Horse abuse for the sake of the show ring

On Friday, the Humane Society of America brought to light some abuse within the Tennessee Walker Horse community – all for the sake of exaggerated gait movement for the show ring. (Do not watch the linked video if you have a weak constitution.)

My stomach churns at the thought. Abuse for a more “enhanced” performance in the arena is not news. It takes place everywhere.

I purchased a beautiful Arabian show horse gelding when I was in high school. Arabians are notoriously hot-headed, high-strung and flighty, but this boy was even more than one would expect.

He couldn’t be tied in cross ties. He wouldn’t go near puddles. He would jump away from buckets.

My horse trainer shared the truth – when he was a yearling, he’d been electrocuted in the wash rack (full of water, so that it would shock him thoroughly). He was beaten with buckets. He’d been excessively whipped and jerked around by his former handlers.

All for the sake of the show ring.

And this gelding performed well. He placed regionally in halter competitions. He had beautiful big eyes, flaring nostrils and an arched neck. All these were enunciated by the abuse and nervous state he lived in.

Until he found me and my trainer.

Life was difficult for us as a team—bathing was a struggle, tying to a trailer sometimes was dangerous. I had to move slowly around him and have patience beyond my normal ability. (I’m not patient at all!)

I showed him successfully for many years and loved him dearly. We came to trust another. He was always flighty, but we made it work.

We took him to the beach and though he spooked and rolled over on top of me in the sand, we endured.

When it came time to sell him, I had to go through dozens of prospective buyers. I turned people down because I saw they didn’t understand his special needs. It took four years to find him the right home – a beautiful place in Washington where the woman now trail rides with him and treats him like a prince.

Abuse goes so deep and wide. For the sake of a blue ribbon, humans take advantage of their position over these animals. This. must. stop.

Please click on the link, write a letter to your local congressmen and ask this to end. Please.


More about Nicole

Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks