3 Reasons I’m Jealous of Riders Like Anky van Grunsven

It’s Rollkur, hyperflexion, LDR if you must. It’s all the same with small variations you can’t see with the naked eye. It’s been endorsed by the FEI, rewarded by Olympic judges and praised by the highest (one could argue the most successful) competitive Dressage riders. Rollkur was common in jumping before they even had a name for it, way before Anky van Grunsven and Sjef Janssen’s explorations. Supposedly even Classical Dressage Masters like Francois Baucher used Rollkur.

Since Sjef and Anky, Rollkur has woven its way down the levels of Dressage and crept past the discipline to find common ground with reining. And in all the time we’ve watched the Rollkur/hyperflexion/LDR debate unfold I’ve been writing about how detrimental it is. With that being said, I’M NOW READY TO ADMIT THAT I WAS WRONG. All my criticisms were actually evidence of my jealousy and it’s time I come clean.

Thankfully the community of Rollkur supporters is quite large so I’m sure I’ll find good company once I apologize. Here are the 3 reasons I’m jealous of and have been publicly criticizing the likes of Anky van Grunsven, Sjef Janssen, Patrik Kittel, Edward Gal, Isabell Werth, Adelinde Cornelissen, etc.

1.   I’m jealous of your riding skills

You have access to the top coaches and instructors. Your riding equipment practically does the riding for you and you still manage to make riding the horse look like a battle of wills. Using your upper body to leverage against the horse and drive your seat heavily into the saddle; and even with that you’re bouncing all over the continent. Legs shot out ahead of you, leaning from side to side.

I’ve seen auction riders put your seat to shame without starting a war with the horse they’re on, but you manage to earn the respect of nations which is beyond me. Teach me the ways of this special skill, where entire stadiums of horse riders can admire your [lack of] riding skills while the rest of us struggle along in the same way but are brushed off as nobody’s.

2.   I’m jealous of your quality horses

My full-time steed cost me a couple thousand dollars, twice (long story). Mostly my mounts run less than a grand in start-up. They aren’t bred to be high-performance horses and still they try their hearts out. Some even make it to the upper levels and shine as much as they can possibly shine. None of it’s easy but it’s all very enjoyable to see a horse blossom with correct training.

You on the other hand have horses (yes, multiples) who cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more. They’re the cream of the crop from the cream of the crop and could make it to Grand Prix with a monkey on their back they’re so full of talent. Yes, I’m jealous of this. I’m jealous that you’ve got all of this talent in your horse and yet you have to make up reasons for the ride to be difficult. Here I am trying hard to make a challenging process easier for my 6th-rate horses and you’re doing the opposite while people praise your technique.

3.   I’m jealous of your influence with Dressage riders

Particularly young riders, who are more naive and innocent about the ideals of the sport. They walk into Dressage dreaming of the perfect ride, the perfect movement or test. A horse who is light and responsive and mutual harmony during their ride. Why? Because that’s how Dressage is billed – the art of horse disciplines, a dance, a ballet.

And those riders follow you, not out of intelligent or educated reasoning, but because you are considered to be the best. The best of all Dressage riders simply based on your competition results and coverage in the media. The quality and expense of the horses you ride, the fashion you ride in and tack you use. The elaborate facilities you train in and globe-trotting for Grand Prix competitions. It’s all quite dazzling.

When those riders become educated and their eyes opened a bit, their dreams dim a little and they become disillusioned. I was one of those riders once. Not favoring any one competitor but rather all at the Grand Prix level competing internationally. I always thought perhaps me, perhaps I’ll be one of those riders. And then I learned how it’s gotten, not by honest hard work, but by the appearance of it. By short-cuts and manipulations. Politicking and knowing the right people. It isn’t a sport about horses at that level, it’s a sport about winning, winning, winning.

The truth is I was never in the running to be an Olympic-level rider because I don’t have what it takes.

I’m not able to sacrifice my horse’s welfare in order to get a higher percentage on a test. I’d never sleep knowing I’d been the cause of disillusionment in horse riders who are looking to me as the “ideal”. I was never able to grasp the importance of appearances over reality.

Black horse ridden in rollkur or extreme hyperflexion during a competition warmup

So of course I’m jealous and I’ve used the debates over Rollkur to try dragging you down to make myself feel better. It’s a good thing your fan base has helped call me out on this little fact so I could see the error of my ways in criticizing your use of Rollkur.

Comments

  1. Regina says

    Good article and what a shame for upper level riders such as Anky to do what they do to these poor horses. There is absolutely no reason to get a horse to perform at this level with this type of abuse. However that requires to actually train the horse and take time with it to get to the level they want. I hope one day FEI banns such act and sees the abuse in it.

  2. Regina says

    Good article and what a shame for upper level riders such as Anky to do what they do to these poor horses. There is absolutely no reason to get a horse to perform at this level with this type of abuse. However that requires to actually train the horse and take time with it to get to the level they want. I hope one day FEI banns such act and sees the abuse in it.

  3. Stephen Forbes says

    “Your riding equipment practically does the riding for you…” We all have access to the same equipment these riders do, and the average rider still doesn’t get past training a horse to 2nd level.

    “…could make it to Grand Prix with a monkey on their back…” If only getting to Grand Prix was so simplistic and easy that they had to pretend its difficult. A horse with beautiful movement still requires the same training a horse with below average movement does. Do some horses have a tendency towards collecting easier than another? Yes. Does that mean they are easily readied for the Grand Prix? No, of course not. The beautiful thing about these very talented riders you criticize is that they are so good, they make it look easy.

    “Particularly young riders….” are influenced by this style of riding. After having been to dressage shows on numerous continents I have yet to see young kids riding in LDR. I think thats a common fear mongering tactic amonst the mis-informed, is that young people will simply yank their horses heads into their chests because they think thats what olympic riders do. In all my travels I have yet to witness that amongst the young.

    • Erica Franz says

      1) We are not all riding in the same quality tack. If you’ve ever compared the position a $4k saddle puts you in vs. a $400 saddle you’ll understand this.

      2) It is actually very simple, relative to what many of these riders would have you believe. Of course making it more difficult than it is also plays into job security. But, being simple is not the same as easy – just like anything you have to be educated in order to find out how simple something is or can be. In mentioning their horses I am merely pointing out their talent and tendencies to more easily perform the movements of the Grand Prix. If that wasn’t the case then I ask you when was the last time you saw an Olympian competing on a Paint, or Arab or Draft cross?

      And a side-note, I never said the riders made things look easy. See the first point to understand my position on the riders making things look easy vs. difficult.

      3) I’d refer to any young rider as being in their 20′s and under. And you haven’t seen any young riders using Rollkur, then you haven’t looked over at Anky’s camp who has several young riders coming up the ranks.

      Will it be as common to see rollkur used unapologetically outside of the major competitions? Likely no, but everyone’s mileage varies. Obviously those pushing to get to the higher levels at whatever cost are more likely to use Rollkur which is also the type of horse that judges are rewarding higher up.

      • Stephen Forbes says

        Really? Training a horse to Grand Prix is really quite simple? And how many Grand Prix horses have you so simply trained?

        • Erica Franz says

          I think I understand the breakdown between us now. You’re confusing simple with easy – which is a common thing to do I suppose. Yes, the steps to Grand Prix are simple, they’re spelled out in the training scale. The mantra “calm, forward, straight” is not without merit – and those who use rollkur to deal with hot horses are failing the first element altogether.
          My achievement of Grand Prix training in a horse is a trifle, who cares. I don’t compete because the only opinion I weight is the horse’s. I suppose it’s considered an end-all because in competition it is the highest level, but in the real world even Grand Prix movements are not the end of collected work but simply what they standardized into competition. I’ve trained myself to Grand Prix, and horses, and so what? If the means to the end are overlooked then why ride at all?
          These riders are held in high regard because why? They can do Grand Prix movements on top bred horses. And given all benefits that can be had they still cannot do it without inventing a reason to abuse the horse. If you can’t see a problem with that then I don’t know what else to say. It likely won’t be my voice that changes yours.
          Personally it doesn’t matter if you agree with me or not, I’m not the one who is intimately affected – your horse is. I just hope you aren’t so callous with your own horse, they are living, thinking, feeling and emotional beings who deserve more than to be used as a vehicle for someone’s ego.

          Cheers

          • Stephen Forbes says

            You’ve trained yourself to Grand Prix? Please, I’ve seen your riding pictures. If your so willing to criticize others, how about some videos of you on your Grand Prix horses? Or do you like to talk the talk, without walking the walk? I love all animals, am passionate about animal rights and welfare, been vegan for a number of years out of love of animals. Your totally entitled to your opinions, but you keep hiding behind the fact that you believe your more educated than other people who post comments on your site. Such as..”What can a person see who has not been educated enough to understand the differences between a heavy and light hand?” Its these comments that only you, as the goddess of knowledge, can see the things other people can not. So…How about walking the walk, and since you’ve told me you’ve trained horses to Grand Prix, as well as yourself, to prove that?

          • Stephen Forbes says

            Just to be clear, I’m not advocating Rolkur, the forced position of the head and neck through force. I’m disagreeing with the major points in your article which were pointed out above.

          • Ana Maçanita says

            why do people even argue about grand prix?? I’m your everyday vet with everyday knolage of horse anatomy and movement phisiology. I have some extra, though limited, knolage on phisiotherapy and horse comformation out of interest and expert aquaintances. Given that I was completely striked numb the other day when I learnt that one of the MOST IGNORANT people who were arguing at a post was none other than a grand prix judge of the highest levels!!! seeing what I see from local competition to GP on TV I never had much respect for dressage judges in general, but I always blamed interests and money for their faulty work. After hearing the appaling ignorance of this lady however, I was left speachless, didn’t even bother to answer as it would be more useless than arguing quantum phisics with my horse.
            In the end then, is there ANY value in training a GP horse? well, it takes time and work and lots of money yes, but as for you actuall riding skills and personal value… it’s more likely to show how callus and disrespectful of the horse you really are, or, how ignorant and insensitive.
            If livestock and pets get increased protection from the law in all forms of abuse, the horse should be no different. If anyone straped a dog’s mouth as tight as they do horses, or even a factory pig for that matter! if they spured and bent such animals round and round every day for hours, just imagine the outrage it would be! why are horses the exception? because they don’t whine nor squeal?

          • Erica Franz says

            That’s fine if you mis-understand the meaning in my words. It’s no different than the remark you pointed out – which is no less true because you dislike it. If lack education in an area you will obviously fail to see the more subtle nature of actions in that area. Just like a person whose never been trained in massage will have a hard time feeling the difference between a knot in the muscle as opposed to scar tissue.

            I’m not all-knowing, I’m constantly learning. I’m sorry that you feel I come across as some “knowledge goddess” as you put it. Everyone has some kind of filter in which they interpret information and I have no control over yours, nor do I care to.

            As for Grand Prix, if I owned a Grand Prix horse atm then certainly. I sold my last Grand Prix horse a number of years ago, have a gelding in his mid-teens coming back into training from some hoof issues and bad training before I got him back, and a young 2-year old.

            Regardless, your attempt to turn the point of the article around is weak and sad to see. So riding at a high level of any discipline is not without challenge, some naturally so and others self-imposed. Even with that being said it does not make abuses any more acceptable for the sake of winning a ribbon, trophy or title. Because relationships with other people are challenging would you say that it is okay to abuse your spouse in an attempt to have the perfect appearance of a happy relationship? There are holes in your argument.

    • Cathy Konidaris says

      Seriously? Never seen young riders yanking on their horses heads? You’ve obviously not been looking LOL

      That’s why I don’t compete. I ride bitless & barefoot & the rules don’t accommodate that. I won’t compromise my horses welfare for the sake of winning a ribbon or trophy….my horses mean more to me than winning some stupid competition! And collection CAN be achieved bitless, contrary to popular belief!

      • Stephen Forbes says

        Sure, kids yank on horses heads, but thats not because of Anky. No one has ever said collection can only be achieved with a bit.

      • Erica Franz says

        Kudos to you Cathy. I go back and forth between bitless and bitted riding. My only complaint with bitless is to me it feels like there is less room for finesse. That being said I happily ride any horse bitless if there is even a microscopic chance they are more comfortable/happy that way.

        Too bad that competitions are still so rigid – dressage is dressage is dressage afterall.

        • Ana Maçanita says

          Have you ever tried a rolled leather halter? using the reins on the side squares? in very sensitive horses the response will be as ligh as in any non-leverage bit. (just a suggestion from a happy hacker with a hypersensitive little stallion)

    • Cathy Konidaris says

      Seriously? Never seen young riders yanking on their horses heads? You’ve obviously not been looking LOL

      That’s why I don’t compete. I ride bitless & barefoot & the rules don’t accommodate that. I won’t compromise my horses welfare for the sake of winning a ribbon or trophy….my horses mean more to me than winning some stupid competition! And collection CAN be achieved bitless, contrary to popular belief!

  4. upbeatred1 says

    Totally lame. Totally unnatural. Totally unnecessary. Do you EVER see horses doing this naturally without human intervention? No. So it is man’s invention – that doesn’t make it necessary or good. Hate Rollkur. I would NEVER do that to any horse. Those of you who do – you are abusers. Try riding lightly, for a welcome change.

    • FoxofLaurel says

      I have. My pony does and so does an Andalusian stallion that I work with (Triunfador xxiv) When it’s time for him to come in for feed he arches his neck up real high and trots to me or canters. I never have him in this head set either, we are lower levels still. The stallion has a naturally high head carraige because of his breed. Also my old horse (around 27, RIP) would when ever he got excited. He would put his head up real high and snort and float lol. The pictures used are not dressage. The head should be a verticle line. not behind the verticle. above is okay to. My pony naturally ducks his head to his chest. I will have him on a long rein and if he is hyper or pissed off because I am making him walk instead of doing what he wants to (eating.) he will do it.

      So horses will put their heads up like that. It depends on the breed how likely they are to. Warmbloods or “traditional” english breeds seem to be more likely to while “western” breeds tend to not. (Quotations because there are always exceptions. I know a quarter horse doing 4th level.)

      • Ana Maçanita says

        actually, stallions curl up their necks to argue or to show off. they do it for a few seconds, period. They do not go round and round the field in this posture, they do not travel in this posture, they do not stand in this posture. Secondly, a curled neck on a high head carriage is the normal posture of a horse on the haunches. Kissing your own chest however is completely abnormal and the ONLY time you’ll see a horse do it is when he’s scratching an itch or keeping another horse from nipping his nose!

        Even so, “anything that is forced cannot be beatifull”, and as the epitome of horse and rider harmony, it has NO PLACE in dressage. When I see loose nosebands, light hands and soft seats then I MIGHT be tempted to listen to what such circus clowns have to say. Untill then, I’m afraid it’s too much pain to watch such talented horses be wasted away.

  5. Ironwings says

    BULLSHIT. Are you frickin NUTS? How about you duct-tape your chin to
    your chest and run a parcours and see how your back and legs and neck
    feel afterwards? Rollkur is CRUELTY. Just because you are jealous of
    all the bigwigs in the sport DOESN’T MAKE ROLLKUR KIND TREATMENT OF
    HORSES. If that was the way a horse was supposed to move, God would
    have made them move that way naturally! What a sellout you are.

    • Erica Franz says

      I’m guessing written-humor is not my strong point… this is a tongue-in-cheek post. Of course there is no humor in Rollkur, but there is certainly humor in the idea that I’d genuinely interested in trading places with any of these riders who practice it.

      • Ironwings says

        If that is the case, I offer you my heartfelt apologies for jumping on you. You are right, your post didn’t come off as tongue in cheek to me at all….. I am very serious about the cruelty of rollkur, and I think those who practice it should be prosecuted.

        • Erica Franz says

          No need to apologize, honestly I rather get jumped on in the name of defending the horse’s welfare than someone yelling at me in defense of abusing the horse. :) Glad to have someone who feels likewise against the practice of Rollkur commenting.

          Cheers!

  6. Sylvia Loch says

    From one writer to another, that article is so clever and so needed to be said. The Classical Riding Club was formed because of draw-reins, grew in focus as rollkur began to ‘flourish’… and still continues today to teach, explain, publish articles as to why the artificial postioning of the horse’s head and neck in this way is so very detrimental and harmful to the horse. Thank you for summing it up so well. Good luck with all you do, Sylvia Loch
    (living in the Scottish Borders with 3 horses, 2 dogs, 1 cat and 2 geese plus surrounded by numerous and varied wildlife).

    • Erica Franz says

      Thank you Sylvia, if we all keep pushing I believe change is inevitable. It’s just finding where the push has to happen.

      Cheers

  7. Stephanie Skjoldebrand says

    We have to defend our silent equines who cannot speak, and who are bullied into submission, where is the HAPPY ATHLETE the partnershup?

  8. Sherry Ackerman, Ph.D. says

    Excellent piece of writing…..and thinking! Keep owning your voice. You will help us reach a tipping point!

    Sherry L. Ackerman, _Dressage in the Fourth Dimension_

    • Stephen Forbes says

      I find it disturbing that someone who states dressage can be an avenue of “.. exploration, and self-knowledge through which a rider can experience liberation from the individual, egoistic self…” praises someone who belittles others, and compares Olympic riders to monkeys.

      • Erica Franz says

        Here’s the direct quote where I use the word monkey. You might want to reread the article since it’s clear you aren’t sure what I’m talking about.

        “They’re the cream of the crop from the cream of the crop and could make it to Grand Prix with a monkey on their back they’re so full of talent.”

          • Erica Franz says

            Done discussing this one with you, you make a lot of assumptions in text that is not there.

        • Stephen Forbes says

          Exactly. Even a monkey could do it. Hence the riders are no better than monkeys. Thats your comparison.

      • Sherry Ackerman, Ph.D. says

        Stephen, I think you have mis-understood Ms. Franz’s post. She is using satire to discredit rollkur. She is attempting to utilize a non-pedagogical way of directing people’s attention to the problems implicit in that technique. Please read her post as she wrote it: “tongue in cheek”. Historically, satire has been very effective in promoting ideas that have, otherwise, moralistic overtones that can be rather one-dimensional.

        Whether one “likes it” or not, rollkur is bio-mechanically untenable. It does a great deal of damage to the horse’s body and mind. Hillary Clayton’s work, for example, would be a good study in the anatomical aspects of hyper-flexion.

        • Stephen Forbes says

          And what exactly are the problems Ms.Franz points out in the article about this technique? Can you please quote a statement in her article where she criticizes the errors in riding in this particular way? And after having studied Hillary Claytons work extensively, as well as participating in her lectures, done correctly, LDR has proven to be as harmless as any other riding done correctly. The article is more a genuine reflection of the unrest within Ms.Franz, and her need to belittle others to feed into her own unsettled ego. I’m not arguing the fact humour and satire are a wonderful way to get a message across. I found your encouragement of her as she belittled others hard work contradictory to the message you seem to want to preach.

      • Sherry Ackerman, Ph.D. says

        Stephen, I think you have mis-understood Ms. Franz’s post. She is using satire to discredit rollkur. She is attempting to utilize a non-pedagogical way of directing people’s attention to the problems implicit in that technique. Please read her post as she wrote it: “tongue in cheek”. Historically, satire has been very effective in promoting ideas that have, otherwise, moralistic overtones that can be rather one-dimensional.

        Whether one “likes it” or not, rollkur is bio-mechanically untenable. It does a great deal of damage to the horse’s body and mind. Hillary Clayton’s work, for example, would be a good study in the anatomical aspects of hyper-flexion.

        • Stephen Forbes says

          And what exactly are the problems Ms.Franz points out in the article about this technique? Can you please quote a statement in her article where she criticizes the errors in riding in this particular way? And after having studied Hillary Claytons work extensively, as well as participating in her lectures, done correctly, LDR has proven to be as harmless as any other riding done correctly. The article is more a genuine reflection of the unrest within Ms.Franz, and her need to belittle others to feed into her own unsettled ego. I’m not arguing the fact humour and satire are a wonderful way to get a message across. I found your encouragement of her as she belittled others hard work contradictory to the message you seem to want to preach.

          • Sherry Ackerman, Ph.D. says

            I am sorry that you interpreted my comment to Ms. Franz that way. It was not my intention. I was simply encouraging the way that I feel she has opened up a very sensitive and important discussion. And, she has! Look at the scope and breadth of these comments.

            I would agree with you that LDR poses no problems (and even introduces some benefits in certain cases). SDR, however, is another issue.

            Thank you for your concerns and interest.

          • Ana Maçanita says

            seriously? you have never read the studies and post mortem findings that prove the shortcomings of this method? Only studying “your” side of the story basically proves the irrelevance of your opinion. Then again you can always go back to the most common and transversal opinion of all great masters throughout history: a well schooled horse should feel comfortable to ride. Since when boucing like a potato bag demonstrates any elegance, finesse or least to say comfort? Maybe these top riders have a terrible seat, or maybe, just maybe, their training method is placing the horse on the forehand and ruining the quality and purity of the gaits…

      • Aileen Berwick says

        people with natural talent with horses know reality. I can see the author as one of us. She is calling it like it is. The monkeys are who natural horse trainers sell the push button horses to, and the monkey’s are not the grand prix and/ or Olympic riders who “honestly” got there themselves…their checkbooks did.

        • Aileen Berwick says

          not saying anky is either a monkey or not, just explaining the “horse industry” to you. Yet the rollkur is a gross misuse of a victim to win $, fame, ribbons, what have you…and I point blank, it can be done with out the animal being a victim but rather as a willing partner.

      • Aileen Berwick says

        people with natural talent with horses know reality. I can see the author as one of us. She is calling it like it is. The monkeys are who natural horse trainers sell the push button horses to, and the monkey’s are not the grand prix and/ or Olympic riders who “honestly” got there themselves…their checkbooks did.

  9. Centaur says

    An appalling piece of badly written bitchiness that does nothing to further the cause. You should be embarrassed.

      • Centaur says

        There are plenty of well written, educational articles against the practise. That is the best way of getting the message across in my opinion. Emotive or personal attacks just drive people away and they may be the ones who you really want to change their ways.
        Dignified, informed and educational debate. Anky herself would never resort to such tactics, she remains professional in her responses and that’s one thing you SHOULD be jealous of her for!

        • Marthe Reynolds says

          Right. Anky, in response to the question of how long she rides a horse in LDR: ‘I don’t know..time flies when you’re having fun!” She’s an abusive douchebag who has gotten away with animal cruelty for YEARS. I’m sick of folks hiding behind this veneer of politesse and not addressing the horror that is Rollkur. Get over yourself, Centaur. PLENTY of people are tired of this abuse. Lead, follow or get the hell out of our way while we protect the horses…

        • Ana Maçanita says

          professional or heartless? I would always talk very cooly if we were discussing the propper way of knitting sweaters. After all, that’s all horses are to the woman: things.

  10. Jetske Tamboezer says

    There is only one thing really spot on in your article, and that is that you are jealous. Regardless of the rollkur debate, which I have no desire to get into (I’m not particularly pro or con), it is very patronising to think that with a big bag of money and a good horse, any ‘monkey’ could get to Grand Prix. The top riders are very talented riders, who work hard at being that good (for instance Adeline Cornelissen does a lot of physical training for herself, to improve her balance and agility, in order to be a better rider and less hinder the horse), whether or not they use rollkur or the classical training methods. So, maybe it would be good if you did a little more soulsearching before you label a whole bunch of riders “monkeys”.

    • Erica Franz says

      I’m pretty clear in the article that I am jealous of rollkur riders.

      And I also never called them monkeys, what I did say was that their horses were so full of talent they could make it to Grand Prix with a monkey on-board. Not the same thing.

      Hopefully every serious rider spends time improving their physical strength, flexibility and balance. It is a sport afterall. That being said there are also many great Classical riders who one wouldn’t exactly call “fit” who were equally well-talented. Taking yourself to the gym every day is not a sign that you are kind to your horse, so not sure the correlation you are attempting to make?

        • Erica Franz says

          Did I say that defining yourself as “classical” means you are above-board on the welfare of your horse? There are a lot of competitive riders who claim the name classical because it’s a buzz-word in the discipline, and also classical riders who compete and will always be at risk of adopting short-cuts for a better score.

          Here’s the thing Stephen, these riders do have talent. Where it gets confusing for me is that despite their great amount of talent they use methods which cut-short their talent. When you brace against your horse and put them in rollkur no matter how good your seat that now-hollow-backed horse is going to bounce you around in the saddle. Then they have to use more leveraging in the reins to help pull them back down into the saddle. You see them leaning way back in the saddle, leaning on the reins, spurring the horse forward. Their horses lose rhythm and cadence, they trip on their own legs often. I’m not calling them talentless, I’m simply confused.

          Of any of them I’m more impressed with Edward Gal’s ability to ride in this way with more tact than the others. His seat looks unbothered, although I would also say that of all of them he shows greater restraint publicly in the use of Rollkur, so much that it was in many ways unclear whether he used it in training Totilas until Rath took over riding.

          You continue to make a lot of assumptions in what I wrote in the original article.

          • Stephen Forbes says

            Oh perhaps, just like you claim from other people, your not educated enough to know that LDR used correctly does not short cut these talents, but improves upon them. I think the message is clear in your article, its just not holding up to a critical analysis. Your now saying things in these comments that contradict your article.

          • Erica Franz says

            Obviously I’m making contradictions left and right.

            No, but really, what are those contradictions? I am educated enough to see when a definition is just empty words, but the practice has not changed. LDR used to mean something completely different and now it has been repurposed by the FEI in order to allow the continued use of Rollkur without endorsing the use of Rollkur.

            Critical analysis, n. – an appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation. I wouldn’t exactly say your criticisms are based on careful analytical evaluation considering you’ve misinterpreted a great deal by making assumptions about the text which are not present.

            Have I in some way hit a nerve that you feel this to be some kind of personal attack? My concern in anything, any criticism I may post, ultimately boils down to the idea that if we are not actively ensuring the horse’s best interests then we are passively condoning the exploit of those horses.

            When you see something wrong and don’t speak up it doesn’t make you neutral.

          • Stephen Forbes says

            Oh perhaps, just like you claim from other people, your not educated enough to know that LDR used correctly does not short cut these talents, but improves upon them. I think the message is clear in your article, its just not holding up to a critical analysis. Your now saying things in these comments that contradict your article.

          • Erica Franz says

            Obviously I’m making contradictions left and right.

            No, but really, what are those contradictions? I am educated enough to see when a definition is just empty words, but the practice has not changed. LDR used to mean something completely different and now it has been repurposed by the FEI in order to allow the continued use of Rollkur without endorsing the use of Rollkur.

            Critical analysis, n. – an appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation. I wouldn’t exactly say your criticisms are based on careful analytical evaluation considering you’ve misinterpreted a great deal by making assumptions about the text which are not present.

            Have I in some way hit a nerve that you feel this to be some kind of personal attack? My concern in anything, any criticism I may post, ultimately boils down to the idea that if we are not actively ensuring the horse’s best interests then we are passively condoning the exploit of those horses.

            When you see something wrong and don’t speak up it doesn’t make you neutral.

  11. Kathy Young says

    VERY well said–glad I found you on Facebook; will be following your blog. My disillusionment with the “stars” (who aren’t shining so brightly these days, thankfully) began with Anky’s horrific first GP ride at an Olympics a number of years ago (Rusty was still competing, I believe) where her horse spun out of both canter pirouettes and ran away with her at the extended canter. Then Isabell had near-rears during two of the piaffe-passage tours–but both riders medalled. I guess a score of 3 or 4 is offset by 10s everywhere else. These riders were “stars” before the rollkur controversy.

  12. Morgan B Richardson says

    I totally agree. I rode and competed at hunter shows in Texas where competition was crazy. Then I got into eventing. Scary stuff with my appendix. However, now that I ride no longer focusing on his form and whatnot, he naturally collects. He enjoys being ridden now that I’m no longer obsessively stressing about him.

  13. AVS says

    I have to agree with everything but the implication that Isabel Werth uses Rollkur. I have seen many videos of her riding and training, and have never seen anything to indicate she forces her horses chins to the chests. In fact, there is a video of her riding her retired GP horse Satchmo bareback and in a halter doing all the GP movements with no force at all, it’s beautiful and the horse has a wonderful frame. This short video may be just a moment when her horse was very hot and round, but even then you can see she is letting him up to a more normal frame when she can. Even my first level horse will curl up like that sometimes when he is very fresh, and yes, she does ride “round” but I don’t believe it’s Rollkur like what Anky and Edward Gal and Patrick Kittel do. Just my honest opinion, I really do believe Isabell is not a Rollkur user. If you Google Isabell Werth and Rollkur you will not find any pictures of her using it, as opposed to how easy it use to find pics and video of the others.

  14. Ann Allen says

    I use an open or a lifting rein or combination of the two) to refrain from pulling back. It gets very exaggerated at times with my hands very far forward – to encourage the horse to lengthen the neck (especially in one that has experienced a lot of shortening). Once my horse trusts me and knows he has room to move, I use a whip straight up and down in my hand perpendicular to the ground,to regulate my position so I am very consistent. I also have decided not to pull with my hands if it is indeed necessary – I pull with my arms and leave my hands only with enough tension to hold the reins. This seems to scientifically produce very little stress or rigidness in either of us.

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