Monday, February 22, 2010

Let's talk with the FEI, across the virtual table, all week long

For one week, I'm going to transform camera-obscura into an open forum for communicating with the FEI, trusting that while Malina may not be able to respond to every comment, she will be reading and absorbing what we have to say.

For anyone who doesn't know, Malina is Malina Gueorguiev, Communications Manager for the FEI and she has been a regular visitor here for a number of months.

WHAT TO DO: If you'd like to communicate with the FEI in a slightly less formal way than letter or email, this is your chance. Put your message in a comment. It will be remain in the comment section as usual, but what I plan to do, depending how many comments there are, is post some or all of the comments throughout this week as the next day's new blog post, to make the comments more visible and allow for further discussion.

This is a work in progress, so bear with me if I change the structure to accommodate what actually plays out.

IMPORTANT: Please honor my guidelines: genuine and respectful communication. No one will come back to a table to talk or listen if they are treated rudely. I will not approve comments that are blatantly rude in a way that is personal to Malina or the FEI staff.

We are communicating about the use of rollkur, hyperflexion, and LDR (low deep and round), and the FEI's role in governing the use of these methods in warm-up and competition.

I especially welcome suggestions, ideas, and brainstorming with reference to creating the kind of competition atmosphere we could embrace as riders, trainers, and spectators. I'll be adding my own comment at some point this week.

Right now I'm thinking about the kind of upper level competition I would love to see and experience as a spectator. I'm thinking about the quality of life of competition horses. I'm also thinking about all the information I've read about the use of the above methods and the resulting physical and emotional/psychological damage to the horses. And I'm thinking about movement and classical dressage and dressage at its essence as a discipline that creates harmony between horse and rider, as well as healthy animals who live long, productive lives.

Between us, I am betting we come up with a good spectrum of thoughts and ideas.

I wrote last week:

It's possible to channel passion and strong belief in ideals into engaging discussion that has the potential to create change. And remember, change is a spectrum. It's a path made of small stepping stones. If every time you speak, you put one stone into a solid place on the path, you've succeeded.

Last night, as I go through the TV series West Wing for the second time, I happened to watch one of my favorite episodes, title Two Cathedrals. It's the episode where Jed Bartlet makes an important announcement to the press and the nation, loses someone important to him, and ultimately decides to run for his second term as President. There's a sequence near the end where he leaves the White House with his entourage, in the pouring rain and wind of a tropical storm, to get to the site of the press conference. Dire Straits' song Brothers In Arms is the soundtrack, and Bartlet is thinking of all the work he's done during the first term, how difficult it's going to be if he decides to run for a second term, and how much work there is left to do, work that he feels must be done.

It's an incredibly inspiring and poignant sequence, and it immediately made me think of this issue with rollkur and hyperflexion and LDR and the hearts and minds and bodies of the horses we love.

Thanks to the incredible technology at our disposal today, not only can I embed the sequence from West Wing via YouTube (you will get the overall impact but to get all the amazing subtle nuance of the sequence watch the entire episode!):

I can embed this, the video that started this latest outpouring of debate, discussion, and outrage against a training method that so dishonors the mind, body, and spirit of not only dressage, but the magnificent horse:

However hard the work of advocating, however pointless it can seem, there is good reason to continue, if only to keep the issue alive for the next generation.

I think we can do more than that. Let's talk about how.

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