Dressage is experiencing a major crisis. This is not new, there has been a Dressage crisis happening for more than a decade.
Competitive Dressage has been actively rewarding individuals who abuse their horses in the open for personal gain, with no end in sight.
The term “Classical Dressage” is being used by individuals who do not follow actual classical principles, in an effort to make money off clients who don’t know better.
Some say it’s the fault of judges, for rewarding riders who train with abusive methods like Rollkur, also known as LDR.
Others say it’s solely the fault of the riders who abuse their horses.
And then there are the equestrians who don’t see anything wrong with riding a horse in hyperflexion or their tongue turn blue from the pressure the rider exerts on the bit.
That last group of individuals, I just don’t have time for. I’m sorry, but if you can’t see obvious signs of a horse’s suffering from your training methods then I’m not likely to convince you otherwise. I’m not the only one crying “Abuse!” over this either, the FEI itself said that Rollkur was bad and then gave the loophole of making LDR legal.
Are Judges to Blame for Rollkur?
Tell me, what do you see in these photos?
The one thing I don’t see in these photos, are any judges. There isn’t a single judge standing by and forcing these riders to do what they are doing to their horses.
Are judges completely innocent in this charade? No, absolutely not!
But ultimately, they aren’t the ones perpetuating the abuse first-hand.
Individual Riders Must be Held Accountable for the Abuse
Not a single one of these riders are taking responsibility for their actions causing undue harm to their horses. Not one.
They have an endless list of excuses, reasons, explanations.
They are quite skilled at debate and manipulation, but in the end, all of that bullshit is really doing great harm to the horses, the sport, and the education of every single young and new rider exposed to these examples of “Dressage”.
Perhaps we should rename the sport to something more descriptive of what it has become: Méfait, which in French means wrongdoing.
Dressage in Crisis
I highly recommend this video discussion about the current state of Dressage as a sport, but the same men who discussed the downfall of Totilas several years ago.
Why the Continued Discussion About Rollkur?
It’s important to be conscious of what is right and what is wrong when you are faced with it. Just because this has gone on for a very long time, doesn’t mean it’s any less important to keep speaking up and out against it.
The FEI doesn’t care if their competitors abuse horses to win competitions.
But as an equestrian yourself, you should care whether you abuse your horse or not. The first step in preventing that is knowing what is correct (good) and what is incorrect (bad) riding.
Competitors who use Rollkur (aka LDR or hyperflexion) with no regard for the well-being of their horses have made it a habit to talk like we should not be watching, discussing, and criticizing Dressage rides. It has been a long tradition to do just that within the sport as a way to learn and grow and to ride like the best while avoiding falling into the wrong habits found in bad riders.
Nobody should feel they cannot express their opinion about a ride.
And remember, it’s not just Dressage that is broken.