“Cutting” Tails

I hope I’m not opening a can of worms here.  I know this can be a controversial issue in non-saddleseat breeds and, of course, non-horse owners.  I have to admit, up until a few days ago when I took some time to research the issue I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it.

When most people think of “cut” tails, saddlebreds come to mind.  For that reason I always assumed cutting the tail was what resulted in the abrupt break-over half way down the tail-bone.  Apparently that’s not the case at all.  Cutting a tail actually involves cutting the muscle that clamps the tail down tight to the horses rear.  The tail is set after cutting so that when the muscle heals it’s longer and allows the horse to carry it’s tail higher.  Now, it seems to me this same result could be achieved (and probably often is) by simply stretching the tail upward on a regular basis and using a bustle.

Can anyone offer a more comprehensive explanation as to how this helps from a training perspective?  Or is it purely aesthetics?  Does AMHA or USEF have an official position on cut tails in Morgans?  I know their tails are not to be “set” but I wouldn’t think that would necessarily mean they shouldn’t be cut.

50 Responses to “Cutting” Tails

  1. leslie says:

    Pretty sure it’s illegal for Morgans. It’s illegal in some states (not that that slows anyone down. Just get a vet from across state lines to do it.) A Morgan judge’s only responsibility as far as tails go is to penalize an abrupt breakover, so I suppose if you cut your horse’s tail but never put it in a tailset with a spoon-type crupper, you’d be fine. I’m sure people do it.

    As for an explanation for why it’s done, this is a conversation that repeats itself in Saddlebredland on a regular basis. Usually someone will say that it’s so that the horse can comfortably wear the driving harness and won’t clamp down on the crupper, and someone else will counter that Standardbreds and combined driving horses don’t have their tails cut. I’ve also heard people claim that their horses are looser through the back once those muscles have been cut, but I seriously doubt there’s any physiological evidence to back that up.

    The general, uneducated argument against cut tails is that it breaks the horse’s tail and they can’t swish at flies after it’s been done. That’s completely untrue. Frankly, as shady horse show practices go, I really think this one is pretty benign.

    I personally don’t like it because I’ve seen what a botched tail cutting looks like. The tail curls to the side and stays there, like a pig’s tail. You can brace the tail for some Saddlebred classes (not pleasure classes), but those horses are then limited in their second careers because a messed up tail is going to be a huge turn off to any dressage or hunter people. That wouldn’t even be such a big deal if so many Saddlebred trainers didn’t cut and set young horses before they’ve grown up and proven that they’re going to be saddle seat performance horses. Even a tail cut and set correctly can look wrong on a sport horse.

    To me, abolishing cutting and setting seems like the easiest PR move the Saddlebred breed could make, and God knows they need a better public image. But I don’t really ride Saddlebreds anymore, so, no dog in that fight for me.

  2. Trisha says:

    My biggest issues with cutting tails isn’t that they are cutting tails, it’s poorly done ones that are the problem. A tail that’s been cut and well cared for is one that could pass as being the horse’s natural tail carriage. Plus, the only way to achieve the “natural” look from a cut tail is with a set, which isn’t allowed in Morgans. From what I’m told anyway, bustles just don’t do the trick. Also, I’d say that cutting would have a more significant and “faster” result (while also being properly maintained) than simply using a bustle and stretching the tail by hand.

    Though at the same time, I think that if you are going to cut a tail within a breed that does not condone it, don’t go around making it painfully obvious that horse has never had a set off a day in its life except at horseshows that don’t allow it. Nothing is more hideous (okay, so that’s an exaggeration) than seeing a horse with its tail straight up in the air, no feathers whatsoever, and looks like a rat tail. At least take care of the tail so they don’t rub/rip out all the hair on their tailbone because of the set!

  3. empressive says:

    I agree with Leslie and Trisha. I am apart of the Paso Fino breed as well though and I think that offers a little insight as well. The Paso Fino’s, not to be confused with the Peruvians, cut tails as well. It’s a small incision and causes the tail to J. The predominate reason that I have been given and heard from the trainers is that many horses naturally have the J tail and to make it “even” in the showring all horses have their tails cut so that it’s all the same. Not all horses are born with a J tail and I have watched the incision process.

    I have yet to meet a trainer that thinks that cutting a tail makes the horses performance better. Actually I did ask some trainers about that being as I have had more experience around my morgans and a few saddlebreds before Pasos. I got laughed at, maybe not so much at me, but rather the idea of cutting a tail making a horse perform better.

    So I really believe that it is purely for aesthetics. It would be weird I admit to see a class of horses where 4 had cut tails (Paso or Saddlebred) and another 4 had non cut tails. If two horses were equally worthy would it come down to a cut tail?

    There were only a few Paso trainers that have admitted to me that the above scenario is a big reason for cutting tails. I concede that health reason are few and far between.

  4. Chris Nerland says:

    Well, here goes…… I have heard that forcing the tail higher hollows the back and makes the horse work off both ends more freely. Can’t say that is necessarily true.
    If you have ever seen an American Saddlebred with a natural tail, flagging freely, you would understand what a perversion of beauty the “broken” tail is. The 19th century had some pretty warped ideas of beauty (at least to our 21st century sensibilities). Cropped ears and docked tails on dogs, and broken tails on Saddle horses are two practices that remind us of a century that brought us child labor, dead indians and slavery. I am not even going to get started on Tenn. Walking Horses.
    Leaving aside the unnecessary cruelty, done solely for the horse owners aggrandizement, it is essentially false advertising. If someone breeds a horse who carries his tail proudly, well, then they should be able to have the benefit of that genetic good fortune. If you have a dead-tailed horse, then maybe they shouldn’t be passing on that fault.
    I think a 5-gaited American Saddlebred hitting a rack is one of the most exciting sights in horse-showing. The picture, however, is spoiled by the vaguely obscene jig-jig-jigging of the set tail poking up at the end of the croup. Aesthetically, it is all wrong. It ruins the smooth flow of the topline, from thecroup up over the curve of the dock and down to the end of the tail.
    To show I am not completely over the edge, I do believe a benefit can come from use of a bustle. It can make the horse more comfortable with a crupper and keeps them from clamping down. I think this can relax the entire topline and allow the rear end to engage. I don’t own a bustle but I have no problems with their use.
    The horse is the only mammal with a tail completely sheathed in flowing hair. It is the species’ distinctive glory. Only a warped sensibility thinks that cutting and setting it is an “improvement”.

  5. snerland says:

    After you read this comment on “cutting tails”, you will wonder how Chris and I have stayed married for 33 years.
    I hate bustles because I know what they are, a slightly different version of a tail set. Before you all condemn me, I would like to reinterate what Dr. Beeman(Colorado State University) said concerning form v. function. He stated that when a horse has a flat croup, the hocks are not as high because the muscle laying from the croup to the hock is not correct. Over the years I have observed this with our breed. Those horses with very flat croups do not move as high behind as horses with Dr. Beeman’s correct function formula. However, these horses have been winning for the past twenty years; so those horses who have a slightly different setting of the croup have to alter the height of the tail to look like the others “winners”. Combine that with ginger and you have a “fired up” beautiful high tail carriage with high hocks (maybe).
    I remember breeding to a beautiful stallion with a gorgeous high tail set only to be disappointed in the foal when he did not have a “naturally” high tail like his sire.
    Frankly, there will never be a bustle or ginger on my horses while I am alive. Fifteen years ago I predicted that when the bustle was introduced, cutting tails would follow. I am sure tails are being cut as I write this.
    So, I ask the public who love the Morgan horse. Do you actually like seeing horses defecating in the ring because their anus is on fire and do you like seeing the Morgan in a modified tail set? However you answer, you have now entered into an age-old conflict between what is real and what is fake. Just walk through the show stalls and compare those horses who have bustles and those who don’t and see who wins “fair and square”. When I left the show ring in 2001, ginger was a banned substance; so, what happened?
    At the ripe old age of 61 and having been in Morgans since I was eight, I have seen these fads come and go and I hope this fad fades into oblivion.

  6. RaeOfLight says:

    Thanks for your comments folks. I’ve heard the claim that a cut tail helps “loosen up the hind end.” I agree that a truly more relaxed hind quarter could help some horses, but this seems like an attempt at a quick fix with as much potential for harm as good. I’d even go so far to say that this seems to be treating a symptom, not addressing the cause.

    From a humane/inhumane perspective, I don’t think this crosses a line for me. But the more I think about it the more it just seems unnecessary.

    Briefly, I’d also like to quickly reject the use of the term “broken tails”. I hate to get all PC, too much of that and we’re worse off than where we started. But use of those kinds of terms are what lead people to think the tail bone is actually broken as a part of this process.

  7. ManD says:

    ASB person here… I have always been told it was done to prevent a horse from clamping down on the driving lines. As the OP mentioned, the incision is really quite small but as Leslie points out if problems arise a crooked tail is not pretty. You can actually achieve the same result by stretching without cutting the tail however, this takes a lot of time and patience so more often than not it is done surgically. Cutting a tail and setting a tail are two different things – a cut tail is generally “looser” than a tail that isn’t cut but if it isn’t set it will look pretty much like a normal tail. ASB folks argue about set tails a lot and I can see both sides of the argument. I like the look of a set tail and I don’t think it is inhumane if done properly but it is high maintenance and does turn off a lot of people from the breed.

  8. leslie says:

    “When I left the show ring in 2001, ginger was a banned substance; so, what happened?”

    I’d kind of like to know this, too. The explanation that’s been given to me is that the rule was taken off the books because there wasn’t a reliable way to test for it, and there’s no point in having a rule that can’t be enforced. That doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I could show my Classic horse with shoes above the weight limit, but if he doesn’t throw one in the ring, no one will ever know. That doesn’t mean the rule shouldn’t exist. I also feel like it couldn’t really be that hard to come up with a test for ginger that could be done at random, like the drug tests, if testing is indeed the reason the rule was tossed out.

    Whoever came up with the idea of gingering in the first place had to be a special kind of crazy.

  9. leslie says:

    You know, the Saddlebred section of the USEF rule book specifically bans ginger in all pleasure divisions. Knowing that, our lack of a ginger rule makes even less sense.

  10. GraceMorgn says:

    I believe the ginger rule was taken off because there is no test available to enforce the rule. While your Classic horse might not throw a shoe, they can be protested and the shoe will be pulled and weighed. It would then be treated just as if it had been thrown. If you are over weight, you would be disqualified and fined. Therefore this rule is enforceable.

    From my understanding, there is no way to do that with the ginger rule. There is no test that is able to determine if ginger was used that is realiable at this point, so there is no way to enforce the rule.

    If there is a test, can someone tell me what it is? I did some research and have only seen it referenced, but no actual information from a reliable source.

    *ASHLEY*

  11. Montehorse says:

    I don’t believe there is a test. The only way to determine if ginger has been used is for someone to physically taste it.

    I am at a ASB stable that does not cut tails. They simply stretch the muscle over a period of time. This seems to achieve the desired effects.

    The mares that are no longer used for showing are turned back out into the pasture for retirement or breeding. Their tails no longer stand-up to the height that is necessary in the ASB showring, but there are still remnants of a set tail. The tail itself in no way appears broken.

  12. khummel says:

    I hope you all will have a good laugh I actually took a dare and put a big dab of ginger in my mouth like snuf and left it there quite awhile. It got warm but not hot and not at all like people think.. No I am not trying it any farther than that!

  13. khummel says:

    Also I dont know too mny people that have tails cut anymore. We have had needed it just once in the last ten years and I have a candidate for it presently. But its not the usual thing any more as far as I know. Its more how you take care of it after and that care must be meticulous and several times a day.

  14. snerland says:

    Horse physiology is clearly different then human. There is no saliva in a horse’s anus to “soften” the taste. If it doesn’t hurt, then why do I see horses defecating to the point of diarrhea in order to expell the substance?

    Most trainers do not use gloves when applying ginger. Apparently it does not irritate humans to the extent it irritates horses.

  15. RaeOfLight says:

    Mmm, I’ll buy that there could be a drastic difference between putting ginger in your mouth vs putting it in your *ahem*. However, I’m not sure I can believe there would be that much of a difference between species. One thing I’ve also observed is that horses will defecate in stressful situations, ginger or no. Being separated from their barn friends to come out to show, not to mention all the fuss has to put some stress on a horse, no matter how seasoned they are.

    As a side note, I did have a trainer mention to me once that he had gingered himself on a dare. We didn’t dwell on it for long, but if I remember correctly he did say it wasn’t as bad as he expected.

  16. snerland says:

    Let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? Why do it at all? Horses defecating from stress vs. those gingered with their tail over their back? It’s easy to tell the difference and in all good conscience; let’s drop the ginger for the good of the breed.

  17. SeaSmoke says:

    My trainer gingered my gelding once for an in-hand class, and I won’t do it again. He was clearly uncomfortable. It had nothing to do with being away from the barn or any other stressor. He handles those with dignity…the ginger was a different story.

    I did have him bustled last summer during show season. We switched to driving and he has a wonderful habit of getting his bagged tail over my lines when swishing for the bugs and then clamping down. I do think it made a difference and I would do it again. We took care of it and he had no chaffing and showed no discomfort. We also didn’t leave it on when it was really hot out. I like the way bustled tails look. I can’t say I agree with cutting or usign spoons and sets versus butles. It could be because I lack the knowledge on how to maintain them…

    He is home from the trainer’s now and I have been hand-stretching his tail. I have no idea if it’s really making a difference, but his tail has stayed loose…

  18. PlayMorBill says:

    Gingering, bustling and cutting tails each have some practical (though anscilary) benefits. A looser this and a longer that. But the real reason the elite of the show ring obsess over the shape, style, length and look of a tail is of no practical value at all.

    In the show ring, it’s looks count.

    Give your horse Sunday off. Leave him in the stall until Monday morning (a chilly Monday morning works best), and then turn him out in his favorite paddock or pasture. After he sprints to his favorite spot, jams on the brakes and snorts to the world just how great he feels today, take a look at his tail. Likely, it’s at full flag, either straight up or curled over his back.

    You are watching the greatest horse show on earth.

    That tail is a barometer, just like the ears. All we’re trying to do in the show ring is recreate that look, those emotions. We can’t wire or cut their ears to keep them up artificaly (many have tried, all have failed), so we go through some often ridiculous antics to try and keep a show horses attention forward, down the rail, on whats to come. We’re trying to control indeed, add emotion, which is hard to do and depends greatly on the horses own desire.

    That tail, however, is much easier to control. Artificialy, of course, that’s where the detractors line up, but a great tail finishes the picture, like an equine exclamation point instead of a cold, clamped comma at the end of a runon sentance,

    Without the finish, the picture lacks pizazz.

    It’s really just as simple as that.

    Like all things human, tails can be done well or poorly. Gingering is a technique which calls for the correct amount, at the correct time, to get the best effect (which is often different from the maximum effect). But gingering also calls for a generous amount of vaseline after the performance to finish aleviating what discomfort the horse may have.

    During the great Ginger Wars of the ’90′s, when we succeeded in rescinding the ginger rule, one brave, dedicated Morgan enthusiast – a veterinarian, no less – self-administered a relative portion of ginger and then reported on her experience over the next two hours. It was warm and somewhat uncomfortable, but it didn’t stop her from enjoying dinner and watching TV. I believe her experience helped convince the under-informed how inocuous ginger actually was. Stewards from around the country celebrated when we struck down the ginger rule, as they were adimately against being required to do on-the-spot ginger-checks at the out gate, the process of which was a simple and gross, and as dangerous, as you might imagine.

    As for cutting tails, do not try this at home. Although it’s a relatively simple, painless procedure, the aftercare is extremely important. Most ugly cut tails are a result of a lack of timely, thorough, proper care the tail needs for several weeks following the procdure.

    In my opinion, it’s the length of tail that’s vastly more important to the show horses comfort then how he holds it. Those 12 footers are dangerous in a saddle class. They get stepped on (I’ve seen horses ruined from this), the horse can’t back up for squat, and they hurt like hell when they’re braided and bagged and clock you upside the head.

    But man, are they beautiful, flowing out behind the horse like a flag in a parade. That’s my kind of show.

    Mr Bill
    PlayMor Farm

  19. PlayMorBill says:

    I forgot: If you can’t stomache a horse defacating in the show ring, don’t go to a horse show. Or a Dressage show. For that matter, don’t go on a trail ride, or to a Combined Driving event, a round up, or a parade.

    Horses poop. Horses poop whenever and wherever they like. It’s gift. Sometimes they poop at the most inoportune of moments. But they really don’t care what we think about it (again, a gift).

    After 38 years, I don’t even see it anymore.

    Go Vikings!

    Mr Bill

  20. snerland says:

    Oh Bill, you missed my point entirely. After more than 53 years in the Morgan horse world, I know that horses defecate; I just don’t like the result of ginger. I agree with you about the “look”, but beautifully trained SHOW HORSES do not need ginger to look beautiful. I do agree on tails; shall we move on to extensions?

  21. goshowmorgans says:

    Well, if you have ever had a critter clamp down on a crupper, and lose his mind, 75% of his harness and the cart with you still in it (even after you put an elastic extension in the crupper strap) you might like getting the occasional tail nicked. It can be a very good thing and in our case, helped a rather unpredictable & tense Hackney Pony become a safer, more reliable drive. Chances are he probably would not have been a Res. National Champion Road Pony without his little procedure either.

    Genevieve

  22. PlayMorBill says:

    Thanks, Sner: I like writting things like this. You complete me. :)

    Urging the abolition of ginger, again, won’t change the fact that the elite trainers of our show-world are going to continue to present their horses in the best fashion their experience, technique and proffessionalism allow. Indeed, demand. It’s Westminster out there, folks. Every single day.

    SHOW is a curious word to describe a competition. It’s not a race. There is no finish line. It’s not a contest, there is no score (I’m talkin’ flat classes here, stick with me). What do we do?

    We SHOW our horse. As in: Here. Look at me. That’s it. OK, thanks.

    It’s not a set of mechanical exercises. It’s Hooved Artistry.

    How each of us present and processes that picture is as different for all of us as the lives we’ve lived. The basics we all agree on, but the epitome each of us seek is different, and that’s percisely why horse SHOWS are so much fun. The deciding factor is nothing more then opinion, as foolish and absurd a method of ranking individuals as using a ruler to measure style.

    It’s purley human. Yee Gads. What hath we wrought?

    Every class is a mini-drama (OK, some are major-mundo dramas). They play out in front of us in our neat, clean, well drug, artifical environments, soley and simply for our entertainment. We’re not measuring anything more then beauty, my fellow beholder.

    We’re barely a sport, distant kin to figure skating.

    But with every class we get the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. We get the turd who got lucky and the gal who got… (a not-so-good ribbon). Someone thinks the judge/judges are crazy, another, bribed. A proud breeder may be stting in one corner, a scowling owner in the other.

    Ginger in or ginger out won’t change any of that, which makes it a pointless and counter-productive debate [see Spare Hair below]. It’s another divisive argument that only drives people away from our breed. I don’t see a line of people waiting to buy a Morgan until some ginger rule is enacted. Again.

    What I do see is a line of people waiting to get out. Some have already left. Some are sittin on the fence, a foot in each of two very differnt irons. Fed up with the lawsuits and hostility, they’re looking at other breeds who aren’t ostrascizing the peacocks of their show ring and chastizing the winners of those hoity-toity, fancy pants horse shows they love to attend.

    It breaks my heart, but I find myself looking at that line, too.

    I know, I know… Good Ridence! :)

    Mr Bill
    PlayMor Farm

    PS: Some people put spare hair in manes and tails when they show, usually because a previous owner/trainer didn’t properly take care of their show horses mane and/or tail. Sometimes it’s the owner who just brought the colt in for training after letting the geldings chew on him all winter long. NOT very show-horsey. It’s icky. Occassionaly (rarely, these days), a horses tail is purposely cut off. This can be an act of vengence or greed, usually revolving around some immature, imagined injustice that may or may not have anything to do with the horse.

    A sad price for a new owner to pay, now faced with their own injustice.

    Spare hair is beautiful. I wish I had lots. When installed correctly, spare hair looks Au’ Nat-u-rahl. On Morgans, spare hair is considered immoral, but spare hair is beautiful, just the same. Some trainers have the ability to apply spare hair so well you can’t tell. This spare hair completes the picture and ensures the horse is on equal footing in the judges eye.

    And yeah, it counts. Beauty reigns at a horse show. We can all stipulate that, right? Well, starting a class with one strike against you sucks. You’ve got an uphill battle before they even open the gait. Where I’m coming from, THAT’S unfair. But I’m pro-horse. Pro-show. I want everyone in their Sunday best, on horses impecably trained and presented, tip to tail, tux to top hat, so we can REALLY have a good debate on who won, who lost, and who had the best of the great goes.

    Who cares about spare hair? Didn’t you see that class?

    What I find ironic is that if I ride in with spare hair, nobody cares. :/

    Then again, it’s no big deal.

    It’s just hair.

    b.

  23. Chris Nerland says:

    Bill, you have made the best-reasoned, most cogent argument for the use of ginger I have read. If ginger can add that last bit of perfection to an over-all show ring appearance, then I can certainly understand the logic of using it. We know that amateurs can ride for the fun of it, but professionals ride to put food on the table. Hence the pressure to do everything possible to win.
    Here is where your argument breaks down: prior to recission of the ginger rule, did everyone cheat? What I mean is: the 1970s, 80s and 90s were some of the most prosperous and exciting years of the Morgan breed. Horses and trainers turned in performances that people still talk about. Showring perfection was reached time and again. These were not sad-sack dead-tailed plugs but were horses who could be champions today. I am sure some were gingered, and of course, bustles were just beginning to be used, but most of those horses flagged their tails just fine.
    So, clearly it is our perception of the “perfect” picture which has changed. (And, also, an interesting question of whether the modern bloodlines with their flattened croups might actually lead to horses who lack the physiological ability to carry their tail naturally high-they certainly seem to have lost their hock action!) I suppose if ASBs 5-gaiteds had to carry a natural tail tomorrow, old show ring hands would think they looked “wrong”.
    What I am saying is that gingering is a fashion, albeit a long-lived one. In a market where potential buyers steer away from any hint of “abuse” , whether published in the news or discussed online (sorta like we are doing) it seems to me that taking a strong stand against a practice which clearly causes discomfort to the horse purely in the interests of a “perfect picture” when it is debatable what constitutes a “perfect picture” is a long term recipe for losing people to other breeds who do just fine with a non-gingered, non-bustled “perfect picture”.
    To step out of the present mind-set is very difficult, however. A trainer who takes a stand against gingering in his barn will probably lose customers (although maybe not so many as we think!) A judge may well mark down his horses since they do not look like the rest of the class. It will take an independent stable which is able to compete at the highest level over the long run, and which has the courage to take a public stand against gingering to start the shift back to “fashion” as it has existed for most of the Morgan’s existence. Rules and drug tests are not the answer. Enforcement must come from one’s own ethics.
    Bill has a very good analogy in comparing horse-showing to figure skating. Both sports exist for the aesthetic physicality of the sport. Also, each sport can be very revealing of the character of the participants. Our sport is much more difficult and dangerous in that our partner is a separate species, with its own rules and reactions. How we behave toward our silent partner in our endeavors speaks volumes about what sort of person we are.

  24. Chris Nerland says:

    P.S. Bill, please don’t leave the breed. We would miss you, and I really enjoy reading your posts! Your farm has the influence and quality which could have a major impact on the direction the breed takes. The lawsuits have only shown how irrational the “haters” are. Let THEM leave the breed!

  25. PlayMorBill says:

    having successfully resisted the old temptation to quote & comment, quote & comment, I find it refreshing to let each side of a debate stand on its own merrits. I very much liked your post, Chris. It stirred in me the following…

    Did you know that cropping ears and docking tails is illegal in the UK? Not horses. Dogs’. What’s up with that? Did the breeds sacrafice beauty and tradition in the name of the few, the loud, the Squeamish?

    You bet your ass they did. Whether you find the practice pleasing to the eye or abhorant, the fact that they didn’t outlaw plastic surgery on humans at the same time reveals the hypocrisy that lies within the heart of the politicaly correct.

    How can one be abuse and the other, a ‘beaut?

    Common sense has gone sailing out the window.

    A factual examination has always revealed that ginger is no more painful or life-threatening then a cinch or a caveson, let alone that jungle of bits we clamp in their mouths. Bits cause far more pain and suffering, day in, day out, then all the dashes of ginger ever administered, combined. Bits have left horses physicaly and emotionaly scared for life. I know. For a long time we made a good living rehabilitating horses who hated them.

    Most, for good reason.

    And what about tounge ties? Or do we sacrafice those to the squeamish as well? Do we ignore the saftey they provide in the name of political correctness? I’d much rather explain what they are, how and when they’re used, and why they are important then go back to the days when the sneaky were good at hiding them.

    Made us look sinister, when we were simply doing our jobs, taking care of both horse and rider.

    Once we cross that line, we open ourselves to the looneys who think a horse in a stall is a tortured soul. They can make a convincing argument in a court of law or congressional hearing that stabling horses leads to insanity. They’d show videos of cribbers and pacers, bobbers, weavers and diggers. They’d play interviews with heartbroken horse-lovers who becry their horse as ruined for life.

    A few motivated, ill-informed, but politicaly correct people could substantialy change our lives forever.

    I believe we have to draw a line in the sand far before that.

    It’s a long list, the pain and sacrafices horses make on our behalf, for nothing more then our entertainment. It’s a list easily parsed into politicaly correct little cubes that could be jammed down our throat in the name of the squeamish.

    It’s a slippery slope. Gather thy cleats.

    If ginger is no more then a fashion, like the colored browbands which gained popularity around the same time in our history, its use would have went the way of the white browband some 30 years ago.

    But it didn’t. It’s comon practice. It’s a standard operating procedure with proven, dependable, desireable results. It’s safe, sane, and has Zero side effects, near or long term. It’s icky. I’ll give you that. But abusive?

    Absolutley not.

    Describing it as such is a fact-free lie. It fails that threshold by a long ways. If I haven’t convinced you of that, then I never will. So be it. I’ll stop trying. But I insist you drop that whip, take off those spurs, and put that bridle away. Never again lay anything but a loving hand on your horse (who’s now a useless pet), because all those things hurt horses far more then any dash of ginger ever has or ever will.

    You can have your cake, but the politicaly correct will make eat it, too.

    Truth, the kind with facts, is the only thing holding us back.

    Mr Bill
    PlayMor Farm

    Hey Rae: Keep on opening these cans of worms. Yeah, they taste crappy, and it sucks when you get one stuck in your teeth (or craw). Just like you, I hate that dank, wiggly sensation that makes me want to puke. But they’re good for the soul, and healthy when eaten with a group of your friends.

    And they’re not spinich, which makes my day, everyday.

    b.

    PS: I can’t help but wonder: During my endeavors, both here and afar, what has my behaivior towards our silent partners revealed of me?

    What sort of person am I?

  26. khummel says:

    God Bless the truth and Your articulate and Wise and truth seeking soul Mr Bill. I am going to write you a letter one of these days as I need lots of help even after forty some years in this business I am still scratchin my head about a lot of things. This horse business thing seems to be gettin tougher by the day and I need advice! You the man oh wise one!

  27. RaeOfLight says:

    I’ve really been enjoying this conversation. I’ve had some thoughts of my own along the way, but I’m in the middle of selling my house and my brain is going a million different directions at once, so my contributions end up being long rambling messes that just get deleted ( <-kind of like that sentence).

  28. PlayMorBill says:

    Slow down there, Rae. We got ya covered. You focus on selling the house and we’ll hold down the fort.

    This debate has been around for years. It’s not going anywhere.

    KHum- I scratched my head bald years ago. My best advice is to never be afraid to ask the dumb question. Even if you get a dumb answer, you’ve learned a lot. :)

    And Chris: I wasn’t ignoring your last comment, just considering how to reply. PlayMor will always have Morgans. Otherwise we’d have to change the name to PlaySad, which wouldn’t look good in ads. But PlayMor is a business, and right now the saddlebred business has warmed up. My only concern is how far over to the dark side we’ll get, before the calls for Morgans rein us back in.

    Time, and a crazy convention, will tell.

    mr b

  29. Chris Nerland says:

    Bill, I was anticipating the “animal rights-slippery slope” argument. :-) To me, abuse occurs when the corrective applied to the horse (whether bit, spur, whip, go-go, running-w, ginger, etc.) does not take the horse/human partnership between the two to the next step of understanding/usefulness. Tongue-ties make a horse safer to ride/drive (if applied judiciously). If they are a substitute for proper bitting, then they can be abusive. Of course, training can often be a two-steps forward, one-step back process, but long term, we all try to create a more useful animal. To raise a horse and have a 1000 lb pasture pet which is eventually dumped on the market is abusive in itself. The last several years have featured thousands of abandoned, starved horses dumped at rescues and auctions. If you do not do your best to train a horse in manners and usefulness, you can limit their future to a french dinner-plate.
    Your analogy between docking an animals ears and tail and plastic surgery fails because the animal does not volunteer for surgery. The cropping/docking is done purely for human ego. The outlawing of cropping/docking has hardly resulted in the disappearance of dog breeds. Crufts is still one of the premier dog shows in the world.
    Bill, I apologize if my term “abuse” was taken personally. I acknowledge that there are far more harmful things done to horses. From my observation, your horses are always impeccably turned out and are sharp and forward-looking. My point throughout these posts has been that ginger is not necessary. We didn’t use it 30 years ago (mostly) and the horses presented beautifully without it. It is used now because “everyone does it” and to not use it may leave you disadvantaged. It is not a training aid which acts as a long term corrective but is a temporary “fix” for a problem which may not even exist except in the perception of the current fashion. It causes the horse pain/discomfort from which they cannot escape (until the class is over/vaseline applied). It reflects poorly on the show ring horse when new people learn of it. Taken as a whole, I think the objective negatives outweigh the subjective positives (beauty/perfect picture) by a considerable amount.
    I wish you well. The American Saddlebred is an awesome horse. I am always struck, when looking over a good 5-gaited up close, how the breed has kept the sturdy, solid, useful body type in what is essentially an artificial environment. While the AQHA halter type nearly became totally useless for anything, the ASB has persistently remained sound.

  30. khummel says:

    thirty years ago would have been 1980 . We were certainly using a little dab of gonger when we won all three classes at Northhampton in the yearling two year old three year old stallion classes and the jr fine harness and won all of themin the late 60s. I think you would have to go back to the 40s or 50s to say we didnt use ginger. They didnt even clip them or shoe them back then for the most part or use a bridle either. But even then the trainers around our area were Saddlehorse influenced and Fleetwing and Vigilmarch and the precursors of them did receive a dab often or at the very least the photographs taken by MS Shirley paulette and others were seriously enhanced to raise the tail . Sorry just need to clarify. And my 18 times World champion vals Terry, he went with a dab every time we showed him. His last World championship was around 1981.

  31. Chris Nerland says:

    So, I guess my naivete’ is showing. Although the useage was illegal at the time, ginger was widely used. When I hear this sort of confirmation, I can almost sympathize with the Hazelwood Plaintiffs desire to segregate Show from USE horses. It seems the Saddlehorse show tactics are impossible to keep out of the Morgan show ring. If people are lining up to leave the breed because they feel criticized, perhaps they need to acknowledge that their drive to win has taken the Morgan from ginger to bustles, to cut tails to shoe bands to tail falls until a significant portion of Morgan owners/breeders have said “Enough!” The fact that the Plaintiffs have chosed a particularly destructive way of getting their voices heard doesn’t mean their argument doesn’t have some legitimacy.

  32. morapplespls says:

    I have never posted before on this forum, I am more of a “lurker”. But I felt that this topic was interesting and I’d like to weigh in. I am not in the “show world” of morgans, I compete with my morgans against warmbloods and thorobreds in eventing (and we do great by the way!) So I may not have the inside view that many of you appear to have. Neither do I know who any of you are so please don’t feel like what I am going to say is an attack on anyone’s personal beliefs, its not! It’s just my knowledge and as someone who has spent 13 years as a DVM, I know it to be fact.

    I have to disagree that gingering an animal is no more painful than a cinch, cavesson, spurs, or bit. If a cinch, cavesson, bits, spurs, bridles, whips or any other training aid is “painful” it is being used incorrectly. This is not a matter of banning their use, it is a matter of teaching the handler or rider the proper use of these aids. Spurs and whips are used as encouragement, not beating tools. A cinch is used to hold the saddle in place, not suck air out of the horse. A cavesson, bit and bridle are used for steering, and proper position of the head as where the head goes the body will follow, they are not intended to be “painful”, I could put a bike chain in my horses mouth and use it more safely and painfree than some use a dr. bristol. It’s about proper technique, not the “gadgets” themselves.

    Ginger, however, IS PAINFUL! Put some on yourself for half an hour…then decide. Also, there is no technique to using ginger properly so that it doesn’t hurt…it just plain hurts! That’s why the beautiful tail goes flying into the air, because a horses inate instinct tells it that to raise my tail can pull things out of my anus that are hurting, they are not raising their tail because this friendly man put something in me and I want to put my tail up to look pretty and win.

    Also, just FYI, statistics show that ON AVERAGE horses stabled and not turned out to pasture (by stabling I don’t mean brought in at night in winter or turned out in night in summer–I mean consistent 24/7 stall time for the life of a career) live shorter lives than those turned out on a regular basis. Horses by nature are creatures on the move, they thrive best when grass is churning through their gut constantly as it should for hooved animals. Horses confined to a stall have higher incidents of colic as their biological needs and nutritional needs are not being met.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are exceptions, I know a 41 year old Conemara stallion that was stalled for 30 years, just the last 11 years has he seen the sky for more than 30 minutes a day. However in the long run and on a logical level….horses are happier, healthier and thrive (and compete better in my opinion) when turned out. This doesn’t mean turn your horse out and watch it from your bedroom window, proper care and management is still a requirement.

    Again, Im not a show person, but I am a horse person and know that I can back up my points with statistical information. I am not a “tree-hugger” or a peta or aspca fanatic, but I do believe in proper care of an equine and when I see someone say that this isn’t painful, I have to choke on my cookie and do a double take.

  33. PlayMorBill says:

    Housekeeping: Your use of ‘abuse’ was perfect, nothing taken personaly.

    Cropping Ego: Yeah, I saw this coming, too. This started as short, but ended long. Such is the nature of blogging.

    We enslave Dogs (& horses, cats & iguana’s), which means we are completely responsible for their care and well being. They have no choice in the matter. But doesn’t that squash the notion we have of partnership? Doesn’t that erase the idea that our animals are active, eager participants rather then endentured servants?

    My Boxer would walk through fire for me. Not because I commanded him to do so, but because the depth of his devotion and trust in me would instinctualy inspire the action. He has no choice in the matter, but he’s slave to nothing more then his desire to please, to defend, to protect his family.

    If I asked what he thought and felt about the time he got his ears cropped, he’d reply “What ears? Can we walk through the fire now?”

    The personification of animals, especialy when interpeting their thoughts and feelings, leads directly to the illogical arguments offered by PETA and the gang. Animals don’t think like us, they don’t feel like us (that’s not to say they don’t feel… they’re just better at), and they don’t act like us. To perceive life and circumstance through their eyes, we have to close ours. Completely.

    Neigh-on impossible to do.

    I know in my heart that Dexter, my Boxer, doesn’t hold his ear cropping experience against me. I know, for a fact, that the surgery itself left his memory the moment his feet hit the floor. He didn’t lament the pain and suffering he had to endure during his recovery, and certainly doesn’t lament it now. He didn’t understand the humor in constantly getting his protective cone stuck in every nook and cranny of house and barn, but he sure did love the attention it provoked.

    Laughing humans are always fun to be around.

    That entire experience left his mind, forever, the moment we removed the cone of comedy. And yet, according to a growing number animal rights activists around the world, Dexter suffered abuse at my hands.

    I whole-heartedly reject that notion. You Should Too.

    Allowing the personification of animals thoughts and feelings is dangerous. It puts words in their mouths they’d never speak, never in a million years, and puts way to much power in the hands of people that want to remove your right to govern them.

    Anyway, back on topic:

    Chris got to the heart of it, boiled it right down to its essence, when he said:

    “[Ginger] causes the horse pain/discomfort from which they cannot escape”

    The knee-jerk argument is easy, (you saw it coming):

    Fill in the blank: [Bits], [Shoes], [Stalls], [Neck Wraps], [Leather], [Whips], [Chains], [Spurs], [Lunging]… [Lunging! Lunging actualy fits!]

    What we have to admit and acknowledge, collectively and publicly, is that horses go through a great number of pains and discomforts from which they have no escape. Denial is not salvation. Most of these things we consider benign and inconsequential, of little or no ‘real’ pain to our cherished pets. I think our conscience requires it. But there is pain. There is discomfort. Some is nescesary, some is not, but who gets to draw that line? It better be us, ’cause if it’s not, its them.

    Don’t get caught thinking you’re them. You’re not. Your us. Same as me. Here, I’ll prove it:

    I believe that constant circling wreaks havock on a horses joints, back and neck. Habitual lunging and long lining leaves our horses damaged, sore and bent out of shape. Then we get on them and insist they straighten up, which leads (inevitably) to a new set of training problems as we try to correct something that was our fault to begin with.

    [Mr Bills Training Tip: If you're still blaming your horse, search within]

    Take an xray of an old western horse who’s spent his life on the end of a lung line, and a Vet can easily point out the destruction that’s taken place. We think of it as normal wear and tear, but ‘normal’ is a dangerous word. Very dangerous, in deed. For if it’s ‘normal’ for me to put a horse through a tedious, repetitive and strenuous exercise that will predictably result in pain, injury and suffering, then that lunge line turns into a hangmans noose.

    Were I to abdicate the abolition of lunging, and all you lazy horsemen and horsewomen out there should breathe a sigh of relief I don’t, I’d base my position on the fact that it was detrimental to a horses well being. I could prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, that constant, forced circling causes pain and discomfort from which a horse has no escape. I’d have a legitimate, reasonable argument, with loads of scientific proof, that easily, and by FAR, outweighs any argument against the use of ginger.

    It pales in comparison.

    Were it brought to their attention, it would take but a handful of compassionate, ignorant lawmakers just a few minutes to abolish the practice entirely.

    And then, all of sudden, You are abusing your horse. But that didn’t really happen suddenly. You’ve been abusing your horse for years. Over and over. Around and around. You are an abusive horse owner. Worse still, I don’t lunge horses. That puts me on the moral high ground, which, I know, is a fine example of getting a dank, wiggly worm stuck in your teeth.

    Sorry about that. Resistance was futile.

    The only place, the ONLY place we can enact any kind of restriction or abolition of ginger is in the court of human opinion. That’s why ginger is such a wedge issue. It’s the whipping boy for two sides of an argument that’s raged for years. But it’s an argument that has nothing to do with a dab doo, folks. Ginger is just the most logical buggy to ride.

    By my reckoning, the use, misuse, and abuse of ginger represents a much, much larger issue. It’s an issue we’ve handled so poorly that, try as we might, we’ve never been able conquer it. We’ve beaten it near to death, and left it, time and again, panting for life on the side of road. Its heart still beats, but we’re running out of time to revive the poor, old soul.

    Until, that is, and unless, we get our house in order.

    Lastly, and this is an outstanding point Chris brought up, Saddlebreds have chosen to draw the ginger-line half way up the firepole. They’ve selectivly banned the substance in certain pleasure divisions, while allowing it in all the others (Open, Amateur, Junior Horse, etc.).

    This is both brilliant and flawed. It placated the moral minority and gave them divisions they felt comfortable competing in. A ginger-free zone, if you will. But they didn’t abolish it, by any means. Ginger still runs rampantly around their arena’s, as it does in ours. And they didn’t install testing, so policing the practice is completely absent.

    It’s the honor system, all over again. A stop-gap measure, at best. All they’re doing is buying time. But that’s a dangerous strategy. It gives the other side time to regroup over a new cause, a new injustice, a new abuse.

    Even with one foot in the other shoe (you did notice I switched sides earlier, didn’t you?), I just can’t bring myself to condem a horse trainer for assessing the competiton and determining that a little dab of ginger might just help his client climb another rung up the ribbon tree.

    It’s just not in my nature. But I’m pro-horse, pro-show, which makes me a big fan of freedom in the show ring, hence incapable of rational thought.

    Or so I’ve been told.

    Mr Bill
    PlayMor Farm

    I’m keeping your shoe. Might need it later.

  34. RaeOfLight says:

    I think a differentiating factor when it comes to ginger is that all the other devices and methods mentioned so far serve a purpose. Ginger is purely aesthetic and therefore disposable without affecting performance.

  35. empressive says:

    This is most interesting. Everyone makes sounds arguements and you are all doing a great job.

    As I am to understand this though is that “if people want something they will get it.” We live to break the rules.

    Hmm, I think I’ll keep my shoes on and particularly away from my mouth area. But I digress, so many people “down” on the show world and many are rather inconspicuously adept at being hypocritical.

    As far as gingering goes, the entire horse system is different from our own. I’d kill myself if I tried to take enough IBProfen to knock a horse out. I’d be O.D. So in no way is comparing “ginger” on a person equivalent of ginger to a horse. For all we know it actually feels good to the horse and the tail is up because of the “tingling” sensation.

    Shucks I pulled a leg muscle and used some horse “stuff” on myself. It sure packed a punch and my leg did feel better and the “stuff” lasted A LONG TIME. IceyHot had nothing on horse products.

    Cutting a tail is like a deviated septum to the human nose. I got mine done the beginning of last year. I lived, breath better, ate good chicken soup, and never had a single bruise. Although all the indoor rest caused me to look like a zombie.

    Shoe’s for shoeing? Check out my 5″ stilleto’s. I walk over a mile on Monday’s at my college going back and forth across campus for 4 classes. This doesn’t include my lunch break or walking to the care which is in the N. 40 as I am afraid of the teeny parking spaces with my big SUV.

    Oh and talk to me about small stalls again. Try constant hours in front of the computer trying to finish work in a small cubicle.

    As for training tactics… well. We should probably not even be riding horses period. So we do. I understand the line in sand bit. How far is too far and in that respect I believe that… each to his own. It is exactly that.

    We have sports on steroids and all kinds of insane techniques for our boxers, fighters, and ballers. I laugh at all the monkey antics our astronauts have to go through.

    LOL Maybe it’s like that starburst commercial on “contradictions”.

    As much as I try to get away from kids and families…. Here I go.

    It’s like raising a kid. Once they hit the “world” their choices are their own. They get to decide. Sometimes they dissapoint their parents, family, and friends. Sometimes trainers will dissapoint their clients and colleagues.

    I know I have dissapointed people. My parents are dissapointed and elated. We go back and forth. :) but every time they are there for me. Pick me up, dust me off, or just for a reminder.

    Maybe gingering and other training “devices” are not the best, maybe they’re necessary evils or what not. So’s the work we consider our everday jobs.

    I mean really. Do all horses like jumping? It’s hard on their joints, they have terrible accidents. Their mouthes are shut tight. Some of the practices used to make a horse jump higher or bring their legs to curl are truly horrendous.

    Dressage? Terrible discipline! Rollkur, among others things.

    Eventing? Extremely dangerous for horse and rider plus it’s not a natural thing for horses to do, placing them in dangerous situations and forcing them to go through with no other alternatives.

    Sorry Bill, but you are not the only one plagued with irrational thoughts.

    Anyone heard of Steeplechasing? Ouch.

    Trail riding is no cake walk either. What horse walk, runs, or trots, for hours on end? Without eating? Cruelty I tell you! Thats got to be one of the meanest things ever if I think about it. You never know what 300 lb sap is going to get on next or what little sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, friend is going to yank your mouth till you bleed.

    Please give the horse a professional and boxed stall for crying out loud.

    Hmm, I think I am starting to understand where PETA comes in now.

    So FOM is this. It’s all terrible what we do with horses. There is no way around it. So please hold the hypocrisy. Not only do I not like it on my plate, but someone may end up with my thumb in their eye as I try to get the stick out of it.

    This is far more longer than what I would have appreciated. I appluad anyone how reads this and YES I did enjoy everyone’s posts.

    Oh and I am not a PETA lover, I like showing my morgans, prefer the Park classes or English classes in general. Think that jumping is the bomb and my fav is the Polish stallion Winner. I like all the western working disciplines, especially watching! And someday hope to get a judging license. Not than anyone wants ME judging their horse.

  36. Chris Nerland says:

    Rae’s comment drove right to the heart of my position: all the other potentially “abusive” acts Bill lists are being used to advance the training/ usefulness of the horse. Like many things, overdoing is what ultimately constitutes abuse. Should you lunge a yearling for hours on end? Not if you want any joints left by age 5. Compared to 3 day eventers and steeplechasers, show horses are the most blessed of all horses. No one asks them to jump off a blind bank into a “coffin” and scramble out again. The eventer’s response to criticism is that the rider takes the same risks as the horse. Hmmmm(maybe we can make a rule that if you use ginger on your horse, you have to apply an equivalent to your posterior–hot sauce, anyone? :-))
    I saw Val’s Terry in 1979 at the Grand National. He was amazing. He dominated the ring. That horse didn’t Need A Dab of ginger.

  37. PlayMorBill says:

    You guys are so good.

    Rae brings up the very core it when she says:

    “Ginger is purely aesthetic and therefore disposable without affecting performance.”

    This sounds like a fact, but it’s not. It sounds so common sense that it’s easy to blow right by the hole in the argument. Beauty, first, foremost, and last, is what a horse show is all about.

    Beauty IS the performance.

    Mr Bill

  38. RaeOfLight says:

    I disagree Bill. One thing that gets said multiple times in Judge’s School is “you’re not picking the horse you want to take home (ie, the one you consider “beautiful”), you’re picking the horse that WON THE CLASS”. You pick the horse that did it’s job and performed based on the class specs. Beauty does not appear in any class specs.

    And beauty in and of itself is sooooo in the eye of the beholder. Ridiculously long tails, for instance, bother me. I don’t see them as beautiful, I see them obnoxious and getting in the way. I’m a practical girl.

  39. Chris Nerland says:

    Wow, Rae!! Game, Set and Match! :-)

  40. morapplespls says:

    Great response Rae! The long tail issue could go on forever as well, as I never understood what the heck a western or hunter horse would be doing in the real world with a tail that drags the ground, getting hung up in brush, water, weeds, cows, etc….maybe the problem is that showing has in fact become a beauty pagent. Maybe there should be a show for horses who reflect actual usage and a show for horses that are for “Beauty”…..but is that what the Hazelwood issue is about? Sorry I am out of the loop!

  41. RaeOfLight says:

    Just to be clear, I’m not necessarily taking a stance on the ginger issue. I’m just poking holes in the foundation of Bills argument, not his conclusions.

    As I think about it more, I actually think you’ve got the order swapped Bill. The performance, when done well, IS beautiful. But beauty is not the basis of the performance.

  42. Chris Nerland says:

    Well, we have all probably chewed over this bone of contention enough. I want to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed discussing and posting arguments in response to intelligent, thoughtful people. There seems to be an inverse rule of blogging in general that the farther you get from the start of the thread, the more off-topic and personal the comments get. I am proud to be part of a blog that defies that rule.
    C’mon, Rae! What new can of worms is in your can opener?

  43. snerland says:

    Wow! I have been gone for several days and come back to read this blog. I am pleased with the support of no ginger; I would like to have it become once again a banned substance. However, this blog shows the divide between us show people, i.e. those who show for the true joy of showing, and those who must win to place bread on the table. I have been in both camps and empathize; however, we must stick together and focus on the suit which lies before us. Do not give these people any more ammunition. Let’s move on, shall we?

  44. jns767 says:

    Great post, I read the entire thing and feel enlightened! I found my self just flip flopping all over the place on this one. What intelligent well spoken people we have in our breed! :)

  45. PlayMorBill says:

    Shooting back at Rae, ’cause she’s cute, and it’s fun:

    40% of every qualifying performance class in a Morgan horse show is judged on Beauty. You forgot to read an entire section. Further still, and rare among show breeds, a whopping 50% of the the Championships are determined by Type and Conformation. Beauty.

    That’s why we take their saddles off in the stakes.

    During the strip, most judges are simply checking for extremely low backs. Their card is pretty much done. They’ve made their choices on the rail. But as they walk the line, they are also making sure they haven’t messed up their card by putting a Beautiful Morgan to far down for the mistake they made on the rail. They’re also checking to see if they’ve put an ugly one to high. It’s always a balancing act (at Nationals, it’s much more like juggling).

    It’s hard work. We wear them out.

    Since the ’50′s, when horse shows began their race to popularity, Morgan Breeders have instisted that Type and Correct Conformation be part & parcel of the judging standards. The 50% line came when fear of the “Saddlebredization” of Morgans was at its peak.

    Pissed me off, at the time. But thats when I was training pelts. Left me me with little hope of nabbing a top ribbon at the big shows wth my fat necked, dog eared, goose-rumped three year old(s), even if they could trot a lick and (almost) set their heads.

    Yes, we modernized the standards. Yes, we modernized the breed. We took control and brought the Morgan into the 20th century.

    The problem we have today is that we were successful.

    Mr Bill
    PlayMor Farm

  46. Chris Nerland says:

    oh god, I hope we are not going to start a thread on conformation vs. beauty. It would be interesting, but exhausting. Conformation is NOT the same as beauty, but is somewhat related. Conformation/type is a breed’s agreed-upon ideal standard. It is diagrammed, drawn and published for the benefit of breeders and judges. It is as close as we can get to an Objective Standard (although I think the Warmbloods probably do a better job). Beauty is a Subjective ideal carried within each of us. To show how mistakenly a subjective beauty standard, when improperly applied by judges, can carry us, just remember Rhythm Nation. He was a “beautiful” horse, but just holding him up to the template of Morgan conformation/type set alarm bells ringing. He didn’t look like a Morgan, everybody knew it, and the whole DNA debacle just confirmed it. He was exciting, he was athletic, and if the judges in his career had properly applied the Morgan standard , he would not have become a World Champion. If he hadn’t been crowned WC, he probably would have been out there cheerfully siring babies, whose non-Morgan character would be slowly submerging in the gene pool by now. Just a cautionary tale of the dangers of rubbing people’s noses in one’s Subjective standard of beauty. BTW, Bill, What is “training a pelt”?

  47. PlayMorBill says:

    And therin lies the great divide. Because what we do is take the ideal standard, and run with it. That’s how we’ve come up with Mizrahi and Born To Boogie. The best of both worlds, combined. FOR ME, they’re the ideal in both Type and Conformation. They take the standard, to perfection. Well, at least they nudge it pretty good.

    In a word, they’re Beautiful. But I’m biased: They’re two of the three coolest horses I’ve ever had the pleasure to lead.

    Pelt: Slang. Used in barns. An off-type, il-conformed and/or lackadaisical horse. From the thought: “This thing can barely carry his own hide.” See: Cull

    Mr B.

  48. StacyGRS says:

    Pelt: Slang. Used in barns. An off-type, il-conformed and/or lackadaisical horse. From the thought: “This thing can barely carry his own hide.” See: Cull

    lolololooloololololol…………………………………..humorous statement of the day. Thank you.
    Stacy

  49. RaeOfLight says:

    I think you can take the term beauty and divide it into 2 categories.

    1) The spirit of a horse, the beauty they exude when you turn one loose after a few days in a stall. A horse doesn’t need to be conformationally correct to exhibit this type of beauty. This is what the use of ginger is trying to recapture.

    2) A correctly put together horse is also a beautiful thing. This is the 40-50% that judges are asked to evaluate.

  50. mikado12 says:

    Since we’re talking tails here, has anybody mentioned those Dolly Parton-esque wigs hanging off the back ends of some of our saddlebred friends? I know there has been talk of letting morgans use wigs. For all in the name that is holy…why???

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