Dressage is dead. There, I said it. Somebody had to. Okay, not dead in the literal sense. Dressage is still alive and kicking. But, the idea of Dressage as some kind of harmonious, artistic venture is dead in the competitive scene. We’ve spent years trying to keep a diseased version of Dressage alive but it’s […]
There is a fantastical love of Carl Hester right now. I get it, I really do. He has a very reassuring and smooth way of explaining things. He’s very careful to present himself well to the public, and at one time I thought he might be a real diamond in a crowd full of debris. But then he started […]
“My father was a harness racing jockey and he went into horse breeding and training. I know for a fact that he wasn’t always above board, and he’s the reason why it means nothing to me when I’m told some person’s been in the business for fifty years and therefore they can’t be doing it wrong. I grew up around very successful people who made a lot of money and I know that’s no guarantee of admirable ethics.”
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.
There has been much news recently about Moorland’s Totilas who is now being ridden by Matthias Alexander Rath, facing a future subjected to the training “guidance” of Sjef Janssen – the strong proponent of Rollkur, or Hyperflexion. I am happy to see that the German Federation of Professional Riders (BBR) is strongly voicing their opposition […]
My neck gets sore just watching. It is only during a poorly developed (read spoiled) walk that Edward Gal allows any freedom of the neck to his horse, and during the rest of the ride he keeps him round, round, round. Keep in mind that not only FEI rules but also Classical Dressage Masters have noted that the position of the horse’s face should be anywhere between 45 and 90 degrees depending on the horse’s individual conformation, this horse is well beyond 90 degrees.
Once upon a time ago, the difference between Classical and Competitive Dressage seemed synonymous with the distance between the walls of the Grand Canyon (which happens to be up to 18 miles wide!). Whether it is merely my perception, or the reality, which has changed I have yet to determine. Nonetheless there is still a measure of awe inspired in people when they hear that “so and so” does Classical Dressage. It has a note of magic attached to it, even if it is a tradition based on a bunch of dead guys; or maybe it is because of those dead guys.
Despite the FEI’s ruling that Rollkur is a banned practice, and instead has favored the use of LDR (Low, Deep, Round), there is plenty of evidence to the contrary that hyperflexion is a norm for competitors. The World Equestrian Games, hosted in Kentucky this year is already proving the perfect grounds to spot the practice in person.
Even if you strictly ride western and loath the sight of any english discipline you can benefit from incorporating the fundamentals of Dressage into your riding and training habits.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe that Rollkur’s continued use is driven by success, fame, money? Are there elite equestrians you believe are using Rollkur to train but have not gained as much publicity as Anky Van Grunsven and Isabell Werth? What about Rollkur do you find appealing or repulsive?
The answer to this question may be more tricky. The individual motivations I cannot say, but I would be willing to guess that the amount of money involved in high level equestrian sports is enough to motivate a large number of individuals to using whatever legal tactics necessary to win. For example…