Outlaw Tail Blocking – Its Pervasive in Reining - its Cheating, Unethical & Horses Suffer

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It is well past time we worked to stop this practice of tail blocking and other cosmetic procedures affecting the tail. Says leading veterinarian Dr Kate Hepworth-Warren.

The tail block or nicking is cosmetic surgical procedure used in showing reining horses to avoid penalty scores for excessive spurring and hiding tail movement of arena sour horses; just to win money.

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Right now, hundreds maybe thousands, of horses are suffering for six months or more, that can lead to years or a lifetime for competition horses. The effects on their health can be devastating. Some horses end up permanently damaged unable to live a normal life and are destroyed.

·         The very act of injecting the nerves of the tail causing burning pain as they deaden them. Then they are subject to six months minimum of no ability to lift or move their tail to urinate and defecate. No longer able to flick away flies and insects or use the tail bone for balance as its part of their spine.

·         Lift their tail and the manure is splattered all over their hindquarters and tails. They need to be washed and cleaned every time they pass manure or mares urinate. Mares are exposed to high levels of bacteria in their vulvas. Fly strike is a problem for these horses.

·         Some horses spend their life with their tail in a plastic bag while others have their tail tied around to their neck with string to keep it out of the way.

·         All this so the horse has the Reining Horse Look and hiding the swishing tail objecting to spurring, being arena sour or maybe even in pain.

·         When the injection goes wrong the muscles can be infected causing major problems for the horse, some tails will fall off and horses will be destroyed. 

·         Many horses have permanent tail damage, never able to live in the pasture again and require daily care regimes. Some are destroyed as the maintenance is too much work and the horse has no further value to them.

The people asking for and doing the tail blocks do not respect horses. It is an epidemic in the reining sport particularly among the big money earning trainers. Tail blocking or tail nicking is abusive as they have removed the natural function of a critical part of the animal’s body. It is a major welfare issue.

Where to see it

Watch the reining horse live stream videos or go to the major shows, and you will see horse after horse with its tail blocked. Easily recognized by the tail bone sitting close between the buttocks and the length of the tail hanging like a wet dish rag. Some trainers block two joints down the tail in attempt to disguise the block, but you can still see it is blocked.

The National Reining Horse Association says they are against permanent blocking but see no problems in horses being blocked repeatedly for months-years on end and letting horses suffer. They cannot tell if a tail is permanent or temporary so the rule is bluff to animal welfare concerns.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners policy states, in part, that:

“The American Association of Equine Practitioners is opposed to the alteration of the tail of the horse for cosmetic or competitive purposes.”

This statement not enough and is not stemming the practice. Some veterinarians continue to block tails and are making money from the procedure. With hundreds of horses affected this is not good enough. 

Veterinarians opposed to have published many articles against tail blocking including:

The Truth About Tail Blocks

AAEP Position on Tail Blocking

Read more about reining horse training and showing and how they are treated by clicking on this link

What the petition wants to achieve

Veterinarian Boards and Associations to formally regulate veterinarians and the ban the surgical procedure of tail blocking or nicking. It must be an offense to provide the service by their members and their staff.

The Veterinary Boards and Association to require members to report owners and trainers when they find the horses tails have been blocked. Failure to report by an attending veterinarian considered an offense.

Government law makers to outlaw tail blocking, with the clear support of veterinarians, and apply severe penalties.

Why you cannot rely on Horse Associations to monitor cruelty and abuse

The practice of tail blocking is stated by members as excessive in reining horse events across the world. Although mentioned in their handbook that it cannot be done, the NRHA are doing nothing to stamp it out. 

At the recently (2018) attended the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) conference in the USA (the global head body) the following was reported:

and I did mark a check next to every horse that I thought had a tail altered - that is also against the rules, under the welfare heading, but I only saw one [horse tail] I was sure wasn't altered, and one that looked like a maybe and coming back to life...everything else.[was done]...well....not once in the commentary did tail alterations get mentioned...

NRHA chat rooms are full of commentary on tail blocking and how many horses are done. Its common practice and a cultural norm within reining circles. The minority that are opposed to it do nothing to stop it. NRHA members are now reporting that yearlings are being done in preparation for sales for the ‘show look’ of the flat tail.

There are no known reported cases of suspension or fines for tail-blocking in the NRHA even though it is in their handbook as not legal.

NRHA Executive, Board Members and Professional Trainers and General Members of the National Reining Horse Association show a lack of compassion to the horses that have to endure these tail blocking procedures for the sole purpose of enabling trainers and owners to win big prize money by cheating and covering up the tail movement.

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If you like to write directly to Veterinarian Associations and express your concern over the regulations applied to veterinarians for conducting tail blocking surgical procedures, please use the following links below:

Sending to:

 ·         American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) - Animal Welfare Committee | info@avma.org

 ·         Chairperson of American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine | ACVIM@ACVIM.org – Dr Susan White

 ·         European Board of Veterinary Specialisation (EBVS) | Mrs Areti Kesisoglou - info@ebvs.eu

 ·         Federation of Veterinarians of Europe – President Rafael Laguens -  info@fve.org

  If you like to write directly to Humane Societies and express your concern over the lack of laws protecting horses for tail blocking, please use the following links below:

Humane Societies & Animal Rights Groups

·         Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) - Robin Ganzert - President and CEO | humanesociety@humanesociety.org

 ·         Wendy Higgins - Humane Society International/Europe - whiggins@hsi.org

 ·         Barbara Cartwright - Human Society/Canada - info@humanecanada.ca

 


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