NRHA Drug Rule Change

Please take the time to read the following blog article:  NRHA Trainers Propose Change To Drug Policy

Now I’d like to discuss a few points.

He (Rod Miller) went on to say, “The caliber of horse needed to make the finals at the Futurity these days has gotten very high. The trainers do not have time to take it slow and train these horses at a pace each can handle without getting sore. Yes the event is demanding, but no more so than many other events that all have drug policies. The only difference is time and the ability of our trainers to get more out of the horses. The brutal truth is trainers have to push these young horses more and more each year just to stay competitive enough to make the finals.

Are you effing kidding me?!  Who thinks like that?  Who thinks it’s okay to lame and break down horses when they know full well it’s going to happen?  Yes, let’s throw a little brutal truth out there, shall we?  Anyone who thinks it’s okay to knowingly push a horse beyond health and soundness is not a trainer and should be removed from all things equine related.

“Drugs and abuse are not the biggest issue the NRHA has, their biggest issue is the trainers have gotten too good. The top trainers of today are able to get these horses to do so much more than in past years, yet the time they are allowed to do these things in has not changed. They do not have enough time to develop the horses to the level they need to be without pushing them. Pushing them means they need drugs to keep them sound enough to ride and show and keep pushing the limits. That is why trainers have no issue with a drug test for the older horses being shown at the FEI level; they are already trained and do not need to be pushed anymore.

Let me correct Mr. Miller.  The issue isn’t that trainers have gotten too good, it’s that trainers are no longer horsemen, therefore, do not have the best interest of the horse in mind.  Getting to the Futurity for fame, glory and money is most important to them.  Million-Dollar *cough* Trainers, indeed!

“Now the one thing that the NRHA will never do is make a change that will negatively effect the Futurity. The Futurity is why the NRHA was created and it is still the main focus of trainers and breeders. Having a restrictive drug policy will negatively affect the Futurity, by lowering the caliber of the horses in the finals. Trainers won’t be able to push horses as hard, if they need to show up at the show with a totally sound horse. Without pushing or more time, something has to give and it will be the caliber of horses in the finals.

Again, are you kidding me?  How narrow-minded and short-sighted does one have to be to think like this?  The one thing the NRHA should do is restructure the Futurity.  And if these so called ‘trainers’ stopped pushing their young horses beyond what’s good for the horse, and stopped paying the nomination fees, and stopped entering horses in the futurity, and stopped initiating rule changes to propagate the cycle of equine destruction, then the NRHA would be forced to change the Futurity for the betterment of the horse and therefore the sport as well.

*$@# ^%!  I continue to be disappointed at what humans will do and how they’ll justify it for a buck, at the expense of such a generous creature as the horse.


45 thoughts on “NRHA Drug Rule Change

      • You know my feelings on the matter. Trainers and owners are responsible. Organisations who should know better give permission and authority. Spectators are complicit enablers/accomplices. etc etc etc.

        • If this group of Millionaire Trainers can get together, wielding their power, to have the drug rules changed to their benefit, then they can just as easily get together, wield their power, and have the Futurity restructured, monies moved to aged horse events, and do what’s right for the horse.

          • They could but clearly they don’t want to. I can’t help thinking they’re the problem, not the solution.

    • It’s sickening that someone in ‘authority’ is trying so hard – and so persuasively, with pseudo-logic – to make the attitude palatable to the average person. Disgusting!

  1. I don’t recall the exact wording but something like ‘some people come into your life for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime….” Futurity horses are seasonal to line their wallets and nothing more. The trainer’s goal is to win, what happens before or after that year means nil.

    I’m glad to be removed from that world…by nearly 2 decades now. I could never do what is necessary to win anymore and I have no desire to ever go back. I know you aren’t a fan of Western Dressage but isn’t it a much lesser evil? Then again, if the reining trainers make their way into the WD world (and there are a few knocking on the door) then the shit will flow downhill here too. Good thing I enjoy trail riding………

    • I don’t want to play lessor of the two evils where horses are concerned. I’m pretty confident I know where WD is headed/going to end up. The horse doesn’t need it.

    • That’s like saying an electric shock to the brain is better than trepanning.

      IF the same people are just moving over then it will be no different whatsoever. This is about attitude and ethics and standards.

      A leopard doesn’t change it’s spots.

      • That’s exactly my point and the sport doesn’t need leopards and as they roll in with their namesakes, politics and policies, another sport is doomed. Thing is, anyone at anytime can create an organization with rules and policies that benefit the horse. Nobody is being forced to compete in any particular sport and can branch off at will.

        As of today, WD is by far the better choice for the horse over Breed show or NRHA and until such time as it isn’t, this is the direction I choose to go. There isn’t one equine related sport where the horse’s welfare needs to rise to the top. TB’s are broken down all day every day, Rollkur has nearly become the norm in Dressage, Big Lick is just an atrocity, WP horses are done by 5 and HUS not far behind, Arab halter horses are bred to ridiculous standards which are harmful to the horse as are Stock Halter horses, endurance horses at the high end allowed to compete when in skeletal condition….the list goes on and on. My attitude, ethics and standards are right where they need to be hovering middle ground. Happy, healthy, sound horses that ride patterns in western gear. I’m not the problem and I don’t associate with those who are.

        • I think you can choose to compete in any sport on your own terms and in a manner that is beneficial to the horse. It may not be possible to achieve the highest levels of the sport or to win, when competing on your own terms and when refusing to go against the horse’s interest. That doesn’t mean having to throw the baby out with the bathwater and never stepping foot in a show ring. It might mean watching someone else take home the prize while being content that you took on a challenge with your horse, rode to your goals and shared an experience together.

          • I like your logic to a point but I have to draw the line at ‘guilty by association’ to a degree. As much as I may love a TW for example, you would not see me giving any of my money to any group which supports the BL. When the 2 yr old recently collapsed on his rider in lineup, and the rider kicked the horse in his attempt to get it up rather than check on its well being, I’d stop showing.

            I wouldn’t want anyone making assumptions about the side of the fence I stand on and not one red cent of my money goes to such a show or association. One of the biggest issues with enacting needed change for horses is that most people are afraid to get involved. It’s much easier to turn a blind eye than to be vocal and stand up for the horses. I’m one of the few who has and will risk my own anonymity and speak up when there’s just cause and I know I’m in the minority. I’ve been subpeoned to court, testified, stood steadfast at the State Capitol to fight narrow minded fools. It has to start one person at a time and it takes a lot of guts to speak out against a group, especially when your comments affect their income potential.

          • Blondemare – fair point – I was thinking about say, showing dressage without doing rollkur, or showing hunters without a big budget, or that you could continue to do your own thing with western dressage even if idiots move in from other sports. Yes, there are things I wouldn’t want to participate in at all, so I shouldn’t have said “any sport”.

          • ChestnutMare – There are far too many people who know there are significant issues but turn a blind eye to stay in a particular click. I aim this comment more to the owners than the trainers, they ‘know’ what’s being done to get their horse trained in a particular fashion in a minimal time frame. They authorize the hock injections, nerving, pain meds while they flip through the Dover catalog ordering the newest digs for the next show.

            I tend to go against the tide and when I sink my teeth into something, I’m fully committed. It is absolutely possible to compete without sacrificing our horses’ well being and each of us needs to ask ourselves if we (horse and rider) are getting a fair trade. I feel I can honestly answer that ‘yes’ I’m not taking more than I give. One can only hope that information such as that presented in this blog reaches far and wide and stirs a bit of guilt where it’s needed.

  2. This reads like it’s from a horsey version of the Onion. Like it’s trolling. I mean, to show up with a totally sound horse, that’s just asking too much – satire, right? Oh no, serious. Sigh.

    Somehow all the other equestrian sports manage to survive a drug-testing policy. I can’t speak to all organizations, but in Equine Canada sanctioned events, horses are permitted a low dose of a single non-steroid anti-inflammatory (such as Bute), so you can still give something for exertion-induced minor soreness or can show an older horse that’s on a maintenance dose. Ulcer meds and some other non-performance enhancing meds are okay. It’s not even like a drug policy has to mean you can’t give a horse anything at all.

  3. After my last rant, which no one wanted to really jump on the bandwagon for about trainers needing money versus horse welfare, I promised never to speak of it again. So now you bring it up. I realize that you’ve felt this way all along, but really, you wait ’til I promised not to speak of it again.

  4. I stand by comments from an earlier thread. If you really learn about horses, how they work, how they work better with regard for their bodies and minds, then the chances are that you will eventually just stop showing, because you can’t stand to see what is done to the majority of show mounts. You might avoid a lot of public riding even on trail rides except amongst very select horse people who share your world view.

    Few shoe venues offer the best of horsemanship. Most value the money to be made or the bragging privileges of ribbons and trophies over the horse itself. The NRHA is more blatant in its demand to be allowed to destroy horses for money, they didn’t buff it up to make it pretty. But they aren’t different than the majority of other disciplines. People cheat to cover up drug use, illegal surgeries, whatever.

    • I enjoy learning more about horses, but I hope it never makes me so holier than thou that I can’t stand to be around other horse people that aren’t so pure and untainted in their horsemanship.

      • I don’t think it’s about being holier than thou. It simply hurts your heart too much when you can *see* what’s going on with the horse that is being intentionally ignored.

      • quite frankly, I don’t care if you think I am holier than thou, it mostly just means you choose not to see. Every horse with its mouth tied shut but still managing to stick its tongue out the side, every horse whose eyes are desperate as the owner berates it, kicks, spurs, jerks, because it won’t cooperate, every training device that ties down a horse’s head, every person who drugs a horse to show it through the pain, or lessen its panic as it approaches a show pen, every horse that has its tail cut, doctored etc so it can’t betray the cruelty done to it, every horse with soreness that is obvious, muscles that scream it is ill treated every day, every horse you don’t care about, is still a horse that needs help from people willing to speak out.

        Again, another obvious abuse and everyone is on board with how awful this is. Well, the drugging has been going on a long time, so have the surgeries, the sorings, the cattle prods, tacks under nose bands, banging legs with poles, and that’s not disturbing as long as it is done out of public sight. But bring it out into the light, just demand to do publicly what has been done surreptitiously before and we are so fine our outrage.

        I stopped cutting because I couldn’t stand what I saw, the beatings, the chains across noses, all on babies two years old because they were too slow or too sore or just not talented enough to be a finished horse. Dressage was less overtly violent, but just look at the pictures of the horses in rollkur. The jumpers murdered for insurance money just like the race horses. People murdered who were going to turn in the cheats.

        If you had paid attention, I am not the one that jumps on every back yard owner doing something idiotic, I say they need help, they aren’t being intentionally cruel, they in fact love their horses and want better, they just can’t see it because of how corrupt the trainers and show systems are. I pointed out the decrease in truly informed instructors. What you mean is I am threatening how you see yourself. Everybody has to meet themselves sometime even if just for a brief moment.

        • Intentional abuse is obvious, everyone in their particular sport knows it, many practice it and few talk about it. I don’t know the answer to stopping the high end abusers because that’s where the power and money are. They have the money to throw to attorneys, they can buy politicians, they have an enless network of associates in high places. It takes a huge investment of time and joining of forces to initiate change. If not one anaimal welfare organization in this country has been able to put an end to Big Lick, who and what can? Mr. Good Old Boy was arrested, baseball bat beating of a horse by his employee readily seen on video…and he keeps appealing because he has MONEY. I wonder if he’ll ever step a foot in jail where he belongs. This shit for brains has a strong enough network to keep up the fight….at what point does the prosecution quit the fight? Who runs out of money first, the criminal or the tax payers? Is the answer to crawl all over the prosecution to keep them in the fight no matter the cost? Bankrupt the offender? Perhaps if a case such as this was pushed as far as it could go it would set an example for others. I amuse myself with my fairtale thoughts.

          There is a big difference between causing intentional pain and suffering to a horse and a backyard rider using an ill fitting saddle. It’s called culpability.

          • As I said back in the racing thread, it ends when we take their money away. Who buys their horses? Who buys tickets and goes to big shows? Who hires them to train? Who slavishly copies what they do? Who buys the breed/show magazines, the products they endorse? Who greases the wheels of this abuse?

            Who stands up and says, I will not support it, even if passively by ignoring it, any more? All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men do nothing. Edmund Burke (forgive the men part, we are still trying to triumph over sexism as well as animal abuse). We don’t have the money as individuals, but in the aggregate we do. Do not support the industries that flourish only because we feed them. If we turn a blind eye, ignore this, from the smallest to the most atrocious display, we are culpable. We speak for the horses that have no voice, no rights, no ability to defend themselves.

          • J – we need a table, a few hours and big bottle of wine………. 🙂 I’m with you and I know what you say is true, I’m not afraid of a good fight but most people are. As much as they say they genuinely care, many support abuse by passively ignoring what they see. I know people who cannot have a discussion about an animal abuse case and will overtly say ‘it bothers me too much, I can’t hear about those things’. I would love to see a group as blatant as PETA without all the nonsensical morality take on the worst of the worst and succeed. If people thought their actions created a real life threat to their lifestyles, homes, bank accounts, it would have an effect on those peeking out of the closet. Unfortunately, righteousness will never have the big bang effect that fear does. I have to say, I feel no guilt for putting one behind bars, causing him to bankrupt and lose everything. I know first hand that binding together can get it done. Finding people to take a stand is another story.

          • I know we agree on a lot, the more wine (or is that whine?) the more we might agree on.

            RFD TV, threaten boycotts, advertisers, companies, let them know, if they don’t speak up, we don’t show up to buy. We have power if we can choose it. It isn’t enough to say, I am not doing this personally, that is as much as I can do. So in honor of that, I’m going to go find some NRHA sponsors and emails, and If we are truly outraged, we can start an email/phone contact, post it at other horse boards we visit, and try to save the health and well being of some baby horses destined for the show ring.

      • I trust you’re joking.

        I’ve said for long enough that ever since the number of horse owners out stripped the number of horsemen/women, the knowledge level, let alone the skills level has been in a constant and often precipitous, decline. Owning a horse does not magically imbue the owner with knowledge; in fact, most owners barely know which end to halter and which end to pick up after.

        Hence you see photos all over the internet of trail riders on poorly conditioned horses with ill-fitting tack, overbitted and being taken for a ride using the kick and pull “technique”.

        • I don’t know about the internet, I just know what I see. And have seen all my life. When I get out on the trails, most people are having a good time, the horses look great and are moving along on their own steam and seem happy and alert.

        • In my experience there is an equal amount of skilled/caring trail riders out there as there are uneducated trail riders (my old trainer used to call the later “yahoos”). Unfortunately the latter group seem to be the ones who are not interested in improving their horsemanship/riding skills 😦 They are rampant on the internet (kijiji/craigslist makes me cringe on a daily basis). Is there a way to reach them I wonder?

  5. I wonder about how injury and drugging in horses compares to human athletes. At top levels of human sport, where there is money or fame, people will compete injured, knowingly get concussions or ruin their knees, because the payoff is so huge. But no one recommends that kind of damage for low-level, amature weekend athletes. In fact, for them the training and medical advice is how to avoid getting injured, not how to get back on the ice with a broken arm. I don’t know what decisions someone might make about their own health, or their horse’s health, if there was serious money on the line. But I *really* don’t see why anyone would make the decision to break down their horse’s hocks, back, mind, etc., for the sake of riding local, amature, low-level competitions. That’s kind of like busting up your knees in aerobics class or doing a Fun Run for Cancer: totally pointless.

    • The thing is, you CAN take a horse to the top of a sport WITHOUT breaking it down. You can race sound, drug free horses. You can rein on sound, drug free horses. Etc., etc…

      It starts with breeding a horse with conformation that is going to promote health and soundness, followed by managing the horse properly while it grows, then training and conditioning it methodically once it’s mature enough; physically, mentally and emotionally, and finally making decisions that are in the best interest of horse above all else.

      I had the good fortune to work for a race horse trainer that was a real horseman. The vet was rarely in our barn, while in other barns multiple times a day. It wasn’t that he had better horses, it was that he paid attention to what the horses were saying and made decisions in their best interest. He never hesitated to pull a horse out of training and take it to the farm to be turned out for a month or a year.

    • Paint Mare, that’s what I was trying to get at above when I said it was possible to compete while keeping the interests of the horse at heart. Most of us aren’t trying to be the Lance Armstrongs of equestrian. Most of us are doing the equivalent of the 10 km cancer run or the gentlemens’ rec hockey league. Whether it is possible to advance to the top of the sport without breaking a horse down isn’t even a relevant question for most, because we’re not trying to advance to the top of the sport. We aren’t motivated by fame or money because there isn’t any. I believe Mercedes when she says it’s possible to take a horse to the top of a sport without breaking it down; but I’m never going to put that to the test. I know it’s possible to show a horse around the local show circuit without breaking it down and without crossing any of my own personal lines in the sand and that’s good enough for me.

      • That 10km cancer run still needs proper preparation if you are over 20 years old and intend to get out of bed in the morning. Do too many of them without preparation, even at a young age, and you’ll pay for it eventually. This we know, so there’s no reason to do it to a horse; ie. show up only on weekends to ride your horse 10km, then put it back in the box for the next 5/6 days.

        Many of us imitate what those at the top of the sport do. So while we may not be motivated by money or fame, it isn’t irrelevant what goes on at a higher level. It’s entirely relevant.

    • I would argue most low level amateurs don’t deliberately break down their horses, they just can’t find decent teachers to help them. That there is no system in the US to develop those teachers anymore, no level of expertise and qualifications before hanging out a shingle. There is as much bad horsemanship promoted to people as good by every Tom, Dick and Harry doing a DVD these days. And people don’t have a touchstone to go to and ask themselves, is what I am seeing good, should I listen to this person? So they copy what wins without understanding that the judges and top competitors may be just as ignorant as they are.

      That is a whole different kettle of fish from what these trainers/big time breeders are asking for. They want to take unsound animals, mask the unsoundness to make money. They aren’t ignorant of what they are doing, they are venal.

      To me this is the difference between the videos of the young kids waterskiing on the horses’ tails and asking to drug two year olds. Both are bad for horses, but education and someone pointing out better ways to interact would probably work for the kids. Jail time for abuse and being banned from the sport would be about the only things the trainers/breeders would understand, threaten their money, they don’t care about the horses.

  6. I was going to add my two bits worth regarding the outrageous comments about drugging horses, but along the way I read this in one jrga’s comments. And it says everything I need to say, except more eloquently. I’ve reread it several times, not because I didn’t already ‘know’ this, but because of the way it’s phrased. There’s nothing better I can add. “Quite frankly, I don’t care if you think I am holier than thou, it mostly just means you choose not to see. Every horse with its mouth tied shut but still managing to stick its tongue out the side, every horse whose eyes are desperate as the owner berates it, kicks, spurs, jerks, because it won’t cooperate, every training device that ties down a horse’s head, every person who drugs a horse to show it through the pain, or lessen its panic as it approaches a show pen, every horse that has its tail cut, doctored etc so it can’t betray the cruelty done to it, every horse with soreness that is obvious, muscles that scream it is ill treated every day, every horse you don’t care about, is still a horse that needs help from people willing to speak out.”

  7. Sponsors of the NRHA, a few to start with

    By mail
    One Luitpold Drive
    P.O. Box 9001
    Shirley, NY 11967

    By fax
    (631) 924-1731

    By e-mail

    By phone
    (631) 924-4000

    Rios of Mercedes (Boots)
    By Mail
    Rios of Mercedes Boot Company
    P.O. Box 36
    Mercedes, Texas 78570.

    By email Contact page on site

    Anderson Bean Boot Companies Affiliated with Rios of Mercedes
    By Mail
    Anderson Bean Boot Company
    P.O. Box 36
    Mercedes, Texas 78570

    Scottsdale Western World
    28150 N Alma School Rd 103-210
    Scottsdale, Arizona 85262
    Phone (417) 793-1403

    Bobs Custom Saddles
    Email contact on website


    Contact Page


  8. Thank God I was born without a competitive gene, I have never shown a horse in any discipline and never will. I prefer to ride alone, on the trail or be bopping down the gravel roads. Always have, always will. I see so much abuse in all show rings, the thought of what the horse endures during “training” makes me want to projectile vomit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s