I’ve been promising a post on Halter horses photo editing for a few days now. I wanted to devote more time to it than my lunch hour but life is a bit.. busy right now so, sorry. This will have to do.
AQHA registered over a hundred thousand horses last year. This number has dropped by about forty thousand but is still more than double any other registry, including the jockey club.
I wish I could tell you I had to search for these photographs. I didn’t. Thanks to the tumblr halter tag and google images I found these in about 20 seconds. I thought I would have to really work to find examples of the two big red flags displayed in one shot but yeah… it’s harder to find examples where they aren’t. All I had to do was search the tumblr Halter Horse tag, and run a quick image search on google. I didn’t even have to lok past the first pages to find more than enough examples. These four where my favorites though.
What’s so wrong with these pictures? Just the fact that the horses hooves have been edited out and the images put at a slight slant to offset their down hill build… you know.. edited with the intention of misleading. These are not unintentional and I have to ask… if there isn’t anything wrong with the direction Halter / AQHA is headed, why the edits to hide two of the biggest conformation problems these horses are faced with? This isn’t just a difference in styles, or english vs. western.. this is a genuine concern for the health of horses breed this way… and a concern for the horses who keep being bred despite the shrinking market of buyers. I don’t care about the halter industry, I do care about the babies who are sent to slaughter every year because of it. Good, sound horses go to slaughter every year so there isn’t much hope for a halter bred train wreck who’s legs can’t withstand the mass of their body.
A horse with tiny hooves and a heavy, downhill build is going to go lame years, decades before a horse with good conformation and yet it’s this heavy, down hill, dainty footed cowrse that wins in the Halter ring and stands at stud for anyone and their nag to purchase cover from.
Any idea why HYPP turned into such a problem? Because people liked the look more than they cared about what it was doing to the individual horse, and to the breed. As far as I’m concerned, this is the same reason why the cowrse look is so heavily defended, not because it’s GOOD for the horse but because it’s popular.
When artificial insemination was accepted by the AQHA the entire breeding industry was was revolutionized. Breeders once limited to using stallions in their region could now have semen shipped from across the country, or across the world. Stallions can now cover more mares than before AI but they also have to compete with every other stallion on market instead of just the ones in their region. Anyone with money to make, or loose in the industry had to adapt and like anything with money involved, people learned better ways to hide problems from buyers. The Internet only fueled this fire, word of mouth was replaced with Internet forums and fancy sales ads, conformation quickly lost out to more important things like being an “Own Son/Daughter of” or how many show points have been accumulated.
Color breeders, paper chasers, halter cowrse breeders and everyones favorite fluffy bunny can purchase semen from a Stallion picked by browsing the web. No research required, no knowledge of breeding or genetics or conformation required… in most cases today the mare doesn’t even need to be pre-approved. These edited and intentionally misleading photos? Think of them as online dating ads created just for the plethora of morons who don’t care about things like soundness or “improving the breed” - or who believe what the see on the Internet as gospel truth. It’s not just these ‘backyard breeders’ though who’ve been impacted… those super awesome AQHA supporters who have fooled themselves into thinking there isn’t anything wrong with the direction modern Halter horse can breed their mare to any stallion they want in hopes of creating the next generation of slaughter bound babies.
Anyone can breed their horse, it’s not exactly hard to get a mare knocked up but when a person isn’t empowered by papers or stupid enough to think there is a market for the babies the breed because the stallion is soOoososOO special, things like internet ads for stallions at stud become part of a major problem. Of course you expect a sales ad to show a horse in it’s best form - but if you have to EDIT the photo to do it? That’s straight up false advertising… and a sign of much larger problems.
I’ll ask again: if there is nothing wrong with the direction of the modern halter horse, why edit the pictures? If all these babies people defend the breeding of really have a use, why do so many go to slaughter? If AQHA doesn’t have a problem, why are quarter horses slaughtered more than any other breed?