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Anky Van Grunsven Accidentally Shows Her Slip

Anky Van Grunsven Accidentally Shows Her Slip

When I was a child, rude behavior, snarky comments, and general expression of my mischievous streak were greeted with this sotto voce comment from my mother: “Kim, your slip is showing.” A reference to what at the time (and especially in the South!) was an unacceptable deviation from decency. Your undergarments (and your true self) were not to be aired in public.

It appears that Anky Van Grunsven, arguably the creator of Rollkur, has flipped up her dress and waggled her slip for the world to see in threatening emails to Astrid Appels of

image courtesy the Daily Telegraph

See the press release from Astrid below.

Date: Wed, 25 Aug 2010 00:03:58 +0200
Subject: Press Release
To: Astrid Appels

Press Release


Team trainer Dutch Dressage Team Threathens Journalist!

Goal of Lawsuit: Anky van Grunsven demands removal of photo and claims damages

The renowned dressage rider Anky van Grunsven feels defamated by equestrian journalist Astrid Appels of According to Anky images of her horses can not be connected to the controversial rollkur training method. This is a system developed by Anky and her trainer and life partner Sjef Janssen in which the horse is bending its neck in an extreme way.

Following years of research and a conclusion by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), the Dutch Equestrian Federation (KNHS) has decided in February that, “as of today hyperflexion/rollkur is seen as an aggressive way of a deep moving horse. This is forbidden as well as any head-neck position which is obtained in an aggressive way.
The LDR-method, on the other hand, obtains a deep bending of the neck without force and this is allowed.”

Much has been written about this controversial system in combination with animal welfare. And so has journalist Astrid Appels who has paid attention to this topic on her website Through highly aggressive and intimidating emails Anky van Grunsven and Sjef
Janssen have tried to prevent this, but Appels appeals to the freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

In his correspondence Sjef Janssen has sweared at Appels like a sailor. A few quotes:
“You are a tiny miserable figure”
“You’ll be next”
“You’re totally deranged”
“You’re just pathetic”
“You continue to be a super bitch”
“you belong in line with the German journalist mafia”

Appels is shocked by these intimidating and slanderous remarks by the official team trainer of The Netherlands and considers taking necessary legal steps against this.

This court case will start in Hertogenbosch on 8 September 2010.

Appels is represented by Mr. J.A. Weda

Wow. This shows just what the big name riders have to lose if stripped of their methods. Recrimination and anger of this magnitude do nothing to further the sport. Enough is enough. Bad faith, abuse, misrepresentation, and outright threats reveal participants to be manipulative and unpleasant behind closed doors. Vicious emails have a way of becoming public. See?

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By Any Means Necessary? Clinton Anderson’s Training Tip of the Week

By Any Means Necessary? Clinton Anderson’s Training Tip of the Week

image courtesy

When working with your horse, you need to have the mentality: Do what you have to do to get the job done. Do it as easy as possible, but as firm as necessary. Whether it takes just a look to make the horse move, or whacking him ten times as hard as you can, do whatever it takes to get the job done. Notice I didn’t say “Do what you have to do unless you feel uncomfortable and then just quit doing it.” That’s what a lot of people do though. They understand that they need to be firmer with their horse when he is disrespectful, but they don’t like the idea of reprimanding him and increasing the pressure. But here’s the bad news: Every time a horse calls your bluff and you back off, you lose a lot of respect. Every time you threaten that he is going to get it and you don’t follow through, it gets worse for the next time. It’s just like with kids, if you make hollow threats, they know that they don’t have to take you seriously, and as a result they get more disrespectful. When you’re working with your horse, always do what you have to do and follow through. Do it as easy as possible, but as firm as necessary.

Um, all the emphasis is mine. I don’t think I need to say anything else.

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Anna Wise: In Memoriam

Really nice piece on the maverick godmother of mind-brain investigation, Anna Wise.

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Mindful Monday: Memory, Mindfulness and the Marathon

Remaining compassionate toward others is an exercise in endurance these days. The Armageddon folks are probably having a field day with the earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and such. There does seem to be a lot going on with Mother Earth. And then there are the personal catastrophes.

Mara and Samsara are cyclical, never-ending. Things are always happening to people. I’ll bet each of us knows someone who has recently suffered some loss, some tragedy, some illness or injury that has changes their lives. And as compassionate, mindful people, we jump to offer comfort, support and maybe even a casserole.

When my daughter became catastrophically ill back in 1996, community support kept me from going over the edge. More than a year of assistance from her school, family friends and neighbors, as well as her father’s work acquaintances buoyed us through the dark days. People gave of their time and hearts to a child and her family in grave danger of death in every way. I am grateful to this day.

When a friend in Virginia finally got her very own horse after 30 years of catch riding and leasing, there was a celebration. She hacked out and showed with well-earned pride and a palpable happiness after so many years. Finally she was able to bond with a horse who was truly hers, and vice versa. It was a match made in heaven. Until suddenly the horse died. She was surrounded by love and support as she worked through the loss and grief.

The thing is, I wonder how it is for her now. She hasn’t gotten a new horse. Many months later, I know she is still grieving. No horse, no equestrian life, still catch-riding. I do not have to wonder how it was for me in the ensuing years after the initial catastrophe with my daughter. It went from dreadful to unimaginably worse, with the added burden of managing it alone.

But as with a string of natural disasters, folks get compassion fatigue. Seeing me exhausted and near the edge of insanity, people would recite to me the (they thought) wise analogy of putting the oxygen mask on yourself before putting it on your child. Then they wandered off to make sure that their golden, healthy children got to soccer practice on time. I didn’t resent them for that, but I did resent the lameness of their unsolicited advice. If they’d taken the time to look (which was awfully hard when protecting themselves from the pain that comes along with compassion overload), they’d have seen that my arms were too tired to lift the oxygen mask.

The initial frenzy of empathy and assistance for Courtney King-Dye has hit its zenith. From personal experience, I envision the downslope. Attention will wander toward personal matters. Because raising your own family, caring for your own horses, doing your own job, are understandably a priority. And then there is the next big disaster. Novelty renews compassion without fatigue.

Let me share with you from my experience this fact: while attention from others wanders, and the initial danger eases, struggle goes on. Reports of Courtney’s continued and seemingly miraculous progress pile up, and we may feel that it’s OK to turn our attention elsewhere. And it is, to a certain degree. Spreading the compassion around never hurts. But remaining mindful of the evolving struggle of others keeps our hearts open.

In six weeks, six months, a year, Courtney King-Dye will still be battling the aftereffects of her accident. If we care, we will be there to help. But but but, you say, humans don’t have that long of an attention span. Sadly, we don’t. Especially when it’s not us that’s the issue. Two years down the road, I could have certainly used a casserole on the rare nights I left my daughter in the hospital for a few hours rest in my own bed and respite from stale sandwiches from a machine. It would have been nice to have some of that early frenzied assistance paced out so that I didn’t have to clean up after dogs who’d been waiting patiently for my return, or find a way to get the grass mowed after a six-week absence. Courtney and her family will face the same dilemmas.

What can we do to remain mindful of her continuing battles? If we don’t know her personally, then the casserole idea is pretty much out, along with offering to mow the grass and walk her dogs, or exercise her horses. But there is an option I can think of, and it’s a simple one. The Courtney King-Dye Medical Fund eBay Store has been very successful. But predictably, numbers are down.

If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, you can easily help by posting about it. The rewards of offering something for sale (service or goods) are great. Watching as your item is bid on is fun, and it feels good to know you will help defray the costs of care that are not covered by insurance. For those in the equestrian/equine business, offering something for sale is excellent PR/advertising. As everyone who is reading this knows, riding horses does not pay. You can also bid on items. The prices are well below retail. Planning ahead for gifts throughout the year will help not only your own awareness of Courtney’s strivings to regain her life, but also of the good fortune of your loved ones.

Currently the store has 12 Troxel Reliance Dressage helmets (that normally retail for $159.95) up for grabs with a minimum bid of only $50. The helmet safety campaign t-shirts are also now available in the store for $22.75. These were designed with a very catchy slogan “Strap One On – Everyone’s Doing It” by single mom and dressage rider Jeri Bryant of CA in order to help support Courtney.

Lendon Gray said yesterday that Courtney is making excellent progress. This is very encouraging, but the road to recovery will be a very long one, with lots of physical therapy and specialized rehab. Run solely by Lyndsey White of SUCCEED for no personal gain, the eBay store aims to hit the $10,000 profit mark before the end of this month. That will go a long way toward helping Courtney in her marathon for recovery.

To contact Lyndsey if you want to offer an item for auction in the eBay store, email, or call (859) 420-1006. You can also find progress reports on Facebook and Twitter.

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For Anna Wise

For Anna Wise

Anna Wise, one of the first scientists to understand that science and spirituality can address the same concepts, and who developed the EEG technology to measure and describe the brainwave patterns that occur during meditation and intense, pure focus, has died.

I had the intense privilege to spend some time with her, and I was profoundly affected by it. The marriage of science and the mind, virtually embodied in one brilliant human being. That was Anna.

I know that Anna is now everywhere, and no longer limited by her body. May her brilliant, awakened mind gather and return again to further enlighten mankind.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am the song that will never end.
I am the love of family and friend.
I am the child who has come to rest
In the arms of the Father who knows him best.

When you see the sunset fair,
I am the scented evening air.
I am the joy of a task well done.
I am the glow of the setting sun.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

~ Mary E. Frye ~

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Appreciating the Space

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Victor Frankl

The ability to remain mindful, to hold that space Frankl speaks of is a great gift. To greet it without compulsion, habit or knee-jerk reactions is to face what comes as honestly as possible.

As Rosemary McGinn says in her article, Addiction, Meditation and Space,

Without some degree of mindfulness, it can seem impossible to distinguish between stimulus and response, between experience and association.

Life happens fast. So fast our minds have a hard time keeping up with it. Even our judgements lag behind. So our minds form little habits in order to keep up, to deal with all that happens. They do it by forming associations.

But, like experiences, our

associations tumble along so quickly that they seem indistinguishable from the experience that launched them.

The human mind, not always a model of efficiency, makes a valiant effort in these cases. According to Sharon Salzberg, we

tend to compound our experience, jumbling together stimulus and response,

and our minds can drag us, unawares, from experience to judgement to anger or doubt to self-hatred in a trice.

As clicker trainers and those who practice mindfulness meditation know, there is a space in there.

Remember the old adage about counting to ten when angered before acting? That’s a means of creating awareness of the space. There are all sorts of ways of remembering that space, of recognizing it in the fleeting infinitesimal instant of its existence, and using it to its best advantage: kindness. Kindness to ourselves and our horses.

How to spot the space?

Some people do it by stilling their minds on a regular basis. This is not easy, but bears fruit over time. A few seconds at a time to start. Counting your breath without falling into the habit of discursive thought, daydreaming, etc. Returning to the simple awareness of the breath when you find yourself thinking. That breath is the space.

McGinn says,

It seemed impossible that I would ever build the muscle enough to be of much use: when I tried to count breaths up to 4, I often found myself at 37 before noticing I’d wandered.

It’s a conscious choice to seize the chance to slow things down once you spot the space, to deliberately choose your judgement and reaction based on where you’ve gone off the track, and returning to the basics. To have compassion for ourselves and others. When you’ve figured out what you want to do with the space, it works.

What do I want to do with the space?

I know what I don’t want to do with it. I don’t want to fall into aggression, anger or fear. They are the usual responses, especially when the stimulus is new or particularly challenging.

Last week I had a chance to work with a horse who showed me some particularly challenging behaviors. My task was simply to assess his body for signs of physical distress that might cause behavioral issues. But I could not get him to stand still long enough to complete the assessment. While he was dancing around, my feet were in constant danger, as were various parts of my body that he threatened to nip. Clearly, there was something going on with this guy.

Initial reaction, without respecting the space: irritation with the horse: “don’t you know I”m trying to help you?” It happens in a flash. So fast I’m not even aware of it.
Secondary reaction: “I can’t even handle him for the 90 seconds it takes to complete the assessment.”
Tertiary reaction: “I’m not very good at this.”

Had I been more mindful, acknowledging the space would have allowed me to think,”Yes, there is something going on here. I can’t handle him myself and assess him at the same time.” I needed to ask for a second person. Focusing in on a spiral of thoughts on myself, my own little ego, obliterated the space between the stimulus (the dancing, nipping horse), and the response (self-doubt and recrimination). The efficiency and habit-following tendency of my mind did me no favors here. But I’m really in charge of that, aren’t I?

Now I know what I want to do with the space: Practice practice practice and awareness. Respect it.

Next time: see the space.
Choose the response (don’t let it choose me): it’s not all about me.
Ask for help if you need it.
Help the horse.

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