Why confused people shouldn’t “train” horses

(And here I’m using the word “train” in the sense that each and every time you work with a horse, you’re training it.)

More Photo & Video available at

Extremely FLASHY & Eye Catching gelding.  Handsome, tall and lengthy boy with PRESENCE!  Lots of leg.  Beautiful mover with natural flowing strides. Very comfortable ride.

Well trained hunter with previous Show experience!  Eager to please and LOVES to work!  Knows lead changes, moves off leg easily.  Will take a rider to the top! Always collected and with his beautiful strides would make a great Dressage prospect.  Could also go Western Pleasure easily, already demonstrates a beautiful slow collected trot & canter for it!  May be a good addition to a lesson program for Intermediate to Advanced riders interested in showing.

Magnificent gelding, Loves attention and has a level head with a cute affectionate little boy personality.  Will always greet you at the gate. Very sweet & curious! Great head on his shoulders.

DOUBLE Registered with HAHR and NSHR.  Great bloodlines! Saddlebred/Arab cross.  Sire is Dream Quest, multi Champion & Dam is proven producer of Show winners.

Needs a home where he has a job and is worked on a regular basis. 

Special consideration for Show home!”

There seems to be some confusion here.  I have NO CLUE what the lunger is trying to achieve with the lungee.  Are those side reins? Draw reins? Long lines? or some perversion of some other training tool?  Because to me, and believe me I stared at these photos and videos for quite some time, it looks like the two lines are on either side of the horse, hooked to the surcingle, looped through the bit and then looped through an upper link on the surcingle, bringing the line back to the lunger.  Effectively creating some sort of lunging draw reins.


First off, when using draw reins while riding, you don’t ride off the damn draw reins, they’re secondary to the reins.  They’re a training tool to back up your aids when asking your horse to move forward and remain light on the bit.  Typically, draw reins are used under saddle and side reins are used for lunging.  And yet, these aren’t draw reins and they definitely are not side reins!  Side reins are a set length to provide a (for lack of a better word) wall for your horse to hit – the more your horse pulls the more he creates his own bit pressure, and then when he yields, so do the side reins.  They can be a great tool to help your horse engage his topline muscles when not being worked under saddle, provided you’re using them properly.  But this is not what we’re seeing here.  (For a good overview on the proper usage and purpose of draw and side reins, check out this article on

The next option is some type of long line.  There are a few different purposes of long lining; ranging from starting a horse to working on collection.  Yeah… I don’t see that here either.

Would you like to know why, in my opinion, what the lunger is doing is fundamentally wrong?  They’re holding that inside “rein” taught, and yet it is impossible for them to give the horse a steady contact.  THAT’S WRONG!  When riding, you want your elbow to be elastic, to move with the horse, in order to provide steady communication through contact.  I have no idea what the lunger is attempting to communicate but it sure ain’t steady or elastic!  And why is that horse’s nose pulled to his chest? Some sort of lunging rollkur?  That can’t be right, the horse isn’t tracking up at all,indicating the horse isn’t generating energy from behind (impulsion) nor using its back muscles (topline) properly.  Bad, bad and more bad!

In a recent study published on scientists are questioning the physiological harm purportedly done by rollkur.  That’s all well and good.  It may be that hyperflexion, when done for short periods of time (3 second rule!) is beneficial.  But there’s um, one key difference between achieving rollkur and what this person is doing – rollkur has the leg and body cues of the rider to back it up, whatever this is doesn’t!

And the biggest concern of all?  Aside from not knowing what the hell they’re trying to accomplish?  SAFETY!!!  What happens if that horse spooks or trips?  Somehow gets away from the lunger?  It may not be as bad as lunging with draw reins, but it sure ain’t foolproof!  Which, given who’s lunging the horse, it may just need to be.  Oh, I’m sorry.  Did I just go too far?

PS.  You need more than a slow canter for western pleasure… even I know that! 😉


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Posted on March 28, 2012, in Bad Horse Ads, Misc Horsies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. I just want to buy that horse so it never has to hold its head in that position again. Ugh.

    • That’s exactly my thoughts! The horse looks like it could be a good horse, if he could use his head and neck correctly.

  2. These pictures make me shudder. If that poor horse trips, there’s no way he can recover, since he can’t use his neck for balance. That’s a wreck waiting to happen, right there!

  3. I wonder where they got the idea from- could it have been this:

  4. It’s a bitting rig, actually. Being used incorrectly…the top set of reins should be attached to the top of the surcingle, not the sides like that.

    Additionally, bitting rigs should always be used with stretch reins (like side reins) and this one is way, way too tight.

    Bitting rigs should be used only for short periods of time…they CAN be beneficial if you have a horse with a weak back who can’t develop it properly under a rider. This forum thread shows a bitting rig like arrangement being used correctly…note that it is not so tight the horse can’t move, and that the lunge line isn’t being threaded through the rig: (You’ll have to scroll down a bit to see it). Actually, looking again, I see two lunge lines so maybe they think they’re ground driving?

    I don’t really like bitting rigs, but don’t have a huge issue with them if they are being used correctly, for short periods, by somebody who knows what they are doing.

  5. I see a lot of western trainers do that – it is a short cut to get the horse to back off (go behind) the bit. There are other shortcuts later.
    The ad indicates that the person is clueless, without the pics.
    How is a horse that is ‘always collected’ called a competitive hunter?
    And how does a horse with WP gaits compete in the hunter ring?
    And how does this hunter compete in Dressage?
    This person has no idea what the requirements of different sports are or that a young horse cannot master them all.
    I could go on and on but I see this crap at my barn every day.

  6. Watching just one video was torture! Def. not teaching the horse anything good. All I could focus on was his poor mouth. You could tell he isn’t comfortable!!! 😦

  7. Ohhhhh God! Quick, Blind me now, I don’t want to see any more!
    I have an idea that whom ever set this longe rig up once saw a Gaited Saddlebred being trained in longlines using a bitting rig that had a bearing rein attachment. Perhaps it was used to get a green horse to get use to a bearing rein before it was used on an actual hitch, as is a smart practice. The bridle looks like a fine harness bridle complete with all the attachments needed to “set” a “Pleasure Driving” horse’s head. Now the side reins that are being used are fixed via snaps. WHO was the Genius that thought this was a good idea????? The entire purpose of that configuration is that is done with a LIGHT 3 link snaffle and it is a Running Rein. Think of a very soft nylon loop that is barely making contact when the horse is just flexed to the inside. The horse can move it around and find where it is most comfortable for him, it picks it’s OWN release point, either higher or lower depending on where it needs it’s ballance to be. This is a case of someone with Epic FAIL on understanding the underlying principals of any of the training equipment or methods used.
    Razors in an Orangutans hands.

  8. I hate to use stereotypes, but this type of lunging rig is really common in the Arab/Saddlebred world. I lightly showed an NSH mare, and I would see this at shows all the time. You are correct that it is their version of the rollkur concept.. they basically lunge the horse with its nose strapped to its chest, so when it goes in the ring it keeps its head down.

  9. Donovan, Yup I’ve seen this at a high end Saddlebred barn as well but again the sidereins were not fixed, they were a loop, a running rein. The horse must be able to find a release. Pressure does not train a horse, the Release of the pressure does. This is basic operant conditioning. Think of Maslow, Harlow, Skinner even Sigmund. Constant pressure does not cause change, the release of that pressure will cause a change in behavior.

  10. Good. Lord. Almighty.

    I want to be this person’s Sassy Gay Friend and run up to them and say WHAT are you doing??? WHAT WHAT WHAT are you doing?

    Here are all the FAILs I see:
    1) Hunter? In … what universe? I guess the NSH universe. Just like AQHA HUS. I HATE breed shows.

    2) That horse is SKINNY, or else seriously messed up in the back. Look at his poor spinal column protruding.

    3) Draw Reins/Side Reins MAY have a use. I’m beginning to think that they really DON’T, especially since 97% of the people who use them… abuse them. You either get the horse behind the bit (which is considered “correct” in saddleseat/”saddle type” breeds, I know, and also in a lot of dressage circles, and it passes for “lightness” in reining), or you train a horse to PULL like a truck, and then you “fix” it with some godawful misbegotten bit. I don’t care HOW you use them (and here they’re used in a most horrifying configuration), they’re indicative of ignorant training practices. I don’t care HOW MANY professional trainers use them, how many National Champions are trained that way, blah blah – doesn’t make it right.

    4) OVERBENT. OVERBENT. OVERBENT. does NOT equal “collection.” The irony here is that I’m sure they think they’re teaching “lightness,” and “collection,” while instead they’ve got a horse who’s gonna be weird about bits and HEAVY on the forehand.

    5) Arab, Saddlebred and NSH Western Pleasure has gotten as horribly and incorrectly stylized as stock breed WP. Except in Arabs etc. you get those snaky weird necks with the horse overbent, as if he’s looking over bifocals trying to find something on the ground.

    6) This horse is going to require a lot of chiro work (if he’s lucky).

  11. Did anyone see this pic of the rider/owner?

    Now I can understand shorts.. but WOW 0.o not what I want to see when looking at pics of a horse for sale.
    and despite what the ad says, that poor horse has no muscle tone at all..
    So not only are they torturing the horse, and doing things to confuse the horse, they have him wrapped up like a christmas present (probably to hide some flaw on his legs), but the pictures they chose show how clueless they are and how badly they have trained this horse.
    And do you think he has enough gear on his head?

  12. Very common to see in the warm up pen at Arabian shows.

  13. These pictures show, to me, a poorly fitted horse who’s fairly forgiving and patient being mucked about with by someone who has no clue. The weak back muscles tell the whole story. If he’s got one thing going for him, it seems to be that he puts up with it all.

  14. Okay, horrible lunging practice aside, the article also concerns me when they’re talking about this horse’s potential. If it’s a “well trained hunter with previous show experience” that “will take a rider to the top,” then why the heck are they suggesting that he could also be trained to compete in dressage and/or in western pleasure? Western pleasure, okay, sure, in the Arab-world sense of the discipline I could see it if he’s already a hunter, but dressage? Really? Hunters and dressage horses are asked to move in completely different ways!

  15. Oh, someone please feed that horse.

    Also, how is it that every horse that can w/t/c is automatically a dressage prospect? Congratulations, your horse wasn’t born so brain damaged that it doesn’t know where to put it’s feet! You should try dressage!

  16. That horse is in poor condition – its coat is dull and “staring”, in a season when it should be as shiny and glossy as an apple. And it is tucked up like a racing-fit standardbred, altho’ it is very weedy and lacking muscle; a horse that is really using itself develops great depth through the flanks, its core, as is evident in photos of top dressage horses. This poor creature looks like those skinny, hollow-gutted horses in third world countries pulling overloaded carts or staggering under the weight of obese tourists.
    As for the rider’s outfit – ludicrous! Tho’ it does go well with the gawdawful rig on the horse.
    Lady, get off that horse – go put on a pair of breeches, a long-sleeved shirt and gloves. And then take all that junk off your poor horse. And while you’re at it, shovel all the crappy training junk out of your brain – U r doin it sooooo wrong!

  17. We have a bitting rig, but we don’t use it like that!

    I don’t tie my horse’s head to it at all, actually. I use it to help get babies used to the girth before they begin to deal with a saddle. Then while I am ground driving, I thread my lunge leads through the hoops so that they don’t drag on the ground and get stepped on, or muddy.

    My guess is that these people are using this thing to keep the horse’s head in that horrible position. It’s a shame, coz he’s really cute and he does look like he has nice movement, but with his head tucked in like that he looks ridiculous, poor thing =(

    Apparently these people have never learnt how to correctly train, or feed, for that matter!

  18. The person is long lining this horse. She has created a draw rein with her long lines. This is a very common practice.

    The horse is way over flexed and therefor avoiding the bit and not using his/her back end correctly. This horse needs to get his/her hind end up underneath itself to work correctly.

    Long lining is a great tool but there are many people out there that don’t do it correctly. When done properly it’s a great thing. 😀

  19. I am truly appalled by the condition of that horse AND by the freaking clueless use of the bitting rig. As someone said above, monkeys with razor blades. Stupid b*tch. And if this really is common practice in the Arab/NSH world, they disgust me even more than they already do! Even with all the crap off of him you can see where his neck is “broken” in the wrong place.

    Also, that horse has got to be the leggiest darn horse I’ve ever seen. He looks like a short-necked bay giraffe, poor dear. A hunter/WP/dressage prospect? Only in the breed show world… and some deluded idiot’s dreams.

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