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  1. #1
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    Default Horses today vs 30 years ago.

    It may just be hindsight but...
    They seemed to be smarter, smaller, cheaper, could jump higher, could do more, a larger percentage were unpapered and came out of someones backyard.



    Are the horses getting worse or is it the riders are getting worse?
    Are they breeding horses because of a fancy pedigree, color or for usability?
    Is there such a thing as hybrid vigor in horses?
    Are we feeding them worse? Worse being overfeeding/suplementing.
    I don't think I could find a 1970s type horse today if I tried.



  2. #2
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    Nor could one find a 1960's type horse. You know, the one that could do it all!

    Too many hot house flowers now I think. That could be due to a lot of things--lack of open space being the major factor.

    I am surprised at all the routine feeding of so many different supplements. Perhaps for a horse in heavy competition it's a good thing. Seems there is a supplement for EVERTYHING! Can't say that I think they are all necessary.

    Times sure have changed!



  3. #3
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    I think as far as breeding goes- it depends on the breed. But horses are bred for their market and often for the shows. As the shows changed so did the horses.
    My background is in hunters/jumpers. It used to be years ago that everyone rode tbreds off the track and the shows were less standardized. Lets use hunters as an example- todays hunter needs to be athletic enough to 1. jump the jumps in style 2. make the correct number of strides on a 12ft stride 3. get a clean lead change 4. be exceptional in conformation, movement, etc To get ribbons at shows. Years ago, a horse that could move well, jump the height, and get the change were all that was needed. So there were many of them that could do this and many lived at home with their owners.
    I think for most horse shows, as time went on, the standards became more specific to certain type of horse and that excluded alot.



  4. #4
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    Comes down to totally different expectations of modern horses and horses in the past.

    Less USEFUL, common sense horsemanship, in people with horses now, than what was more common then because people were REALLY USING the horses then.

    Fashion and advertising certainly play a huge part in modern thinking about how horses are cared for. Most owners are very uncomfortable in making feed decisions, so they follow the best advertising. They often micromanage every detail, because they are so worried about doing something "wrong" and being RESPONSIBLE for a problem. Feed's popularity comes and goes, depending on who is the current spokesman for the brand name.

    And then there are the unusable or aged animals that are not able to work. Owners now keep them going for years, spending enormous amounts on them so they can hobble about. Years past, people might keep one animal for a while, but they put them down too. They were not the expense because people could not afford to keep them without any returns. Just not enough money or room.

    Many things have improved, training methods, medical help, but other things have gone south badly. Genetic diseases are getting common, badly built animals are acceptable, even if you can't keep them sound for work. People buying unsound animals, because "every horse has problems" and thinking that is NORMAL!! We NEVER bought unsound horses back "in the day", would have been laughed off the show grounds for being taken to the cleaners by a seller. Horses stayed sounder because we commonly started it older. Very unlike today.



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvs2ridewbs View Post
    My background is in hunters/jumpers. It used to be years ago that everyone rode tbreds off the track and the shows were less standardized.

    The racetrack rejects that I remember also looked more like warmbloods than the TBs of today. Are the TBs getting lighter in the bone or am I imagining it?

    Also a big pet peeve of mine is the 'hothouse flowers' born and raised in a stall or manicured turnout. You can't see that on papers but it makes for problems down the road. Young horses way back were raised on grass with room to run and you didn't break them until they were three or four (sometimes older). Space is rare today.

    Also I remember the horses back then looking a lot more nicked and scared up than today. I also recall that as a rule they were harder to catch so not everything back then was good.



  6. #6
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    We've become a nation of sissies who are deathly afraid of risk and possible injury and we take ridiculous measures to placate our fears.

    Our collective sissyness and over-protectiveness has permitted the advent of the china horse that isn't really good for much/ doesn't stay sound/ never develops the "brain" that comes of "learning from mistakes".

    And we're raising kids to be as china-like as our horses, which bodes well for neither the horse nor human population.

    When I was a kid, I remember reading some kind of article about Arabian horse breeding, and it was the opinion of the author that having so many women making breeding decisions was going destroy the breed. Author was concerned that women with a horsey hobby would not put the same importance on horses being tough, sound, and sensible as would men who had needed horses for transportation, farming, ranching, warfare, etc.



  7. #7
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    Default

    We actually had a discussion on this the other day with a western trainer (I'm a H/J person)...

    I'm young so I don't remember the '60s or '70s but I'm gonna take a stab at it from what I've heard from my elders...

    It's a slow evolution of horses being bred for a certain sport. Thoroughbreds are more and more bred to just simply run - they have long cannon bones and a lot of them are built seemingly downhill with bad necks. It doesn't matter what they look like in racing, so long as they can run. Stack up generations of new horse flesh turning over in a matter of two to five years and you're going to end up with a bunch of horses bred to do only one thing - run. A few lucky ones will make it out of the lot sound enough mentally and physically to find another job, but most won't be much better than a companion horse.

    Same thing goes for the hunters. You used to be able to use thoroughbreds for the hunters because they generally had better conformation and everyone was riding a thoroughbred in a flat uncomfortable saddle (let's bring back the Crosbys and Hermes Steinkraus!). Also, people found it acceptable to ride thoroughbreds in the hunters. As the judging became more selective towards the idea of the modern hunter, in order to be competitive, people started breeding (or importing) for that sole purpose. It's my understanding that hunter horses almost never sold for the insane amount of money people will spend on them today and most horses were expected to do everything from hunters to equitation to jumpers.

    I also think that our riders have become lazier or less informed than those in the olden days. I had a trainer who grew up on the East Coast riding with George Morris and he used to go to shows by himself as a junior to qualify for medal finals. No one would think about doing this today! (Except maybe me...haha) There's been an overall general move away from self-sufficient horse care motivated partially from the dangers of the sport and I think also partially from the money that trainers make from dependent clients. I also think horses are breaking down faster because we show them more frequently than any horse should have to show.

    I think there's also an emphasis on moving up quicker in the sport. People these days don't like to wait for anything! If you have the money, why not buy yourself a packer so you can skip four years of learning how to handle a horse. The trainers won't mind either because you just gave them a good commission, and saved them four years of teaching you how to ride. Now they can take you to a show in six months and make their resume look better. Happy campers all around.

    I would love to go back to the days of hotter thoroughbreds and better all around riders, cheaper horse shows, and better horse care. I love thoroughbreds, unfortunately so many get screwed up on the track that it's hard to find one that isn't broken or fried. And it's getting too expensive to keep any extra project horses around.



  8. #8
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    Default "What's wrong with the kids of today?"

    Joint injections didn't exist... for better and for worse.

    We also don't have the same time, money and LAND that it takes to raise a horse slowly and keep him fit enough to last "the old fashioned way" for a long career that justifies his expense.

    No, I don't think breeding TBs to "just run" is a recent enough phenomenon to account for their apparent modern weakness. Breeding them to be small, light-boned sprinters may be the breeding agenda that non-racing TB fans find a problem.

    Yes, there is such a thing as hybrid vigor. Are we losing that in most horse breeds? I don't know, but call me in 75 years after we have seen the effects of some stallions becoming immortal and a few becoming wildly fecund thanks to the advent of frozen semen.

    And yes, it's all the fault of the riders putting in the money. When we don't want to have to learn to ride, train, or maintain a horse, we support particular kinds of breeding strategies.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  9. #9
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    SP56 I Agree.



  10. #10
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    Yes 5, IMO the OTTBs are indeed lighter boned.
    I grew up riding in the late 70's-80's and the barn where I rode, boarded and worked also did trails, sales, training, etc. The trail horses were all auction buys, almost all grades of unknown breeding. Within a few weeks of purchase they were out on the trails with weekend warriors who had never ridden before. Bought in late winter/early spring...by autumn they were showing the local circuits both rated and unrated and doing very well. Many were then sold at the shows, the income then used to buy more the next year. A handful never were offered for sale, but many to most were. Within 6-10 months they went from green broke to trail horses to running barrels to hunter or jumpers. They did hunter paces, some were also being driven. And almost all were able to be ridden safely by a rank beginner to beng shown in rated classes by experienced riders and do well.
    The OTTBs were also purchased...those never went on the trail string but were also worked with, shown and sold. We rarely offered anything for sale before the shows. Back then the biggest time to buy a horse was fall, not spring. Because that's when show horses were being sold. Projects were bought in spring.
    But back then there were more of us younger and older kids riding. And when you were riding...you rode all day long. In school months you rode before and after school. In summer you got the barn at 6 am and left well after dark. And you rode, rode, rode. You worked as a trail guide taking out trails, you conditioned horses on rides (out on the trails riding one, ponying another on 45 minute working trots...all horses for conditioning rides at least 5 days per week) and you did schooling rides and then yoou took lessons. The lessons were earned by doing the conditioning rides, working as a trail guide and helping with the haying or cleaning tack or mucking stalls. And that was a typical barn in my area back then, all the other barns I knew of did the same or similar. It definitely weeded out the less serious kids, it was a ton of work! But for many of us we never considered it work. Dingbats that we were...low or unpaid child labor, LOL! But we loved it.
    Today it's not as normal or maybe even not possible. Litigious issues, child labor issues, busy schedules and lives, rising costs, etc. Times change...but I do greatly miss those great grade horses we had back then. There was little stigma to having a grade horse...they did everything and did it well. Maybe not top of the line well but decently in good company. And they did everything, and was safe doing it. After show season ended (nobody went to FL for the winter back then that I knew) you'd see almost every show horse wearing a thick winter coat out on the trails in the snow on weekends. Riders bundled up to the eyeballs riding bareback to stay warm. Playing at racing each other, hide and seek, pulling a sled, you name it and we did it on horseback. It would be wonderful if our kids today could have enjoyed that lifestyle.
    Nowadays in my area the only way to find really bombproof all around riding horses is to grab any ranch broke horses that get bought by the truckload and shipped up here for sale. They come mostly from the midwest, and I'd bet that the folks where they come from laugh at us stupid New Englanders paying $1000-$3000 for these horses that they sell for a lot less but to us it's a bargain and a half for a safe, sane and sound horse. And despite all the folks in this area who will claim to only have imports or very expensive horses...those truckloads that come up here are known through the grapevine and before the airbrakes on the trucks stop hissing there are carloads of folks there hollering out bids before they're even unloaded. They go right into backyards as family horses, right to big barns as lesson horses or right to sales barns and the prices triple in about 5 minutes. After 6 months those prices are *way* more than tripled.
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  11. #11
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    PS: Does anyone else notice a whole lot more health issues in horses these days? Now we have had great advances in some of the horse health issues from then to now...but there's a whole lot of common health issues now that just weren;t common at all back then. Horses showed and were ridden hard year long, did a little of everything. And did it well into their 20s. Some into their 30s. I didn't know anyone getting joint injections, on supplements and very very few who had stiff old horses.
    Fewer horses got colic, but back then there were probably more deaths from it. Colic surgery wasn't common and very risky and usually deadly. Not that it has improved all that much considering all the other advances made though.
    The horses just seemed healthier and hardier back then. Could be selective memory though...
    You jump in the saddle,
    Hold onto the bridle!
    Jump in the line!
    ...Belefonte



  12. #12
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    Dec. 23, 2003
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    I started taking lessons in about 1967. The barn wasn't fancy, but the teacher was strict about horse and tack care - and our manners.

    She had an OTTB (a son of Nashua) and we kids all found that very impressive! The school horses were all grade horses, but they could do just about anything. We jumped, inside and outside courses, rode on the trail, went to shows around the state, and went fox hunting. We jumped over just about anything. I distinctly remember jumping a picnic table a bunch of times - the heavy wooden kind from a state park, and on the outside course there was a 3' 6" hogsback jump made out of telephone poles. It's crazy to think about now, but we didn't think twice back then. I'm not sure how the horses were able to do it, maybe nobody thought they couldn't, so they just did.

    In about my third lesson, I fell off 3 times. The teacher said to get back on, it took three falls to make you a rider, and I did it. My parents had brainwashed me that the stricter the teacher, the more I would learn.

    The second place I rode let you sign up to go out on the trail with a bunch of other kids on Sunday afternoon. We rode all over the place! There were bunches of jumps out there and we jumped them. Galloped across the polo field. The two years I did it, nobody, horse nor child, was injured. I don't even remember anyone falling off. What a liability nightmare that would be now.

    The times really were just different. People my parents age had lived through the pain and uncertainty of WWII. Spouses, friends, and siblings had died in faraway places. Recreational activities here probably didn't seem very dangerous to them.

    I'm just running off at the mouth here. "Back in my day... blah, blah. But it's hard to understand the freedom if you weren't there.



  13. #13
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    As I remember from way back when, there were plenty of colic cases just as there are today. Obviously, the treatment was dffferent then. Most of the time , the horse was put down.

    It does seem that since we can now identify so many types of injuries, seems like EVERY horse has something wrong with it. I guess the harder you look, the more likely you are to find something wrong. Years ago, the biggies were navicular and suspensories. Always just "suspensories"-- no further clarification was given.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dispatcher View Post
    Nor could one find a 1960's type horse. You know, the one that could do it all!
    I have 3 of them in my barn.
    Music is a TBx QH and she has done
    Recognized eventing through Training (and unrec through Prelim)
    Recognized and unrecognized Adult Amateur Jumpers (A show)
    Recognized and unrecognized Adult Amateur Hunters (A show)
    Recognized and unrecognized Dressage through 2nd level
    Fox hunted
    Group trail rides
    Trail clearing
    Lesson horse
    Pony horse for yearlings
    Parades
    Gallop bareback through the snow.

    Spy is an old-style TB (many think he is a QH), and while he is not as versatile as Music, he has done
    Eventing through Novice
    Hunters
    Jumpers
    Dressage
    Pony Club
    Fox hunting
    Tral rides
    Pony Horse for yearlings

    Belle is a Conn x TB (plenty of those around in the 60s) who has done
    Eventing through Training /Prelim
    A/A Jumpers at A shows
    Unrecognized hunters
    Dressage
    Trail rides
    Parades
    Gallop bareback through the snow.


    Chief is the only one who isn't a "60s type" horse, as he is a Anglo x Irish x French, and neither the Irish nor the French weere common in the US in the 60s. He hasn't done much yet becuase he is green, but I expect him to be just as versatile.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janet View Post
    I have 3 of them in my barn.
    Music is a TBx QH and she has done
    Recognized eventing through Training (and unrec through Prelim)
    Recognized and unrecognized Adult Amateur Jumpers (A show)
    Recognized and unrecognized Adult Amateur Hunters (A show)
    Recognized and unrecognized Dressage through 2nd level
    Fox hunted
    Group trail rides
    Trail clearing
    Lesson horse
    Pony horse for yearlings
    Parades
    Gallop bareback through the snow.

    Spy is an old-style TB (many think he is a QH), and while he is not as versatile as Music, he has done
    Eventing through Novice
    Hunters
    Jumpers
    Dressage
    Pony Club
    Fox hunting
    Tral rides
    Pony Horse for yearlings

    Belle is a Conn x TB (plenty of those around in the 60s) who has done
    Eventing through Training /Prelim
    A/A Jumpers at A shows
    Unrecognized hunters
    Dressage
    Trail rides
    Parades
    Gallop bareback through the snow.


    Chief is the only one who isn't a "60s type" horse, as he is a Anglo x Irish x French, and neither the Irish nor the French weere common in the US in the 60s. He hasn't done much yet becuase he is green, but I expect him to be just as versatile.
    Excellent!!!



  16. #16
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    It might depend on where you live, too. One thought I had was that the way people live has changed.

    When I was a kid in the 70s, in a small town, everyone who had an acre or two had a paddock, shed and pony or two in the backyard. The kids rode around, met their friends. Horses used to go by our house every day. I'd run out to watch every time I heard their hooves clopping on the road.

    You can still see places like this - when I was up in rural Vermont a few years ago, every yard had a fence around it and a couple of horses. I can see those old paddocks in the (now expensive) town I live in - house after house with old empty paddocks and small barns in back. The kids that live there now have four-wheelers, or watch television or play video games.

    I wonder if, in some parts of the country, either zoning or just lifestyle changes have ended that aspect of childhood.

    Kids who had ponies back then, well, there were enough of them in any given town to have lots of small local shows - gymkhana, western, english, etc. In a nearby town in Massachusetts I read an article describing thousands of people turning out for a local show and rodeo in the early 1970s. There's not even a boarding stable in that town anymore. Most of the farmland has been turned into houses with big mowed yards - not a horse in sight. Nobody playing outdoors.

    A friend of mine who grew up in rural Connecticut used to train her endurance horses on the roads. Never saw a car. The area is much more built up and busy now, and she never takes the horses off her property except in a trailer.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dispatcher View Post
    As I remember from way back when, there were plenty of colic cases just as there are today. Obviously, the treatment was dffferent then. Most of the time , the horse was put down.

    It does seem that since we can now identify so many types of injuries, seems like EVERY horse has something wrong with it. I guess the harder you look, the more likely you are to find something wrong. Years ago, the biggies were navicular and suspensories. Always just "suspensories"-- no further clarification was given.
    I lost two horses to colic in the late 70s and early 80s. but I will agree that the horses did seem hardier back then. We rode and rode, jumped and jumped etc. We became one with our horses by galloping bareback over hill and dale. No kids do that now! I kept my horses at home and was sort of forced to learn horse management skills as we took care of up to 3 horses at one time.

    "Those were the days my friends! WE thought they'd never end..............."

    http://pets.webshots.com/photo/13605...71656457lGnKeF

    Mu junior/AO ottb Floyd. An all around horse but not really a hunter. More eq and jumpers!
    Steph

    http://community.webshots.com/user/stephanne014

    Rerider/Haydunker Clique

    RIP Barbaro, you were my hero!



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    PS: Does anyone else notice a whole lot more health issues in horses these days? Now we have had great advances in some of the horse health issues from then to now...but there's a whole lot of common health issues now that just weren;t common at all back then. Horses showed and were ridden hard year long, did a little of everything. And did it well into their 20s. Some into their 30s. I didn't know anyone getting joint injections, on supplements and very very few who had stiff old horses.
    Fewer horses got colic, but back then there were probably more deaths from it. Colic surgery wasn't common and very risky and usually deadly. Not that it has improved all that much considering all the other advances made though.
    The horses just seemed healthier and hardier back then. Could be selective memory though...
    Not my memory. The horse got just as many injuries, there just wasn't as much you could do for them.

    My gelding had "calcium deposits"/arthritis in his knees. The only treatment was bute and light exercise. Eventually he was in too much pain to eat, and he had to be put down at about 20. Which was considered a pretty good age in theose days. I don't remember personally knowing any horses over 24. Nowadays he could have had the deposits removed, and could have received joint supplements/injections, and might have lived without pain for much longer.

    My sister's mare bowed one tendon, and then the other. She was out of work for almost 2 years. Nowadays, apart from anything else, ultrasound could have given us the feedback that would have prevented th second bow. (she was, however, one of the few that was living, and still in work, at 23).

    Our first pony had a brain tumor and had to be put down at 18.

    My sister bought an TB who had been on the track, and he was so accident prone she had to board him at a show stable without "rough" turnout, just to keep him sound. He also had some sort of joint problem, I don't remember the details.

    If a horse coliced, there wasn't much you could do except tube them. (And I remember MORE horses colicing then than now- probably becuase worming was less effective.)

    If a horse foundered, there wasn't much you could do except pray. (And I remember MORE horses foundering then than now, especially ponies)

    Joint injections didn't exist, so nobody got them.
    Supplements didn't exist, so nobody got them.
    Every old horse I knew was stiff, at least part of the time.

    Horses were NOT ridden and shown all year. The fox hunters that were ridden hard over the winter had most of the summer off. The show horses that were ridden hard over the summer had the winter off. There was no "winter circuit".

    With no "Coggins test" there were more EIA positive carriers around, and more horses got "swamp fever".

    Fewer horses were vaccinated, and there were more cases of E. W. and V EE.

    I remember MORE horses with heaves.

    Obviously my memories of the 60s differ from yours - in terms of overall horse health. But they were a whole lot of fun otherwise.
    Janet

    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).



  19. #19
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    Andy (TB, born 1984), has done:

    flat racing
    hunters
    eventing
    junior jumpers
    equitation
    dressage
    foxhunting
    trailriding
    therapy horse
    lesson horse
    broodmare

    And those are just the things I'm aware of and/or appear in her passport.

    ETA to add that I want my young guy (also a TB) to have as broad an experience as possible. Since I'm an old fart, do dressage and trailriding mostly and don't jump anything higher than I can step over myself, I hope to have other riders take him eventing, foxhunting, etc.
    Last edited by Vesper Sparrow; Jun. 18, 2009 at 04:40 PM.



  20. #20
    5 is offline Grand Prix Premium Member
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    I remember a lot more people riding bareback then even if they had a saddle.
    Corrective shoing was temporary until the horse got better. (usually founder)
    The instructors taught a student how to fall and if you fell it was your fault not the horses.
    The horses seemed smarter and tricker back then (maybe I've become smarter and trickier.)
    More people had horse sense, even the fire trucks would turn off their siren while they passed a horse (wouldn't slow down but the siren was off).
    The saddles and bridles were so well made you would buy one and it would last 20 years if cleaned and oiled on a regular basis. You could have a pretty good idea of how long the person had been a horse owner by looking at their tack and guessing it's age.
    No one lunged a horse before riding they rode through the bucks then put the horse to work.
    Your training aids were halter, leadrope, saddle, bridle, crop (maybe spurs when you had been keeping your heels down for a year.)

    However more horses had worms and you learned to scape off bot eggs when you spotted them. I don't think most of the new horse riders would even recognized a bot egg if they saw one.



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