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Resources for Big Lick horse rehab/retraining?

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  • Resources for Big Lick horse rehab/retraining?

    I'm an OTTB person and spend a lot of energy informally promoting OTTBs as pleasure mounts. This week's airing of the Big Lick crowd's dirty laundry has me wondering about those horses, and second careers for them after their miserable stint as show horses plied with pads and chemicals is over.

    What comes of them after their show careers are over? I've done some cursory searches for information/resources/groups about rehabbing and retraining discarded big lick horses. I didn't find much. There are lots of sites out there about humane TWH training, which are totally commendable.

    But what of the used up or unsuccessful big lick horse? What's the story here? Are these animals wrecked to a degree (mentally and physically) that they simply can't make the transition to pleasure mount, trail horse or pet? The lack of info on this has made me very, very curious.
    Don't wrassle with a hog. You just get dirty, and the hog likes it.

    Collecting Thoroughbreds - tales of a re-rider and some TBs

  • #2
    You would be amazed how many of those horses go through hell and come back out. Its the temperment of the TWH that keeps them going. Stallions are extremely common and once retired they are put to stud. Big Lick geldings are not so common as the stallions are and mares also less common. Many of those barns are almost all stallions. The Big Lick makes up about 1% of TWH owners and exhibitors. Therefor there are not a lot them dumped out just hanging around in the end. Its a tiny sliver of TWH industry.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thank you, RE, for the insight. I was thinking they had to be an extraordinarily sweet horse to tolerate that treatment.
      Don't wrassle with a hog. You just get dirty, and the hog likes it.

      Collecting Thoroughbreds - tales of a re-rider and some TBs

      Comment


      • #4
        They are wonderful horses, but it takes a good farrier to rehab the hooves properly. I rehabbed a gelding a few years ago and he was trimmed every three weeks for five months to bring him back and always needed to remain on a very regular trimming schedule to maintain.

        They take some riding to get to a more comfortable gait as once they are reshod more normally, they tend towards the pace. Horses that tend to pacey are the ones that the shoeing and soring methods work best on so it's become a tendency in the common bloodlines of the breed due to breeding.
        ~ Shannon Hayden ~

        Comment


        • #5
          TWH

          One thing you need to remember is that those HEAVY PADS do "slow the horse down" alot. So when the pads are removed and you go to ride one, there may be a huge burst of energy under you and a rush of speed! The padded horses are not all brutalized and sored to death like in the video. They can come down off the pads and be flat shod horses. They are as versatile as any other breed. They can run barrels, jump, trail ride, etc.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by johnnysauntie View Post
            I'm an OTTB person and spend a lot of energy informally promoting OTTBs as pleasure mounts. This week's airing of the Big Lick crowd's dirty laundry has me wondering about those horses, and second careers for them after their miserable stint as show horses plied with pads and chemicals is over.

            What comes of them after their show careers are over? I've done some cursory searches for information/resources/groups about rehabbing and retraining discarded big lick horses. I didn't find much. There are lots of sites out there about humane TWH training, which are totally commendable.

            But what of the used up or unsuccessful big lick horse? What's the story here? Are these animals wrecked to a degree (mentally and physically) that they simply can't make the transition to pleasure mount, trail horse or pet? The lack of info on this has made me very, very curious.
            The industry claims the padding process causes neither long nor short term negative sequellae. Therefore there is no need for any rehabs.

            Of course that's horse puckey. But there's still no organized rehab.

            Some ex-Big Lick horses can be rehabbed but many are candedates for euthanasia.

            Not a pretty picture, what?

            G.
            Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

            Comment


            • #7
              TWH

              Where are you getting that info that euth needed for most of them? And why?

              Comment


              • #8
                We had an ex-BL horse in the barn for a while a few years ago. He was given to the niece of the woman who showed him, the niece had him flat shod and trail rode him. He'd been champion a lot but could no longer pass the DQP because of the scar rule. I could never picture him working for someone who treated him badly - he came out the back end of his show career the most belligerent horse in the barn. If you didn't know his history you hated him within 5 minutes of meeting him, but if you saw his legs you'd forgive him almost anything. He was cool.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by nashfad View Post
                  Where are you getting that info that euth needed for most of them? And why?
                  I agree I'd love to know your statistics. I've met a few BL horses who were let down and went on to become light shod champions , youth champions and one in particular that was a BL champion as a 2 and 3 year old and then went on to become a youth versatility champion. He literally did it all , even jumped and ran speed events , barrels , poles etc. He had no lasting effects from his BL days and lived to be 32.

                  I would bet there are more like him then that end up crippled and put to sleep.

                  What some people do to them is wrong ..some does not = all.
                  "I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nashfad View Post
                    Where are you getting that info that euth needed for most of them? And why?
                    Why don't you re-read what I wrote and then re-phrase your question.

                    G.
                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My horse is an ex big-lick. Not all big lick walkers are abused. Most of the time you just bring them off the pads and work on retraining muscles. The gait is very much manipulated by man but they can and do walk normally or close to normal even with pads. The gait will need work mostly but for the experienced person that is something time and work does wonders for.

                      A lot of stallions go to breeding. The ones who don't are gelded and either change division of become 'trail' horses. Mares may eventually go to breeding but they and the geldings often just change career.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        They go on with their lives like normal horses....we get in a lot of BL horses from TN and KY, take their packages off, and resell them as trail horses. The only one I can recall having a major problem was a 20-something former champion BL horse. She went on with another horse we sold as a companion.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ALL Big Lick horses suffer short and long term negative, physical consequences from the padding process. A Big Lick horse might be "clean," but it's not being humanely treated.

                          What are some of the effects?

                          First is the mechanical remodeling of the foot. A foal goes into a "colt package" at 12 months of age. As the foot grows it will be trimmed to accommodate that "package." The pressure of the package on hoof tissue will cause deformation. At minimum it will take 12 months of "normal growth" to correct this deformation.

                          Second is the effect caused by the artificial elongation of the toe. The purpose of the elongated toe (which is what the pad is/does) is to "stick" the foot to the ground during loading so that at break over it will "explode" from the ground with large amounts of energy, resulting in the high action. If you add weight you can increase the amount of energy (Force = Mass x Velocity Squared).

                          This practice has two adverse effects. First, it stresses the shoulder and the entire front leg. Second, it stresses the stifles and rear hocks. Possibly also the hips.

                          Third, the padding practice makes the horse extremely "uphill." This will result in a more aft saddle position than is desirable. This actually aids the creation of the Big Lick gait as it also hollows the horse’s back. This will result in spinal issues over time.

                          Fourth, observe a padded Walker from the rear. You'll note that the rear leg will very often have to swing outside of the corresponding front leg. This is caused by "sticking" the foot to the ground and the rear leg, not being able to track straight, will have to "wing out" to have a place to go. This will introduce stress into the hips, stifles, and hocks.

                          Last, and perhaps most devastating of all, breeders don't breed for a true Running Walk but for a gait that will best accommodate the "package." This gait is the pace. The devices "square up" the pace. So that's what's bred for. Proof? The single most asked question in any Walker forum will be "Why won't my horse gait correctly? All it wants to do is pace."

                          The "padded advocates" will deny all these things, of course, but just go and spend some time watching these horses move from a scientific (not emotional) perspective.

                          The sooner these things are done and the longer they are done the higher the probability of permanent damage to the horse. The mechanical damage to the foot is likely the least serious item, as hoofs can be grown out in a year or so. The damage to shoulder, hock, pastern, stiffles, hips, spine, etc. are far more problematical. And the damage to the genetic heritage is catastrophic.

                          G.
                          Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            "Many are candidates for euth." What did I not "get"? I asked why you said that. Pretty simple. Is that your personal opinion or is there some clinical info out there that I have missed over the yrs concerning ex-padded TWH? I'm just asking. I've had experience with many es-padded horses over the yrs.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I've yet to see an ex-BL horse that's sound. And I've seen many. What Guillerme said is true, though I differ on the hoof being the least of the problems. Yes, a new horn will grow, but a new P3 will not. Sadly, the horse can't grow a new DDFT, SDFT, or check ligament either. What I've seen, almost as a rule, in ex-BL horses is functional shortening of the DDFT musculotendinous unit, resulting in an abnormal/dysfunctional angle at the coffin joint. Oftentimes the pathology is significant enough to cause full knuckling over at the coffin and pastern joints. Mild or severe, this is a painful condition for the horse and there is no "normal" anatomy achievable. Anyone who believes that BL pads leave no lasting effects is naive at best.
                              "Absent a correct diagnosis, medicine is poison, surgery is trauma and alternative therapy is witchcraft" A. Kent Allen
                              http://www.etsy.com/shop/tailsofglory

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by nashfad View Post
                                "Many are candidates for euth." What did I not "get"? I asked why you said that. Pretty simple. Is that your personal opinion or is there some clinical info out there that I have missed over the yrs concerning ex-padded TWH? I'm just asking. I've had experience with many es-padded horses over the yrs.
                                he said many and you re-quoted him as most
                                many old BL horses depending on how long they were "up" rally are never right in movement or soundness or gait

                                Tamara
                                Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
                                I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I would love to hear more about the BL horses who are rehabbed and go on to second careers.

                                  When I was a teenager (just a *cough**cough* few years ago), a friend took me out to meet an older TWH trainer who wanted a junior rider to show some of his horses. I was horse-crazy and couldn't afford to show much on my own, so I was thrilled. Until I saw the horse he wanted me to ride. He haltered him and then injected him with something. I asked why he was injecting him and he said if he didn't, the horse would be too crazy for me to ride. I didn't get on that horse - I wasn't riding a horse who was drugged.

                                  He then, fairly proudly, proceeded to tell me what they did to the horses. He pulled out a jar of some goop and told me how it created a burn and then the chains on top of the burn caused the horse to pick up his feet higher. I didn't know what to believe at the time - other than this guy and his treatment of his horses was all wrong. He went on to tell me about tacks, nails and broken glass placed between the shoes and pads and other things I think I've forgotten.

                                  He did have two unshod horses who 'weren't good enough' and were likely headed to the killers if he didn't sell them. I took my mom and another woman who boarded where she did out to see the horses and they bought them both.

                                  Neither had been ridden in the shoes and stacks, so they didn't suffer from the mechanical problems mentioned above. I didn't know enough about the running walk to know if they performed it correctly, but they were smooth and fast and fun.

                                  They had been kept in stalls all their lives and only ridden in a tiny, perfectly smooth and even track at this guy's place. It did take them both time to adjust to being outside, riding over uneven ground, etc. But they did end up both making awesome trail horses.

                                  I would like to see/hear about that end for some of the BL horses. Does that happen? These guys were lucky that they didn't make it to be BL horses. They were both wonderful horses, and I would seriously consider a TWH if I was a trail rider...
                                  Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                                  Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Jenn, we've done a few rehabs over the years. And there we a few we could not "rehab." The key thing is that the BL process injures the horse in both the long and short term. Just how badly will vary from horse to horse. If it's not too bad then time will likely heal the injuries. But if it's had the full monty from a young age then the injuries will be serious and likely the horse lives in unremitted pain. They are the candidates for euthanasia, as I consider it barbaric to keep a horse alive that's in unremitted pain.

                                    Jackieblue, thank you for your your expansion and extension of my comments.

                                    I was referring to the horn which does replace itself. I should be been more specific about the underlying issues. My fault for that!!!

                                    A BL horse can be "clean," in that it may not have been sored. It can't be considered "humane" under any set of circumstances.

                                    G.
                                    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                      A BL horse can be "clean," in that it may not have been sored. It can't be considered "humane" under any set of circumstances.

                                      G.
                                      Just out of curiosity would that also mean that any of the horses that go in weighted or stacked shoes or use action enhancers Arabs, ASB's , National show horses , Hackney's , Morgans, Dutch Harness, Draft horse's in Scotch Bottoms. Based on that statement are they all living inhumane lives ?
                                      "I would not beleive her if her tongue came notorized"

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Guilherme View Post
                                        Jenn, we've done a few rehabs over the years. And there we a few we could not "rehab." The key thing is that the BL process injures the horse in both the long and short term. Just how badly will vary from horse to horse. If it's not too bad then time will likely heal the injuries. But if it's had the full monty from a young age then the injuries will be serious and likely the horse lives in unremitted pain. They are the candidates for euthanasia, as I consider it barbaric to keep a horse alive that's in unremitted pain.
                                        I'm with you on not keeping a horse alive and going that's going to be in pain we can't reasonably alleviate.

                                        I was going to say it would be interesting to see a scientific study on the damage done over time in BL horses. BUT that would mean that either a vet researcher or qualified equine science researcher would have to be able to get their hands on the horses and keep them going long enough to study them. They're not going to have the funds to purchase those horses, and the BL people aren't going to want to donate horses to help anyone prove that their 'style' is unsafe for the horses.
                                        Visit us at Bluebonnet Equine Humane Society - www.bluebonnetequine.org

                                        Want to get involved in rescue or start your own? Check out How to Start a Horse Rescue - www.howtostartarescue.com

                                        Comment

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