Thursday, February 11, 2010

where are we with the rollkur/hyperflexion/LDR issue?

After reading (and sharing here) a lot of information over the past week, and giving myself time to sit with all of it for a day, I decided to stop researching and reading for a bit and try to make sense of where I think we are with reference to this issue.

The FEI had the round-table discussion. They received 41,000 signatures from people saying NO TO ROLLKUR.

One thing I want to clarify. My signature said no to rollkur, hyperflexion, AND the method Sjef and company are now calling LDR (Low/Long, Deep, and Round). People are saying we anti-rollkur folks are buying the trick. They've just (yet again) changed the name and everything is the same as it always was.

We haven't bought that. We know what's going on.

Whatever name you give it, this is a training method that not only doesn't work in terms of creating a happy, harmonious, beautiful ride, it does harm in the process. That is actually the easy part of this whole thing. It's simple to look at a photo or video and see what is WRONG with those pictures.

The difficult issue here is that the gestalt of the method, the people who use it, the people who are being rewarded for using it with sponsors, medals, and ribbons, and money for doing clinics, the fact that much money is made and followers gained, THAT is not as easily undone.

I am choosing to think of this as an onion. To undo the onion, you peel away the layers. You could smash the onion to smithereens with a mallet, but if we practice the same humane-ness we preach, what we do is peel the layers away one at a time.

This FEI meeting was one more layer. An important layer, because lots of people were watching, and reporting, and talking about the outcome. A huge number of people coordinated to get names on petitions and then get them to Gerd Heuschmann.

Those same people have a huge amount of power when it comes to coordinating for the next layer. Can you imagine 41,000 still and video cameras watching and recording from the sides of warm-up arenas?

41,000 people each educating 5 more friends about the damage this method does to horses? That many people writing to sponsors and refusing to pay for shows, clinics, and horses trained using these methods?

This issue is not resolved. The FEI can't resolve it. They do have a tremendous role to play, and that is to create objective, easy to apply definitions in place for judges and stewards. Interestingly, this requires ZERO change in the rules. Because the rules already support the horse: the correct movement, and the horse's welfare.

All the FEI has to do is step up and empower the people who enforce the rules. And take a stand against the money-hungry riders and trainers who don't comply.

But it's the 41,000 plus who have the power to resolve the issue.

Don't give up. Keep watching and talking and reporting. Take your video camera with you to shows. Use it. If you see someone using this (or any) inhumane method, turn them in.

Speak out, loudly. If you see a rider ribboned for behind the vertical riding, say something about it. Ask why. Quote the rules.

Don't support companies who support this kind of training and riding. Horse people tend to buy tons of gear and equipment. Make a list of sponsors who support riders and trainers using these methods. Check the list when you go shopping. Don't use these companies. Take it a step further. Send them a copy of your receipt and tell them WHY you didn't buy their product.

Don't ride at venues, or for judges, that support this type of riding. Again, let them know WHY. If you see inhumane methods being used and allowed, and nothing is done by show management to stop it, call Animal Control.

If there are no rollkur-free shows to go to, MAKE NEW ONES. Seek out judges who will judge by the current rules. Put stewards in place who will not back down when they see infractions.

Actively support riders, trainers, and clinicians who utilize effective, humane methods. Buy their books, go to their clinics, let them know you like the way they're doing things. Look up their sponsors, and let the sponsors know you support these riders.

The fact is, if everyone who signed the petitions acts in even one of the above ways, we'll peel more layers off that onion.

It doesn't happen in one meeting. It isn't instant gratification.

Change takes persistence. Change takes time.

The horses are worth it.


Nachodonkey said...

Thank you for digesting all of this material and giving your insight into the solution. You are absolutely right. It is up to the 41,000+ to avoid shows where the riders who use unfairness to the horse to win are awarded and to boycott sponsors who support them and to say why! If indeed money talks, this is a great argument. I am getting a new battery for my camera today!!

Grey Horse Matters said...

Very well thought out and it's a sensible plan. I for one like the idea of letting the sponsors know why we are not buying their products if they support riders who use abusive methods. I already boycott sponsors of riders I don't care for, now I'll let them know why. Good post billie.

CharlieHorse said...

This is why I'm glad to have your blog to read. Your insights are reasoned, logically and proactive. WE do need to keep the pressure up, we do need to keep peeling the onion layers, and you do give sound, achievable steps that each of us as individuals can actively take.
Thank get a solid 9.99 as a most excellent keyboard rider :)

billie said...

Nacho, I love that you are getting a new battery and are ready to use it!!

billie said...

Arlene, it takes an extra step to let them know why, but I think that step is important. I have vowed to take the extra time to do it with all equine purchases I make this year.

billie said...

LOL, Charliehorse - now if I could only get a 9.99 on my sitting trot! :)

Thank you - I so appreciate the kind words.

CharlieHorse said...

and, you've a good sense of humor, as well !! - 9.99 because only God, the Universe, or Whatever :) is perfect. I think trying to be perfect can drive one crazy - so I also thought I'd spare you that :)
As for your sitting trot . . . your horse will be the best judge of that I'm sure :) Just as Purple Pony :)

billie said...

LOL again, charliehorse! Our painted pony would probably buck me right off - fortunately for him my daughter has a wonderfully quiet seat! (or maybe she has that quiet seat BECAUSE of him?!)

You are so right - the best judge is the horse, and rightfully so, since it's the horse bearing the weight of all our mistakes

CharlieHorse said...

In support of your statement:
"They've just (yet again) changed the name and everything is the same as it always was.

We haven't bought that. We know what's going on"

Me thinks twas a rotten layer peeled off that onion - see this 15Feb 2006 German Judges' Association Response to the 31Jan06 FEI workshop:

The reputation of the FEI, looked to as the responsible body ensuring the welfare of horses, is also at stake here.

Sigh, cliches are cliches for a reason - "the more things change, the more they stay the same".

billie said...

Charliehorse, I agree - a rotten layer.

I admit to being an optimist. I rarely see the glass half empty. But I do believe we are making progress here, and the bottom line is that whether we are or whether we are not, we still need to persevere.

I was raving last night about my first real therapist job, where I was hired into a rural public mental health setting where the waiting lists for child mental health services numbered in the hundreds. The child welfare departments were abysmally inept at protecting abused children.

I was mortified. I was young. I was new. And I had a lot of energy. When I left I had been promoted twice, and ended my tenure there in a director's position. There were no waiting lists. We had fought with child welfare. I personally had threatened to contact 60 Minutes if things didn't change in the way they handled abuse reports. I also initiated a monthly luncheon where social services and mental health met and tried to bridge the huge gaping canyon that seemed to lie between our goals and philosophies. By the time I left there was cooperation and many more services to help with very complex cases.

The terrible thing was that a few years later, funding was severely cut and those counties lost almost all the services. Back to square one. But hopefully some new, young therapist with wild ideas and no concept of the cliche you mentioned will end up there and whip everyone into a frenzy again.

My feeling is this is not a battle that ever fully comes to a close. We all have to give what we can and then pass the reins on so that the level of energy stays high and the people on the front lines don't believe in failure.

Meanwhile, we have to take heart in the fact that each thing we do adds to the cause.

I know I sound like Pollyanna! But I believe in every word I'm writing, I promise.

CharlieHorse said...

I LOVE your optimism !! You sound much like my sister, who promoted progress much like yourself, but in a different field - we humans do live on a slippery-slope and seems like many, many societal and cultural "battles" have to be fought and fought over again generation by genteration. Remember the "war to end all wars"? Somewhere I heard that once a mom was asked the question "do you see your cup as half full, or half empty?" Her reply was, "depends on if I'm doing the drinking or doing the pouring"...different paradigm, but interesting. Have you read Echart Tolli's book, A New Earth - postulates that "we" humans are on the edge of a "new consciousness". He writes much of "being" in the "now". Carolyn Resnick and Echart Tolli, both coming from totally different worlds and interests...yet oddly speaking the same language. Gives me goosebumps :)
So, I love your cage rattling optimism ! ! Please keep it up - you do help those of us who tend to chase rabbits down rabbit holes return to focus.

re: your work on your sitting trot - please study this you tube :)

Beth and Cookie,
in Virginia

billie said...

Beth, that is so funny - I actually very much agree that we are on the verge of a new consciousness - but didn't want to toss that into the mix here right now! :)

I suspect it is no accident that so many people are interested in the welfare of horses right now. I'm just glad it's happening, and I hope I get to see the new consciousness taking full hold in our world.

Okay, time to go work on my sitting trot via youtube! (it's too cold in the arena right now and we have snow on the ground!)

Michelle said...

Very good points: you can't undo (with any lasting impact) something that has taken years to develop and get a foothold in the industry. This issue demonstrates that people CAN make a difference with a little unity and persistance!

billie said...

We must persist! I have been so heartened by all the folks working on this issue.

CharlieHorse said...

okay - update shared by Purple Pony advises that there is a new petition just started:

I like this as a proactive petition. Would love to know what your thoughts are on it.

in Virginia

billie said...

Love it, Beth - and I already signed it and so appreciate you passing this info on to me. I'll put it in a new post soon.