Sadly, we live in a world fueled by greed. That also goes for the horse industry. Strike that -- it especially goes for the horse industry. Everyone likes money. Money pays the bills and makes life easier. While money doesn't exactly make the world go round, it comes awfully close. But the things that (the love of) money make people do to horses is downright criminal, or at least it should be.
Most of you have heard of rollkur in the world of Dressage horses, unless you're new to the horse world and haven't been on the internet over the past 10 years. Similar practices of hyper over-flexion are pervasive with Western Pleasure horses, too. Many have also heard of the soring practice with Big Lick Tennessee Walking horses. All these things barely scratch the surface of what our amazing equines suffer through on a daily basis at the hands of so-called trainers.
Why, you ask, would people purposefully cause harm to an animal as noble and majestic as the horse? Money. In horse racing, the biggest purses are for the young horses. Triple Crown races are for 3 year olds. Most of the Breeders Cup races are geared toward youngsters. In Reining and cutting, there is virtually no worthwhile prize money past Derby age (5 years). Show and pleasure horse performance futurities are for 3 and 4-year-olds, therefore the pressure is on to make sure those babies are ready well ahead of competition time.
What we must change is that demand for young horses being higher than the demand for older horses. We need financial incentives for mature horses. Now, you need to understand the reasoning for breed registries offering prize money payback is to encourage breeding, therefore increasing registration revenue. And it's trainers who push for large payouts for youngsters in other associations, because that leads to clients seeking out new babies to bring in for training.
All of this boils down to ethics and that brings us back to a topic I've covered before: Choosing the right trainer. Because the love of money causes people to do terrible things and the horse industry is no different. It's vitally important when looking for a horse trainer that you do your homework, watch the trainer work with horses and clients or students, watch the horses reactions to the trainer, talk to former clients of the trainer as well as colleagues and find out what the reputation is like among real horsemen. Those are the true test of whether or not you should hire a specific trainer
These are subject matters I'm passionate about, you might be able to tell! We will see you in the show ring and on the trail!