Most horse handlers are comfortable and totally confident with their horses, and expect a high level of obedience from their animals after hours of training and horse show preparations. At horse shows, when horses are anticipated to perform flawlessly, handlers or riders are nervous and often intolerant of their horses’ small goofs or perceived mistakes. Some of the handlers resort to whip, spurs or rough handling. In a model “in-hand” class, shanking is a forceful yanking of the lead line attached to the horse with a chain under his chin. A formal complaint was registered at the U.S. Arabian/Half-Arabian National Championships last October when allegations were made about abusive treatment that included both shanking and threatening use of the whip by specific handlers. Penalties were sought under Arabian Horse Association rules.
The USEF Hearing Committee Panel met about this complaint and has just released its decision. The panel reviewed shanking and whip use in depth and rendered a clearly-defined explanation and conclusion.
The panel termed shanking in competitions as “…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.” It noted that wanton aggressive force applied to the horse’s head from shanking is needless coercion to the horse, disallowed under AR115. Further, shanking and whip threatening/use might be considered “abuse or inhumane treatment under rule GR839.” Subsection 1 of Rule GR839 forbids inhumane treatment of a horse whether it is in his stall, schooling area, show ring or anywhere else on the competition grounds and applies to any and all persons with the horse. This rule also addresses punishment for acts against horses that are considered “excessive” by show officials.
Circumstances change, however, if a horse is out of control, becoming a danger to others near him and to himself – The current language in Rule AR116.6a3 states,
The USEF Hearing Committee Panel stated clearly in its decision that rule AR116.6a3 applies. This rule allows shanking in Arabian Halter classes and all competitions only in emergency situations. Shanking may only be applied to a horse if his behavior is “dangerously unruly” and drastic measure must be used to regain control of the horse in order to prevent harm to the horse or others.
Please watch the video attached to this article. with your caution, and see for yourself what some of these beautiful horses [and their delicate stunning heads] must endure from their handlers. One can only wonder at the training tactics at home.