Saturday, October 02, 2010

more blood at WEG

From Eventing Nation:

Karim Florent Laghouagh and Havenir d'Azac of France were eliminated by the ground jury after blood appeared around Havenir d'Azac's mouth during their dressage test.


For anyone reading who doesn't know, the dressage phase of the eventing discipline is different than the Grand Prix dressage I've been writing about in previous posts. Note that this horse is wearing a snaffle bridle and not the double-bitted bridle of Grand Prix. Even so, you can see the cavesson and flash noseband are tight, the reins are being held very short, and you can see the blood in the horse's mouth. I don't know if this French rider utilizes rollkur, hyperflexion, or LDR in warm-up, but he is riding this test behind the vertical (line from horse's forehead to ground - correct angle is that horse's nose should be slightly in front of this vertical line).

I also read though have not confirmed that in the cross-country phase of the eventing competition, this horse had a rotational fall (meaning it hit the jump and flipped over, hindquarters over head).

Accidents happen, but it's hard not to make a connection between this kind of heavy-handed riding in dressage, blood in the mouth, and a rotational fall on the cross-country course.

I seriously doubt this horse is a happy equine citizen.


Grey Horse Matters said...

What a disaster, this poor horse is another casualty of the new mentality prevalent in the riding disciplines. I feel so sorry for this poor guy, he must be so sore from his fall and the pain in his mouth. One day perhaps all the horses will rebel and turn the tables on these torturers.

jme said...


everyone who knows me knows i have a low opinion of eventing; it's a case of 'jack of all trades, master of none' and any sport where people feel the need to grease up their horse in anticipation of slamming him into solid objects at a gallop is, well, perverse.

eventing "dressage" (i use the term loosely) is the lowest form of dressage out there and is always horribly done, imo. and this horse's neck shows all the hallmarks of a horse ridden incorrectly on a regular basis (particularly the braced underside of the neck and the hollow in front of the withers.) that kind of neck is exactly what i see on most eventers, including grady, which i'm in the process of trying to undo.

in our particular area eventing is huge and there is so much of this riding around, and the blatant disregard for the horse that goes with it, that i'm horrified at the thought of attending local events because all i hear about is bad crashes and horses being broken. 3 or 4 at each event is the norm, and no one seems the slightest bit concerned by this...

billie said...

This blood in the mouth thing is beyond my comprehension. I remember once when Keil Bay first came to live with me I had fed him those pink horse peppermints before a lesson. About 10 minutes in, my trainer said "Can you stop for a minute? It looks like Keil's mouth is bleeding."

I leaped off, freaking out that I had done something horrible with the reins/bit and hurt this mouth. Not likely, since my default is to throw the contact away! But my default is also to take responsibility for anything that happens to my horse while I'm riding him! So I leaped off and we checked, and Keil seemed fine, quite happy, licking and chewing. And suddenly we both smelled the peppermint and I remembered I'd fed them to him.

That was pink foam. If I saw the actual bright red blood in these WEG photos I would be calling the vet.

The nonchalance is stunning.

billie said...

RE: muscle development of neck in this horse, I agree.

RE: WEG in general: I read a commentary by someone trained in classical dressage who was there and saw all the freestyles. He said he wonders if things will begin to shift b/c of the crowd response - the audience were over the top with Fuego's performance, and when Totilas came in right after, they were extremely subdued and very lukewarm. Although the scoring went the way of the gold for Gal, if audiences become lukewarm to that kind of riding, ticket sales go down, etc etc., then training methods may begin to shift.

Of course, who knows what will come next, since Sjef and Co. are NOT interested in the longer journey toward collection.

Re: eventing: it's big here too. And with a daughter in Pony Club, it's what is being taught to the young riders. The dressage in eventing here is usually many bay T'breds being ridden, not cruelly most of the time, but it's clearly a challenge to get them to relax into the movements.

Someone, maybe Jimmy Wofford?, was speculating last year that the increase in rotational falls on eventing courses is related to the new focus on dressage in eventing - that by training these horses to collect and depend on the rider for every cue in the dressage arenas, their ability to judge and gauge and look for their own strides going to the big jumps is being seriously compromised. You want a horse that knows his own mind, and yet in training dressage, you're asking the horse to listen for your every cue. So maybe we can't have a horse who does both, when the risk is so high over big jumps that are literally rock solid and made not to move. (although now they're re-thinking that, of course)

ponymaid said...

Billie, as usual, the conversation here is full of insights that focus on the horse's experience with these riding disciplines. We agree, most of it seems to be filled with tension and worry, and no wonder. Where is the fun element for the horse? It would be nice to see more sheer enjoyment by both horse and rider at these events...

billie said...

Yes, Sheaffer, exactly. Like that lovely Klimke victory lap at the 1984 Olympics.

jme said...

i just found the article by wafford you mention (g.m. had a similar article about self-sufficient jumpers recently.)

it's an interesting theory and something i'll have to think more about. i have never understood why eventers have to do all three disciplines - why isn't cross-country a stand-alone sport?

they do seem incompatible on several points, and always thought that the cc is bad for the showjumping and dressage phases, so why shouldn't SJ and dressage be just as bad for the cc?

billie said...

I know many eventers (the old timers, mostly) vastly preferred the long format. I think Wofford elaborated in a discussion on COTH that the dressage was fine when it wasn't focused on the upper level movements - but so many riders are incorporating what they see in "pure" dressage shows, and riding their horses to higher levels, where the collection and frame is being achieved by riding from front to back instead of back to front.

I suspect half the people out there teaching and training dressage to horses and riders have no clue what they're actually doing, having not studied the reasons behind the training scale, and going for shortcuts in much the way Sjef does - although not always with such extreme techniques.

I also think riders have tended to over-train in dressage - and then it carries over to the cross-country field.

It does seem to me that there's a lot of crossed purposes going on in many disciplines! Ideally, horses should do what they can do well and relatively easily given their temperaments and conformation. If that is the standard, imo, horses stay healthy and happy longer than if pushed to do disciplines they simply can't do well. In some ways eventing tries to cram it all in.

Anonymous said...

two things come to this non-horse persons mind -
1) i hope someone uses a riding crop on the rider and draws blood
2) reminds me of the skinny models on the runway whose feet are bleeding after a show....

billie said...

It's tragic on both counts. :/