

If a random person saw me do it, they might go off on the "ohemgee she hit that horse! Evil!" But if I hadn't, she would have continued to misbehave and eventually she would learn that if she pitches a fit, she wins...those fits could get people hurt...So the smack. I don't consider it abuse. It doesn't scar her permanently, abd I get my point across. I get the gate closed, or around that corner.

My gelding before I got him was ridden with hard hands in a severe twist bit, and beaten over the head with a hair brush whenever he didn't comply on the ground. He became fearful abd aggressive on the ground, and started to rear and bolt under saddle. That is of treatment I consider abuse. It had no positive ending, nothing but hurting the horse was accomplished.

I think that there will always be different opinions on what is abuse abd what isn't, abd then there will be blatant obvious abuse that every partycan agree on (starving a horse, hitting with the intent of injury etc.) All you can really do, is evaluated a situation with an open, understanding mind, while not dismissing blatant abuse.
 

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I think that the bottom line is, WE as the OWNER'S of the horses need to step up and take responsibility for what goes on with our horses, doesn't matter if we know about it or not. For instance, back to the tying the Arab with its head way up to tire it out, even if that was hidden from me as owner I am responsible for what is done to my horse. I know enough about Arabians and young 2-3 yo horses in general to know that most will not just hang in the bridle like is required for Western Pleasure in the Arabian Main Ring. Anytime a horse is that docile, there's something going on, 98.5% of the time, and it behooves ME to go find out what that something is and to deal with it if I don't approve. That goes for physical abuse and/or drugging. I don't care if ACTH doesn't test, it's still drugging and dangerous to the horse.

I recently went to a sale and there was a trainer there who everyone just thought was just tip top. The man had hands like a butcher. Every one of his horses gaped and gapped and tried everything they could think of to get away from the SNAFFLE bit he was hauling and yanking on. As someone was talking about what a great, fast trainer he was, I turned to my trainer and said, "If I ever saw one of my horses hiding from that bit like that, acting like he thought the trainer going to rip his jaw off and beat him with it, I would slap that trainer plumb off that horse and I would chase him nekkid down Main Street with a stock whip.". My trainer has never been rough on one of my horses like that, but good Gawd a mighty, to think that was effective training.
 
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