Hmmmmm....I don't know much about these types of things so this is just my uneducated observance. I went to a barn a couple weeks ago to check it out. I have been considering boarding for a few months so that we can plant our pasture. This barn and trainer concentrate on western pleasure horses. He takes young horses trains them for a year takes them to some big shows and sells them upwards of $100,000. I got to even jump on one of his horses in training. First of all I really think this guy knows what he is doing. The things these horses can do is pretty dang cool. He says his goal is that he can move any one leg at any given moment and that they can do. He earns their trust and all the horses seemed relaxed and EXTREMELY well cared for. The barn is heated in the winter so when I came in early spring and they all have these amazing shiney summer coats I felt kinda sorry for my furry dirty horses hanging out in my pasture.
In riding the young horse I felt way out of my element. I had never had any formal training in western pleasure. I always look at western as not really having to know much. That if you can ride english, western is nothing. In most cases I would say that is true but not these horses. They are trained and trained well with aides beyond anything I have ever done. I actually think the whole idea of it could really help in the dressage arena.
What I didn't like. I am not sure about all of this ethically. I am sure there are some strong feelings on either side of the coin but I personally have never really asked myself what my feelings about it was. The age of these horses. One he got on and showed me hadn't even turned two yet. I guess they can be shown at two so I am sure it is a regular practice for people to train this heavily this early. That in an of itself is a big question but my biggest problem is that out of the three horses he brought out all 3 had something going on with their legs. Swelling and even lameness that he says they work out of. First thing I noticed looking at each of these horses is how tiny thier hooves were. Before I knew their age I was just confused why they had such small feet but then he told me their ages and then it made sense. They do not get turned out at all. They actually have no pastures at all. I know that with performance sport horses this is probably common. I know track horses don't see a pasture. I just felt bad for these horses and have to wonder if they are going to have life long lameness issues because of pushing them to far too young.