Thursday, June 18, 2009

dressage detox (reprinted with permission from jme)

It's about time. Riders and trainers have long complained about the decline of horsemanship in general and dressage in particular, especially as concerns competition. In recent years, only the most spectacular, showy performances have been rewarded at the expense of correct dressage and, more importantly, at the expense of the well-being of the horses. The situation is becoming toxic - for horses and riders. It's time to clean house.
Granted things are unlikely to change when these riders are backed by serious money and corporate sponsorships, but we have to try something to bring the standards back up to some meaningful level.
Grey Horse Matters sent me this link from Philippe Karl's website and I thought I'd pass it along to those who might be interested. Philippe Karl is one of the too few truly classical voices out there, and someone I have great respect for as a horseman. Of course, the Petition only addresses the German Equestrian Federation, however, this organization sets the standards to which we are all eventually subject due to its powerful influence on the FEI. A change in the German system might just positively influence the FEI and other national federations, including the USEF and USDF. I have signed the Petition, and I hope you will consider signing too and possibly forwarding to horsey friends or post on your own blog...

Thanks, jme, for allowing me to reprint this. You can go read many excellent articles on horsemanship on jme's blog, Glenshee Equestrian Center.

And don't forget to read the petition and sign if you agree.

Petition: Reforms of the FN rules

To read the Petition and sign, click here.


Grey Horse Matters said...

Thanks for reprinting this on your blog. I already signed this petition. If we can get as many people as possible behind this movement hopefully horses and riders will benefit.

billie said...

Arlene, I just read yesterday that the USEF has changed the rules so that snaffle bits (as opposed to double bridles) will be allowed starting with show year 2010 for all national level FEI classes, not just PSG (although not including High Performance, Junior, or YR classes).

I think this is progress, although not nearly enough.

In my opinion no one should be riding with a double bridle if they can't get the horse to do everything in a snaffle first.

billie said...

I should add that this has nothing to do with Rollkur per se - but is one more piece of the "put the horse in a frame, by god, and keep him there" mentality. Much easier to do with two bits, one of which is much harsher than the snaffle.

Grey Horse Matters said...

I couldn't agree with you more. If you can't get the horse going correctly with one bit there's no horsemanship involved in putting more equipment to use. What no one seems to realize is that it takes many years to get a horse going correctly and responding to your subtle cues and that's what makes the partnership so beautiful. Instead it's rollkur 'em and double bridle 'em up and get them out there showing and winning so they can get sponsors and products to endorse. I'm sure if you watched that DVD you would be amazed at just how much this is torturing the horse. Instead of taking years to train properly as in the past quite a few of these horses are being put down or they simply can't compete anymore by the age of 8, which I think is disgusting.

billie said...

Arlene, I've seen videos and still photos of the face/head/jaw of horses used for studying the effects of bits and bridles, and the damage to the actual structure of the head/neck was hideous.

After seeing that I tried the bitless bridle on Keil Bay, who did not like it - probably because it was just so different than what he's used to.

I think if I had a young horse to start, I'd look at many of these issues before going the traditional training route. Imagine a finely trained horse that never had or needed a bit! (of course you'd not be able to show in dressage, which is a shame)

All in all, I think the less gear the better. It flies in the face of logic to think that it takes more skill to ride a horse in a double bridle than it does in ... a halter with clip-on reins.

It DOES take more skill to use a double bridle w/o damaging the horse, but there are so few people who ride that lightly and carefully.

I was complaining about the forums and my husband suggested I start my own - and call it "Radical Horsewomen." :)

A sort of inside joke b/c when our son was born I used to hang out on the misc-kids forum and a few of us got so disgusted with mainstream parenting methods, we made our own list and named it Radical Mamas.

Fourteen years later I am still in touch with a number of those radical women. It's nice to have some kindred spirits on the journey!

ponymaid said...

Billie, the woman used to do some of the dressage thing years ago but moved away from it because of many of the issues you mention. What's next, donkey Rollkur?? When I take her around in the cart I wear a token snaffle in my mouth - in fact I often carry it under my tongue. She suggests things to do - stop, start, turn, trot etc. and I know exactly what to do without brute force being applied. I'm sure should my two nephews decide to take up the art of driving that they will be a delight to teach and will respond to the lightest of pressure. Meanwhile, we must all join the Revolution Against Rollkur!

billie said...

Sheaffer, the only thing worse than horse Rollkur is donkey Rollkur!! I've never heard of such but people can be so weird who knows!

I remain totally awed at all your abilities. I only wish you were here to teach Team R&R how to drive. I have a feeling they would enjoy it more coming from a fellow donkey.

BTW, I suspect your thought on keeping inventory was correct. Yesterday morning it was the halters that had been carried out! He is going item by item and probably has his count scratched on a tree somewhere.

jme said...

i'd join your radical site! i don't feel like my views are all that radical, but to the mainstream they probably appear so! maybe we should unite ;-)

billie said...

jme, I agree - only radical in relation to the mainstream! If I ever get the energy to set up a forum, of course you'd be invited. Wooed, even! :)

Anonymous said...

brilliant. I'm going to repost this in my own blog if it's ok.

billie said...

I'm sure it is, but ask jme to be sure.