Poll: Fun? Reckless? Or Both?

Introducing our first Hooves Blog poll!  I’ve kept it simple because I haven’t a clue how it’s going to work.  You should also be able to add comments to this post as well – which I’m sure many of you will have wonderful and insightful things to say.  🙂

Partway down in this link you’ll find the video of the Dublin Hunt Chase.  Have a looksee and voice your thoughts.



97 thoughts on “Poll: Fun? Reckless? Or Both?

  1. At least no foxes were injured during that hunt. Some old ideas just need to die, not morph into the stupid of a chuck wagon race. I actually like all my horses, their well being matters to me.

  2. I can see where some would find this reckless – and I’d never in a million years try it myself, but by far most of these riders seemed to be excellent, mounted on appropriate, forward-going horses and riding within the bounds of safety for their level. No one was spurring unmercifully or lashing with crop or reins (actually that isn’t allowed at any English riding event). The obstacles were safe (unlike some eventing ones I’ve seen) and the footing good. So – I’d say, enjoy the thrill of watching. These are horses that can race cross-country and this a far cry from those ghastly suicide and jackpot races in which so many poor animals suffer.

      • I really like the third rider on the team closest to the camera, most in synch with the horse’s movement, able to ride the horse without much need to adjust in big ways, but many of the others, especially first rider on the team closest to the camera, heavy in the seat, off balance, too much of a fight through the course,that horse could have been hurt. The red coated rider on team away from camera, too much a chicken wing rider, if you wanted to smack the woman’s hands on the dressage horse, what about this rider, enormous flapping , pulling, did this person really think the horse would go faster if the hands moved ten or more inches per stride?

        It isn’t abuse any more than any top level sporting event, rollkur, spurring in cutting, overbitting or tying mouths shut to limit the horse’s protests, this a stiuation wheret people put speed over the good of the animal. Horses can handle a fair amount of speed and quick turns, relatively low jumps. It is the people whose ability to do it well that are few in number and who should be more disciplined about staying within the limits of their horsemanship.

        • LOL! It wasn’t really appropriate for me to comment on what I wanted to do to a few of these riders.

          Your last reminds of an important lesson for people who do speed events…slower is faster. You’ll hear it from people who race cars; ‘to become fast you have to slow down’.

          This can be applied to barrel racers, pole bending and the hunt chase we see in this video. Slow down a bit, be accurate within the pattern, get the horse to the fences at the right distances so time isn’t wasted in the air or blowing the turn, work to maintain balance and properly adjust the amount of engagement required, blah, blah, blah.

        • I also liked the 3rd rider (only). She rode her horse very nicely, quietly applying aids and using her seat quietly while sustaining a nice pace throughout. Her horse looked confident in the task at hand, a nice steady eddy thanks to her.

          The flapping chicken arms were ridiculous, a few of the riders were flapping and banging the entire run! In their ever so slight defense, they weren’t exactly riding forward horses and certainly didn’t help their horses in the least. As bad as the arms were, what bothered me most were the terrible, heavy, flopping seats of a few of the riders. They rode like they were in a recliner with a joystick. You don’t see that kind of riding with Andrew Nicholson at Rolex!~

      • Specifically? The entire event. Those horses are getting slapped, whipped, forced, terrorized. Either you see it or you choose not too. I see no good horsemanship just a bunch of hooligans that think this is ‘fun’. Times are changing and more and more people are starting to see it for what it is.

        • If you talk to police who regularly talk to witnesses of various accidents, crimes etc…, they will tell you that very rarely do witnesses of the same event describe the same details.

          Now certainly none of us here are under duress or any level of stress when we watch the video in question, but we all (should) be able to admit that all have developed our ‘eyes’ for certain things to different levels.

          We should also all be able to admit that it’s human nature to often hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see, particularly when we have a vested interest in a certain outcome and that our perception can be skewed (to various degrees) by that interest.

          I know what I see and if I happen to see something different than you, doesn’t mean I’m choosing to not see. It means my perspective is different, my eye is developed to see different things at a different level, and/or my interpretation of the events is different.

          Is there room for improvement? Absolutely!
          Could it be worse? Absolutely!

        • Even under the worst of the riders, those horses weren’t looking terrorized. I’ve seen terrorized, eyes closed blindly charging, totally shut down quivering, walking on their hind legs around an arena. tails totally inverted, spinning or backing uncontrollably, etc.
          Not to say I am sold on the event where adrenaline is likely to substitute for thinking on the rider’s part. But holliganism it wasn’t. Go to a low level barrel race and look at what happens, this was mild.

          • Yes we have different perceptions it you don’t see that these animals are not choosing this and would not act this way in a natural setting unless they were being hunted by a predator and had to run for their lives. If you don’t see this then there would be no changing your perception – just saying.

            Just because there are worse examples of animal abuse does not make this any less or more. Why discussing further animal abuse excuses animal abuse is beyond me.

            The police – really – hmm don’t think the police are the only ones to observe human behaviour and human nature. We all have our biases. I just see this for what it is and yes they are hooligans and not horseman IMO. That’s the beauty it is just that – my opinion and times are changing. People in greater numbers are deciding that they don’t want to attend these events and judge people harshly for being involved. It’s just a fact.

          • There’s ALWAYS a chance to change my perception, IF the person wanting me to see it from their POV at least starts by presenting that POV in a respectful manner. You’ve dismissed me (and others) without even giving a decent effort. Simply saying, ‘if you can’t see it then you’ll never see it’ is one of the least effective ways to educate people.

            My point of saying there is better and worse is to go directly to you saying that the horses were ‘terrorized’. There’s really nothing worse than an individual being ‘terrorized’, which is characterized by (but not exclusive to) bugged eyes, uncontrollable shaking, confusion, anger, fear, complete shutting down of the brain and body… None of the horses in this video appear to be exhibiting any of the classical signs of being terrorized. And since there is in fact far worse examples out there (and some have been posted on this blog), the horses in this video are not actually being ‘terrorized’.

            I did not say the police were the only ones to observe human behavior. I used their experiences to help explain how two people could watch the same scene and come away with completely different perspectives.

            I’m always happy to support the education of people – duh, this blog. You have a chance to do just that and you’re blowing it. That’s also just a fact.

          • Really. There is plenty of terror to be seen in the horseworld but this isn’t it and these horses are certainly not abused. After the ‘fun’, these horses will get a rinse, rubdown, cooler, walk, hay and grain in a cushy box, probably a few treats too. They may consider their riders to be half-wits for flapping and pumping like fools, but these horses know and trust their riders. Life will resume to a normal routine, sans flapping, the next day and no idiocy for another year most likely. If I were a horse, I think I could tolerate 5 minutes of rider psychosis (from a horse’s point of view) for guaranteed food, housing, medical care and hoof care. It certainly beats what mother nature could dish out.

          • No horse goes out and puts a saddle on either, or a rope or restraint of any kind on itself. There is no natural riding. On the other hand, horses do very well as domesticated animals given a job of work, they generally, if treated fairly from a horse’s point of view, prefer knowing they have something important to do, a physical activity that makes sense to them. You certainly have your own perceptions, but they aren’t based on what horses really do or react to, because horses will run and play and jump over things for the fun of it if released in a space on their own.

            Watch the degree of physicality they show on a cool morning or after a thunderstorm where they run with no predators, just the air feels good and so do they.

          • I wrote a reply that almost exactly like blondemare’s but it never showed up yesterday. I don’t like this much use of a crop, and I don’t smack my horse like that when I do speed events (I get speed by getting up off the back, staying balanced, lightening my hand, maybe using a little voice, and *letting* the horse go faster, rather than *making* the horse go faster – but that’s a digression). But I do not see horses that are terrorized and forced, not by a long shot. The worst of these smacks still do not rise to the level of anything that will cause long-term harm. All of these horses clearly get safety, food, water, shelter, health care, grooming, and I’d bet they’re all getting extras like treats and affection too. In return they have to tolerate these riders doing their thing. Even for the worst riders of the bunch, it’s still a pretty good deal for the horse. It’s exactly like the family dog having to tolerate being dressed up by a child and pushed around in a baby carriage.

  3. I said all of the above but I’m way more toward “fun” than reckless… I don’t think it’s any more reckless than any other high-speed event involving horses.

    Certainly it’s a lot safer to jump this style of fences when they’ve been deliberately constructed (I’m assuming with safety in mind, that they’ll come part if hit, etc), in an enclosed arena with good footing, than true cross-country. I think competitions like this could be a great way to preserve the sport and skill of cross-country riding at less risk of injury to both horses and people. I saw some moments of good riding and some moments of crappy riding, which is pretty much par for the course in any kind of competition.

    One of my absolute favourite events to watch in show-jumping is the double slalom event that they do at Spruce Meadows… which is pretty much like this only with standard show-jumping fences (and the quality of the riding tends to be a higher, since it’s a big-ticket, mostly professionals event). Tonnes of fan to watch and especially friendly for non-horse people. Here’s one of the Spruce Meadows pro videos of it:

  4. I’ve taken part in hunter chases over 30 years. Albeit not in stadiums. They’re the backbone of eventing and hunter trials. Really just what you do when too old for pony club games but no different.

    They’re a fun sport.

  5. There’s no doubt there’s room for danger here, but I don’t think it could be considered any more dangerous than steeple chasing or even flat racing. Bad riding, yes, but you see bad riding in dressage, in reining, in regular show jumping – so I don’t think you can condemn it just because some of them are bad riders – and not all of them are bad riders. I think it looks like a fun, exciting event, and as long as it’s done in a proper arena at a proper event, I don’t see any more harm in it than in most other fast horse sports. Definitely would have told the riders that taking it steady and nailing the turns and the jumps would have brought them home first, but you just can’t tell that to some people 😛

  6. It’s all about being effective. The horses that do hunter chases or team chases are actual hunters – not what they call “hunters” in the USA. So these are all prepared by hunting and they’re fit and up to the job of doing challenging jumps at speed across challenging countryside. As are the riders.

    It’s not about being pretty and sticking your arse up in the air and trying to look pretty as you go round on a brain dead numbskull horse.

    It’s about being effective and safe and secure in the saddle on a horse that’s brave and athletic.

    Many of the horses that do chasing also event or do point-to-point or steeplechasing and again it’s part of preparation for horse and rider.

    “Proper” chases are ordinarily over about 2 miles though these sort of stadium events are a great way of introducing the general public to the sort of fun and sport you can have with a horse.

    • There are people who hunt, as in cross country rides on fit horses, in the USA. I doubt a single person at this board thought they were looking at anything but field hunters, not hunt seat equitation horses.

      And not all of the riders were really up to the challenge. They don’t fall off easily, but effective as a rider versus not falling off leaves an immense gap in skills. Here in the USA we liken the difference to a rodeo act, monkey on a dog. The monkey never falls off, but it isn’t an effective rider. The third rider on the team closest to the camera was effective, the first rider for the same team, not so much. Neither fell off is about the most comparable things you could say about their rides.

    • Yes, I think we all understood that these were hunters as in hunting, and not hunters as in North American show hunters. That said, hunter derbies are becoming very popular, and those make use of solid natural fences, ditches, banks, etc. The sport of “hunters” in the US is moving away from “sticking your arse in the air and looking pretty” and increasingly rewarding bold, handy, forward horses and good, solid equitation. I’d be willing to bet that the horse/rider pairs that are successful in current North American hunter derbies could give these hunters a run for their money AND do it without the chicken wings.

      • Here’s an example of what I’m talking about, for anyone who isn’t familiar with hunter derbies:

        This particular one is on sand, but many are on grass, and some of the fences are very similar to those in the hunter chase. This is a long-ish video, it’s a multi-round competition, the first round you see a steady pace, easy turns, and then in the second round, you see higher speed, tighter turns, changes of pace. If you have the patience to watch for a few minutes into the second round, look at the way this pair turn and jump compared to the riders in original post. I’d love to see riders like this in a the format of the original video!

        This isn’t really meant as criticism of the competition in the original video – I still think it looks like fun – just that effective riding can still be attractive riding.

        • There’s not a whole lot to pick at in this video, but I will because that’s the whole point. 🙂 I’d love to see the martingale taken off. Off the top of my head; I’d like to see the horse bend better through the ribcage and bear more weight on the inside hind when turning. And I’d like to see the horse straightened when he carries his haunch to one side.

          • I guess if that’s the level of critique that’s praise from Mercedes? I don’t know this rider, it was a quick peek on Youtube to make the point that the oft-criticized American “hunters” now often involve solid natural obstacles and handy turns and the winning riders do it with quiet effectiveness. I’d bet this pair could turn in a very respectable performance on the Dublin course, they look capable of “going fast by going slow”, getting their speed through balanced turns, correct take-off spots instead of frantic flapping.

          • LOL! Yes, overall that was praise. I can always find things to improve on…like the rider tends to hunch a bit prior to the jump, but there’s a lot to like in that video. If the average person rode like that, the world would be a better place for the horse.

  7. JRGA, you don’t really have great cross country riders in the USA and for sure there’s ain’t any in Canada! There’s no evidence whatsoever that either of those stations regularly out compete the piddling little places that do disproportionately well on the international stage.

    So bring it on!

    ‘Over there’ virtually everything is dumbed down. Very risk-averse. I’d bet most would be scared witless by having a go. Truth is, any such competition held over there is going to have MUCH smaller fences and lots and lots of alternatives.

    Hardly any English rider jumps outside a ring, a few more go out hacking (which too often means a leisurely walk down ‘trails’) and most ‘jumping’ is over ickle knock down flimsy obstacles of 2’6″ or less.

    • FEI standings- from fall/winter 2012-2013, top twenty, eventing USA and GB tied with four riders in top 20, 3 from NZ and Germany, 2 from AUstralia and France, one from Italy. Granted Eventing at the international level requires good scores in dressage and stadium, but again we were talking about effective riding, which requires some skill.


      US teams don’t do so well in dressage compared to the continental European teams, but we’ve held our own the last 30 years in eventing.

      As for amatuers not on the international circuit, most of your more speed event oriented riders, ride western events, less jumping, a cultural difference. Nevertheless, in my local area, the main horse association that sponsors shows concentrates on eventing. Its mostly kids, a few adults, but they all ride cross country courses out of doors over fixed obstacles. There are two large hunts within fifty miles, and the land isn’t flat around here, its up and down and steep, challenging in its own right without the fences.

      But mostly, you’ve been happy to make this a personal spitting match over nationalities rather than address the substantive point, was this effective riding, was this showcasing a top level of skill rather than nerve. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Most of us here are seeking the standards that support The Good. People should have fun with horses, horses are very capable of hard work and racing around. But most people here are here to improve their eyes. Looking at the less than perfect as well as pointing out one rider that was an excellent example of what more people need to strive for is how we learn to emulate The Good and improve ourselves.

  8. You’ve actually pulled up the only 3* events there is and shown the few eventing riders there is.

    None of whom do great on the international stage but I’ll keep reminding you of that so long as you keep bringing up nonsense.

    Hunter chases or Team chases are done by a large number of people in the UK.

    Go find me something comparable and when you come back talking sense in context I might then be inclined to give what you write more attention.

    • I’d love to see more good cross-country riding in the US and Canada. I’d love to see Canada and the US have competitions like the one in the original post to promote those skills. I posted on another thread that too many people learn to ride without the experience of riding cross-country and that this was a bad thing.

      However, that is not the same as saying that we have no good cross country riders, that everything is dumbed down, everyone is risk adverse, hardly anyone jumps out of the ring, and most jumping is knock-down fences under 2’6.

      We have eventing, we have Pony Club. Not as much as in Canada as in the UK, but with half the population spread out over 38 times the land mass, what do you expect? We have a very strong show-jumping scene, and Canada *is* becoming a contender internationally. The local show circuit I attend alone attracts hundreds of horses and the majority of classes are higher than 3′. And I posted above about hunter derbies, which are very popular, and which increasingly include solid natural obstacles. It’s common for hunter riders to school cross-country to prepare for these classes.

      But, I’m pretty sure you were just trolling anyway to get the outraged reaction from the Americans and Canadians.

      • excellent point about the landmass, it is hard to compete nationally at high levels in a huge country, costs to get from competition to competition are enormous and you can’t pick multiple events in a nearby geographic area.

        North American horsemanship also tends to cover more styles of riding, hunting has dominated more in GB, dressage not even being popular compared to continental European and virtually no western style riding, cow work, etc. to compete with people’s interests and time.

      • Also-as if it’s a bad thing to be risk-averse on a horse. Knowing your (and your horse’s) limits is one of the most important aspects of an excellent horseman. If your horse is well-trained and physically capable of jumping big obstacles, great! But there’s no honor in being gutsy without putting the safety of your mount first.

      • “FYI, Rolex is the only 4 star event in the US, it isn’t a 3 star.”

        Yep I know. But I don’t know why someone put the 3 button next to the 4 button on a keyboard and I don’t know why WordPress doesn’t have an edit facility 😉

        Though of course Bromont is a 3*

        In terms of rankings for great cross country riders then I think it’s only right and proper to consider those who placed at the prestigious top level international events. So that would be the rankings for the likes of the six great fei classic 4* and the olympics and 3*.

        It’s also right and proper to give consideration to the target market / population.

        Furthermore you’ve got to consider not just where the eventers come from but also where they train or the nationality of their trainers. Interesting to note how many of the “GREAT” eventers base in the UK and also how many other nations use “GREAT” British trainers.

        Then you’ve got to look at the trend and the rule and appreciate that exceptions don’t make a rule.

        Do all that and cut it whichever way you will and you’ll see for an itsby bitsy island with what is a tiny minority sport (in terms of participation and owning populace) that GB do disproportionately well at producing GREAT riders at objective equestrian sports where it’s only effective and “good” if you get round, get over and within a winning time.

        The backbone of eventing and show-jumping here is the likes of pony club games, hunting, hunter chasing.

        Chasing might not be pretty and technical perfection and I’d be the first and last to say that but by gosh they give it a go. The horses are up to the job and have something about them. Purpose bred. Fit, athletic and brave and with the capability to think for themselves. The riders too.

        This is more typical chasing rather than the stadium stuff which is merely to showcase the sport with a “soundbite” and to the more general populace

        • I find chasing fascinating and wish we had more of it in North America. However you do have to notice that the fences there are mostly hedges and the ones that weren’t looked like it wouldn’t take much of a hit to knock down. I am impressed at the level of fitness in both horses and riders. What type of horses are they using? I’m assuming TBs or a mix. One would think this would be an excellent alternative for a ex steeplechaser.

          • There’s a large number of current and ex steeplechasers or point to pointers. There’s also a lot of purpose bred English Hunters.

            The origins of the sport of Team Chasing came from Douglas Bunn who was the owner of the famous Hickstead Derby course. He “invented” the sport as a competition between riders of the sports of eventing, show jumping, racing and to see who was best.

            It’s supposed to combine the thrill and speed of the chase with the bravery and accuracy of the jumping. It’s supposed to be for the athletic, fast and brave.

            Some might consider that fun and reckless but in my experience there’s nothing reckless about it.

            There’s a lot of preparation. From choosing the right horse to getting as many hours in the saddle cross country as possible and plenty of hunting to ensure the horse is fit and up to the job.

        • I linked to the overall standings, which I thought was the best number as it meant that the riders had to have competed at several major events. blame the FEI rules if you don’t like the fact the USA riders made it into the top 20.

          The difference between us is that I don’t have to denigrate nations, brag about where I come from, I can look at a particular performance and talk about the pros and cons. I don’t have a favorite ‘sport’, I tend to dislike cheerleading without really looking at what I am cheering for.

          The cross country chase video shows much less chicken flapping and much more of the competence I praised in the rider I liked, the ability to control the pace and find good take off points without hauling on the horses. The course itself of course lends to smoother rides as there were fewer sharp turns than the stadium course demanded. Which makes the point for me again, effective riding means one can adjust the horse’s movement appropriately without flapping, whipping or yanking, and of course a stadium course presents different challenges than a large cross country course. The horses ridden predominantly outdoors on a couple mile long course with a hundred yards or more between jumps need training to handle a stadium course. I assume that the riders practice both, but may not excel at both. It also means that speed may need to give way to allowing the horse to adjust to the unfamiliar task.

          One sport isn’t the be all and end all of horsemanship, versatility is to be admired, but specialization has its place as well. Those jumpers aren’t going to cut a cow well and it would be unfair to ask. All horses can think for themselves, that is why so many riders blame the horses all the time. Horses aren’t numbskulls, people merely don’t know how to bring out the best in horses much of the time.

          I don’t need to chant USA, USA, I find it very unattractive for whatever reason. Horses are the same animals, good horsemenship is the same everywhere on the planet.

  9. Chicken flapping on these courses wouldn’t ‘fly’, the riders would – right off their horses. We need to see these events for what they are; Dublin is a group of spirited riders having a hoot on their Sunday afternoon hackers….Rolex is about the extensive teamwork of a horse and rider over unforgiving terrain and obstacles that are going nowhere. Who wants to be the first to tell Karen O’Connor she’s not much of a rider???

  10. It’s also more genuinely scary as an idea over here because no one seems to want to be bothered with training their horses anymore, nor conditioning them.

    When I see horses in hunter classes playing up in the corners and then getting ace fired into their jugulars for it, I want to walk away from that world forever.

    These are horses that have never been taught to be responsible for themselves. They are so unable to balance themselves that when they are taken out into open country, they get tangled in their own legs, fall on their faces, and KILL their riders.

    • the artificiality of competition and the money leads most people to quick fixes and that isn’t limited to the US or hunters, or the lower levels of the sport. Any horse sport, where people spend big bucks on horses, trainers, hauling, whether for a ribbon or money, leads to people who will take short cuts, draws people who see ‘suckers’ available to fleece, etc. The fact that horses are no longer daily work animals, that fewer people have the opportunity to be around horses all the time, that many people who can afford horses have long work hours during the week gives rise to the weekend warrior that really is ignorant. There are also people trying to live out their childhood dreams without the natural sense of immortality, balance, and openess to listening to the animal that many children have.

      If you really want to enjoy horses, get out of the show world, work on competence, find a few like minded people and have fun, no short cuts, no drugs, no false ideas about what is collection or proper posture for horse or rider, etc. You can always go back and show if you don’t care about winning a prize because you won’t conform to what you know is wrong. Most people won’t go back though.

      And horses, unless so malconformed that ought not to be ridden, or so injured they ought not to be ridden can balance themselves just fine. It is introducing riders, especially riders who take away the horse’s ability to balance with martingales, tie downs, pulling heads around, their own poor balance, that make these horses dangerous on small obstacles. Further, large obstacles at speed are not within every horse’s reach, but it is the human’s bad judgment that puts horses past their ability.

  11. Mercedes, if you don’t see that these horses are not willingly and happily going through the course there is no way that I or anyone else could convince you of something different. It is apparant from your comments and that of your commentors are a lost cause with engrained beliefs that could never be changed. Why would I bother. You asked for opinions and I gave mine end of story. If you just read the words then I think you will see that they are only words and nothing more. I am not interested in trying to change your mind so how could I fail. LOL.

    I have to laugh at how poorly people that condone abuse will always fight so hard to defend their position. If you and your commentors are so confident about your opinions then why is necessary to fight me. LOL.

    I heard a story of a women who hits her kids everytime they speak but the police said it was OK because her neighbour locked her kids in the closet and wouldn’t feed them. See how ridiculous that is – gawd.

    • and you have ignored Mercedes and I both telling you that horses’ bodies reflect what they feel, there are always physical manifestations of what they are feeling visible. We pointed to specific signs in the horses’ bodies that were absent in these horses. The whole point of this blog, which admittedly is new enough that the entirety of the information has been pointed out in detail, is to explain the parts of the body and what they should look like from a skeletal and muscle and postural point of view. Then you’ll know terror when you see it in a horse, discomfort, wrong handling leading to impairment of movement. When you can play on that ball field, find a point in the video when horses are physically manifesting ‘terror’ then maybe you will be able to change minds, based on facts, not your perception.

    • So – I ask again – what horse sport would you sanction? What is it about these horses’ behavior makes you think they are ‘abused’ or ‘terrorized’? In none of your posts have you given any specifics beyond ‘it’s so terrible’ and all the other posters here, whether positive or negative, specify the reasons for their opinion. If you really care about changing peoples’ perceptions’ don’t use the cop-out ‘you wouldn’t understand’ – help them understand what you are seeing that no one else seems to see. And I believe all these posters are pretty intelligent, horse welfare oriented people – they will listen to you, but you must have something constructive to say.

    • Maria, have you watched the video that I posted about hunter derbies some posts above? Video of a grey horse and rider in black coat. If not, would you have a look. I am trying to understand your perspective and I am interested in your take on that video as compared to the video of the Dublin hunt riders and if you feel the horse is that video is also being abused.

    • I am more than capable of seeing when a horse is willing and happy. One of the results of such an animal is that they perform a task well.

      You claimed all the horses in the video were terrorized. I contend that a terrorized horse would not be finishing the competition in question, but rather would be refusing the jumps, stopping and shutting down midway through it, bucking, rearing etc…

      I base those conclusions on 25 years of actually retraining and rehabbing horses who’ve truly been abused, spoiled, misunderstood, etc…

      I contend you’ve partaken in a healthy dose of hyperbole.

  12. Oh good lord. Terrorized is one word that I used – so what get over it. I did not watch every single horse – I saw enough and who is going to benefit from me watching more. I did not say that every single horse was terrorized – maybe reread my post if you want.

    So I will be clear I’m not trying to change or influence anyone. I just stated or shared my opinion. Take it or leave it.

    Ok Chesnut I’ll look.

    • “September 17, 2013 at 7:56 pm
      Specifically? The entire event. Those horses are getting slapped, whipped, forced, terrorized”

      The entire event it turns out you didn’t watch. Words do in fact matter, especially if you are trying to change perceptions.

    • Fortunately, maria, we can all easily go back and reread exactly what you did say. Despite your claim to the contrary, you did in fact say ‘those’ horses. At no time prior to this latest post did you specify the first two horses, only the black horses, only the horses with horns….

      So while you didn’t say ‘every single horse’ was terrorized, you did say ‘those’ horses. What other conclusion are we to draw from those words? It’s only now that you begin to specify such things as; ‘I didn’t watch the whole video.’

      Thusly, I contend that words DO matter. Indeed, if I said you were being a bitch and you asked me to explain why I said that and I simply replied as you; Oh, good lord. Bitch is one word that I used – so get over it… it would be me who’s being the bitch.

  13. Chesnut
    I didn’t watch the whole thing just enough. At first blush I would say this horse is not being visibly abused. I find his gait a bit weird as if someone just finished galloping to wear him down and I also noticed a bit of fighting with the bit. Can’t help but notice the tie down – why would you need that if he’s happy. To be 100% that this horse is not being abused I would probably have to have personal knowledge of the situation which I do not. But overall no eye bleaching necessary.

    Whatever folks. Times are changing though.

    • Okay, that is helpful to me in understanding where are coming from. If I have your perspective correct you do not find it inherently abusive to ride and jump a horse, because you do not see obvious abuse with the grey horse like you do with the Dublin video. This is what people were trying to get at with asking you, what exactly was the abuse? You said it was the entire event, so that’s why I asked your impressions of the video of the grey horse, because in the basic strokes, this is a similar event: a horse being jumped over obstacles. If you did not see abuse in the grey horse video, then it is not the act of jumping a horse that is inherently abusive (if I am following you correctly).

      So what is specifically wrong in the Dublin video? The whipping? The arm flapping? The speed? I am honestly just trying to understand, and I think the others are too. As I said above, I don’t like the whipping either, I don’t think it was the most effective way to get the desired performance from the horse, but I don’t think it is bad enough to be called abuse. Nor do I perceive any fear in the body language of these horses. And the posts about other abuse, were not intended to justify any action by saying that this is not so bad, but to point out that we know fear in horses because we have (sadly, unfortunately) seen it, and we don’t see it here.

    • As for the tie down on the grey horse… it is a standing martingale, and I get where you are coming from. This horse obviously doesn’t need that device. But it is very common in this discipline to use one on horses that don’t need it. The idea, as I understand it, is that you are showing the judge that your horse doesn’t need the martingale because the judge can see how it remains slack the entire time. I think that’s dumb, and I don’t use one on my horse when I show hunters. But since a properly adjusted martingale does the horse no harm, other people using one it is not a hill I’m going to stand and die on. Using a properly adjusted standing martingale on a horse that doesn;t need one is a silly fashion trend, but it is not indicative of abusive or an indication that the horse isn’t happy. It has about as much meaning in the overall picture of this video as the rider’s choice of jacket.

    • If you had said ‘not happy’ or ‘tense’ at times, I would have agreed with that on a few of the horses, there were instances of tight tails, no nice arches, pinned ears, clearly off balance a few times. But not terrorized horses. But there was one ride that had virtually no bad moments, horse loose, ears forward, tail fine, rider allowed the horse to move, didn’t haul on its mouth, etc. I wouldn’t encourage head to head races like this (as opposed to one rider on course but timed) because I think most people, and that would include me, get a little more excited, a little more tense, and the adrenalin counter acts common sense, technical skill, hence the arm flapping, etc. But I am still going to say these horses weren’t terrorized, weren’t abused, but that I could think of better ways to set up a race than a small stadium course head to head. The cross country chase, where riders know they need to go a long distance instills more of a sense to pace themselves, etc. because the horse will have to drop out if over ridden too early.

      I think horses should be happy with their work, I think if we looked at how they can be happy but we can still have competitions, it could be melded. Unfortunately, I think too many people get caught up in competition and the horses suffer. So I am not a big fan of horse sports in general. But not every horse is abused.

  14. For those (Marie?) who don’t understand survival of the fittest in the horse world and how horses can react to each other to get their own point across, take a peek at this. I will say that I wouldn’t allow this to continue, someone’s going to get hurt. But this is horse talk and it’s certainly not sunshine and rainbows. Compared to a rider’s crop used judiciously in the Dublin race, this is a whole lot more violent. Horses will fight to the death for food and it’s not pretty. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=RrjGY1tXWCk

    Or this one, just a little scuff but could’ve been much worse. Instigated by a grain scoop from appearances. Is the horsey-worsey sad for what it did? http://youtu.be/A0mVVTcuTlA

    So, things are changing? Will the nature of the horse change too? Will these changes take away their survival instinct that can maim other horses over a flake of hay? Or the right of the alpha stallion to breed a mare and his attempt or success in killing a rival? What most of us do with or to our horses pales in comparison to what horses can do to each other. Are there really abusive people and events? Certainly. But most of us don’t take more from our horses than we give, it’s quite the opposite. We put in 90% and take 10%. That’s a **** of a lot more than nature will guarantee and I can live with that. The only ‘change’ we need is blatant, purposeful abusers brought to justice – Big lickers who WANT to inflict pain, those who starve to death, copulate with, restrain in cruel fashion, etc. etc. Not a few folks who got caught up in friendly competition on a Sunday afternoon. IT IS NOT THE SAME.

  15. Mercedes, this is a very small and selective group in your poll. In other words, maybe for entertainment but not a representative sampling of current views.

    Chesnut, the problem in these events, just as at other horse shows, is that abuse is the norm. So when someone comes that is doing good it is unusual. See the problem. I think that you basically do understand what constitutes abuse and maybe because abuse has been the norm for so long it’s hard to see that things shouldn’t be that way. If a human acted like a robot under the control of another say human what would you think. If a human was being chased with a whip or any other aggressive behaviour and they ran like stink what would you conclude. This is just not rocket science.

    I stand by my original statement – it is the whole event. These events are breeding grounds for abuse. Can’t change it because humans are involved. Then there are other humans who think this is stupid and we should just leave the animals alone. Maybe I agree more with the latter group.

    It seems that you are trying to draw out of me some rule set where none exists. I could slap my husband and it would be in fun. But if someone else did it would it be in fun. See how a simple rule like that doesn’t work.

    There is one thing that your horse wants from you more than anything. I hope you know what it is and I’m afraid to see that none of the horses, including the one with the tie down or standing martingale, is not getting. Maybe now you will understand.

    • It is a small group, but it’s not specifically selective other than everyone has an interest in horses.

      If anything, people who believe as you do are just as likely (if not more so) to have found their way here as those who don’t believe as you do based on the fact the blog is tagged as ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ of the equine world and I’ve been quite critical of many sectors of that world.

      Anyone who surrounds themselves with or only associates with like minds tends to believe their opinions are far more popular than reality.

      “There is one thing that your horse wants from you more than anything.”

      The horse wants to feel safe via fair leadership.

        • you are just so wrong it is hard to know where to start. Horses are herd animals, they want organization, mutual protection and a leader they can trust, the last thing they want is ‘freedom’. Freedom is death in the horse’s world. Alone to face predation, cold, etc. Lone horses that can do whatever they want whenever they want don’t exist, given a choice, a horse will always choose a companion. Horses without other horses will pair up with other animals, a goat, a cat, a chicken, or a human.

          They do like to move, to roam around, but that isn’t the same as freedom. They prefer to graze almost continuously with some sleep, some play, a time to get a drink, their bodies are set up for small amounts of food over extended periods of time. We should arrange their stable management to meet those needs. But they are just as happy to roam along with a human as a herd, if the human know how to do what Mercedes says, give the horse security through fair leadership.

          Stop looking at horses through the distortion of your prejudices, and study the animal. This blog is one place that gives you facts, not propaganda. Learn. Any horses in your vicinity will appreciate it.

    • See, I most whole heartedly disagree that abuse is the norm at horse shows. There are incidents of abuse at horse shows, I agree with that. Wherever there are people, unfortunately, some of them are going to be cruel. But I do not agree that abuse is the norm. I happen to spend a lot of time at horse shows – I’m guessing quite a bit more than you do – and I seldom witness anything that is abuse. The vast majority of people who show horses are lower level amateurs who care about their horses very much. But I’m sure you would say that this is because we are defining abuse differently.

      I am not trying to draw you into any rule set, I was honestly trying to figure out your perspective. Whether you believed that all riding of horses was inherently abusive, or whether it was some specific act being done by the Dublin riders that was the abuse. I don’t think you actually know this yourself, or at least, you aren’t very good at articulating what you believe, because you’ve said some conflicting things.

      Here’s the most charitable interpretation that I can give, of what I think you believe: it might be possible to show a horse without it being abusive (ie the grey horse that you did not think looked abused, but you couldn’t say for sure), but abuse is so pervasive throughout the entire world of horse showing that it creates an environment where the risk of horses being abused is very high. Therefore, we should just “leave the horses alone” because there will be too much risk of the horses being abused if we attempt to ride/show them, even with the best intentions.

      I’m kind of putting words in your mouth, because you aren’t very good at explaining yourself, and I’m honestly trying to understand. But this is the best I can do, so if I don’t have it right, then I’m done with trying.

      • I think you did a good job of your attempt to articulate Maria’s perceptions. I also wish she would more thoroughly explain her position as some of what she said reveals, to me, a very left winged opinion on what ‘we’ should be allowed to do with our horses….my fear being that any type of riding that causes abuse (bits, martingales, shoes, saddles, crops, jumping, racing) need to be eliminated. My guess is that most of the readers here fall somewhere within the 40th-60th percentile on what defines abuse, given pasture pet as 1% and big licker as 95%. Am I the only one who took Maria’s comment as a touch of a threat against those of us who currently ‘abuse’ our horses. PETA people scare me.

          • Fodder for the troll – yes, “older” woman here, if 40’s is old. Have owned horses for 35 years, have started 25+ horses under saddle, have competed successfully in judged trail rides, Open shows and NRHA. I continue to train horses for others; spoiled, confused, arrogant or abused in some fashion. I have given a training clinic. I own my farm single handedly, can operate a chainsaw, tractor, backhoe, bulldozer, back a trailer like a pro and make a mean dinner guaranteed to want seconds. I’ve ridden horses in the ocean, lakes, mountain goat trails. I can trim hooves, give vaccinations (is that abuse too? Needles do hurt!) wrap wounds, inseminate mares and collect stallions. I’ve witnessed several births. I teach horses to respect and trust humans, I teach them to be balanced partners, happy and confident.

            So, yea, you’re right. I’ve never done a thing in life with horses and have nothing to base my comments on. Silly me!

        • I am about as liberal as they come, this is not a left winged opinion. This is factless reactive, emotive, senseless thinking. Not everything in the world comes with a right left political plane. This is just fuzzy thinking, it spans the globe.

          • I respectfully disagree a bit. There are people who feel that horses are nothing more than livestock and deserving of any treatment as the superior human wishes to dish out. Then there is Maria…….and the rest of us somewhere in between.

          • Blondemare, I agree people range from those that don’t care about animals as companions and pets, even actively hate animals, to people who act and think like Maria, who choose to be champions against imagined wrongs. But I don’t think that runs along a right left political axis. There are people who deal in facts, believe in science, and people who make up things to fit their view of the world. Those people exist everywhere on earth and don’t follow a set group of political beliefs.

            People such as Maria, who BELIEVE without regard to facts, an inability to articulate anything in the real world that support their beliefs, exist regardless of politics. They are common in politics as well, but that’s just because politics is more more sphere of human endeavor. We bring the same kind of thinking skills or lack thereof, the same emotions, the same prejudices, to all our endeavors.

          • Obviously, I’m on the far right wing tip. 🙂 I wholeheartedly agree in your point of view but when reading Maria’s post, I see a woman who wants to take away our freedom to enjoy horses based on nonsensical pity. And pity seems to be a forefront for leftist beliefs. Can’t help it…this is how I’m wired!
            I’m a fact person, a realist and that’s why I enjoy this blog as it extends farther than a point of view into science.

          • Blondemare,

            Pity isn’t at the forefront of the left side of the spectrum, though I don’t think there is any shame in being able to feel pity when looking at human suffering anywhere and everywhere. The definition of pity is the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others. What kind of person does not feel sorrow for others suffering misfortune and feel compassion, and how do they still call themselves human if they don’t?

            The difference is the factual basis of one’s thoughts and feelings. Maria doesn’t operate in the world of facts, she has baseless fears and sorrows for things that aren’t happening. That simply isn’t left or right, its just delusional.

            It is the same degree of delusion as a group of people with signs that says “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”. If one operates outside of facts, one will believe anything.

          • As another bleeding heart liberal leftie, I was also bothered by the characterization of Maria as a left-wing viewpoint, and I’m glad JRGA is generally making my points for me! Crazies come from all parts of the political spectrum.

            The fundamental difference between left/right is whether you place more value on the individual or on society as a whole. Lefties like myself believe it serves the greater good to take from the more successful members of society (such as myself), to pay for things which are in the interests of everyone, such as health care, education, and to support the weaker/more vulnerable members of society (elderly, poor, disabled). The right winger on the other hand believes it is up to the individual to succeed and provide for him or herself as much as possible and that those who do not achieve for themselves, for whatever reason, must live with the consequences.

            Perhaps the difference does come down to pity in a way, although I’d label it “empathy”, as in, I feel for those people who have not had the good fortune I have had, and therefore feel it is my duty to give up a small part of what I have to help others. I cannot claim that my success is all mine and I therefore owe nothing to no one else, because although I worked for my achievements, I also owe where I am today to being born healthy, white, able-bodied, to loving middle-class parents and in a free country. Those factors are all huge advantages and I did not achieve them, they were a roll of the cosmic dice. I can’t look at others who were less fortunate and feel that they are less deserving simply because they were not so lucky as me. Rather I feel is is my duty as one of the privileged to support the greater good.

            THAT is a left-wing view of the world for you and I don’t really see how believing that domesticated horses want to be “free” follows at all. (But this is getting pretty far off topic for a blog about cross-country riding!)

      • LMAO Mercedes – I can picture it now a wild horse running far and wide looking for a human to give him safety and leadership. No it is you that doesn’t understand them but only from a human-centric viewpoint. I’m not surprised. Don’t worry your 20 subscribers will defend you LOL.

        • Good Gawd – well fellow posters,, we HAVE been wasting our time! Maria, if we turned our horses loose in the wilds today , 80% would be dead by fall and the rest over the winter. Starving and dying domestic horses are unfortunately found all the time because people who can’t or won’t take care of them turn them loose. Nature is cruel – wild horses live less than half the lifetime of domestic horses and something like 80% of foals never last their first year. Horses want security, plain and simple. They want to be sure of safety, food and shelter – and like Mercedes said – they want a leader they can trust to provide that. I’m probably wasting my time though………Gotta quit feeding the trolls…..

        • I didn’t say anything about a wild horse running far and wide looking for a human to give him safety and leadership. That’s you either putting words in my mouth, being purposely obtuse, or lacking in the ability to comprehend the written word. Take your pick.

          These are the facts:

          Horses are no longer ‘wild’, they are a domesticated species and have been for centuries.

          Even in the wild a horse seeks safety (that’s why they gather in herds) via strong leadership (that’s why horses have a hierarchy). This is part of their instinctual makeup and remains/remained even after domestication.

          Humans like to anthropomorphize.

          How many subscribers this blog has is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

      • Just so that you’re not confuse chesnut – since it is so easily done LOL – the superior comment was meant for you. You’re a young person with a big head being influence by old out of touch broads like the well need I say.

        • You were unable to articulate your thoughts about what constituted your claim of terrorized horses in a video you later admitted to not even watching to completion, but you’re more than capable of being rude to your fellow man; the ones who currently stand in your way of seeing your goal of horses being ‘free’.

        • You’re crazy. And I really do mean that. And as a crazy person you think you are always right and “lots” of people agree with you. Well they do, lots and lots of crazy people.

          My horses are in semi retirement. They eat lots and run free (well there are fences but you know, highways are dangerous!) and when I go out to Visit they follow me everywhere. And I don’t treat them. They are domesticated and feel safe and secure with me. They don’t think. “there is the evil human who gets on my back and forces me to carry them around”. Cuz they are horses… Not humans…

          I have seen abuse at events. A young girl got mad at her horse, got off and started whipping it hard. Someone intervened, she was barred from the grounds and her riding instructor dropped her. No one tolerated it. And that horse was showing the whites of its eyes an trying to get away from her. It was shaking because it was being TERRORIZED.

        • Thanks for clarifying that the superior comment was for me, and double thanks for calling me young, that doesn’t happen so much these days!

          As for your attempt at a personal attack (the refuge of the debater with the indefensible position), I take no offense, as in ability to articulate a position and argue it with fact and logic, I AM your superior, and am pleased that you agree.

          • Please accept The Veronica award (like an Emmy, Tony or Oscar – only better) for blog comment of the year. Also, please keep your acceptance speech to 150 words or less.

          • A true honour, Mercedes, especially since I feared I was about to be assigned to type “I WILL NOT FEED THE TROLLS” 100 times before being allowed to post further.

  16. I’m a little late to the discussion but all I see is FUN. Horses and riders in the video are having a blast in a controlled, safe, inviting environment.

    In my opinion, the only way this activity could be “reckless” is if the horse and/or rider are not “up to” the task at hand. Most activities that have an element of risk attached to them become “reckless” (or “risky”) when a competitor is “in over their head”.

    It’s too bad there aren’t more of these available (at all ability levels) here in North America.

  17. Maria,

    You’re a bit of a twat! What are you even doing on a horse blog. That’s a rhetorical question so don’t grace us with your sanctimonious and stupid reply. I’m really not interested in the air you breathe.

    It’s obvious you’ve not a clue. You can’t read a horse. You don’t know about tack. Just piss off to the land of unicorns and butterflies where horseys run free and wild and don’t starve and get slaughtered.

  18. I did not watch the video, (crappy computer) but the controversy with Maria is to be taken for what it’s worth. I personally don’t show, and for me watching a horse show can be a bit boring, but I fully understand that the “horse show world” is what enables me to trail ride. Just from an economic point of view, how much would my hay cost, where would I find a horse vet if not for the huge horse show industry. Its not my cup of tea, but I do realize that horses do like a job, do like what they do, or else you can see that they don’t. Yes there seems to be a lot of crappy riders out there, and a lot of forgiving and saint-like horses that somehow make the horse world work.

  19. I couldn’t tell what was going on with all the screamingscreamingscreaming in the stands and from the caller. It looked like a giant fustercluck to me.

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