Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Just take 300 lbs off of him and he'll ride great!

I love this example someone sent me, because it's something I've been wanting to talk about: Starving horses down so that they'll be easier to ride. I particularly like this example because:

1. It's not some Backwoods Barbie - this is an expensive horse winning at a national level who is no doubt with a Big Name Trainer.

2. They're in the North! I'm not picking on the South this time!

3. These are educated folks. They can spell. They probably went to college. They are just, apparently, BLIND about how SHITTY their horse looks. Or their trainer told them it was ok. Beats me. But when you put your horse on the Internet looking like this, I am GOING to comment! Poor thing looks like a damn racing grayhound!

Allow me to respond to what I suspect is their excuse in advance:

No, he is not skinny due to having a tough show schedule. I can point you to hundreds of good weight, shiny horses at the Olympics who have been flown all over hell and creation to compete. And they are often doing things a hell of a lot more physically demanding than AQHA hunter under saddle. They don't look like your Auschwitz victim of a Quarter Horse. Give me an f'ing break.

Hey, I come from a discipline that used to keep horses skinny for bad reasons. In the 1980s we were convinced that if polo ponies didn't look like this horse, they'd break down. We really all thought they couldn't stay sound to play polo with weight on them. Well, we got a clue and these days most polo ponies look like the one I posted a few days ago with my conditioning blog - they are good weight and may have a touch of ribs showing but not much. (Amazingly enough, they don't break's great when a discipline actually learns something over time, as I have seen happen!)

Here is what that poor creature used to look like. While I do think AQHA halter horses tend to be too heavy for their own good, there was a happy medium for this horse that unfortunately was missed completely. Of course, they brag "Who ever said halter horses can't ride?"
Jesus, people, I can give you hundreds of examples of halter horses that could ride without being starved down - we call them "AQHA Champions. " When you take a horse out and show him the way he looks at the top, you're just making the entire Quarter Horse industry look bad. If your kid is overmounted, get her an easier horse. It's not that damn complicated.