Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Producing Disposable Horses

I suppose this is as good a time as ever to talk about at least part of the role that some trainers can play contributing to the problem of unwanted horses. In BECC's comment she made mention of thirty day wonders as the goal of many trainers nowadays. Any true horseman knows you can't put a time frame on a horse for training purposes. It's about the process for each individual that determines how things turn out.

Many horses do not adapt well to the expectation they will "get it" in a required time frame. Such horses are damaged by such a process. The extent of the damage can result in anything from lameness to bad attitudes and all manner of things in between. Trust can be destroyed to such an extent it can take years to heal such a horse. Some of those horses never heal. Others are too broken physically to ever be of use.

Such horses are easily discarded by unscrupulous ignorant trainers and sometimes owners who make the issue the horse's fault. Not wanting to take responsibility for their own failures because of the training process they use, it's just so much easier to make it the horse's fault. Unfortunately this situation is all too common in the horse industry. Many a good horse has been ruined in the horse industry by this type of training.

Unfortunately owners in their quest for ribbons will overlook the horses laid waste by such practices. They buy the justifications of the trainer and fall into the trap it really can be "the horse's fault. I know owners who say they don't condone abuse who live with it all around them. They're so brainwashed by the manipulations of their trainers they don't see what's right in front of them.

It's not always winning trainers that are involved in such practices. Many a young trainer trying to climb up the ladder of success has pushed too hard, asking for too much, way too soon. Wanting so badly to make it to the top, they too blame it on the horses, not searching for their contribution to the problem.

Over my years in the horse industry, I've seen more than my share of horses pay for the mistakes of people. So far none of the individuals I've known personally have been discarded to slaughter or abandoned somewhere but that doesn't mean they haven't displaced a horse whose taken their place in that demise.

Even the smallest stone causes a ripple on the waters. The practice of cranking trained horses out in record times is not a small stone. It's a huge expectation in today's horse industry and its ramifications on the horse industry is equally as enormous. Its effects on the population of unwanted horses may not have been measured but you can bet the ripple of this practice builds waves taller than buildings.

Mostly, no one wants to deal with the ill mannered horse. People who rescue such animals to fix them see far more pass by than they have time to save. When times get tough the horses with issues are the first to go.

Most of those ill mannered horses have humans in their past responsible for the behavior of such horses. If discarded horses could actually tell us their stories, we'd be appalled. You can bet the stories are far worse than the imaginations of those watching the plight of such horses. Just thinking about the bad experiences of a couple of horses I have bred makes me cringe at the thought of what others might endure. I can't even imagine, nor do I want to, my heart breaks so at the storied I do know.


  1. This kind of training seems so common today, I'm not even sure how to go about finding a trainer anymore.

  2. I deal with a trainer who starts colts. Generally unless the horse is going to a fairly experienced rider he asks for a minimum of 60 days. I have sent them for 30, 60 anf a couple that stayed 90 days based on who the horse was for. My young stallion , I sent for 30 -60 saying take what it takes , well at 30 days he was going brilliantly, so Ernie said rather than take my money I should take him home and ride him . And if for some reason I feel like he needs more in the spring he will take. him back .Ernie knows my skill level, and always makes sure he has seen the horse ridden by the client before he sends theem home. I can basically give him liscense to cheat me by saying take the trime it takes , and he has never done anything to make me doubt him. I am very aware how lucky I am to have a good honest trainer , wouldn't trade him for the world

  3. Oh, man, do I know this one! Head off to any mustang makeover and the crowd is woed by the fast paced horses attempting reining maneuvers, just 90 days from being wild. Yet the horses who are slow, steady, and quiet aren't given a second glance.

    Earlier this year I sat next to someone and pointed out one of those fast horses, a nice black gelding, and commented on how despite the fact that he was getting a lot of crowd approval, he wasn't broke enough to head into most of their homes.

    Sure enough, a few months later someone posted an add they'd spotted on CL; black mustang gelding, part of the EMM. I emailed and found she'd never even been on him. He'd become a throwaway horse because of his trainer's lack of creating a solid foundation.

  4. Brava Mikael...BRAVA!

    Our last few foals didn't even get broke because I lived far away, my brother was running willy-nilly trying to make ends meet and after getting a couple of horses back, nearly destroyed from other 'trainers'...my mom refused to send anything else to any outsider.

    Before, no one would dream of starting 'older' horses, too many youngsters available. Now...seems everyone is starting older than normal horses. Us included. I'm working on 2 now and have 2 more to go.

    People are finally realizing that there is life after they become 6 y/o's. ;)

  5. Boy, oh boy, did you get that one right! I had the same thought as Tracey; things like "The Road to the Horse" where horses are *cough* trained to be under saddle inside of 3 days are ludicrous. It leads people to believe that horse training is quick and simple (and it's not - if you're going to do it right, that is). Horses are just like we are, a collection of individuals. They do not all learn at the same pace and what works for one does not necessarily work for another (and why do so many people not understand this?)
    Today's spin dry trainers are like the man that built his house upon the sand; along comes a storm and it all goes POOF. I wish more people would go with the longer and later method. The last bones to close are those at the withers; directly where the rider sits. I think it's around age 5 or 6. I see people starting horses under saddle all the time between ages 2 and 3. Makes me nuts. You sure do know how to get the conversational ball rolling :o)

  6. My gelding didn't get started under saddle until he was 9 years old. I spent over a month with him at the walk before I asked for the trot and he had almost 6 months under saddle before we cantered- and he offered that on his own.

    Sure it took a long time, but it was totally worth it. He has impeccable steering, works off of very light aids, has no bad habits, and best of all he's relaxed and happy on every ride.

    I am flabbergasted at these trainers who get the horse from never been backed to cantering under saddle in 30 days and call them finished. It cuts way too many corners. Besides, what's the rush?

  7. This is off topic, but what has happened with the family that was living with you?