Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Arabian Halter and Ethics

And now, a break from your regularly scheduled hive report.

MiKael over at her blog has begun writing a piece about Arabian halter and the fact the many people see it as a bad thing. They watch some classes and what they see are abused, unhappy, spooky horses who give the Arabian breed a bad name. A recent post at MiKael's blog links to a video which shows some "abused" horses showing halter. I haven't seen the video, so I can't comment on it.

Mikael is absolutely correct that there are all kinds of trainers - good and bad, kind and abusive. This is true for halter, performance, Arabian, Quarter Horse, in any and all disciplines. The unscrupulous trainer will do whatever it takes to get clients, make money, and win ribbons. It's up to horse owners of any breed or discipline to do a little research and find a trainer who is honest and sincerely has the best interest of the horse at heart.

I will say that I never showed much halter. I don't think I was ever very good at it, but I learned the basics and can make a trained horse stand up for a class. Kaswyn was trained in halter but he's not very interested in standing up so he's not animated and doesn't get into it. He is interested in not getting in trouble, but I don't want to make him to think he's being bad if he's not snorting and blowing. I realized that I would have had to stress my horse in order to get him to show the way he needed to, and I chose not to do it.

This is not the case for all horses. Many halter horses have very high opinions of themselves and really like being able to strut their stuff for everyone to see. It is not stressful for these horses, but rather it's fun and interesting. I'm sure these kinds of horses are much easier to train in halter, and makes them less subject to being roughly handled or unnecessarily hazed. However, ALL horses are abused in the eyes of those who oppose Arabian halter.

There is no way to make people understand who don't wish to educate themselves. If someone who is against Arabian halter were to spend time with a good trainer they would know that excellent results are possible without heavy-handed actions. However, most often people speak out against topics using a lot of emotional energy but fail to gather facts or spend time giving the issue a fair shake by researching what's actually going on.

My opinion is that Arabian halter is still a viable discipline, and that recent changes (disqualification for whip marks, disallowing excessive use of whips in the warm-up) are a good thing. Unfortunately, I also think that it's impossible to stop people from abusing their horses if they are of a mind to. They might not do it at the show in front of a crowd, but nothing can stop them from doing it at home. And if you stop having halter classes because of abuse, are you going to cancel ALL the other classes also? Because there is abuse in every one of those too. I guarantee it.

Where the responsibility lies in this is with the horse owners. They can help make it less common by not using abusive trainers, which will hopefully put them out of business. However I don't expect that to happen, especially since an abusive trainer can be successful, and some owners don't care how they get it, but they want that ribbon.

I want ribbons too, but not enough to make my horse unhappy. So, no more halter classes for Kaswyn. At 17 he's an old fart anyway!


Rising Rainbow said...

You are so right about this. There is abuse in every breed and every discipline. Arabian halter has just always been a good target.

I was so appalled to see Jesse Saldana singled out on the video when he wasn't doing anything wrong buy trying to save his horse, I felt I just couldn't let it go.

I am all for stopping abuses but feel it's important we understand what they are and fix them, instead of pointing the finger at everything the horse reacts to and calling it abuse. If that of mentality gets condoned someday we won't be allowed to do anything with our horses. That would be a shame for both us and the horses.

BrownEyedCowgirls said...

Hi-I popped over from MiKael's blog. You are right on target, as far as I am concerned. One of my favorite trainers once told me two things that has affected how I train horses to this day #1-No one ever forgets to pull. They just forget to let go. #2-Where knowledge ends, abuse begins.
For me, these 2 mottos have always helped me "see" things from the horse's perspective.

inkeq said...

I have read all the postings at Mikael's and commented myself.

I agree, there is abuse in all things that involve humans. Not every person has the true well-being of a horse in mind, like you said, just the ribbon, which is truly a shame.

Anonymous said...

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