JBK Festival- Torture, Like In The Dark Ages- Anything Goes In The Equestrian Sport?

*Note, December 2015; Anyone who feels the need to defend horses that leave the showring bleeding, please don’t bother to comment. I find no need to listen to anyone who support turning equestrian sport into a blood sport. Also, thanks to everyone who have taken this matter seriously over the years. And at last, this is an old post, I no longer reply to comments, I believe that everything that I had to say on the matter, is written quite clearly in the post. I believe too, that the Danish Equestrian Federation and the FEI have spoken. FEI allows blood in the sport, and DRF has changed their “no blood rule” by now, to match FEI’s rules, so blood it officially allowed in the showring and at the warm up. I guess that all that is left to say now, is that it must be up to your own integrity as a human being, whether you support FEI or the animals caught in the sport. I, for one, will never accept that it can be okay to make any animal bleed in the name of any sport. 

It’s been two days now, since I sent my pictures from the JBK Festival to DRF (Danish Equestrian Federation) and FEI. I have had no answer so far. Maybe they are busy. Maybe they are hoping that if they ignore me, I will go away. Maybe they don’t know what to answer me. Maybe I go straight to their spam file these days…

I do know that I have emailed with DRF before, about the vaccination rules amongst other things, and they have never before failed to give me a snotty reply within 24 hours. Mostly something along the lines of “Shut up and follow the rules, or don’t leave home with your horse…” So no, I never gave much for their diplomacy skills, but then again, I am sure they say the same about me. The point is though, I have never experienced that it has taken them this long to answer me before.

I just can’t wait forever with these pictures.

As we were shooting in the show ring, my friend, who has a huge zoom, lowered her camera and said, “That horse bled from the nose,” as we watched it ride out. I couldn’t tell, the distance was too great and judging from the people who received the horse in the exit, they didn’t look surprised, or horrified, and they didn’t quickly wipe the horse’s nose off… and the judges didn’t call over the loud speaker that said horse had been disqualified.

I let it slide, not sure of what my friend had seen through her camera, and she didn’t press the matter.

Then, once we got home, and looked through our pictures, I was astounded.

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(The picture is unedited in the drop dox, link below. Name 5827. I cut it out here, nothing else. See also picture number 5829, 5830, and 5831.)

That is a LOT of blood, appearing in a matter of seconds. We have quite a few pictures of the horse before the bleeding began, so we know just about when and where in the show ring, it did. That’s not a small bleeding.

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(Same rider, earlier in the show ring. It was not bleeding when it entered the ring.)

That said, the rider is maybe blameless. Perhaps he didn’t notice, in the heat of the battle. I am not out to get him. But I have to ask DRF and FEI why he was not disqualified. Does our blood rule not apply to nose bleeds? Must you kick holes in the sides of your horses, with your spurs, for the blood rule to kick in? We checked the ranking online that night. Said rider ended up as number 24 in his class.

So, DRF and FEI, how can that be?

The next thing that really caught my eye, was the equipment used. Not only in the warm up, but in the show ring as well. If I thought dressage was bad, welcome to a world where torture is not only legal, it is clearly expected.

I mean, what is this? Spikes?

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(Uncropped picture in dropbox, link below. Name 6392. See also picture number 6394, how innocent it looks from the out side.)

And this? A homemade leather thing, with something that looks like a brush on the inside?

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(Uncropped picture in dropbox, link below. “New folder” “Ny Mappe” name 7468. See also picture number 7470, how well hidden it is from the outside.)

I asked FEI and DRF if they have a list of allowed equipment, or if anything goes? I would love to see that list, if such exists, because I saw a lot of things I still can’t wrap my mind around, but the stewards didn’t address it, so one must assume that it was legal. Or that they didn’t see it. Which is why I would love to have an official list of allowed equipment, so I could report anything off it to the stewards.

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Note the horse in the upper corner, photobombing the picture. What is it wearing? A gag bit and… one of those thingies used on the race track to tie the tongue down? Are my eyes deceiving me?

So please, DRF and FEI, for the sake of our horses, can the audience please be told what to report and what is legalized abuse?

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Then there was the draw rein. I am a bit surprised that it is allowed to warm up with a draw rein in jumping. It is not in dressage. Why do the jumpers need it? Are we trying to inflict as much pain on our horses as humanly possible?

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Gag bits, pole bits, hackamores, chains, spikes, martingales, draw reins. Wow. Torture like in the dark ages. It is legal in the equestrian world. And clearly we no longer draw the line at a bloody nose anymore either.

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I am astounded. I cannot wrap my mind around HOW they make their horses jump THAT HIGH while inflicting THAT MUCH pain on then. If what I saw at the warm up was bad, imagine the amount of force it must have taken at home, behind closed doors, to teach the horse to ignore the double bit, and the draw rein, and jump despite the pain it knows it will cause. Imagine how horses who jump off against such violence are trained.

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I know that my horses get upset if I don’t manage to release the rein enough across the obstacles. I know that if I did it repeatedly, or if I forced their heads down and in, with a draw rein and a gag bit, they would quickly lose courage and refuse to jump. I know that if I should force my horse to jump anyway, I would have to have someone on the ground with a whip, beat it for me, anytime it refused. One would have to make it fear refusing more than it fears the pain it will receive for jumping.

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So, teaching our horses to endure pain, is that what we want, FEI and DRF? And IS it legal to JUMP in a draw rein, even on the warm up? If it is, WHY?

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These are well trained, billion dollar horses, these are supposedly the best riders in the world, why do they need this amount of force? Why do we allow it?

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And lastly, where do we draw the line for barring these days?

I saw a lot of riders do this, move the bar onto the side of the holder, making it easier to tear down and making it harder for the horse to see the obstacle. I saw them deliberately move the poles so they were not in line with each other, once again making it harder for the horse to see. I even saw one of them lower the back edge of a wide obstacle, so it came below the front edge. But only on the one side. Is that what we allow as acceptable barring?

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I realize that it is hardly abuse compared to the equipment used on the poor horses, but still. Do we have rules against barring or don’t we? And there can be no question about why the riders do it.

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It is all about giving the horse a good fright before it enters the show ring. Make it touch the obstacles, scare it, so it won’t do it again when it counts.

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So all in all, what we saw at this wonderful FEI event was abused, scared, tortured and even one bleeding, animals.

We were even told off by two of the riders, this girl amongst them. She didn’t want us to take pictures of her. Quite understandable. When I pointed out that her horse had its tongue out constantly, she replied by saying that “It always does that!”

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Which is no excuse at all. It does? Well then, fix it. My horse shakes his head all the time, I am working on fixing it and I don’t mind if people take pictures of him. I got it covered. But using the “It has always done that” excuse is just unacceptable. You know what, my Legacy was lame on three legs when I got him, and his previous owner had used that excuse as well. “He has always walked like that.”

Well, okay, so he has always been lame then. Fix it. Or don’t ride the horse. Admit that there is a problem, then we can talk. If she had ridden up to me and had said, “Look, I know it looks horrible, I am mortified that I have not yet been able to figure out why my horse is sticking his tongue out, and I would very much appreciate it if you guys wouldn’t make a big deal out of it,” I wouldn’t have. Because then she would have known that there was a problem and thus, she might be able to fix it someday. But as long as you hide behind “It’s always done that,” I will not look away. That is just not good enough.

And by the way, is a horse allowed, FEI and DRF, to stick its tongue out like that, in jumping? Anything goes, really? Even this color?

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I would like an answer for my questions. I am not above sending my pictures to the media. Maybe you will answer them, if not me.

I would like to know,

1) How much barring is legal?

2) How much equipment is legal?

3) Is it legal, jumping in a draw rein and if it is, why?

4) Why the horse that was bleeding as it left the show ring, was not disqualified?

Is this truly how we want our sport? Is this truly how we want to treat our horses?

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Let me end with showing a few pictures of one of the few who could ride. Note the difference in how his horse is allowed to stretch forward in its neck, and use its body across the obstacle. Riders like this guy, saved my weekend. Sadly, there weren’t many of them.

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The difference is subtle, I know.

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And even when you tried to take a nice picture, of Søren (below), without the draw rein, some SOB would just show up in the back ground, totally photo bombing my shot…

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Really, don’t get me started on the roll kur we witnessed this weekend. It was beyond my wildest imagination.

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Here is a little link to our drop box, containing a few of our pictures. They don’t fit in, all 4000… not enough space. *Note December 2015, the Dropbox is no longer working, but contact me, if you want to see the original pictures. 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bw68xxb9y4eieri/AAD6GF85YyG-WViK9EbRnHDna

Still, if anyone is looking for something or someone special, let me know. You never know what the camera might have picked up. It was very hard to get a good picture though.

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About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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133 Responses to JBK Festival- Torture, Like In The Dark Ages- Anything Goes In The Equestrian Sport?

  1. vibeke heydenreich says:

    Just a thank you from me. For doing what you are doing.

    • Starstone says:

      thank you for your support.

      • Sara Beckman says:

        You are wellcome to show the pics of the toyhorses my son made to illustrate how we treat horses today and during history. i thjink they illustrate what we do soo well, and most impressive they were made by a 14yr old whos mum was taught by “old school ridingteachers” and who is a great fan of Dadde Nätterquist.
        Please all go to the homepage of late olympic jumpingrider Dag “Dadde” Nätterkqvist and his correspondence with the Swedish Agricultural Board (SJV) on hard hands and rollkür and other modern “aids”

      • Starstone says:

        Oh yeah, Hi, I haven’t got around to that yet 🙂 Do you want me to show them in a sepperate post? I don’t think I can add them to your comment… 🙂

      • Sara Beckman says:

        You are wellcome to. I think it’s an interesting observation by a 14yr old. He made them in 2013. after having visited the Euro Horse and also having seen some of the dressageand jumping classes at GothenburgHorse Show plus having had a “backstage tour” of the GHS where he among other things saw the preparation ring during the warmup for the FEI dressage (the horses we saw all were “prepared” w roll-kur).
        Ps You don’t have to mention but he has Asperger syndrome with VERY high intelligence in some fields. This may be the reason why his so clear can see the “direction” in horsetraining and put it in a simple blunt way that everyone can understand. Donät think he understood while he made them they would be so illustrative .:-) and pinpoint where we are going. That was not his intention at all (he has very little abliity to see what his actions will cause). He was just summarizing what he had learnt befoer and what he had seen in the stands for sale.

  2. Line says:

    Thank you for your always untirable courage to speak up for the horses and point out the shameful training methods among horse people. Thank you for being on the spot with your camera. Horrible, horrible, horrible pictures

  3. Caroline says:

    The bit burr with bristles to help turning is legal and can be bought in any tack shop. I’ve seen them in shops for as long as I can remember.

  4. Sensibly_Common says:

    I don’t know about the DRF, but the “blood rule” in FEI was only adopted for dressage. I wonder if that horse is a bleeder. He’s in one of the nicer bits I’ve seen in these photos.

    The “homemade leather thing” is not homemade. It’s the same as the thing that looks like a bit guard with spikes, just a different flavor. They’re called bit burrs. The spikey one is particularly nasty, IMHO.

    Not sure about FEI, but draw reins in the USEF shows are completely legal in show jumping, even in the show ring, though thankfully you don’t see too many people doing so.

    I do have to say though, if you think raising the bar to the edge of the jump is poling, you have fortunately never witnessed real poling. Seeing a AA hunter/jumper trainer on the backside of a jump with two twelve foot bamboo poles held in his hands and swung like a baseball bat into a horse’s knees mid jump is disturbingly hard to ever forget.

    • Starstone says:

      Ah, so its only dressage horses who must not bleed?
      This bleeding has nothing to do with the bit, it comes from the nose.
      And no, its not exactly poling, but its a shade, a mild shade yes, but still… I think it’s fair to ask FEI where we do draw the line these days…

      • Sensibly_Common says:

        “The Fédération Equestre Internationale General Assembly, held in Istanbul, approved a new “blood rule” for dressage on Nov. 8. ”

        The articles I found specifically say for dressage. If he’s a bleeder it comes from the lungs and then bleeds from their out the nose.

      • Starstone says:

        Still, I don’t really care why he is bleeding… I don’t think it should ever be allowed to ride a horse until its lungs bled, no matter the reason, and not get disqualified for it…

      • Sensibly_Common says:

        Bleeding is genetic. TB’s are really prone to it since lasix is now allowed. Breeder’s don’t care if they’re producing bleeders cause hey we can lasix them up and they’ll be fine. Very detrimental to a breed.

        I must stand corrected, I found the FEI rule book. There is a blood rule, page 27, section 3.1.

        http://www.fei.org/sites/default/files/JumpRules_25th_Ed_2014_clean.pdf

      • Starstone says:

        Thats right, well spottet 🙂 I would like to see them wipe that blood off though… so show jumpers are allowed to bleed once, but not twice… fantastic rule…

    • well said, someone with their facts mostly right.

    • Horrible_Techniques says:

      THAT is called rapping, and that is most definitely illegal in FEI Showjumping as I have just gone through the rules and found one that forbids that.

  5. javorics says:

    hey, I tought you might be interested in this video. it is in German, but if you google Jürgen Krakow and bosal you might get an english hit as well somewhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mj6UKAj3Vo

  6. gunn wester says:

    I care about the work that is done in this documentation.
    Thank you from me and my two horses. Both of them did some experiences of bad handeling before they came to me, and some after…but it has been a relief to follow the horses on a yourney away from violence and towards the founding of friendship. I care about respectful non violent handeling of all animals.

  7. Jane K. Kroken says:

    This is Just so BAD!!! SHAME on you people that do this with this fantastic horses 😦

  8. liascott says:

    Love the pics of the guy on the bay, with a simple sniffle and no gimmicks- reminds me of better days! Sad that it’s so rare now. I hear people talk about how much better off horses are now than in the past, but I’ve been doing this for over forty years, and I have to say that we have hit a real low point in horsemanship! Thanks for being among those holding a mirror up to the industry!

    • Starstone says:

      it is sad, isn’t it, that it is an industry now, rather than a sport or about the horse at all.. 😦

      • Okipoly says:

        Indeed,
        and the worst of al is that this all is started with people who knew what they were doing. But plees, go and see to places were children learn to ride. That is even worser. This horses run sometimes 4 ours a day (and I know a place that they run untill 8 hours a day.) With children on their back pulling to the right, and this horses are suffering so much and nobody cares about it. There are also good places. But they are difficult to find… I don’t say that this isn’t worse. I hate to see something like this. But I think it’s not animal love that is the point, the only thing that count is money. And only money. In all diciplines.
        Just a few of us think about the healt of the horses. But even put a horse in stables, get them out when they have to work and put them back in is something that has to change. But how do we have to start… That’s the question.

      • Starstone says:

        True, all of it.
        The school horses suffer greatly. I don’t know how to save them though, I have tried in my local area, and I’ve got in huge problems for it. And the police never wants to look into anything concerning animal abuse. I am really glad you brought that up, because I spent a big part of my book describing how I learned to ride and how the school horses were treated, and some of my friends thought I shouldn’t have, because well… I know better now, right? Trouble is, the school horses still run four- five hours a day, with horrible equipment and kids who are never taught that it is an animal who actually feels pain when they hit it…
        Okay, don’t get me started here… 😉 My first horse was an old school horse. Once I got him, I realized that he had severe leg issues, his spine was shattered, (not even kissing spine, no shattered and sort of regrown,) and his heart was failing. And this horse was working four hours a day, and no one cared. So yes, school horses is a subject very dear to my heart.

  9. Frida says:

    I was very upset when I saw the pictures of my trainer (the one on the white horse in the background on the second last picture) He only teaches me in showjumping, and he is a very good trainer, but I don’t listen to him when I do groundwork. I’ve seen him ride like that at home as well, and I thinks it’s really horrible. I totally support you in this case, and I think you are really brave for speaking! even though I’m sure they won’t change any rules….

    • Starstone says:

      If no one speaks up, no rules will change, so let’s hope that in time, it won’t just be me, speaking up… maybe some day, some one will listen…

  10. I totally agree with 99% of this.. however the one with the horse sticking the tongue out.. not sure but how does one fix that? I was coaching a group this weekend, new to me and her horse RIDES with the tongue over the bit, which is a mild double joint btw. Does anyone have answers about that one?

    • Starstone says:

      I don’t know. I do know that I have a lot of pictures of that horse and rider, from the day before, where it wasn’t sticking it’s tongue out… so clearly, it doesn’t do it at all times…

    • Lisa says:

      My old horse did that with her tongue when I first got her, but it disappeared very quickly because I was more gentle in the hand than her previous riders and I changed to a different bit that was more still in her mouth. On her it worked with a kimblewick 🙂 (Sorry if bad grammar, I’m from Sweden)

  11. Louise says:

    The gag and Pelham picture absolutely terrible and both bits work opposite so wtf should know better

  12. thanks,

    Starstone the horse is avoiding the bit, which is why it sticks its tongue out. You would to if you had such a thing in your mouth. Watch Dr Cook Action of the bit to understand more. Horse would be fine bitless.

    • Starstone says:

      She told me that this horse does it in a hackamore and a halter as well… 😛

    • Liz Goldsmith says:

      Not necessarily true. I’ve had horses that stuck their tongues out even when ridden bitless. Not a big fan of the Dr. Cook’s bridle either — that one subjects the horse to quite a bit of poll pressure, so in the wrong hands it can be severe too. Just in a different way.

  13. Money and prestige always ends up in sacrifice somewhere!

  14. Olivia says:

    Not all showjumping is like this. The bleeding could have happened in the ring. These horses all love their jobs, yes they may be being forced to jump, but they love jumping! The ‘homemade leather rings’ are totally legal! They do not hurt the horse. The spikes are rubber, yes these are harsh and i would never use them, but are still legal. Barring isn’t bad in these pictures, as someone else said, it’s bad when someone swings it around to knock a horses legs. These horses are perfectly capable of judging their distances. So putting the pole a little further back in the cup is bad? If the horse knocks it hard enough it will fall down. All these horses have proper leg protection on. Top showjumpers jump their horses in tight draw reins so when they take them off they make the right shape. These are all training methods for horses and the majority of these horses are not put through pain. These horses need to be trained to a high level, unfortunately some people take it a bit too far. You cant have any donkeys jumping round this level!

    • Starstone says:

      I would like to see ANY horse that ever got the “right shape” from a draw rein… and really, does the level excuse the methods?
      And don’t tell me that the leather rings with brushes on the inside do not hurt the horse, I am not deaf, dumb or blind… If not to cause pain, why are they there?
      I would like to add, that the bleeding DID happen in the ring, please read my post before you comment. That is not the issue. I was wondering why he was not disqualified… for leaving the ring, with a bleeding horse. Do we want to accept that?
      Anything, as long as it is the “high level” excuse? I bet “any donkey” would be treated much kinder than these horses, and trained with much less pain…
      And if they are forced to jump, do you think they love it?
      When was the last time you loved something you were forced to do, by pain and violence?

      • Horrible_Techniques says:

        I have gone through the FEI Rules and it states that if there is any blood caused by equipment/tack then the horse is obligated to be checked by an FEI vet, but since this wasn’t caused by tack I don’t think it was required to be checked if the Ground Jury thought it didn’t need to be 😦 And Olivia, if I put my horse in an arena, it wouldn’t take off over the jumps in a state of bliss and happiness. They do it because we ask them to, but most definitely don’t find it fun if cause harm and pain! That’s possibly the silliest thing I’ve seen all day!

    • Jazmin says:

      Darling, if one needs all these gimmicks to ride, then that person should go back and learn how to ride a horse without all the idiotic hardware. They are nothing but shortcuts for lazy riders who prefer quick fixes without wanting to spend the time to actually work with their horses. A properly trained horse and rider HAVE the “right shape” without extra reins and multitude of bits.

  15. Patrick Kaye says:

    Morning Starstone. Its great what you are doing. Please can we be friends on facebook. Pleae add me to your mailing list. Yours Positively Patrick Kaye.

  16. Lisa says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Veronica. As a dressage rider I am aware of the horrible things that go on but had no idea that the show jumper arena had become so appalling as well. Bless you for what you have done and for being an advocate for the horses. I applaud you for your courage and empathy. What I wouldn’t give to take just ONE of those beautiful horses and treat it with soft hands and kindness!

    • Starstone says:

      I wouldn’t mind taking one of those horses either… and I’d leave it on my pasture and never ride it again, and tell it every day how sorry I am for what was done to it… Its not easy being a billion dollar horse…

  17. Ronnie says:

    I guess nosebleeds can happen (as they do to human athletes) but hopefully the horse was tested for possible drug usage.

    The 4th picture showing the brush on the inside used to be a very common piece of equipment in my early years riding (80s and 90s) and would generally be used on one side, on the side that the horse tended to lean on. I haven’t seen one for years generally because people tend to be more educated now to know that correct schooling would put an end to it. Not a harsh thing, but wouldn’t be comfortable.

    As to the rest of it, I am truly shocked that this goes on!!! We are supposed to look up to these riders as the elite image of true horsemanship that we are all aiming for. I can’t believe that this is allowed anywhere. Truly barbaric! These people are not horsemen. Very sad and I hope that these pictures cause change.

  18. comedyflyer says:

    Reblogged this on Comedyflyer's Blog and commented:
    I ride bit-less…my horse goes into frame every time…without force…they will do it naturally…it takes time…these people are only interested in results…in the fastest way possible…using cruel methods…

  19. comedyflyer says:

    I ride bit-less & my horse goes into frame every time…she loves it…it just takes time for them to relax. Time is not what the riders in this article are willing to share. The cruel methods they use are to get results in the fastest way possible..Rolkur disgusts me..you can see the pain in their eyes & those poor horse’s backs are always sore…Thanks for this article…sharing…

  20. lise petersen says:

    jeg som har børn der har med heste at gøre hver dag, syntes at det jeg ser her er frygtelig, hvad er det for mennesker der er sådan, fratag dem dog alle præmier, det er det værste jeg kan se, men der er for mange penge i det, derfor får i aldrig bugt med det, der skal stå en dyrlæge lige ved lågen inden de skal ind og springe, så kunne det være det være, men han kan jo gøre meget for penge, disse mennesker har så mange penge at de er ligeglade, en hest kan nem koste flere millioner kr, men det er bare et dyk i lommen for dem, så har de en ny hest…….

  21. Judith Brooke says:

    Criminal and immoral. If riders have to use such torture on the horses, then they are not good riders.

  22. Kira says:

    Wow! To be honest I think that anyone who has to use that much equipment to ride a horse has no talent whatsoever, especially if they overuse it! Riding a horse and competing on a horse is supposed to be about partnership and working together and training to get the best out of each other in every way – they’re not machines, and neither are we! We should be seeing perfected horse-mastership and horsemanship at this level, not slavery.

  23. You’re doing real good by sharing these images. Name and shame, and maybe people who engage in these practices might realise that they are treating their animals barbarically.

  24. Mrsjohansson says:

    Reblogged this on hajda and commented:
    jag säger ju det… rida i skogen måste vara det enda rätta ;P

    Nä men allvarligt talat… varför??

  25. Tracey says:

    Wow I look at the horses eyes in these photos and all I see is despair and helplessness.:(

  26. McGuinness says:

    One of my friends horses sticks his tongue out of you don’t have his flash on its because he tries to get it over the bit and whilst I’m sure if we strapped his tongue down he would eventually give up trying I would much rather deal with the problem. I agree with the fact that the young lady should be admitting there is a problem but she could just of accepted it like I have with Lennie and just learnt to get along with him doing it. This was really great to see though I am glad someone is standing up for this.

    • love horses says:

      When I first got my horse, after a couple of rides I noticed that she I had a problem with her avoiding the bit (snaffle) too I started slowly riding her in her halter and she became so much more responsive to my seat I now wouldn’t put anything in her mouth again I don’t think she would trust me if I did and I know I would lose our bond, connection, mutual cooperation.

  27. Milly Shand says:

    Thank you for caring Starstone, and thank you for including some pictures where a horse was working and jumping with a good rider, and without torture… I want to believe that it is possible to have a relationship with a horse, where the horse can be a happy athlete and there is true harmony between horse and person. Unfortunately most people are ignorant and follow the crowd, and if the powers that be say it’s ok, and the crowds are cheering.. then they will follow… most people will not stand up from the crowd and question what is right and what is plainly wrong.

  28. Marlies says:

    Keep up doing this good work ! Show as much as possible … Every now-waking-up-human-being is good for the animal welfare !!

  29. it´s just shocking that more and more, instead of the obvious less and less, FEI is allowing anything with riders and horses. What should be a class of men and women above the rest, fortunate enough to have skills and horses to match or/and vice-versa – is becoming bloody spoiled brats who´s daddys are rich enough to spend some peoples life earning on a horse for them to look pretty on the shows. Grow up guys, it´s a horse you riding not some puppet.

  30. Loonietoons says:

    I completely agree with alot of the points made here, and I hope it is okay with you that i reposted your pictures on my blog (giving you the credit for the pictures ofcourse)- I reblogged it on dressage-enthusiast.blogspot.com I think this message needs to be spread as much as possible, these kind of methods are unacceptable and people need to be confronted with it, so we can make a change in the system.

  31. Allan Buck says:

    Starstone.
    Have patience. When FEI comes to the United States for any event, I promise the horses that I will have law enforcement officials on hand. We have laws against abuse and torture of horses.

    • Starstone says:

      Sadly, most people don’t seem to find this abusive or torture… It’s just me, who doesn’t understand the sport 😛

      • It is beyond abusive!!!!!! These are not riders and partners to their horses. They can never be called horse(wom)men. They are working these poor animals as if the horses were machines. Is brute force and dominance the only way to the top in today’s equine competitions? Where us the NF’s and the FEI?
        You’re right, what kind of riding would you see in these peoples own barns?

  32. Yvonne says:

    Thank you for doing this! Thank you for putting this out there!
    This is outrageous.

    Allan, the FEI is already in the US and there are bits available at the Farm supplies stores that are as horrible as the contraptions you see in those pictures.. Just think about the bicycle chain bits, bits with huge ports and “spoons”. I have seen bits and drug abuse (“he needs some bute otherwise he is limping” “he needs some tranquilizers, otherwise I can’t ride him on the trails” ) in my times as trainer over there (about 10 years) that made me weep and ultimately give up on training horses and riders. (And then to add up what is done to dogs there *shudder*)

  33. Sara Beckman says:

    My son and I visited the GHS last year. My 14yr old collected a bunch of toyhorses. Back at grandmas he made tacks for them illustrating “the history of human taming/controlling horses”.

    C:\Users\Sara\Documents\bilder\_NOKIA ej DVD\104NOKIA\2013-05-04-2962.jpg

    First man put a rope on the horse to hang on as the horse tried to get away
    Then we put a halter on the hors to make him follow us
    For many thousand years it was enough to have a simple bridle to steer the horse and all collection and dressage came by rider skills
    Today we make the horse move in the desiered way by force

  34. Antonia Craig says:

    Keep up the good work exposing such terrible abuse!

  35. So, so, so sad for the horses and our whole equine community. I’m at a loss for words as to how this can possibly be legal and necessary. Are these”top riders” not good enough at what they do? Maybe there needs to be better classical training education. If this is the future for our sports ( all equine sports) it is indeed very scary.

  36. THIS.
    My god, why do people think this is okay? So callous…forgetting that the creature they so proudly sit upon both lives and breathes. People disgust me.

  37. Kate O'Mara says:

    Thank you for speaking for the horses who don’t get chance to speak and have to obey. Brilliant article

  38. Viv Dostine says:

    Did anyone else notice the ironic jump sponsor….cheval liberte…

  39. Chels says:

    I personally think that you are judging these people too harshly. I agree that there are some people who take things too far and in my years of involment with horses I have seen my fair share of abuse. All these gadgets are used to keep the rider safe as well as the horse. At top levels riders need to be 100% accurate and in control at all times. Most of these horses are very highly strung and difficult to contol even in perfect conditions. This is what makes them the great athletes they are. These people know what they are doing and know how to use the gadgets correctly. So before you judge them, ride at their level on thier horses and if you can achieve what they have then you have the right to judge.

    • Starstone says:

      Okay, I will anwer that, because that is the age old “can you do better” and it gets tiresome. Just because the guy next door beats up his kids, does it allow me to do the same? I know a lot about riding high strung horses, again, read my book, and I NEVER want to achieve what they have. If being professional, means torturing my horses, and excusing it by the horse beind “High strung” then I am so out, because yes, then I CAN do better. If the horses were trained, you wouldn’t need all of this, to “keep the rider safe”… And once again, a horse is never and athlete. It is an animal, and it should never have to suffer in the name of the sport.

  40. Laurel Brant says:

    it’s their eyes . . . .

  41. Cara says:

    Glad you are exposing some of the nasty things in the show world.
    I agree that anyone who needs that gimmick/shortcut stuff is not much of a horseman.
    I saw you mention hackamore, but I didn’t see anything that looks like a hackamore to me. Maybe there is such a thing as an English hackamore? You ought to watch the movie Buck. You might like it.

  42. Jackie says:

    Real horse people love their horses. These people obviously are in it for money or fame. You shouldnt need all that equipment if youre a good rider. Work on your skills instead of hurting the horse. Humans disgust me!

  43. (Shared on Facebook and Tweeted) While groom for my daughter who was jumping at Norton Heath EC, Essex a few years ago now, we witnessed one of the top female riders beating her young horse about the head with her riding crop. The horse had performed badly in the arena and said Rider was obviously in a strop because of it. I went straight to the judges to report it, but they disnmissed it, and when I later made more of a fuss I was firmly told that if I took matters further my daughter may as well give up jumping as she would be penalised because of it. To my shame I backed down – however, I kept a close eye on the rider at future shows – and my camera handy. It infuriates me when I see her on TV with the commentators saying what a good rider she is etc. Yeah right – they obviously don’t know or care that she beats up her young horses!
    I am so pleased that my daughter gave up affiliated jumping and turned to side saddle riding instead.

    Good luck with this post – more than happy to do anything else to help out!

  44. Veera says:

    Is that roll kur or worse or both?, well not in every photo, but the one’s that the horses have their heads like in roll kur. I have to say that just makes me feel sick. How can anyone do that to their horses :c? That’s just horrible, all the tack and things, like that one photo where the horse has that brush looking thing in it’s bits (I’m not British or anything so I actually dunno what they’re called, thanks to Google translater for that translation). That’s so sick, whatever they do to the horses, it’s sick. And your questions: 1) How much barring is legal?
    2) How much equipment is legal? 3) Is it legal, jumping in a draw rein and if it is, why?
    4) Why the horse that was bleeding as it left the show ring, was not disqualified?
    I would like to know answers too. And show jumpers should definitely have space to raise their heads up when they jump that big jumps, and in smaller jumps too. Even if the horse use to raise it’s head up all the time.

  45. Raven Dane says:

    Heartbreaking to see such abuse at a so called high level…..I’ve seen this sort of lazy, ignorant and brutal riding for decades at much lower levels in showjumping and now sadly in dressage. Forcing a horse into these exaggerated and unnatural shapes is highly detrimental to the animal’s physiology, keeping equine osteopaths in business trying to heal damaged backs and necks. A well- balanced equine athlete working in self carriage and harmony with its rider needs no gadgets and will feel no pain to evade. No wonder nervous breakdowns are becoming common in sports horses

  46. lucarnia says:

    I went to a show with a friend a little while ago, not what I normally do tbh. It sort of disappointed me as every single one of the riders had huge gags or pelhams and rode with spurs, every singe ride looked like it was just a load of stress for the horses and riders. They fought against each other all through the course. The only time when I saw a horse and rider work well was this grey stallion ridden in a snaffle who was balanced and took his time and they worked together so well.

    It always makes me think how people don’t train their horses much any more, they just use bigger bits or spurs or whips, instead of taking the time and trying to train their horses to be better responsive rides without using force.

    The horses in the highest levels are beasts I’ve heard, they get fed so much and they’re so fit and strong that they’re hard to control. I can understand that they seem to need stronger equipment but stronger equipment needs to be used with lighter hands, not excessive force.

    • Starstone says:

      If they are beasts, I dare say it is because they are kept isolated, locked up and never gsts to play with a friend on a pasture… It’s not because they are more fit than other horses, or better fed, not even close…

  47. Jay says:

    This is gross that people actually do that! I compete and I love it, yes I want to go to the top, but Id never do this to my horses..

    On the grey why did they need the sponge/gel or what ever the black stuff behind the cavasson was it that tight? and really, bungies, poll pressure, tight nosebands and double bits! Im sure you dont need that much!

    The guy with the bleeding horse should be in huge trouble! I have no words for that!

    The bit rubbers with the spikes are to stop the horse drifting over or in front of jumps – I dont agree with it at all, but you can get them at most tack shops. So instead of knowing your horse, and helping him through the problem, apparently just putting spikes in there face helps! Disgusting really!

    As far as i know draw reins are not allowed. But apparently people dont mind “””Because these riders know what they doing””” sorry if you knew what you where doing you wouldn’t need so many gadgets and pressure!

    No words for the tie downs! I could never imagine doing that to my horses!

    I dont know why you would want your horse to be scared before jumping. Surly you would want your horse confidant? Very dirty trick!!

    That last photo of the other grey! Ouch!! wonder how he would like it if i bent his neck like that!

    But well done to the guy on the bay with the green jacket! 🙂

    no words for some of these riders! really sick and there should be rules!

  48. L-M says:

    Seems to be the ‘norm’ nowadays “Oh you need a bigger bit. You should have that horse in draw reins, you need to man up and show that horse who’s boss!” etc.
    People no longer seem to want to work for that goal of partnership and trust, they just want to rise to the top as quickly and easily as they possibly can. They’ll go through great lengths and whatever it will take to get the quickest results.. quite sickening if you ask me.
    It’s not just dressage or showjumping either, it’s everywhere. Western Pleasure, Reining, Barrel racing, etc.
    I don’t think riding in spurs is bad (Well, depending on how you use them as well, they’re an aid, not a weapon) But I believe you should have a well-trained horse to use them, You shouldn’t be kicking and flailing around with them.
    *Sigh* What ever happened to being a partner with your horse instead of it’s ‘ruler’.
    Think I’ll stick to moseying around with my simple tack and no extras. 🙂

    • Starstone says:

      I don’t mind spurs either. I mind how some people use them. I don’t mind bits. I mind when they are being abused. And very simply, I would like some rules, protecting the horse in the sport… 😉

  49. Bee says:

    Big thank you for your effort from me, too. It’s just disgusting what people do to their horses.

  50. Jenn says:

    So, I understand everything you are saying and could not agree more, BUT why is it no one questions why they all have to ride with their horses mouths clamped shut with the dropped nosebands, cavesons, etc.? How is that not any less cruel? Tying your horse’s mouth shut is just as bad and yet no one blinks twice at it. No one says a word. No even in all those close-ups above where you can see them clamped shut and it digging into their noses. Meh!

    • Starstone says:

      You are right, the nose bands are horrible, but there are so much wrong with this pictures, I kind of think they got lost along the way… I just don’t know where to start and end with this horror show…

  51. I love this text. I hope the world do it as well, because this must come out. The world need to know the real reality and not just as it is wished or told.

  52. Mossy Allison says:

    If you ask me yes something should be done these horses look so bad with blood coming from there nose and mouth. I don’t even know where to start. It looks like someone was shooting a horror film. It is so sad all that we put our horses through today to get what we want from them. To be perfect and graceful, to get use top class ribbons to show off and be proud of our selves. But i would not be proud i would see these pics and look at my horse and shun myself. I hope that more laws will be made for this and make this a fair sport to riders and their horses.

  53. Kelly says:

    I am relieved someone finally pointed out what goes on in other disciplines. Rolkur is hideous, but it occurs way more often than in just dressage, plus the types of equipment that are legal for other disciplines is horrifying. I see rolkur in the jumpers, hunter jumpers, western, and breed shows. I have seen terrible abuses in every discipline, much of it legal. The problem is in what we consider good training, and until rules change, and/or the average rider starts to understand there are other better ways of training it will persist.

  54. GOD BLESS YOU for bringing this out in the public!!! For evil to conquer good people only have to do nothing. I’ll link to your page and get more comments in support. You’re WONDERFUL. Keep going!!!!! Only with people like you will this change.

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  56. Dolly Vos says:

    Whether it is legal or not, these kind of practises don’t belong in this age. Have people learned nothing since the Dark Ages? And probably these kind of people are very cautious, wrapping their horses up in blankets, protectors, don’t let it out grazing afraid it will hurt itself on the meadow… And then they use these torturedevices?!!! How hyprocite can one be!
    And about barring, I guess it is still done while training as it used to be done long ago: at the moment the horse jumps, lifting the bar so the horse touches it (hard), so “it will learn to jump high enough”… The only way to bann these practises is judging really though and disqualifying everything that even looks like abuse, even in the warming-up! Remember the “blue-tongue”affair during a worldcup dressage warming up in Denmark (again!) and everybody just ignoring it.. Unbelievable and the rider is still taking part in dressage without any punishment or restriction! Shame on you FEI and the horsecommunity that allows and practises this kind of torture and abuse!

  57. Me says:

    If these were truly the “best” horsepeople, then they’d be training and riding them without coercion. Coercion is a crutch for lack of better training and handling abilities.

    Why is the equestrian world so stubbornly backwards??? We’ve made so much progress in the way we treat other species, why not extend it towards horses as well?

  58. Being in the “business” rider, groom, trainer, whatever, we know the utter shit that goes on, especially in the warm up arena, even in International, often worse there. It has happened and is happening still in dressage and also is in show-jumping. One of the main reasons I don’t tend to hang around warm up arenas is because I don’t like to see horses who are obviously distressed, whether due to rollkur or other issues. The nose bleed is unfortunate but blood is blood and should be disqualified. (Btw a rider can not see the nose or mouth and really cannot be “murdered” for continuing riding,,, plus I am sure the word “artery” was a mistake and was meant to be “blood vessel”.) Just like in top dressage not so long ago a horse showed blood in its mouth in the dressage test and the top C judge rang the bell and disqualified. No reason asked for. (Later it was found out that the horse had innocently bitten its tongue,,,,). And btw I have trained horses which like to hang the tongue out, perfectly innocent, like the brown horse. I even joke to my rider that her horse will come back in the next life as a dog. But the pic of the grey horse with the tongue out you can clearly see distress in the eye. Rules are rules, any rules regarding moving poles (which I am not sure exactly what those are) should be adhered to, or where do you draw the line? Can move the pole to this position but not to that, move it one centimetre not two,,,, IF the rule is not to move a pole out of the cup or make a back rail lower than the front then this should not be allowed. I don’t care if the spikes are made of hair or rubber, a rider should be able to turn with the correct way of training. If there is such a problem in turns, then there is obviously a lack of suppleness issue and needs to be rectified over time with the correct training. I have nothing, against using draw reins. A normal snaffle bit with one pair of reins in the wrong hands can be lethal and a misery to the horse. It is how you use the draw reins that is important and which bit you use them with. I would never use them with a curb bit especially a straight bar, due to the increased pressure on the bars of the mouth. I would never use them to create a rollkur outline. In the pics with the gag bit and draw reins you can see the distress in the horses eye and mouth open,,,, And really how much do you need to put on the horse for Gods sake? I never want to see a horse jump with draw reins, hearing true stories of horses flipping over and breaking their necks,,,,,if yes then thru the martingale or put a neck strap. Horses don’t make noise, dogs whine, yelp,,,, horses stay silent,,,, If they did make such noises the warm up arena would be an even more awful place to be (I honestly can’t even imagine the noises that would be heard,,,,, very sad to even think about it) Most horses (and I think unfortunately sometimes) are extremely submissive, just want to please, suffer the pain and carry on,,,,, Sometimes I wish the horse would buck the bastard off big time,,,,, Thank God for the last 3 pics of good riding, the freedom in the outline over the jump, the rider’s heel not sticking up with the spur,,,, 🙂 The nice relaxed expression in the horse’s eye. And,,,,,, then,,,,,, yes the absolutely disgusting rollkur in the background. Which totally proves my point that an idiot can do that to a horse with just an ordinary snaffle bit and one pair of reins,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  59. Freddie says:

    Please get these photos into the National and international newspapers I’m sure people’ s outrage against these practices would help to put a stop to them.
    Advertisers would not want to be associated with them, it’s all about the money. Get the message out to a wider public, a picture paints a thousand words!

  60. Julia says:

    Great written! More people should pay attention to this!!
    I just wanted to say that my horse sticks his tongue out alot. I have tested many things but he still do it. Even when i ride without any equipment, only holding in my horse mane he still sticks his tongue out (not all the time but quite often). So maby that a few horses just does that. But the horse on the picture can be sticking his tounge out beacuse he dosen’t like his bit? It can be many reasons why the horse sticks his tongue out.
    (Sorry if my english is bad, I’m from Sweden)

  61. Diane Kane says:

    Tb racehorses are prone to bleeding. I have seen it written that it is because they hold their breath in the starting gate sometimes. I have a mare who was supposedly a bleeder at the track but she has never bled while I have ridden or competed her. It isn’t an equipment caused or rider caused issue in these horses. I had a gelding who once bled like that playing in the pasture. No one was on him or chasing him. He snorted then bled. It only happened once. As for the rest of this stuff, maybe these riders should learn how to ride without all this auxiliary crap!

    • Starstone says:

      the whole point to this was not why this horse bled, I don’t care why this horse bled at all… I do care, that we allow it to bleed, because if we do, what then, is next?

  62. Is it okay if I borrow some pictures from the dropbox folder and make a blogpost of my own? Of course linking this post and the folder with all the pictures (don’t want anyone to have the common excuse: “a picture is just one snapshot, one moment”) in the blogpost 🙂

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  65. My Persson says:

    Thank you for showing these pics and informing me, who dont compete or visit competitions, what it is all about today! I got really scared to see these pics, but also very convinced to show the world how it could be done!

  66. Good work, the sharing of these images! The more people and SPONSORS see this, the more the resentment will grow against these terrible things. One reason that they haven’t answered yet, might be that they are so very busy making legislation that forbids us taking pictures like these anymore. Sad, they should change their ways, but they are probably such bad riders, they cannot rely on trust and harmony, but need to use this terrible force…..

  67. Sara Beckman says:

    An very interesting wiev on all this is the lettesr to the Swedish Department of Agriculture/Jordbruksverket, and to the gpovernment to classify this as animal cruelty. The letters were written by the former olympic rider Dag “Dadde” Nätterqvist. He alos put them togetehr with a disscussion on the subject and WHY this form of riding was so harmful to horses and with support of VMDs w speciality in horse anatomy at the Swedish VCeterinary University/Awedish University of Agriculture.! These lettters were written – hold your horses…. in mid 1990-ties!!!!
    He has aslo put up a very good “riding school book” on his homepage , with the antique ideas of training the horse to work in a natural way w its body. The book is free to download – becaus he’.d rather have peole download and printout and take the problem/time to do so to get something they really have interest in – than print a book that would just “warm the bookshelfes”..
    Dadde has now pased away but his hompage is alive – read and think! it’s soo many words of wisdome

  68. Kat says:

    This abuse brings shame to everyone in the equestrian community and should not be tolerated! I am proud to say that my daughter rides her jumper in a plain snaffle with no spurs or gadgets and they are very successful because they have a great partnership. This is how I feel horse sport should be.

  69. Carol says:

    Poor, poor, dressage and jumping horses, why can’t they just use a smooth snaffle and learn how to train correctly, by asking, not forcing. Because they are all crappy riders who are also greedy and want to win at the suffering of their poor horses!!! Horrid!!! Have you ever noticed that all dressage horses ring their tails??? I hate thyat, horses in pain!!! Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the public!!! WTH??????? Needs to be stopped now!!!
    !

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  71. Jan Griffiths says:

    These poor horses!!! This abuse should not be allowed to continue. The expressions on these horses’ faces says it all. This is just a band-aid fix for not training correctly; inexcusable!! I ride my jumper with a little s hackamore, standing martingale, and he is always happy to go out and work.

  72. angelakd says:

    Thanks for writing this. I am also on mission to expose and chage the accepted barbarity that is embedded in equestrianism. Keep writing and pushing, you’re NOT alone.

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