“Shanking” of arabian show horses in US Equestrian Federation spotlight

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Arabian horse showing in the US is in for a shakeup following a US Equestrian Federation hearing over a protest over whip use and “shanking” at a show last year.

“Shanking” is the practice of jerking violently on the lead line of the horse, often with a chain under its chin.

The protest centered around the US Arabian and Half-Arabian National Championship Horse Show last October, with allegations that abusive correction techniques, including shanking and the threatening use of a whip, were being used by certain handlers. Penalties were sought under several of the Arabian Horse Association’s rules.

In releasing its decision, the USEF hearing committee said that rule AR116.6a3 “will allow shanking in Arabian Halter classes or competitions only in emergency situations where a horse becomes dangerously unruly and immediate shanking is required in order to regain control of the horse and prevent imminent harm to the horse or others”.

The USEF Hearing Committee Panel stated that its references to shanking are defined as “… situations such as where a handler jerks hard on the lead, yanking the horse’s head and causing the neck to twist or torque in another direction and the horse to abruptly shift its body posture to compensate.”

The hearing committee determined that shanking [unprovoked aggressive force] “… must be recognized as intimidating behavior that is disallowed under AR115” and that it could also be considered abuse or inhumane treatment under rule GR839 except under the circumstance of a horse being out of control to the point that it is a danger to itself or others. This ruling supports our current Rule AR116.6a3 which states “only shanking allowed shall be limited to an unruly horse in order to regain control”.

Subsection 1 of Rule GR839 forbids “[i]nhumane treatment of a horse in a stall, runway, schooling area, competition ring or elsewhere on the competition grounds, by any person.” The same rule allows for punishment for acts against a horse “which are deemed excessive by a judge, Federation steward, technical delegate or competition veterinarian, in the competition ring or anywhere on the competition grounds.”

USEF Hearing Committee decision

 

19 thoughts on ““Shanking” of arabian show horses in US Equestrian Federation spotlight

  • May 6, 2016 at 11:27 am
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    the world is changing and the arabian halter class needs to change with it

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    • May 7, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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      Damned right. I was showing Arabians before the use of the whip, and shanking, and the use of cosmetics and shaving, became so prevalent. It isn’t needed, it’s an insult to the breed. The Arabian is a very intelligent horse, they don’t need this crap to look animated. All they need is to know what you want of them.__Barbara Ward

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      • January 15, 2020 at 2:48 pm
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        Agreed totally!

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  • May 6, 2016 at 11:43 am
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    It makes me sick that we have to reiterate rules for things that should be common sense. An exhibitor should be afraid to hurt an animal for no sane reason, in plain view, judges should have the guts to toss them out of the ring, plus, they should have to fear retribution from owners and other exhibitors.

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  • May 7, 2016 at 12:03 am
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    Bravo! The US Equestrian Federation’s determination is commendable and needed. The Arabian industry is at a crossroads. The time for a good housecleaning is at hand (ideally from within its own ranks). One would hope that the practice of “bagging” (plastic bags shooting out from potted plants in the show ring) and the inane facial shaving and greasing would also cease.
    If the industry sincerely embraced the attributes of this centuries-old breed as more than marketing lines–perhaps it would instead be showing the public why the Arabian horse was historically known for its exceptional rapport with humans.

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  • May 7, 2016 at 2:29 am
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    These people are nothing more than abusers and yet they hide under the guise of being experts in their field. Experts do not need to do this, and yes judges need remove them from the ring.

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  • May 7, 2016 at 7:42 am
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    Since when does adding pain and confusion fix a scared, anxious horse? Never has, never will. Groundwork folks. Give your horse the tools to think through fear and trust in its people.

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  • May 7, 2016 at 8:12 am
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    This show division has been a cesspool for years, and no sane horse person would subject a horse to that type of “training.” It takes a special kind of psychopath to enjoy that sort of thing. I’m shocked that PETA has never targeted them, honestly.

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  • May 7, 2016 at 11:56 pm
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    If a horse needs to have that kind of treatment, its not ready to be at a show. The show world is why Arabs have a bad name. They are smart and can can be extremely quiet and relaxed horses, which is why they make great Endurance horses! Kinda want they where bred for.

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  • May 8, 2016 at 11:07 am
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    Halter trainers are creating their own shows so they can basically have their own rules to go by–which is fine–but the only people participating are the bigger named farms and trainers with a few others thrown in. Watching the “baggers” as the horses come into the arena and again popping out of the plants to keep a horse “up” as he/she makes the trot down the arena is pretty to watch. But–imo–a horse is either the “showy” type naturally and will show his stuff without the use of those aids the entire time in the arena. If he/she is not the “showy” type they usually tone down shortly after the entrance despite the baggers attempts to get them “up”. The chair bangers are an added attraction but don’t think they have much effect on the horses. The un-necessary shanking–fear of the whip noticed by many horses etc. has to go or the Arabian will see fewer and fewer breedings geared toward main ring showing and more and more going into sporthorse. The Arabian can be a “showy” show horse with a few adjustments made despite the belief of some trainers who believe the opposite.

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  • May 8, 2016 at 11:46 am
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    If the halter division does not police itself as well as follow the rules that are written–we will see a more steady decline of the Class A show–of which many people who show that I know– like to remain at that level due to various circumstances–it may eventually be phased out at that level and the halter people will just have the shows they have created for themselves. If that is their goal–they are fast getting there–which means fewer and fewer breedings and registered foals. There are Arabian horse owners all around me where I live–the majority used to show–but because of the way the halter horses is treated by many trainers they have chosen to go a different route–like sporthorse or they have stopped showing all together. Imo a halter horse is either naturally animated to show itself coming into the arena or they are not and after a few feet down the arena will tone down despite all the chair banging, bagging at the entrance of the arena and popping out of the bushes around the arena. That can be easily see anywhere in the arena. Some trainers think “toning” things down will ruin the “show” in the halter horse–but the way things are now has already caused a downfall for the halter horse. Something has to change to get people back into showing or its going to eventually drown itself out.

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  • May 14, 2016 at 2:38 am
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    A lot of concerned persons who never have had a stallion jumping, stomping around, ready to bolt and hurt some one standing by jerking the chain under their chin makes them pay attention. Hearing and smell their greatest abilities. The snap of the whip brings their attention where they should be. I’ve never had to touch the whip to my stallion just the sound makes him pay attention.
    Stop trash talking about something you really don’t know about. Hurting a 50,000.-100,000. Horse is not what the owner is think of. Next the idiots will be condemning nose twishes with out knowing what they do.

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  • May 17, 2016 at 11:20 pm
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    Jean, YOU are the idiot here. Just train your stallion to trust you and relax instead of jerkling to “get attention” The focus of any horse in such circumstance should be with you, the trusted human. If you need these kind of “reminders” you obviously were doing a lousy job training him.
    Also, study the nerves on the horses head for just half an hour, there’s pics all over the internet. Then think again about jerking a chin chain… Still doubt? Attach earrings to yourself, and connect them with a chain over your nose. Then let your partner jerk it to get attention. Nice, isn’t it?
    And before you start with the “you know not what you are talking about – I do. Work with stallions mares and gelding of different breeds among them Arab and Akhal Tekke. No sissies there, but very sensitive horses that react to all you do.

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    • January 18, 2020 at 1:51 pm
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      No it’s poor training and handling that leads to what your describing. Chains don’t fix anything they’re a band aid and a poor one at that.

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  • May 18, 2016 at 11:25 am
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    If my stallion is jumping around, stomping, and “ready to bolt” in the ring, then he is lacking in training, and shouldn’t be there. But I guess it’s just so easy to keep them crazy and yank them around in the guise of control, so they will be “animated”.

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  • January 7, 2020 at 8:42 am
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    I am outraged that “professionals” would do this there needs to be a harmony between discipline and love like with children. STOP THE ABUSE NOW! THIS IS NOT OK!

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  • January 18, 2020 at 2:58 am
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    Watch how they’re shown in Egypt etc. They run with stallions ( many in same ring )on long lines , the whip only used to hold above horses head to get him to look up .

    Reply

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