In all my years as a trainer, I have witnessed much horse abuse. But I have recently been drawn to a rise of what I call “mean girls horse abuse.” Unfortunately, even in my own barn, it has become an issue. When it does, I deal with it directly and will not tolerate it—period. I am presently installing webcams so that the situations can be monitored and recorded. Abuse seems to happen when no one is watching. I tell all my riders not to be afraid to report abuse or even confront it (but not alone). Because if nobody says anything, the abuser then feels that it is accepted by others.
Some examples of abuse: whipping and terrorizing a horse around the ring, jerking on the mouth until the horse rears, spurring until the horse has wounds, unnecessary whipping or use of a chain, or simply riding a horse around until it’s exhausted. I have witnessed many of these situations, mostly with young girls who are in an uncontrollable rage.
We’ve shown for some 30 years internationally, on the A circuit, and we have attended world shows in Arab, Paint, Appaloosa and the QH Congress. We’ve also had several students attend 4-H state shows, pony camps and clinics. My point in mentioning all this is that I have been many places and I have witnessed abuse everywhere. It’s not just limited to a certain breed or circle, income level, girls, or even riding level.
Usually when confronting a rider I get this response: “It’s my horse, I can do what I want and you can’t stop me.” In this day and age it is easy to make a video and post it, but how else can we tackle this issue? I think this is a subject that warrants attention and that a group should be formed, such as an intervention horse abuse group. But, is there any other way?