Friday, January 29, 2010

thank you, British Horse Society

From Horse & Country today:



BHS RESPONDS TO ROLLKUR RULING
29 January 2010


Rollkur has prompted debate

Following the news that the Swedish rider Patrick Kittel will not face disciplinary action after the FEI's investigation into his warm up techniques in Denmark in October 2009, the British Horse Society has released a statement confirming their position on the use of Rollkur, or hyperflexion.

The statement, posted on the BHS website, says:

"As the debate over the use of hyperflexion as a training technique continues, The British Horse Society’s policy may be stated as follows:

The British Horse Society strongly recommends that all riders training horses on the flat and over fences should adhere to the official instruction handbook of the German National Equestrian Federation. Whilst we appreciate that horses are as individual as humans, and that some may require corrective schooling, the BHS’s stand on hyperflexion (by which we mean the extreme flexion of the horse’s head and neck beyond normal limits) remains clear: it is an unacceptable method of training horses by any rider for any length of time.

We recognise that the scientific evidence is conflicting, and likely to remain so as each party seeks determinedly to prove its case. For this reason we doubt that science will ever provide a single, clear, unambiguous and unarguable answer. It therefore falls to humans to do what the horses cannot, namely to follow the precautionary principle: as nature provides no evidence of horses choosing to move in hyperflexion for an extended period of time; and as hyperflexion can create tension in the horse’s neck and back which has no justifying necessity; and as the horse in hyperflexion is, by definition, unable fully to use its neck; and as the psychological consequences of such treatment remain latent (perhaps in an analogous position with horses which are whipped aggressively but which can still pass a five star vetting), we should take all appropriate steps to discourage the use of this training technique, for the horse’s sake."

The furor surrounding Kittel's warm up broke after a Danish journalist posted a video of the rider on YouTube, in which his horse's tongue appeared to turn blue. The rider said he had consequently received hate mail. While the FEI have decided not to take action against Kittel, they have issued a written warning to him concerning appropriate and inappropriate warm up techniques.

16 comments:

Grey Horse Matters said...

Good I'm glad one organization isn't afraid to condemn the use of rollkur.
It's one on the plus side, hopefully more will follow.

On another note, wouldn't these riders and trainers who use rollkur, think that since there is such a furor over this practice perhaps it is an abusive way to train the horses. What's the thought process going on in their little brains?

Claire said...

good isn't it?

but one could wish that other national organisations could say the same

and the BHS is not, unfortunately, British Dressage ...

Kate said...

It's nice that somebody in the "official" dressage world has the guts to speak out against abusive practices!

billie said...

Arlene, it's bizarre. But I guess illustrates the power of denial and self-righteousness on the part of some humans.

billie said...

Yes, Claire - good - hopefully will pave the way for more organizations, but even if not, in Britain there's an organization folks can now support if they want to be in the company of ethical equestrians.

billie said...

Kate, I agree. Hopefully in the U.S. we'll see something similar soon.

Jane said...

Well done BHS! I like how they took the argument off the table:

".[that it's up to humans] to follow the precautionary principle: as nature provides no evidence of horses choosing to move in hyperflexion for an extended period of time..."

They stepped right around the 'debate' of whether or not Rollkur was harmful, and went to good horsemanship: when in doubt, go to best practices in horse welfare as your guide. Bravo.

billie said...

You're right, Jane - that's the brilliance of this statement.

Gerd Heuschmann is taking the petition with him to the meeting - 7000+ signatures on the one, more by the time of the meeting I'm sure. I hope he feels the spirit of those signatures, given that he will be seated with so many advocates of rollkur.

Dougie Donk said...

Makes me proud to be a Member of the BHS!

Hope the fence sitters will come down soon.....

billie said...

Yay, Dougie!

Michelle said...

Yay! Finally SOMEONE with an appropriate response. Maybe, just maybe, this will incite similar responses from other groups. One can only hope.

billie said...

My hope too, Michelle!

Jenn said...

Ahh...finally! Someone who is thinking about the horse...not the dollars.

My favorite quotes out of the statement: "it is an unacceptable method of training horses by any rider for any length of time." and "we should take all appropriate steps to discourage the use of this training technique, for the horse’s sake."

billie said...

I loved that they were so clear about it, Jenn. No rider, no amount of time. It takes some guts to take that stand, and I applaud them for it.

Jenn said...

Completely off topic...I was looking at your moon phases widget and was reminded...did you know a full moon this time of year is called a Wolf Moon? I just thought it was a beautiful name. Makes you wonder what inspired such a name.

That is all. :D

billie said...

Jenn, I didn't know - although I did some research on the names of the full moons at one point when doing research for a novel, and discovered that the full moon in my book in October was called a Blood Moon, which fit the story perfectly. Perfectly!

I had not planned it in any way, but once I learned the name, I had to insert that into the book. :)

Thanks - love the tangents that come up for people!!