The Bad And The Ugly – Halter Horses

For some strange reason I was under the impression that QH Halter horses had moved away from the muscle bound, post-legged creature when HYPP was confirmed to follow these horses’ bloodlines; that breeders immediately tested all their stock and culled (or at least stopped breeding) those positive for the genetic marker. I was wrong. Thank you to Steph C for making me ill.

Here is a nice, little summary of what took place and when concerning the AQHA and HYPP horses: http://www.aqha.com/About/Content-Pages/About-the-Association/Services/HYPP.aspx

From that AQHA report the QH breeding industry has had factual knowledge of HYPP for over TWO decades. Then why is this breeder standing TWO HYPP N/H ‘Champion’ Stallions? (Don’t forget to look at the broodmare page!)

In fact, I want to know why the AQHA would even allow a HYPP N/H individual (stallion or mare) to be eligible for what is essentially a ‘breed’ title, when they clearly recognize it as an undesirable genetic defect. After all, are halter horses not supposed to be the epitome of the breed, displaying true and pure breed characteristics derived from solid genetics?

From the interview of Dr. Sharon Spier in the AQHA link I provided, she said: “Impressive had numerous qualities, including excellent conformation, which gave him tremendous success in the halter ring.”

That led me to go looking for a picture of Impressive to see if her statement was true. Here is a picture of Impressive later in life.

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He certainly had some great conformation features;

  • Excellent length of hip
  • Good LS joint placement
  • Medium back
  • Excellent length of humerus bone
  • Medium neck length
  • Medium neck set
  • Deep, wide loin
  • Short cannon bones
  • Medium pasterns

On the weaker side of things, his ribcage didn’t carry back particularly well and his loin was longish.  His shoulder angle is a bit closed, he’s tied-in below the knees, and he doesn’t carry enough bone for his size.  While he’s straighter behind, he’s not post-legged.

At first I thought he was bull-necked, but looking at the odd and over-developed muscling behind his ears and throat, the lack of crest muscling and the line of muscling directly in front of the shoulder indicates that he hurt his neck at some point, such that the bull-neck posture is likely pathological.  The over-development of croup muscling is also likely from injury, particularly when we also consider the flat and angular loin.

And yes, he’s got quite a lot of muscle mass, which was one of the main reasons he was used for halter horse breeding.  It isn’t, however, grossly over-exaggerated like we see now in halter horses.

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Let’s take a closer look at one of this breeder’s champion stallions to compare conformation that is winning in the ring today.

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On the positive side, this stallion and the rest of the breeding stock (mostly) possess quite nicely structured and set necks of appropriate length.  Most have maintained medium backs; all have big hips and well placed LS joints, and loins of depth and breadth.  We also see the croup muscling coming forward and being full over the loin and into the back, that’s quite good.

While Impressive had a bit of a laidback shoulder, this stallion’s is quite laidback.  The shoulder angle, though, is a bit closed.

Like this stallion, most of the horses possess a steeper pelvis than Impressive, but body balance is similar being slightly downhill. This horse’s face is really too short.

The real big issues for these halter horses are the lightness of bone and the excessive post-leggedness.  The latter in this case causes the horse’s hamstrings and associated soft tissue to be attached too high and be too tight.  This (excessive post-leggedness) should be a deal breaker, all day long, every day, for ANY horse regardless of discipline, and when you combine that trait with joints that are too small and a massive body above you’re, at the very least, out of your mind to perpetuate it as a breeder.

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There’s absolutely no reason why halter horses can’t have conformation conducive to proper equine function.  There’s even less reason for why they shouldn’t.  Even if they never carry a rider, they should be able to do so at a higher level and stay sound doing it.  These halter horses do possess some really fine equine qualities.  It makes no sense to breed in and keep serious faults and genetic defects that are detrimental to health, soundness and longevity.  If people do so with the knowledge of what they’re doing, I have nothing good to say about them as stewards of horses, and if they do so out of ignorance; “Get a clue, people!”

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68 thoughts on “The Bad And The Ugly – Halter Horses

  1. holy cows batman, and I do mean cows! At the risk of having to duck tomatoes through my screen, I’m wondering why the horse meat connoisseurs of France, aren’t snapping these babies up?? If they were cattle, they’d be bringing big money on the market

  2. Two initial thoughts to this post – 1st, who also wants to breed horses to be tied in at the knee? The ‘modern’ horse is way worse off than Impressive himself. This also should be bred out, like now. 2nd – WTF good is that bubble butt? It looks freaking ridiculous on top of those hockless hind legs with pinched feet. At least a body builder can choose to bulk up, these horses are born to be deformed, er, huge, er, steroidal. And don’t tell me these horses don’t get ‘roids, many if not most do, quietly paid in cash behind the barn, if not overtly. There is no reason whatsoever for the versatile QH’s of the 50’s and 60’s to have turned into these freaks of nature. QH’s were shown in halter in the morning, under pleasure tack in the afternoon and the same horse may have been cutting, reining or chasing cows in the evening. There weren’t 3 separate horses of the same breed needed to compete in multiple events. A close friend of mine had a 1973 model gelding, Silver Certificate in NRHA, AQHA points in Reining, HUS, WP, Western Riding, Trail, Barrels and Over Fences. In his off time, he trail rode all over a small rocky mountain carrying over 300# of her dad for years and years on end. He lived to be 40 years and 1 day old and was peacefully euthed as he could no longer maintain weight. FORTY YEARS. Sired by a horse named Joe Cody. Versatile, strong, healthy and tough as nails. THAT WAS A QUARTER HORSE. But no, now in order to compete at the multiple events this horse did very well, one has to buy 3 or 4 horses that look absolutely NOTHING alike, impossible to explain to anyone with any vision whatsoever how or why they are the same breed at all.

    Ok, and 3rd thought….how do we know what we see as a nice neck is actually nice at all? It’s sweated to death so any extra fat or tissue is long since gone – though genetically ready to reproduce itself into a bull neck that it might actually be. Done. For now.

    • LOL! Had a few things to get off your chest, did you?

      In terms of the neck…yes, sweated of course, but you can’t sweat in bone structure and a bull-neck is created by bone structure, and I believe in the case of Impressive an injury where the bones became out of alignment.

      I hadn’t considered steroids, but you’re probably right. And I had forgotten to mention the small feet on many of these individuals.

      • Well, it’s just utter stupidity that we’re even discussing this mutation in 2013 when there is no need to, except in historical reference!! People are so dumb.

        • I was dumbfounded when StephC sent me the link to this breeder’s page. I REALLY thought the AQHA had put a stop to the whole HYPP thing and as a result the breeders had been breeding different (read ‘better’) stock. All H/H horses and the vast majority of N/H horses would now be dead and gone, the genetic defect taken right out of the gene pool forever.

          • The defect will never be out of the gene pool forever: it may be purged from pure QH stock, but so many QH’s are crossed with so many other breeds and grade horses that the genie is quite literally out of the bottle. I firmly believe that in a few years we will be hearing about a ‘mystery’ condition cropping up from time to time among backyard-bred horses: it will be HYPP rearing its ugly head long after most people have forgotten about it.

          • But AQHA IS banning H/H horses from registration so they have done their duty! (eye roll) And, well, shucks – this condition can be controlled with proper diet, exercise and medication so what’s all the fuss about?

          • i was looking over this blog to write a paper about how halter horses have become deformed. i was wondering if you could email me and tell me more about your self so i could source you in my college paper Chayleeray@gmail.com

  3. I showed that website to my non-horse husband and his reaction of disgust was almost comical! When I asked him why he pointed out the straight (post) legs and crazy body builder like muscling. I remember reading once a theory that today’s halter horse developed I part because of 4H. They said that the kids in the program showed beef cattle and horses and they’re “ideal” halter horse became very similar in looks to beef cattle. Thoughts?

    • I have no idea if the 4H theory has any merit or not. Somewhere along the line, some uninformed judge pinned a post-legged horse as Champion and the race was on. The post-leggedness and what goes with it didn’t come from Impressive. I’d love to know where it did come from.

      • I was under the impression that post-leggedness was valued by gamers for the acceleration it provides? Or at least the *perception* that it provides an advantage in that area.

        • Certainly ‘straighter’ hind legs, those with less angulation, are required for quicker, shorter, thrustier strokes. That’s why racehorses have a straighter hind leg than a dressage horse, where the hind leg stroke is slower, longer, less thrusty.

          However, post-leggedness (overly straight and lacking in angulation) is a serious fault in a horse as it puts tremendous pressure on the entire hind leg apparatus, all the joints, all the soft tissue connections. The hind leg ceases to act as a spring, coiling and uncoiling.

          Those same gamers are the reiners who were/are under the impression that sickle hocks help a horse slide better. (While ripping the horse’s stifles to bits.)

          This is simply another case of ignorance and not understanding biomechanics. We already know (via the confo series) that it is pelvic length that determines power potential for the horse. We already know the importance of LS joint placement for overall athletic potential in the horse. What we will know (via the next and last confo installments) is that it is bone lengths and ratios within the hind leg that determine stroke, just as it was bone lengths and ratios in the fore leg that determined forelimb stroke. Angulation is simply the result of those lengths and ratios.

        • Shorter than Mercedes, excess is not a virtue, but a fault. Almost everything in horse conformation can have a mechanical benefit to one discipline or another with a small tweak. But those tweaks are fractional, look back at the kinds of numbers that Mercedes posts on angles or lengths or ratios of lengths of bones. They vary by very little from exceptional to poor. When you start talking more than a couple inches of anything, you are probably moving towards pathology. So instead of being dead on to a plumb line dropped off the butt when the cannon is vertical to missing by about three inches, it is only a small exageratoin to say you almost aretalking about bones that are not going to be identifiable as ‘equus’ by a paleontologist some day.

          The reality is that people don’t know much about function and conformation. People in gaming, cutting, etc. talk about straight back legs and sickle hocks letting a horse get under himself more easily they are expressing their ignorance. And unfortunately for the horses, the vast majority of gamers are very ignorant of everything Mercedes has been trying to teach, conformation, function, that speed isn’t the main factor, but actually the kind of build and training that makes the most of the flexibility, ability to collect, that allows fast turns, clean changes of lead, as well as sufficient speed to be competitive. Blondemare posted some videos a few blogs back that showed the difference between a well trained horse and horses that couldn’t bend and couldn’t get under themselves. You probably see 50 of the latter for every one of the former in the games. Because of the sheer lack of knowledge of the owners, and the folk ‘wisdom’ passed around about build and training born of that ignorance.

  4. OMFG! I almost want to Snopes this to see if it’s a joke. Or photoshopped. I find it hard to believe those horses are even rideable, let along likely to say sound and I would be embarrassed to be seen astride one. WHY? WHY?WHY? do this? Quarter horses are supposed to be ‘all round, using horses’ are they not? When did AQHA lose sight of that principle. I’m not even a QH person and it makes me sad and angry at the same time.

    • Zanhar, I have no doubt that they aren’t rideable, they weren’t bred to be. I personally don’t understand the concept of a horse bred purely for ‘halter’ show…if it can’t do the job a horse was meant to do it isn’t a horse! Don’t most breeds that have halter classes at their shows expect you to show young horses in halter to prove they are built properly to be a good example of the breed, then expect them to be trained and go on to do something else?!

        • I’ll have to find some good confo pics of my friend’s halter bred breeding stock paint…my only beef with him is his smallish hooves and very thin soles. He doesn’t stay sound without shoes or boots. Really nice looking horse and totally rideable.she does dressage, foxhunting and competitive trail with him.

        • Friends who are long-time competitors in QH shows have told me that in ‘performance halter’ classes the judges are to make allowances for conformational flaws in light of the fact that the horse has had a performance career, implying that conformation factors have not impeded them at all. Maybe a step in the right direction, but hardly a conFIRmation of their belief in the functional desirability of correct conformation.

  5. When I go to the big tack store with a lot of Western stuff, I like to look at the AQHA magazines and horrify myself with the mutant creatures that are somehow champions (of what? Inducing vomiting?). I have honestly seen beef cattle ready to go to slaughter that are less bulky than some of these halter horses. It’s absolutely disgusting.

    N/H and H/H horses should not be eligible for registration/breeding/showing. There needs to be a zero tolerance policy of HYPP, effective immediately.

  6. I didn’t think of steroids either. My first thoughts were either photoshop or plastic surgery–implants! I can’t comprehend the muscling in the forearms and gaskins. I seriously don’t get it. This can’t be real.

    • Kate, the muscling in the forearms and gaskins are BRED in, it is part of the overall appearance we strive for. I just bought three of Clark Rassi’s babies, and as weanlings standing on their recip mares, they all have a miniature version of the mature horse’s muscles and gaskins……and they are N/N. And for all the comments about steriods,, they are NOT used, these horses are bred to be proportioned the way they are, and they ARE DRUG TESTED. We pay a drug testing fee at every show, yes it is random, but it is done. As for these horses not doing anything due to their “legs won’t stand up to it” you all are so wrong. Halter horses are worked very hard, and necks sweated every day. They are on a special regime of working and feeding to get them to their peak. MANY of them go on to careers in roping and cattle events, and the big 5 time World Champion halter stallion, FG Totally A Charmer, is showing and winning in HUS events. Go figure. I think someone needs to “rethink” their thinking………

      • If they’re not they should be! The more I research the halter industry the more angry I’m getting! They use neck sweats the enhance the throat latch, shoulder, etc…why don’t they just USE the horses, oh right their limbs won’t stand up to it 😛 it’s so sad what the breed has become! I won’t get started on the disgusting 4 beat “lope” in pleasure classes!

        • They may not care, but they should. It’s still a competition, with real money on the line. Altering the horses with steroids to win, even if they simply stand around as pasture ornaments, is ethically and morally wrong, and detrimental to the breed. The result of steroid use isn’t simply bigger muscles, it also can result in personality changes such as increased aggression. And if they are drugging them to cover pain from too small joints that can’t support their bodies, that’d also be ethically and morally wrong.

          Then there’s the little thing of these halter horses end up being bred to other non-halter horses with the intent that the resultant individual be serviceable for other disciplines.




  7. A few progeny sons showing straighter hocks than their sire. Makes me wonder if this trait isn’t passed on the y side as these are his top sons and I find it hard to believe that all their dams had the trait.

    • halter mares are bred for the same traits, one hears more about the famous stallions, but fillies are shown and judged by the same standards. Which is why the N/H horses persist. They may try not to breed two tested animals, but they continue to breed it back in from either side.

      And straight legs, horses are supposed to have straight legs, aren’t they? If you only hear a phrase and haven’t got a clue, a straight leg is a good thing. *BEG*

      • J – try finding the mares! The infatuation with the penis trumps all the mares in advertising. I’ve had reason to look up a few pedigrees of late and find plenty on the studs, readily available, and the mares – nil. And these are horses that are exactly what you stated – quality blood on one side, Impressive descendents (and the like) on the other. And people lie through their teeth about HYPP.

        Many people don’t know about conformation at all – I’ve had an ok eye for horses which has paid off over the years but didn’t have the science to back it up. Thanks to Merc, I’m seeing more AND understanding the why of it all. There are those who don’t know and those who don’t care and both perpetuate their horses’ faults into the market. At least Merc is running the blog and taking a professional approach. I’d be likely to post the farms with the worst of the horses, exposing the breeders, judges and associations for their detriment to their horses. Then I’d be sued.

  8. THIS IS WHY HALTER HORSES LOOK LIKE THEY DO – COMMENTS ON A HALTER HORSE BLOG SIRCA 2006 *****
    ( silly us! Sir Cool Skip is almost structurally perfect!!!!) read on…..
    Seasoned

    Join Date: Mar 2006
    Posts: 4,524

    Sir Cool Skip, though massive, is really structurally almost perfect. He is large like that mostly because of being HYPP N/H. He’s got feet and legs big enough to support his mass, and his foals are getting his perfectly straight legs and decent sized feet, and his head isn’t really tiny it’s just that he’s so massive. I’ve dealt with a few of the Berton quarter horses, from get and grandget of Sir Raleigh, Imperial Snips and Western Impressive, and the one thing I can say about them is that, for the most part, they are smart, have great dispositions and enough leg and foot to support them.

    I don’t know WHY they picked that picture of Sir Cool Skip to advertise him, I like the other photo much more, of him back when he was showing. He looks much more balanced.

    Of the horses at Berton Quarter horses, though, I like Shanes Bake best (though he IS N/H. ). I think he’s correct, and I like the foals he’s producing, they are correct as well. Second, I like Cool Stylin Star. He’s N/N.

    Impressive was originally bred to be a race horse (as was Doc Bar, and we all know he ended up being a halter horse, but then siring cutting and cow horses… go figure!), and so a lot of his get are actually pretty athletic. Personally, if you ask me, the best rope horses are Zan Parr Bar/Two Eyed Jack with some speed thrown in. To me, they are the most consistantly good ropers out there. But heck, that’s just me.

    Not a fan of N/H horses being bred, mind you. I’m against reproducing the gene that causes HYPP altogether. But folks still do it, and gorgeous ENORMOUS animals are why they do.

    And there are few sires that have stood the test of linebreeding. Obviously (via HERDA), Poco Bueno isn’t one of them.

  9. I just don’t understand the purpose of having a horse that you can’t ride (unless they’re retired and yes, sorry, I’m not a fan of minis either). The post legs, the diaper ass, the disgusting croups that make them look like they have roach backs, it’s all horrendous. Every time I look at a halter horse I think ‘meat-on-hoof’.

  10. I would like a halter breeder/competitor comment here and explain their position of breeding usefulness out of these horses. Various topics bring out conflicting opinions and most of us post our positions on different training methods, use of bits or accessories, what age it’s safe to start horses under saddle, etc. We all have opinions and the line goes back and forth but most of us maintain reach of such line.

    With halter horses, not ONE supporter has the courage to defend their position on this subject. What does this say about their confidence in doing what they do? To me it flatly states that they know it’s wrong and don’t have a leg to stand on in defense of their practices. Perhaps it isn’t real if they ignore the facts presented here and I’m willing to bet that there are many reading this right now who get that little chill up the spine yet head to the barn to fire up the treadmill, tighten the neck sweat and evaluating the musculature of their beef bulls, er, horses.

  11. One of the horse owners at our barn looked at the resident mini one day and remarked casually, “that must be great. You can have a horse but don’t have to bother riding it.” It was just an off the cuff remark but had some genuine wistfulness, even envy, to it (I remembered it because, in contrast, being stuck with an unrideable horse is one of my deep fears). I don’t *think* the speaker is still riding, though I might have her mxed up with someone else. Apart from the QH world there is of course the whole Arab halter world where the horse are encouraged to be too crazy to ride. And then there are the folks who just have plain old saddle horses but don’t ride them for whatever reason. But that takes explaining and self-rationalizing and doubts that you are wasting tons of money on this warehoused horse. If you are in a breed discipline where you aren’t supposed to ride the horses at all, you are saved coming up with a string of excuses about the weather, saddle fit, your sore back, the horse looking poorly, etc, etc.

    • Well, that’s certainly an interesting take on it. I had not thought of it like that. The horse never cares if it’s worked or not, but that’s not the really point. Even if the person never wants to ride the horse, it is still to the benefit of the horse to be conformed horse-like and in a manner that doesn’t create drama in the body; early onset arthritic conditions, sore muscles, poor posture, uneven wear of the feet etc… Not even discussing morality and ethical thoughts.

    • Add fairly expensive Hunters and Dressage mounts to that list. The experience of years spent in boarding barns serving the population of a major city convinces me you are right! The number of owners who own a horse and do not ride it (yet DO visit the stables regularly) and the number of excuses for why they don’t ever get on their prized beastie can be a bit startling. It certainly was culture shock for me.

      • yeah,it’s true the horse doesn’t care about working and certainly doesn’t understand about “working up to his potential” and would probably prefer not to. But if you are going to retire a horse, it should be out to a nice big pasture, not kept locked in a stall month after month with excuses about not riding. And yes, breeding crippled horses to make the not-riding excuse have more plausibility is even worse.

  12. The other explanation that occurred to me later was that the breeders had repeatedly heard the Quarter Horse described as a “cow horse” and just misinterpreted what that was supposed to mean:) Kind of like how some breeds of sheep dogs actually look like sheep and can hide in the herd.

  13. The AQHA’s record on halter horses finally made sense to me when I looked into the horse slaughter issue. The AQHA is pro-slaughter, 70% of all horses sent to slaughter are AQHA registered, and they are sold by the pound long before they are mature. Dr. James Rooney, DVM wrote that the AQHA was going to have to decide if they were going to eat their horses or ride them way back in the 1970’s. Apparently the decision was to eat them.

  14. I breed Angus cattle with a lot of American genetics around (I am Australian) and I dont get it what is is about American breeders and post legs? They breed post legs into the cattle as well and while we dont ride them, they break down. I have had to send bulls to the meat works for breaking down in the stifles from severe post legs and the cows even have trouble at times. Since even meat animals have trouble coping with the amount of postiness bred into them a riding animal certainly can’t.

    I bet we cant find anywhere statistics on the number of cull animals that dont make it to the show ring, which is the vast majority, which then dont make it as riding horses. As you say, they decided to eat them rather than ride them.

    Over muscled horses are in my experience louse to ride as the muscles get in the way of them moving properly (cattle too).

    So I assume there are lots of useless or dead horses produced as a result of this type of breeding.

    • I didn’t know that about the ‘Americanized’ cattle, baroonga. That’s very disappointing to hear.

      You made an excellent comment about over muscling getting in the way of movement – very true.

  15. Thank you for your very educational blog, it’s full of good info.
    I was shocked by the brood mares in the QH HYPP link. They look like post legged steroid experiments gone wrong. Why perpetuate thisand illness? As traditional ranch/cattle working horses shouldn’t the QH conformation ideal celebrate this, or allow them to be able to work? Perhaps even run that quarter mile?
    Sad.

  16. What happens to halter horses if/when they don’t make the grade conformation-wise. Are they sold as riding horses, or???

  17. Although these body builder styled horses have both correct and incorrect conformation points, I do believe its something that will fade out of style. Just like how people tried bind QH necks t make them thinner. It was just another unfortunate fad that will hopefully go away as the winning horses begin to slowly pass. People will come to their senses about the poor way these animals look(hopefully)

  18. You all scare me. Absolutely clueless. We are not picking on your bad legged, bad backed YAKS that have HERDA or PSSM, why don’t you leave our halter horses alone?? We don’t pick on your jokes of the horse industry, and personally would like to VOMIT when I see most of them…..wouldn’t be caught dead riding one of them, they are two baggers……..so keep you opinions to yourself, especially when you don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

  19. You people are comical. I show a 2 year old gelding that’s N/N. He’s posty hocked and dripping with mass. But keep on blaming HYPP lol I wish they’d bring double positives back.

  20. Thank you, Andrew…….All they can do is post negative stuff about halter horses……funny…….if we halter people picked on their horses, they would have their back up!! Why don’t you all post some pictures of your “perfect” QH’s and let us pick them apart. I am sure Clark Rassi would NOT be happy about you posting pictures of his beloved The Top Secret and picking him apart WITHOUT his permission to post the picture of his stallion!! Let’s see pictures of your horses, folks……..I would love to see what you have that is better than one of the leading sires!!!

    • This blog is not about, nor ever has been specifically about negativity toward halter horses. This blog is purely for educational purposes to help people understand why horses move as they do, why they struggle, why they develop behavior issues, why they do or do not stay sound, how to keep them sound via specific exercises etc…all of which is based on form to function. You would know this had you bothered to read beyond this article.

      A number of people have done just what you suggest, Bennie, and have posted their horses for analysis (ie., A Study In Dazy), including myself the blog owner and writer. Again, you would already know this had you bothered to take the time to peruse the blog. Indeed, I don’t think you actually read the article you’re commenting on, or if you did, you didn’t understand the information in it or the context. So let me help you out a bit.

      First, you’ll want to start by reading the conformation series to get a base understanding of equine conformation and form to function.

      Use the archive function and start back in March 2013 where you’ll find the first article. This one entitled The Long And Short Of It Part 2a – Back. Here’s a direct link: https://hoovesblog.com/2013/03/30/the-long-and-short-of-it-part-2a-back/

      When you’re done that one, there are several more (just keep going up the list of archived articles in date order once you’ve checked all for each month) that discuss neck, shoulder, hip, ribcage, hind limb ratios and angulation etc… That should keep you busy for several days or weeks depending on your time schedule and how easy or difficult it is for you to pick up the information. At the end of the series there is a summary article.

      You’re welcome.

      • Ma’am, no matter what PREVIOUS articles say, I only happened onto this one. Now you go back, as a first time reader, and see how negative THIS blog is to halter horses. VERY NEGATIVE. I am no dummy, I understand “form to function” very well, being a 1980 graduate, WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN EQUESTRIAN STUDIES from Meredith Manor. Since then a lifelong activist in the horse world training, showing and breeding AQHA and APHA horses. I have won Superiors, Futurities, year end awards and WC’s. I was actively a reining, WP and HUS person until 1989 when my husband purchased our first halter horse. Since then, I have become disabled and no longer ride, but I show halter horses. There is a need for halter horses for people like me, and the horse world in general. All of the foals I raise ARE broke to ride, and many have went on to riding careers.
        For you to Post Clark Rassi’s beloved The Top Secret, and let all these people who wouldn’t have a clue of good conformation if it fell on their heads like a ton of bricks, is WRONG. I don’t care that you have written a THOUSAND blogs, some people just don’t “get” it. You act very negatively to me like I am an idiot, and Ma’am…..I just happened upon this article. If you read it, and non of the others, as I did (didn’t know there were others) it is what it is……NEGATIVITY toward halter horses…..NOT ONE of the comments until Andrew’s had anything positive to say about the halter horse industry as a whole. Can you not just love horses, even the mutts?? I do, with all my heart!! I have chosen the halter horse, I love them most of all, and I SO RESENT people like you who put them down and spread hate about them, because YES, MA”AM, that is what you are doing.
        Our breed is gone “specialized” in all the performance areas, and halter. You couldn’t halter a reiner, rein a WP horse, etc. Nothing wrong with that. People wishing for the “good ole days” (and I was privy to that period also) is akin to us wishing for the “Good Ole Days” in America…….a long gone era. How I would love it if I could wish for it and my parents would be here on earth with me, but not going to happen…….same with horses.
        So, if you can’t at least RESPECT what the halter horses have to offer in their SPECIALIZED way, please stop spreading the hate. I hate negativity……and THIS BLOG is NEGATIVE towards halter horses…………please just don’t write, or do it in another way. Impressive is considered the greatest halter horse that ever lived, and he was a RACE HORSE.. Do your research. So he excelled in a performance event. YAH!! Does that matter?? NO. He DID revolutionize the MODERN DAY halter horse. His commitment is SOLID. Was he perfect?? NO. What horse is?? As they say, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” No truer statement ever written. So please don’t write me as if I am an idiot……I am not. I just happen to love halter horses, and this article was negative toward them. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck……it is a duck=NEGATIVE. Go back and read it from an unbiased point of view.
        and…….you’re NOT WELCOME, I was very offended.

        Bennie Lynn Clawson

        • You did not read the article with an open mind, nor with an intent to learn. Otherwise you’d have also realized that positive traits were pointed out as well. Nor did you even try to understand why other traits like the severe post-leggedness is DETRIMENTAL to the horse’s health and soundness.

          You claim to know form to function. I say you know nothing about form to function if you support what’s going on in the industry.

          Perpetuating today’s QH halter horses is a disgrace. It’s for selfish human reasons, not for the betterment of the horse. If you’re not for the horse, this blog is not for you.

          • I HATE posty hocks!!! The fact is, you know nothing about me, so don’t you dare judge me on what you read into something. YOU are the disgrace!! I did read your article, and did see SOME nice things you said about halter horses, but alot of negative things, too!!! TOP SECRET HAS TOO SHORT A FACE?? PLEASE!! The problem here is you think you are a conformation diva, know it all, and you don’t want anyone challenging you. What a joke. I have forgot more about conformation than you will ever know, and maybe you need to get into the 20th century and realize that SPECIALIZATION of the QH is the way the world is running now, not the all arounders. Look at the decline in APHA/AQHA Champions……that should give you a clue. Just because you don’t like my kind of horse, doesn’t mean it’s not still a good horse. I am SURE I wouldn’t like your type of horse, just from your negativity in this blog. Different strokes for different folks. I have NEVER steroided one of my horses, and I think you all are thinking of the days before drug testing. Your “views” are so one sided, and seeing all these ignorant people who DON’T SHOW HALTER but sure seem to think they know it all about them, scares me!!! Get into the real loop people!! How many World Champion halter horses have any of ya’ll raised?? Keep picking on Clark Rassi and his breeding program……..I am SURE he is wearing his big boy panties ……..but give the devil his due…..he is the LEADING breeder!! I just don’t understand, and maybe you can tell me, why you people sit here running down every thing to do with the halter industry, when it is obvious you know so little about it. Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?????? Go out and hug and brush your GORGEOUS animal, and quit running down something because YOU don’t like it!!

  21. My goodness, Mercedes – I think this person’s hysterical rant has proven your point quite nicely. I was waiting to hear her take on why that conformation was good or healthy for the horse, but so far she seems unable to do that. The fact that so many people DO breed that way and so many more seem to like it does not make it right for the horse – but if they followed logic they wouldn’t be doing it. Money is what drives this type of thing in so many diciplines, unfortunatly. You might as well let it go.

    • When you’re done ranting, feel free to read the article ‘The Head You Want To Ride’ to educate yourself on why an overly short face is a fault in any horse. (That reply is obviously not for you Zanhar – the blog settings simply won’t allow me to post under the correct comment at this stage.)

      • No need. I wouldn’t want to ride, lead or look at an ant eater head. Don’t have a one in my barn or pasture that I have to cringe when I look at it every day. Besides, your “article” is you slanted, one sided view of how you THINK a horse should be. Variety is the spice of life. You ride your ant eaters and I will ride, lead and look at my short faced horses……….You can’t stand it when someone challenges you on what you say. Your OPINION is your OPINION. Doesn’t make it set in stone. I have my opinion, you have yours……….we agree to disagree……..

        • My articles are indeed slanted; decidedly towards what’s best for the horse rather than what people think is best. When horses possess unhorselike traits such as severe post-leggedness or overly short face structure, I point it out and I explain why it’s unhorselike and should not be supported or perpetuated. I absolutely will not support such because it wins ribbons or it appeals to me on an aesthetic level. You’d know this if you’d bothered to take the time to peruse the blog. I’m very consistent in this regard: horse first, always.

          Let’s try this: I invite you to write an article that explains the virtues of QH halter horse conformation. Include veterinary studies, detailed diagrams and full explanations why that specific form is functional to the horse and how it promotes healthy, sound horses. Send it to the blog e-mail addy that you can find on the Homepage and I will post it here for all to discuss.

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