FEI says goodbye to the Reiners
Following years of controversy over horse abuse and high levels of drugging, the FEI is finally disconnected from the sport of reining.
Insiders at the FEI and connections say that they have been working to find a way to disconnect from the NRHA reiners without bringing a further spotlight on the abuse and drugging and creating further shame on FEI events.
In this latest move, the FEI has terminated their agreement with both the NRHA and AQHA. The FEI issued a statement Tuesday highlighting its position on three provisions of the agreement – classes for horses age 7 and older, stewarding requirements and medication regulations. Drug report from FEI Nov 18
The reining horse industry, although promoting they are growing, and its passion for horses has an ever-growing record of abuse and shows little evidence of a desire to improve it. The public is becoming more aware of the abuse applied to the training of these horses and is not accepting it.
Everyone remembers the vile video and images of Craig Schmerscal and Martin Muehlstaetter at FEI in Europe where people saw firsthand the degree of abuse these horses suffer. The domination and spurring make people’s skin crawl.
The daughter of a board member Roseanne Sternberg, riding Shiners Chic tested positive for the banned steroid stanozololfailing and was suspended. It is reported in some media that over the period of the agreement, the NRHA has the highest positive drug test results of all FEI sports.
Maybe this is the bell tolling on yet another chapter of reining slowly imploding as the general public step away and those with a conscious toward horse welfare cease membership and involvement.
Vote for change on our poll. Now Closed.
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I once worked for the Virginia Hose Center in Lexington. I saw many types of horse shows come through there and winesed abuse of different types. It was very disheartening and upsetting so I quit. Saddlebreds with the chains on their feet and pads. Western pelasure horses with their heads tied to their sides so they would don’t peanut roll look. I’m a big fan of natural horsemanship. Maybe one day we will live in a world where horses get more respect one day, well all humans and creatures.
Put the blame on these associations that knowing allow this to continue I refuse to support the AQHA in any manner have not registered any. If the horses I bought to my name They are totally aware of what goes on in both reining and weastern pleasure and refuse to implement and enforce rules to stop the abuse
The Federation do know what is going on and probably have horses themselves and abuse them! About time these sports were banned! I agree with you 100% Brian!
Spot on! All of these competitors that can sell themselves on inhumane training methods once just loved a horse. I find myself wondering where that love got lost along the way, and this extends well beyond the sport of reining.
Because of a few bad ones ! . Just ban these people for life and fine them harshly. Get rid of the bad apples!!!
These bad ones you are mentioning are the top trainers in the world. If this is what they do to produce what is considered a winning ride, then they have a serious problem throughout the sport.
In fortunately, too many have bought the “ this is what you have to do” to be competitive ideology
That’s the problem. The NRHA and AQHA are refusing do take adequate action against the ever growing number of bad apples, that’s why they are getting the boot. Lack of action.
There would be very few professional competitors …almost all of them have “methods” applied……
And therefore the non- pros would not have the “ help” and those people would go somewhere else
If FEI were so worried about abuse and drugging why are they putting up with the abuse and drug use in FEI endurance? Could it be because the money that flows in from certain areas?
Always follow the $$$$$$$$$$$$$.
? You are right
Endurance is getting the boot as well.
I haven’t heard endurance isnt continuing at FEI level. The Saudis and Dubai crowd have so much $$ influence
I competed for years – but recently the sport seems to be ride your horse until it dies or breaks down, for some. and some is enough for me to not want FEI endurance to continue . Tryon for example .
You got it Connie.
Good questions. I thought the FEI was set up in part to control drugging. Are there no TD’s at these shows?
FRI also needs to help stop the TWH Big Lick abuse. Even if not affiliated with them. An entity such as FEI needs to use their influence to help this poor horses
What a load of crap!! Dressage horse suffer more abuse than reiners, but I guess it’s acceptable to spur a horse every step it takes, and ride it into a set hand with no give? The FEI is just butthurt because the reiners are drawing more attention and bigger crowds than dressage and jumping.
Not sure that dressage horses at the age of 3 and 4 are crammed into a “spin” aka “canter pirouette” in dressage, where they are much older with much more mature bones and a lot more training. Sorry, but the exposure i have had to the reining, cutting horse worlds (not to mention the barrel racers) the “western” world needs to get with it and stop the ridiculous mechanics to force horses to mold into the expected manoeuvres. The only reason these trainers and riders get away with this is that the poor quarter horse breed has been bred into submission for so many generations that they have no fight left in them…..So Kim Hice, maybe have a look at the actual training methods that are used.
Give your head a shake, if you think putting two bits in your horses mouth and throwing on a crank bridle and cranking in so tight that it has caused serious damage to the horses face and forcing horses into an unnatural headset with no release is any more normal than you are very wrong. Every disapline has down falls, and believe someone who has experience in both, you can not say more training goes into a dressage horse. There is lots of abuse in every disapline, open your eyes.
If you truly have experience in both, and your description of what you think dressage is reveals your lack of knowledge, you would know that a Grand Prix dressage horse has much more training than a reiner. You can’t even compare the two. There’s bad trainers and riders in every discipline but what the FEI is saying here is that reining and their related breed organization AQHA is refusing to get on board with the requirements to keep their status.
I’m a dressage trainer now but grew up doing reining. I’ve worked under top reining trainers as well as top dressage trainers. Both have bad and consistently say bad things about each other. But Reining is the dressage of the western world. The only difference is that dressage is much more closely related to the natural movement of any horse while reining carriage more closely mimics the slow moving quarter horse of the old west. They didn’t expell as much vertical energy as the military horses of Europe. So that’s where they came from. They are very much alike. There are horrible reining trainers who tie their horse’s noses to the saddle horn and leave them there overnight and there are dressage trainers who tighten a noseband to the point of cutting off oxygen. In my experience, reining has been more cruel and vicious, however. I’d venture to say every reining trainer Ive ever met uses tie downs, training forks, and gets the head down by spurring and see-sawing with the hands. And I, for one train dressage with zero mechanical aids and only a subtle spur on occasion…. And I know many others like that. So that’s my experience. My dressage trainer (who’s also a vet) comes over from Germany and has begun working with some of the top reining trainers in Texas to teach them to be softer and get results without pressure on the mouth, which is pretty cool. But most are highly against the idea of any guy from Germany teaching them anything ?♀️
no fight left in them ? ahem….what quarter horses are you talking about, no the reining ones I guess. And the reining horses are not crammed into a spon at 3 or 4 they are crammed at 2 or 3, earlier sometimes. Which doesn”t change that the dressage horses are abused and abused and that obviously no one care. My vet asked me if I was planing to use drugs on my reining horse before a certain big event in France so I answered no , not my habit. He answered ; woaw many of my show jumping and dressage customers are going there with plenty of syringes !!! Lovely 🙁
Bravo, nicely written!
Kathleen your reply also applys to english riding, i agree that a lot of western events use a lot of abuse, not all but a lot, but there is every bit if not more abuse in english events, by the way im a former horse trainer so i speak from experience
A proper reining spin is nothing like a canter pirouette…. maybe you should follow your own advice
This is a good letter Kathleen. I left the Reining Horse business 10 years ago because I couldn’t stand to watch the abusive practices in the Pacific North West ( Canada and the U.S.) these monsters were using to obtain money and trophies. ‘Fencing’ flat out into solid objects to get a stop, hauling and ripping and sawing on horses’ mouths with curb bits, spurring with rowels you could shave with, kicking horses in the head when they fell over after spinning 9 or 10 times flat out, nerving horse’s tails so they’d be quiet when hooked in the gut with a spur. A lot of really nice horses were destroyed mentally and physically, or both, by the time they were 6 years old and sold on to rookies with crippled legs and shut down minds. Almost no one I met actually knew how to ride a horse correctly, and neither were they interested to learn. The ‘dressage’ I’ve seen is also really bad with crippled horses finished by the time they’re 7 or 8 years old, but nothing close to Reiners or Cutters. There’s no place for either disciplines in the Olympic Games and don’t let me get started on Endurance Riders, or Tennessee Walking horses.
Amen to everything you have said, James. I finally chose to show Hunters. Natural head carriage, natural foot and gait. Fence height that doesn’t break bones on landing. I think a minimum of cruelty sport wide.
Maybe start with the thoroughbred racing.
Monte, TB racing is cruel. No two ways about it. The horses give all they have and then are loaded on a truck for a slaughter house. I want it stopped.
EXCUSE ME, but I’d just like to say that just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you should voice it. Before you speak remember that nothing we in the horse Industry do is natural and can all be considered cruel. Horse were not put on this planet for us to ride, they were wild animals that we domesticated. Tb racing or any horse racing is not nearly as bad people like you want to make it sound. As someone who has been around and involved in horse my whole life along with most of my family, I’ve done many disciplines. I have to strongly say that race horses get the best care. Not only do they get three meals a day, they receive vet treatment as needed and to just make sure there aren’t any problems, they are groomed at least once a day, washed after every race and conditioned to do what they do. And most tracks have made it that if a race horse is found in slaughter the last trainer and owner are tracked down and banned from racing. Once the horses are done racing they are found nice homes. It is because incompetent and people with out clue take on these tb’s that the end up going for slaughter! And like anything in life there are bad people that don’t care about the rules or who they hurt. ( animal or person) so do best to remember and keep in mind there are a lot of good people out there in all disciplines. And try a day in a good barn for which ever discipline you want to hate on before you do so. And we shouldn’t be just getting rid of the problem it should be fixed.
In response to Emily…….
“EXCUSE ME, but I’d just like to say that just because you have an opinion doesn’t mean you should voice it.”
You should have stopped there!
Yes there was the controversy over Roll Kur but that is peanut butter compared to what you see in reining.. Behind the vertical ? The are almost beyond the horizontal!!! Dressage horses are most of the time not even ridden till they are 4 and it takes About 6 years to get them to the highest Level… not 6 months like in reining !
Are you seriously comparing a dressage bump spur to a rawl spur??? Geesh if you’re complaining that’s fine but keep it real.
That’s not correct. I’ve been in both worlds. Dressage does have it’s issues but nothing like western. I’m relieved beyond words that the FEI put a stop to reining being in the same breath as Olympic jumping, eventing and dressage.
Ummm… not even a close comparison…. maybe go to a few different events at upper level. Then see if you thin Dressage is as bad as reining or cowhorse…
Right on !! This photo doesn’t represent the quality of horse or rider and should be disregarded. Its a hoax. I love watching a beautiful dressage horse but a reiner looks happier. Spectators love the reiners. Goodbye FEI.
Dressage riders ride in dynamic contact not a fixed hand, and we’re not spurring out horses, we are allowing our ankles to remain mobile and flex down to avoid bracing. (If they know wtf they are doing.)
I love the idea of reining but I have witnessed the effects of riding 2 year olds like they are fully mature 7 year olds and let me tell you, it’s heart breaking.
That’s a crock of horse shit
Kim – there are sure a lot of 15, 18, 22 year old dressage horses who are sound & still working…I think one would have to look far & wide to find a sound, sane reining horse at the same age….every discipline has its problems, cruel, greed driven practices, AQHA by not enforcing their own rules let this happen. I hope the practices of big reining go the way of the Big Lick – small & obscure, despised by responsible horse folk.
Finally, some One has laid a benchmark standard! Well done
So sad that these pictures are shown like this is every single reiner. These are 2 second moments of an hour of riding. I wasn’t there, but why didn’t the FEI say something about it at the moment and possibly fine the people who were doing these things? Why blame the WHOLE reining community and ruin it for everyone? So sad..
Video from one of the Europe Horse TV filmed it going on more than hour. Reported and that done. So not a moment – nice try. Stop condone abuse. Raise your game.
A bit extremist aren’t you?
Sad to say but, when observing the warm up pens at any and all reining shows, you see many of the trainers using excessive forms of physical abuse to their horses as training methods. Again, sad to say, this has been become a common and very acceptable practice. The longevity, as show horses and maybe ending up in another discipline such as the new Ranch Riding discipline. is only sustained by injecting hocks, stifles, bursa, and DRUGS. If you don’t accept this opinion and observation attend any horse show….NRHA or AQHA(AQHA has tempered abuse at their shows by having stewards monitoring and handing our warnings reported to the organization).
They have given warnings and it’s the NRHAs responsibility to enforse laws at the events that they run. They have not been enforcing the rules and now they get the boot.
Are you seriously comparing a dressage bump spur to a rawl spur??? Geesh if you’re complaining that’s fine but keep it real.
When competition xomes into play and money is involved you will have people wanting to win at all costs….the cost is the treatment of the animal!!! The animal becomes a tool to success….win at all costs…inhumane treatment to the horse….
First a Dressage canter pirouette is not the same a spin and if the horse had a canter cadence while spinning, it would be marked as deficient. Spins require a horse to turn with a cross over step as naturally as they would at the water tank -just faster. The collection is nowhere near as intense and don’t even go there about the bridle bits. Dressage horses are forced to operate within the confines of each manuver while reiner’s are taught to seek the open door and move through each manuver. There is an incredible difference and only one requires the horse to submit into conformity. If the rules against certain behaviors are broken – inforce the rules, punish the people and educate the sport as to what will be accepted. I bet there are plenty of infractions in the other disciplines too. Stereotype and impressions are hard to break through. Would the FEI like it better if the reiner’s wore helmets that didn’t remind them of mean, roping cowboys?
every step a dressage horse takes is forced and controlled and I don’t believe they stay any sounder than reining horses….most reiners are started at 2 but not really in competition till age 3. Jumping ruins horses in a hurry. I love reining and will continue to breed reiners. this article is misleading at best.
I come from a western background and I train in dressage. I have to agree banning the whole sport is not an answer. To stop abuse you should dig in with both heels and try to make it better. Take a look to see who are the ones abusing and disband them not everyone. Dressage is all about soft hands allowing the horse to hold himself in carriage and I believe reigning horses can do the same without using abusive techniques. I also know trainers that are not abusive and do not drug their reining horses. It’s not fair to them to not recognize the sport. Since the FEI is no longer recognizing AQHA what does that mean for our quarter horses in dressage and eventing? Disbanding them is ignoring the problem not fixing it. This is just my opinion though.
Completely agree Amanda! Reining can be done safely as can dressage et al. We start with dressage as the basic foundation for every horse after groundwork has been successfully completed. Banning reining won’t stop the bad apples though any more than those in all the other disciplines.
The problem is that the people in charge of banning the bad ones ARE the bad ones. So, the only way to put a stop to it is for everyone else to not associate with them.
Please watch this amazing moment in sports by WEG silver medalist, Ms Dreamy and Dann Huss:
Awesome isn’t it!!! A true partnership with that wonderful little horse showing she is oh so very willingly guided, looking like she’s enjoying herself and doing a beautiful run that would have to be a top score. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong – but I’ve never seen an eventer/show jumper/dressage rider lose a bridle and have enough faith and confidence in their horse to know they could continue on regardless. Love, love, love this combination. How proud would you be !!!
USET rider Elisa Wallace does dressage and jumping demonstrations without a bridle on both her top level T-breds and her adopted BLM mustangs. SHe posts many videos of it on Youtube.
Not amazing if you think of what this horse is feeling in those stops & spins. How long do they stay sound in their hocks. I have been invited to become a reining judge but could not put my name to it because of the attitude to these horses & what they are made to do, not to mention the riders weight riding them into the ground literacy.
Don’t kid yourself, there is horse abuse in all of the disciplines! The more money that is involved, the more abuse. To punish the abusers would bankrupt the disciplines. The Reiner’s are just too new to the FEI to know how to make more money and do it discreetly, to stay under the radar. With popularity comes a new market to make money. As each discipline has grown and offered prize money the prices of everything have skyrocketed. The super horses are few and far between. So, to meet the demand, chemicals and abusive training methods are used to try to artificially produce great horses. As long as there is a demand these tactics will be employed. Unfortunately these almost great horses will never be great. They will continue to be abused. The truly super horses, like cream, will always raise to the top. Their heart and talent can not be duplicated. So, as long as money continues to be in the forefront of the industry, abuse throughout the disciplines will continue.
There are bad apples in every sport. The reiners I know are great horsemen and care deeply for their horses. People need to stop jumping on the bandwagon and really learn about a sport.
Looks like FAKE NEWS has made it into the horse industry, as this is so untrue. Have a look at Dan Huss showing Ms Dreamy in the finals of the WEG competition. No Bridle on the great mare with a standing ovation for horse and rider!
What about the other disciplines?? Dressage and endurance for a start!
Wheres the uproar, banning, and enforcing on the Big Lick!
Yes, where is the uproar over Big Lick??
We need to stop abuse in all disciplines. No area of showing is Untouched by abuse and abusive training methods. Dressage reining western riding of all types 2 jumping distance writing they’re not Untouched by abuse in all breeds Arabs Quarter Horses thoroughbreds on and on. This isn’t a raining day it goes across all disciplines and needs to be fine and consequences for the actions.
Only certain trainers do it the harsh way , mostly the big winners unfortunately but u want to talk about abused horses look no further then the walking horse people , did u ever see a whole hoof ripped off , check it out sometime
Oh please.. YES– these bad folks need out but “rollkur” and the reigning crap is the same thing.. Anyone who puts crap abuse for competition wins needs to be banned. In ANY discipline– drugged or water starved hunters, TWH with gassed legs,, Peanut rollers with their noses in the ground who have their heads tied to the ceiling the night before.. Jumpers who have been “poled”.. All of it… People need to love the horses and the sport for what it is… You can’t pick and choose any discipline, I have seen killers in all of them.. All for $$$.
Nrha, and affiliates time to get honest and clean up. No more refusing to self police to cover your friends, class sponsors, etc,. As a rookie exhibitor years ago, I asked trainers and judges, “off the record” about bloody, dripping sides and mouths coming out of the pen. I got shrugs. I got “the wording in the rulebook is vague”. Well, rewrite the rulebooks and enforce them.
There are some great trainers out there who don’t abuse, but don’t win big. Reward them for taking the high road.
This is sad. There is abuse in all disciplines. I am a reiner and know trainers who use the natural horsemanship methods and good techniques to communicate with the horse. They don’t crank on the mouth or draw blood. Tools such are spurs and bits are dangerous in the wrong hands in any discipline. It has to change with what the judges are rewarding. No reward for the behaviour will change the behavior. Western Pleasure trainers tie heads up to make the necks tired so they carry lower, but no one sees that! The problem is in every discipline.
Why are we talking about dressage it reining that been banned . I was a western rider before I did dressage and my opinion western and Reining are very cruel when I was in the game . I couldn’t believe the drugs that were use it was unbelievable.
I personally think this is fantadtic news But the sad part and the reality is that it’s not just reigning. All disciplines have their way and means and cruelty to get these poor animals to perform. All disciplines need to be investigated and sorted out. The horse is one of the most forgiving animals and we as humans take advantage and force these poor creatures do so many things they are not born to do and cruel methods are practiced. It’s disgusting.
FEI has terminated their agreement with NRHA and AQHA because they failed to comply with FEI regulations in three areas. In my mind the main two are stewarding in warmup pens etc and the misuse of drugs/drug testing. Reining will continue as an FEI sport with the national reining associations being connected to FEI via the national federation such as the British Equestrian Federation. NRHA and AQHA are American organisations with international affiliates such as British Reining, a BEF affiliate and AQHA UK.
I’m disgusted by all of this . It’s disgusting and shameful, how does one not feel any of this is wrong? Each and every equine discipline has this horrific type of torture (training). Disgusting. Thank goodness for social media and getting this info out.
But dressage is just as bad
Only they abuse them in a stall with twine tied though their mouth around their neck
Or pleasure horses who get their heads tied up for 24 hours with no food or water
A few pics taken at the correct time
If you’re going to ban one discaplin then ban them all because in all styles there’s some kind of abuse from certain trainers.
AQHA never “joined” the USEF umbrella, for a reason….drug rules totally different. AQHA has always marched to its own drum. Read the drugs not allowed at USEF competitions VS drug rules at AQHA sanctioned competitions. Every equine discipline has cruelty. AQHA’s handbook on health and welfare every other page doesn’t hold water. Dressage has to get rid of its rollkur but so far not much progress has been made though folks are talking more openly with pics from FEI competitions on social media. It was time the FEI started saying no. Endurance folks have been suspended left and right, especially the Saudis. The FEI, finally, appears to be headed down a road of no return and has had enough of cruel training methods……hope it is pervasive thru out the disciplines it oversees….. Go have a look at the FEI website to see who is suspended and why…….
This is right to be punished and any other abuse in the FEi Horse World should be punished to…
we are no more in the middle age.
FEI can only react to reports from TDs, judges,management, medics at shows, what happens at home is sadly not part of this decision. So this is shocking that FEI had to resort to this. It’s the tip of the iceberg, that they only see at show level. Well done to people who use their camera phones, this can be submitted as a complaint to FEI. I have known trainers barred from showing for cruelty.
Not to mention the fact that most of these horses never get to do what horses were put on the planet to do. Go out and canter and run in nature…on a trail…in the mountains…on grass…in the hills. Too many show and sport horses go from stall to arena to wash rack and never have their minds stimulated and never get to ‘be horses.’ I have heard some great European dressage trainers tell me that he insists on his horses going out for runs on the trail and tries to convince other sport horse owners to do the same. Unfortunatley, I have seen dozens and dozens of show jumper and dressage horse owners who never take their horses out to ‘be horses’ and wonder why they have unhappy animals. That in itself is abuse.
We giggle with glee and watch “in total wonder” as our Arabian (endurance) horses frolic, Gallop, buck and kick their heels, flying through our large acreage pastures. They get to BE HORSES and they love it. They’re happy. We’re happy.
We have and have had many high AERC mileage horses 3,000 miles; 5,000 miles; Decade Team awards; horses still competing (Drug-Free) into their late Teens and early Twenties. All Disciplines need to let their horses go out for Trail Rides. Fun Rides.
Horse owners Must Unite. We need to preserve trails and trail rights/priviledges in order to keep our trusty steeds happy and healthy. I’m reading a lot of negatives about AQHA. However, Reining aside – that organization has done a pile of good stuff for the horse industry as a whole! They are huge in trail preservation as is AERC. As responsible horse owners, we need to back those efforts. Let us Move Forward and leave a legacy of trails and open spaces for our children and grand children to enjoy!
Yes yes yes!!!!!!!
It’s about time. It’s beyond unimaginable to watch 250+ Big men, ride these 2 yr olds into the ground literally heaving and dripping, shaking barely can stand .
Despicable. You want to speak out, or file complaints but u think they’ll come at you. Horse industry hardcore competitors, they will bury you.
If u don’t like i
I have a reining horse that rides in a snaffle and no spurs. He has gone better for me than for all of the five trainers who had him before I bought him. Yes he is a reject from most types of abuse that go along with reining horses. Untill there are no quick fixes there will be abuse with short cuts that don’t always work. My guy was labelled dangerous (he will kill you). Now he packs along old ladies and little kids. I hope and pray that the new trainers coming up use good old fashioned horsemanship and that there are no more futurities until four year olds. That might help but it wont solve the nature of the beast who wants to subdue and conquer the horse.
Hi every one, some really interesting comments as per usual. BUT WHY is there nothing on the FEI website about this? WHY is the last storey listed about reining called ‘reining on the rise’ published Sep 2018 if its being banned? And WHY is there still upcoming events listed for 2019? Does this mean this blog is telling porkies? Because I’m really struggling to find any other information on it! Which makes me happy as I have never had any negative experiences with the sport. Having been around reining Quarter horses my whole life I have seen some of the best the world has to offer grow old, injury free and dare I say it ‘happy’ horses. I have never seen anything personally that I found to be a serious welfare concern but perhaps that is just down to the people I am fortunate to know and have only been around the training and home side of things as I myself am more involved in English riding and competition. I know issues do exist, just like any other discipline has its problems, there will always be bad people. However, it looks like FEI reining is going no where guys and hopefully this can aid in routing out the bad ones and not ruining things for the good people of the reining community!
Jasmine – best you read the published statements from the NRHA and AQHA confirming they are no longer part of FEI. Websites are not always up to date and the information was made public in November 2018. Quarter Horse News published information on this also. Yes, we agree it may help be rid of the bad people including those on the board.
The FEI enables abuse like crazy in every discipline they oversee. The only times they make a change is if it’s making them look bad.