Tag Archives: dressage
The Center Line by Caroline Larrouilh

The Center Line by Caroline Larrouilh

There is a clear line bisecting the arena. On one side are Four Schools, and hundreds of years of training, which has led to a number of training approaches that all have at the core a share appreciation for the horse as an individual, a desire to foster a harmonious relationship and develop him putting his welfare and emotional, physical and mental well being first.

The connection between horse and rider is considered artful. It enriches the rider AND the horse.

On the other side: Competitive Hyperflexion – one single school also know under the name: Rollkur and more recently LDR. A short history but a controversial one. Believes the good dressage horses have to perform on the Edge. The Edge of what? Insanity? Nervous breakdown? Lives by the maxim:

Dressage is a difficult sport. It is not a matter of IF but WHEN a dressage horse will be lame.

Believes injections, lameness and surgery are part and parcel of the dressage experience. Puts submission, first. Brilliance at the cost of the horse’s nervous central system, first. Puts showing first and enriches the rider but not the horse.

On our side, because there are different schools and sub-schools, egotists fight with each other to establish THEIR ways superiority.

On the other side, there is only one school and they are all busy taking over dressage, rewriting the rules and making fun at our side. They only have one egotist and they all follow him enthusiastically: He wins them gold.

We have to support each other to succeed, we have to look beyond politics and ego and find the common ground and stand on it firmly. We should extend the same curtesy to one another as we do our horses. We should be in and out of the barn, with horses and with humans equally gracious in debate or in agreement.

And we have to judge people on their body of work and actions, their commitment and the choices they make every day, and have for years.

As long as all the little chiefs fight to be bigger than the next chief over, as long as treaties and alliances are just hot air and last the time of a photo opp, Dressage will remain an endangered species.

I ask the representatives of our side of the Line not to call each other friend lightly but build relationships, work together, learn FROM each other and in doing so make our side stronger, make our side the only choice, if you want your horse sound and happy into its old age. If you want your riding to be more meaningful then a pilate session on steroid. If your horse is your friend first, and a vehicle for your ambitions second.

Support the people who are on our side, on your side even if you do not agree with all of their message, if their message is grounded into sound biomechanics and respect for the horse then a bridge can be built on what matters most: the horse.

If your particular little chief engages in battle, refuse to follow and remind them that united we stand, and divided we fall. And fall and fall. Put the horse first.

The Center Line is being squeezed more and more to the side and we are loosing ground. We have lost ground. How long before we are out of the Arena completely? Irrelevant and obsolete. And then what? Will we just wring our hands some more?

I expect more from the horsemen and women I choose to learn from. I expect the intelligence to know that without a coalition and a joining of forces, horses are doomed to be turned in mechanics. If adults do not start behaving as such then between Competitive Hyperflexion and Nouveau Horsemanship du Jour, traditional dressage, traditional horsemanship will keep gasping and eventually die.

Less lip service and more actions and we may make a difference yet. I certainly hope so.

Support Article 401. Respect the Rules. Protect the Horses.

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BIG News on the Dressage Front

But not big in the way you expect, given the recent spate of FEI-related posts. And now for something completely different:

From Fran Jurga, a report that on Friday, July 16th, under the motto, the heavy brigade is on its way, 70 draft horses of various breeds (called “cart horses” in Europe), as well as carriages and working teams will compete in the First North Rhine-Westphalian (NRW) Cart Horse Day at Aachen.

The dressage riders and show jumpers will need to keep a tight rein on their mounts when these fellows rumble by. The refined warmbloods will be face-to-face with their cold-blooded root-stock. And they’d better watch out that the big boys don’t steal their show, or at least inspire a children’s book or two.

My all-time favorite and most beloved mare is a Percheron. Millie taught me everything. Maira is half Percheron. Windsong’s Justa Firestorm is a Percheron stallion. His son, “Buster,” is Perch/TB. You get the drift. Their nobility and grace, and courage in stressful times cannot be matched. Millie and I tried dressage. It was an unparalleled disaster. Not only am I terrible at dressage, but Millie’s typical but beautiful draft conformation naturally made it difficult for her to rock back on her haunches and carry herself properly. It was a battle. Why torture her for no good reason? We decided to stick with what we do best–hunt for a couple of hours and go home, triumphant. Trail ride and enjoy it immensely.

Below I have posted a YouTube video of a Percheron training that really takes me back. I believe that what you see in this video is typically what you get when trying to get a draft horse to do dressage. Draft horses. Conformationally appropriate? No. Willing? Yes. Capable? Yes (????)

I hopehopehope that the beauties of Aachen wow them with more than just the rumbling of the earth! I’d give quite a lot to be there.

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“Dressage Derailed” at <em>Horses For Life</em>

“Dressage Derailed” at Horses For Life

The reason why you can’t pull a horse’s head down to his knees and hold it there is not only because the current science approves or disapproves. The reason why you can’t pull a horse’s head down to his knees and hold it there day after day, hour after hour, is the same reason why you can’t pull a man’s head down to his knees and hold it there. The reason is that it is demeaning to the dignity of the horse or man. It is an ethical, philosophical problem, as well as a scientific one. Even in the handling of prisoners of war there are conventions of dignity. When you act this way toward a horse with this unprovoked, irrational and unrelenting constant aggression, you demean everything: the horse, nature, yourself, the art and the observer.

–Paul Belasik, The Search For Collection

Rollkur for Dec4

Click here to read a brilliant article in Horses For Life by Susannah Cord. Cord suggests that the FEI demeans both horses and horse lovers by defending rollkur and its perpetrators.

It’s like watching a trainwreck in slow motion. A magnificent horse, struggling in a straightjacket punishingly enforced between his rider’s seat and a double bridle leveraged by the rider’s back and braced legs, a curb bit engaged to the max, the deep chestnut stallion struggles through a dance macabre, his legs jerking unnaturally through paces that look less like those of a horse and more like a hopping puppet on a string. And then the stunner, the slack tongue dangling from his mouth. And it’s blue, a clear sign of hypoxia. Oblivious, the rider pushes the horse on. The horse, his eyes withdrawn and prematurely old with pain, soldiers on. Finally, realization dawns, the rider halts, adjusts the tongue so it is out of sight, stuffed back in the mouth like an old sock in a leaky faucet….and rides on like all is well, nothing out of the ordinary has just occurred. Carry on, folks, nothing to see here, just a little blue tongue. Just another day in paradise.

The FEI makes another reassuring statement, an investigation is underway, the horse’s welfare always comes first. The FEI machine rumbles slowly on, secure in its own entrenched views, and one hand washes the other. But past experience has not inspired confidence in the FEI standing up for the horse. The time has passed for talk, the time is now for action. Rollkur is not training, it’s abuse. And FEI – Enough IS Enough

I like this woman!

I’m not usually a fan of wistful statements about “the good old days,” but in this case I think it’s important to look at how different the good old days really were:

But compare the joyful victory lap of Reiner Klimke in 1984 as he and Ahlerich skipped the light fantastic in perfect harmony with an endless, effortless, one handed single tempi change series all the while waving at the crowd, to today, where horses that have just won the World Cup can’t handle a medal ceremony, and bolt with rider screaming and sawing on her double bridle? Who needs the runner up to give her horse a lead-in into the arena?

If it weren’t so sad, I’d laugh, because she paints such a perfect picture of the cruel ineptitude of these riders. Is this the “intelligent horsemanship” Patrik Kittel speaks of?

Take a look for yourself: Clearly, it can be done with “legerete.” With humanity. With love and connection.

There is no room in governing bodies for hypocrisy and “Shape shifting.” Let the FEI know in no uncertain terms that, as representatives of equestrian sport, they are failing. Please don’t support the sponsors of the 2010 World Equestrian Games. It’s Christmas time. You might be thinking of purchasing something for someone on your list from this list. Please think hard before you do. Not only do I suggest boycotting their products, but I also suggest contacting them to tell them you are doing so. You can click on the names of the companies below to go to their websites. Send a message they will understand.

John Deere
The University of Kentucky
Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital
Bluegrass Airport
Fortune Realty
L.V. Harkness & Co,
Premier Equestrian Dressage Arenas
The American Farriers Association. They should be ashamed of themselves.
and, yes, Ariat. It’s time to find another brand.
almost worse,
Breyer Horses.

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Profile of Sabine Schut-Kery: Clinician, Trainer, Equestrian Entertainer

Profile of Sabine Schut-Kery: Clinician, Trainer, Equestrian Entertainer

I found out about Sabine Schut-Kery through Paula Josa-Jones. Photos of Sabine and her horses communicate such ease and elegance. I just had to share them. Mostly because they’re pretty. I can never resist pretty pictures of horses.

Ms. Schut-Kery is an accomplished dressage rider, participating this year at Devon, among many other places. She trains, teaches, and performs with Baroque horses. Her website has many more inspiring photos. If I were going to spend any time in the San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara area, I would attend an exhibition.


Photo by Tersa Koehler

02-18-2008 08_31_21PM

Illiad, ridden by Sabine Schut-Kery. Photo by Tersa Koehler


Granito , ridden by Sabine Schut -Kery, owned by Kathleen Kearney. Photo by marie@shootfirephoto.com

© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal

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Petition to Reform the FN Rules

Petition to Reform the FN Rules

I read this in Camera Obscura, who found it at Glenshee Equestrian Center.

Just Say NO to Rollkur

Just Say NO to Rollkur

It’s about time. Riders and trainers have long complained about the decline of horsemanship in general and dressage in particular, especially as concerns competition. In recent years, only the most spectacular, showy performances have been rewarded at the expense of correct dressage and, more importantly, at the expense of the well-being of the horses. The situation is becoming toxic – for horses and riders. It’s time to clean house.
Granted things are unlikely to change when these riders are backed by serious money and corporate sponsorships, but we have to try something to bring the standards back up to some meaningful level.

Grey Horse Matters sent me this link from Philippe Karl’s website and I thought I’d pass it along to those who might be interested. Philippe Karl is one of the too few truly classical voices out there, and someone I have great respect for as a horseman. Of course, the Petition only addresses the German Equestrian Federation, however, this organization sets the standards to which we are all eventually subject due to its powerful influence on the FEI. A change in the German system might just positively influence the FEI and other national federations, including the USEF and USDF. I have signed the Petition, and I hope you will consider signing too and possibly forwarding to horsey friends or post on your own blog…

Here is the petition. Please pass along after signing.

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