The weather was not the best, it was cold, it was rainy, it snowed, the wind whipped but there were lots of horses. Horses of every size, shape and color. Horses for every possible discipline, horse lovers of every age and every type flooded into the Alliant Energy Center.
There were some great clinicians like Mike Major and Steffen Peters. There were breed demonstrations, discipline demonstrations, clinics, a Grand Prix and shopping for every kind of horse paraphernalia. Read all about it at Chicago Equestrian.
There was also the worst demonstration of horsemanship that I have ever seen, The Liberty sessions. It actually made me sick to my stomach to watch. I think as horse owners and horse lovers we have all at one time or another been witness to a case of bad horsemanship. A frustrated rider overusing a crop, a handler being overly rough with a horse, etc.
However, these 'Liberty' sessions took bad horsemanship to a new extreme. Below is what was in The Midwest Horse Fair guide for an explanation of Liberty sessions.
One of the not to miss events during the Midwest Horse Fair includes the 18 different liberty presentations, which are spread throughout the entire weekend. A liberty appearance exhibits the beauty and elegance of each horse as they are individually turned loose in the John Deere Coliseum. They have two minutes to strut their stuff. Some horses may gallop wildly, others may buck and rear to test out their freedom, while others may go through their various gaits. All of this is performed without a saddle, bridle or halter. The horse enters the arena with up to two handlers. At the first sound of music, the halter is removed and the horse runs free in the arena demonstrating various gaits, or just trotting to the music. A whip may be used to encourage the horse, but the handler may not touch the horse during the performance. Music is selected that will enhance the performance and is chosen to suit the style and movement of each horse. Liberty means freedom and this is just what every horse loves to show off each year during the liberty presentations.
Of the 12 examples of Liberty that I witnessed only once did one of these scenarios prove true.
The eleven other examples were of handlers scaring the crap out of their horses, of thousands of people screaming, of music so loud that some of these horses were terrified. The arena was ringed with temporary fencing that a horse could get a leg through, the footing was a sticky clay and I could imagine multitudes of soft tissue injuries, a well placed kick to one of the handlers any number of things could have gone wrong. It was just so ugly and sad and wrong.
|A family affair? Great lesson for a young rider...|
|or this owner with a scary bag terrifying her Thoroughbred. I can only imagine what would happen if a bag happens to blow by when they are in the show ring...|