Cruel Modifications to Correct Horse Tail Positions
 By Winniefield Park   •   18th Jul 2014   •   3,660 views   •   2 comments
A New Flame

Soaring, rollkur and rapping are considered abusive training methods by many people, but there are other practices that don’t get as much attention, because the methods give results that are not as obvious, especially to the non-horse person. Many of these methods are used on show horses in pursuit of the ideal performance or look. Here’s a look at a few not so obvious practices that are still in use.

Horse’s tails are very useful for swatting away flies and other biting insects. Horses also use their tails to express their reactions, and the tail being the end of the spine, is used to help the horse balance. Using the tail to help re-balance is often seen on dressage horses, when they give a single swish during transitions, or changing directions. This swish used to be regarded as an indication of resistance, but judges may be less likely to penalize the horse if they see that it is re-balancing itself. There are times when a tail swish is not tolerated at all.

In the Quarter Horse and other western show horse worlds, one of the signs of obedience and quietness is a still tail that lies flat along the haunches. To attain perfect stillness, muscles alongside the tail head were severed surgically, but this practice was banned. Then, chemical nerve blocks were injected, but this too was banned. Injections may still be surreptitiously performed despite the risk of getting caught.

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In the saddle horse ring, high tail set is desirable, and again, surgically cutting certain muscles beneath the tail is one way to attain this. After the surgery, the tail is set in a brace so that the muscles don’t reattach, and the surrounding muscles stretch. When the tail is not in the tail set, most claim the horse can still use its tail normally. In the ring, fake extensions are added to attain the desired high, plumed tail carriage.

High tail carriage is also desirable in Arabian horse show rings, but surgical practices to achieve the look were banned. Another practice, called ‘gingering’, was also banned, but may still continue because it is harder to detect. Gingering involves inserting a substance that creates a burning sensation, such as a piece of peeled ginger into the horse’s rectum. The discomfort causes the horse to carry its tail higher than normal.

Head and neck set is also an important consideration in the show ring. In order to achieve the desired result, unscrupulous western trainers may resort to abusive shortcuts. In western pleasure classes, the head-down ‘peanut rolling’ look is favored, and this may be achieved by tying the horse’s head up so that the muscles are so fatigued it must carry its head down when traveling.

Even though the AQHA has made rules stipulating that a horse must travel with an even top-line and horses are often asked for a ‘extended jog’ which makes the horse travel more head-up, the practice of tying high continues. AQHA is also very specific about what type of tack can and cannot be used. While that’s a step in the right direction for protecting horses, it’s a shame that we need those rules in the first place.
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Dark Star  
I know of a horse that got so exhausted from being tied high for too long, he collapsed and choked to death. A real expensive show horse that resulted in the trainer being banned from AQHA for 10 years.
  20 days ago  •  3,596 views
Winniefield Park  
Things like that make really sad stories. Just makes you shake your head.
  7 days ago  •  3,377 views
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