Too Much Of A Good Thing

Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. The same can be said for riding horses. When a show judge pinned some American Quarter horse that had a particularly low head carriage, the ‘peanut roller’ look took over the show ring. When another judge decided that a slow lope was the best, the impossibly awkward, barely moving lope became all the rage at the Quarter Horse Congress.

A similar thing happened to the Tennessee Walking Horse; if animated knee action was good, then really animated knee action must be better! And now thousands of beautiful Tennessee Walkers are tortured with the use of caustic chemicals, chains, whips, and lead-filled stacks up to 5 inches high. All for the sake of getting the most dramatic ‘rack’. 

Gen’s Glimmer – finally free after a decade of soring

In the dressage world, the simple act of pushing the horse into the bit has now devolved to Rollkur, resulting in many dressage riders using harsh bits to force a horse’s head into its chest.  

I love many different riding styles, although I have only ridden in the traditional hunt seat style. I love the many wonderful gaits horses are capable of – everything from a forward shoulder-sweeping walk, to the beauty of a spinning reining horse.

When I show friends the videos of the crazy, horrible things being done to horses in order to achieve some vision of perfection in a particular discipline, they tell me they would never let someone treat their horse that way.

My question is why are those active in the shows where these abuses occur not making their disapproval known? Why do they go to the Quarter Horse Congress and fall in line with the crazy trend of barely moving horses? Why do people still send their equine partners to trainers whose methods are known to be abusive and horrid, like Larry Wheelon and his torture methods used on Tennessee Walkers?

Are we so consumed with getting a piece of nylon or a silver plated cup that we are willing to sacrifice the horse? Are we too afraid to speak up because maybe our friends who use questionable training methods might turn their backs on us, or unfriend us from Facebook? 2015 Western Pleasure Class, Lope is Called at 4:56

We cannot stop everyone from abusing equines. Some people are beyond help. But we can make a stand against abusive training methods, bad trainers, bad breed associations, and bad trends. If you witness truly abusive training methods at a horse show, notify a steward. If you want to show your AQHA registered horse in western pleasure at the next Quarter Horse Congress, go ahead, but go out there and just let your horse lope. Forget the other competitors. Ride the way your horse wants to be ridden. Maybe one judge will see the beauty in a horse that is actually able to move freely and you can start a trend back to sanity.  This is a Nice Lope


Take your beloved Tennessee Walker and show it at one of the wonderful shows supported by Friends of Sound Horses. Gen’s Ice Glimmer Finally Walks Free

In the end, each of us has a responsibility. If you see something, say something! The horses will thank you.


(Janey H. is the Resource Editor of Horses Without Homes Magazine)