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A New Wave of KeyBoard Warriors?

I’m fairly active on social media, my content is far from inflammatory. I share outfits and product reviews, but just from proximity see waves of social trends that voice whats wrong with our sport.

Most recently, I have been seeing waves of posts on the general composition of “our” eventer’s toplines, or lack therof. As someone whose worked in upper-level barns across the southeast, and competition aspirations myself, I tend to have a bit of protectiveness towards my fellow eventers and our sport. (This does lean towards a bias, but believe the level of horsemanship, care, and attention to the daily welfare of our horses is “generally” higher than other disciplines)

So, seeing these huge waves of hate towards our sport, lump in throat…

Generally, I think our horses’ confirmation does tend to lean towards a shark-wither, lean body type. I feel** that most of us are doing the very best we can with saddle fi, conditioning, and vet care to insure our horses are comfortable. But, admittedly, I’m not a vet. I generally know if my horse is comfortable or not, but need a vets eyes as a final call.

That being said, while some of these keybaord warriors may have more education than I do, I can’t help but click a few profiles and see some poor riding, lack of education in general to high-level sport.

Does that mean they are uneducated on basic horsemanship? Not necessarily. But, inwardly blood boils a little, because most of the upper-level event horses I’m in contact with, including my own, are provided such a high level of care and attention.

So, I don’t say anythig back. I ingest. Maybe this photo in general per the .25 second the horses back is flexed. I don’t know. Do I know this horse is so uncomfortable form the image? But, In the back of my mind I wonder if the 100 comments here, grows to an entire sport attack.


I guess I saw this post shared by a young rider, and I … I unfollowed the account making comments on eventers. For today, I just unfollowed the account sharing information I felt was a little inflammatory towards something that’s really special to me. I’m definitely not going to argue back!


People are so used to obese horses they think fit is skinny. Ignore.


Sorry for your distress and the ignorant comments on IG. you have to take in the whole picture of the horse, the quality of the coat, how the muscles move, how the horse uses his body.

Some horses are built that way.

And I agree with Scribbler.


Most upper level event horses have a lot of thoroughbred blood and thoroughbreds tend to have that sort of profile. Eventing requires a marathoner’s body not a weightlifter’s. I was at a boarding barn with my greyhound/thoroughbred cross preparing for a 2*(intermediate) CCI with steeplechase. One day one of the girls came up to me and said Susie was telling everyone he was starving. I explained that although you could see his ribs his butt was big and muscled. Skinny horses hips stick out like coat hangers. She ran to educate Susie.

Don’t assume any keyboard warriors know anything about the topic they’re pontificating on! Me included. You are right to not engage with people with an axe to grind. Their minds cannot be changed.


Horse in pic isn’t thin but has less top line than I would feel comfortable with, I sure wouldn’t hide him behind the barn, he’s dappled, muscled nicely in the hindquarters, but I’m also a low level ammy.


I am so so so tired of people telling me that my traditional, classic, racing-bred TB’s shark-finned withers “should” look like a warmblood. People who do not deal with TB’s, just Wb’s.

And I should not do saddle-fit or bother buying helpful saddle pads until those withers are filled in with … I do not know what. But have lots of diet, supplement and exercise suggestions to go on (with no effect, of course).

And I am a bad horse owner if I don’t see it the way they do.

The setting of totally unrealistic expectations for a horse owner, and then pressuring them to do this-and-or-that about something that is a natural feature of their horse … etc. & so on … anyway, I guess silo’d thinking is just part of the human condition.

Oh and … if these people have ever ridden a TB, maybe 15 years ago a few times, they know all about TB’s and WB’s.


Back when I owned horses living on my land I had the vet out for something pretty minor.

He looked at my VERY food efficient horses who I kept at the weight where I could barely see traces of the first 4 ribs behind the girth and he asked me why my horses were so thin. (Arabians, Paso Fino, Anglo-Arab.)

My horses were not thin, they had plenty of flesh, they were full of vim and vigor, and I was mainly trying to keep these super feed efficient horses from foundering. I had bought a few horses who were too thin, way too thin, and I fed them up until they arrived at this state of me being barely able to trace the four ribs partway down the side of the horse.

I kept my mouth shut, vets do not like being told when they are wrong. I just figured that he got so used to seeing horses that were obese in an attempt to cover their ribs from top to bottom with at least an inch of fat that he no longer realized what a healthy horse should look like.

And my horses never foundered, my great fear. If I had kept them with the oh so popular full inch of fat on their ribs I would have had crippled horses if they had ever escaped from their pens to eat that glorious lush grass.

A LOT of horse owners keep their horses too fat, way too fat.


Some British shows are now giving awards for horses that are at the correct weight, as assessed by show vets and measuring tapes. There is huge concern about obesity in the national herd.


I think I know what the OP is talking about. There are a number of folks/potential influencers on social media spaces trying to gain followers by critiquing horse toplines in the trot ups of major competitions – suggesting poor saddle fit and other issues. Strikes me as self-serving, honestly.


The Travelling Horse Witch and her buddies promote such behaviour when they write (or share) their pearl-clutching posts about eventers. Remember the one that went viral about the trot up for Badminton? All the wannabe “horse body workers” went nuts over it, either sharing or back-clapping on the “bears, tigers, lions, topline oh my!” type woe-is-thee post.

Edit: Land Rover, not Badminton.
First comment in support? TTHW.


Honestly I am BEYOND over people on the internet putting down others in hopes to boost their following (or really any other reason), and then when you go look at who is saying this realize you wouldn’t trust their opinion on anything. I feel it’s becoming more and more common that people read like one book (if that) and then all of a sudden they are the expert on all things. People critiquing saddle fit, horse body condition, other peeoples riding…just stop. It’s one thing if the horse itself is being mistreated or the rider is putting it in danger, but saying a fit event horse has no top line because it has a minor dip somewhere is just ridiculous.

It’s wild to me that people with large followings will comment on one thing (i.e: a fit event horse is “too thin”) and their followers will take it as gospel, as if The Horse Gods themselves have come down from the heavens and declared it to be true. I enjoy social media and sharing my journey as well as following along the journeys of others, but my god some of this has gotten so out of control. I can actually think of multiple “influencers” off the top of my head that vocalize their opinions (on others!!!) extremely loudly, yet if someone asks them a question that can be perceived as a “critique” it’s WW3 in the comments.


I sometimes work with a horse rescue based in this state, a well-run operation that has been going strong for a dozen+ years. Occasionally I go out to look at horses that have been reported to the rescue as underfed, neglected, possibly in need of rescue. (From the road. Going onto the owner’s land is not allowed.)

We get a report at least once a year about a long-running Arabian training farm that has a line of turnout paddocks in view of a busy-ish rural road. The farm is in my county, so frequently I’m the one who drives by to look.

Report to the supervisor: They look like Arabians. Some rib showing on their sides, puffy everywhere else. Good flesh over their backs, back-ends, flanks, necks, etc. Definitely not neglected. Plus they are fed often and are often eating from tubs when I drive by. (Visibly being seen to be fed is part of the report.)

These horses do work, and they show fitness across their shoulders and haunches. Maybe drive-bys who report them think that muscling is not as good to see as round fat?

But in conscientiousness we go look, every time. So far, so good.

I’ve been told that Arabians tend to be reported by people who do not know horses, when the horse is not only doing well, but actually eating grass, hay and/or feed when the person doing the reporting drives by. People see the ribs and don’t know how to assess a horse’s overall condition.

Interestingly, leave a TB at grass, and/or feed extra well, with very little work but grazing, and they get round! Especially once they are 6+ yo. For an example, look at those stud-service ads for aging TB stallions – good heavens, if those boys ever had ribs, none are to be seen now. Have to look at their markings to match them with their old winner’s circle pics.

(Y’all who live with your horses, if the horses are visible from the road, plant bushy cedars to screen them, and save yourself a lot of nosiness and keyboard warriors. )

(Also don’t put a 2/10 rescue that you are re-feeding where it can be seen from the road. No explanation will satisfy the pushiest neighbors. You could end up dealing with a lot of AC rigamarole to prove your good intentions.)


another vote that people are so used to seeing obese horses that they have no clue what a fit, healthy weight is, same for dogs and cats.
There is hope though - breeder posted a lovely qh yearling for sale that was in that slightly ribby, growthy stage but good muscling and a local “rescue” had kittens about them not feeding her, said rescue got politely schooled in what a healthy weight for a young growing baby is, apparently they didn’t like being called out on their lack of knowledge as they left the page.
I am though as OverandOnward suggested getting a hedgerow established along my fence line as the subdivsions are getting closer and closer sigh.


Pyracantha if they start climbing through the fence to pet/feed the horses. Those are some wicked thorns. Better than an armed guard.


Even hella fat (and most are easy keepers unless they are in heavy work or elderly), my TBs have the sharkfin withers and the dip below. It’s genetics.


I evaluate BCS and topline on all sorts of horses, from recreational to competitive and occasionally breeding. I see a lot of “full” round toplines that are squishy as a marshmallow, all pudge and no muscle. Those are seldom on a high-withered frame. I have evaluated toplines that are taut and resilient under my hand, and fill a gently cupped hand just behind those high withers. Even with all the whey protein, Tri-Amino, and core-strengthening exercise in the world, those horses will never put muscle there because they’re not genetically programmed to.


The middle and heavy weight hunters went past the point of madness quite a few years ago.


I see this all the time, in real life too. Someone complains that their horse, usually TB, has lost top line over the winter because it wasn’t being ridden much, and lost muscle. Bam, 2 months into spring, magically the horse’s top line looks filled in but the girth is also running 3 holes tighter. The horse just put on fat, but owner is convinced it’s the twice weekly meander they are doing.

My friend, who exclusively has round built warmbloods, always says my TB is especially cute when he’s chunky, like when he’s almost getting a pad on his dock, which is when I know he’s roly poly, because it takes forever for his slab ribs to fill in. And yeah, his shark fin fills in and he has “top line” :unamused:

Here’s some greatest of all time athletes:
Jan Frodeno, triathlon

Alexis Nemov, gymnast

Carl Lewis, track and field



Oh and one more thought. You can just go ahead and ignore those peoples’ opinions because they are telling you they have zero experience with horse sport at high level. There is no way in hell underfed, starved horses could perform even mid level in a sport like eventing.


Carl Lewis.

Jesse Owens.