Horse showing, like the fashion world, is all about trends. We would like to think that it is about correct training and showing the progress that you and your equine partner are making together, but after 40 yrs in the business, I can tell you  that it is about trends.

There are trends in the clothing, trends in the colors  and types of tack. Even trends in the brands of tack and clothing.

There are trends in the methods of feeding show and performance horses

And yes…trends in the training.

Often these trends have little to do with what is practical, good for the horse or rider,.

Take, for instance, the trends in Western Pleasure. According to the AQHA rule book, and the videos the AQHA put out describing each class that their shows offer, and a book written by Don Burt, a veteran AQHA judge……..a horse should move with a natural frame and self carriage with the poll never below the withers. Their gates should have a natural impulsion and show expression and suspension.

And yet, time after time, year after year, show after show, what do we see? “Peanut rollers”.

Horses moving at a stilted snails pace. Many of them having been forced out of their natural gates and into a shuffling gate with no life or rhythm. Their noses are forced down to the ground (hence peanut roller) and their riders are stiff in the saddle and almost continually “bumping”(jerking) the horse with the reins and jabbing them with spurs.

In this frame and way of going there is no chance for a natural collection, or self carriage , or suspension. AND this way of going is grounds for disqualification in an AQHA show.

Yet we see it, and we see it all the time, and we see it WIN!  A dangerous trend. A trend that instead gradually phasing out, is being used on the “Hunter under saddle” horses, and now extending to the reining horse training and showing!

So I am wondering…and have been wondering for years…why people wish to destroy the natural beauty of these incredible animals that will go out of their way to please a human? Even a ridiculous human.

It is not just the Western world that is guilty of this.

Dressage has been around for thousands of years. Dressage incorporates levels for the horse rider to promote correct fitness and training. Dressage was the method of training for military mounts and in the courts of European royalty for centuries. Dressage has undergone trends over the centuries, but in the end, usually goes back to the original, Classical way of training because that is what makes it practical, beautiful, healthy and real.Classical training was developed over the centuries because it WORKED! And yet……

Now there are new trends in Dressage that are working at destroying the natural grace, beauty and movement of the horse /rider partnership. It is a human’s need to control.

You cannot pull a horse’s head into its chest with a strong bit, and spur it forward and torture his movement and create ANYTHING beautiful, practical or correct!

The beauty of a horse is their freedom, their spirit and their natural flare…AND…perhaps most importantly, their willingness to share all of that with us pitiful humans that have such horrible handicaps built into our DNA such as that need for total control…and ego.