Sunday, June 30, 2013

WTF Tack

Have you seen Planet of the Apes? It's a great movie. I want to teleport some people into that world... except it would be Planet of the Equines. Intelligent horses would subject former horse-abusing humans to the most awful, ridiculous and painful crap in the name of fashion or sport or whatever. It would be only justice. Today I'm particularly pissed at those who use awful tack.

(Oh, and by "Planet of the Apes" I mean the old one, with smoking hot Charlton Heston in a loincloth, not the crappy remake.)

 *ahem* Anyway...

Without further ado, here is today's What the Fuck Tack:

Does your horse rear? You can totally fix that by jerking really, really hard on his mouth and poll using the Beery Pulley Bridle! The inventor claims you can "control any horse in 3 minutes!" But don't worry, it won't hurt your horse. "It works due to the nerves exposed just behind the ears and is not harmful to the horse." Yeah, uh huh, that sounds super believable. Only $75.00 AND it comes with a twelve page instruction manual! If your horse hasn't yet experienced rope burns on his tongue, order today!

Are you tired of straining your arms as you force your horse's head into an unnatural position behind the vertical? Try the de Gogue Training Aid! Now you can practice rolkur and induce fake collection without any effort on your part.

Would you like a real training shortcut? You need the Harold Watkin's Anti-bucking Trainer. Now instead of teaching your horse what to do and praising him for success, you can just continually torture him with electric shocks! This system places electrodes in the rear girth and reins to administer any level of pain you desire. Guaranteed to reduce even the naughtiest horse to a whimpering puddle. You don't even have to be on his back! "It may be activated manually, remotely, or automatically by means of an inertia switch." And this device isn't just for bucking horses. Nope, you can train a horse to neck rein, go faster or slower, anything you want! Your every command will be instantly obeyed once it's, "enhanced by the reinforcing mild electrical shock." Don't believe it? Well they tested it on at least one real live horse!

"It has been determined that the strongest impression upon an animal's mind is made as a result of a terrifying experience. This apparatus that is to be delineated in the following specification utilizes electric shock to provide such an experience. A nine-year-old horse that had been retired from saddle service because of his bucking was conditioned with this device. Within one hour he refused to buck even with the provocation used in rodeos to produce bucking."

Do you just fucking hate your horse? Try one of these bicycle chain bits. Seriously, there's no other reason you would use one.

Teaching a foal to lead is so boring and time-consuming. Why not just tie him to a similar-sized animal and let them roam? Jo Marie Prukop of Prukop Quarter Horses and Andalusians, Texas, says it works like a charm! "This is how halter-breaking was done on ranches here in Texas back in the good ol' days. It still works and is very entertaining to watch! Miniature Sicilian burro and a 2 month old Azteca colt."

So watching them wrap themselves around trees, trip each other up and strangle each other is entertaining? Must be that "I like to watch cockfights" kind of entertaining.

Well heck, you don't even need to spend any money on this "tack," you can use your existing halters, a dog collar and a piece of clothesline! Classy!

The most depressing part about all of these devices is that somewhere, some people believe they are totally normal and acceptable. And so far, the things I've shown here are been somewhat uncommon. There is a ton more awful tack out there that's very common. Take, for instance, the "easy stop," often used by reining trainers:

This thing doesn't go in the horse's mouth, it sits under the jaw. When the reins are pulled, the shanks act as a lever, forcing the "spoon" of the easy stop up into the underside of the jaw.  Is often used in addition to a regular bridle and regular bit in the mouth, though some easy stops do combine the jaw mechanism with a bit for an all-in-one package:

Some easy stops are massively heavy. This is one way abused horses end up with broken jaws.

Is an easy stop always a cruel device? No, I can see times where using a mild one would be fine in the right hands. The problem is, all too often it's not the mild ones being used or the right hands using them.

I'm counting on YOU to speak up when you see WTF tack, so that more people become educated, or at least ashamed enough to stop doing what they're doing.


  1. I am sad to say that in Sweden the pessoalounge (which I find a much worse loungeing-tool then the gouge) is quite a common thing.
    My local ridiing school actually have a couple(!) of mikmarbits (which I think look like medieval torture devices). Mikmarbit:

    1. Yes, Pessoas are awful! They do nothing but constantly pull on a horse's mouth with no release or direction. I should have included the Pessoa here.

      WOW I have not seen a Mikmar bit before. That is awful! Look at what they are advertising as a "training bit," it has even longer shanks:


  2. In my experience electricity makes horses panic and therefore move faster and more violently, i.e. they're just going to buck harder. Are they forgetting how they're made to buck in bronc shows? You know, electricity from the cattle prods? Clearly using the same method will make the horse stop bucking, yes?

    I think using this will get one of two results. You will, without a doubt end up in the dirt. However, the horse is either going to continue bucking itself into a heart attack or some other injury, OR it's going to violently murder you and THEN buck itself into a heart attack or injury.

  3. Nice to see you shared my photo! What you dont know is that these two were NEVER left unattended and where in a small area. Secondly, this colt was very sweet but very stubborn. He had the very bad habit of rearing up and falling over backwards which is very dangerous. I am lightweight and was not strong enough to prevent him from doing this. I tried everything but he resisted until the donkey encouraged him to move forward. The donkey was heavy enough to keep him from falling backwards. And let me tell you...I have observed people halter breaking horses many many times and I have seen patient, capable people get the type of horse that likes to rear up and pull and this has resulted in broken necks from falling backwards. He only needed one short session to figure out that it was possible to walk forward with a halter on. He is now a happy healthy yearling and a 2 x National Champion. So before you assume the worst, do a little investigation :) Blasting people based on one photo and making assumptions is not nice or respectable. Thanks.

  4. Training a colt to lead using a donkey is a safe, humane strategy. There is no wrapping around trees (unless the supervising person is a lame brain and puts the pair in a pen with trees), no tripping each other up, or anything like that. A burro is strong, determined, and patient, and just goes where it wants to go. The foal has to go along whether it likes it or not. Within a very short time, the foal is going right along just fine, and lead training is done. The bash against the person using that method was uncalled for and you owe him/her an apology.