Tag Archives: FEI
The Color of the Tongue Is Not the Issue

The Color of the Tongue Is Not the Issue

In a January 3 Daily Mail article on 2012 Olympic Boycott Threat, Roly Owers, of the World Horse Welfare charity, said of the use of hyperflexion in dressage training:

In the right hands it is a valuable training method, and it cannot make a horse’s tongue go blue, no matter what people seem to think.

Has he seen the video and photos? Even if the video and images had been enhanced (and this is NOT an intimation that I feel they have), heaps of other evidence prove that hyperflexion is harmful to the horse in both body and spirit.

In contrast to Owers’ statement, Lady Sylvia Loch, dressage trainer and author, told the Observer,

It is a shocking symptom of where the sport is going, it’s the tip of the iceberg. What is going on behind closed doors in the training of these horses is very wrong.’Rollkur is so, so cruel. The horse can only see its own feet, so it is reliant on the rider for balance which is simply psychological torture.

Patrick Print, chairman of the British Horse Society, has written a letter to the FEI, asking it to investigate. In it he wrote,

Please note that we pass no comment on the aesthetics of seeing a competition horse contorted in a way it never appears to choose for itself. Our concern is only to speak out when we believe that the welfare of horses demands it.

Esthetics? I was unaware that mere esthetics were the issue. Why the British Horse Society bothered to comment at all is a mystery when I try to parse the actual meaning of the sentence above. They are speaking, but what are they saying? Have they been taking lessons on communication from the FEI?

Maybe they had just read A Beginner’s Guide to Rollkur, where I found this image reproduced from Horsetalk NZ. If they tried out the head and neck position depicted here, it’s possible that their clarity of focus and communication were compromised.

I’m delighted a rag like the Daily Mail has taken up the cause. No one likes a good kerfuffle like the British newspapers. Awareness outside the realm of the insular horse world may just bring the kind of scrutiny needed to call a halt to this crime of training methodology.

Take a look at two nice posts about the nature and disadvantages of hyperflexion at In Pursuit of Classical Perfection and Writing of Riding

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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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Winds of Change?

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein
President Federation Equestre Internationale
Avenue Mon-Repos 24
PO Box 1571005

29th October 2009

Your Royal Highness,

You cannot be unaware of the disquiet – not to say anger – which has arisen following the depiction on Epona TV of Patrik Kittel’s horse in apparent distress as it competed in Odense on 18th October. As you are doubtless aware, in terms both of membership and breadth of interest, The British Horse Society (BHS) is the largest single equestrian organisation in the UK. Our examinations system, and the training and education which underpin it, have earned for the Society international recognition. No less important is our work to promote the highest standards of equine welfare, which suffuses every facet of our work.

I am pleased to report that our commitment to equine welfare is shared by all our colleagues within the British Equestrian Federation, although on this occasion I am writing solely on behalf of the BHS. Let me acknowledge straight away that no representative of the BHS was present in Denmark to witness the horse’s apparent distress, nor do we have the benefit of a contemporaneous veterinary report. Moreover, we do not for one minute suggest that Patrik Kittel at any time sought to treat his horse other than with proper care and respect.

Nevertheless, in matters of equine welfare, the precautionary principle must always apply: if, despite the absence of conclusive proof, the wellbeing of a horse is called into question, there will exist a strong moral obligation on the FEI to respond immediately. In our view, the concerns so widely expressed are reasonable and therefore deserving of an urgent two-part investigation: first, an inquiry into the treatment of this particular horse on this particular occasion; and, second, a broader inquiry into the ethics and consequences of hyperflexion.

In this second aspect The British Horse Society stands ready to assist the FEI in any way it can. Please note that we pass no comment on the aesthetics of seeing a competition horse contorted in a way it never appears to choose for itself when in its natural state. Our concern is only to speak out when we believe that the welfare of horses demands it.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Print FBHS
The British Horse Society

I found this letter and comments about it at Dressage Drisgrace.com. Though I’m not taking up horse torture in the dressage world as a cause, I think it’s very important to remember that winds of change blow in all directions. Mindless acts of cruelty in the name of sport and achievement in one discipline bring us all down. When and if the FEI begins to make changes in the kinds of bits it allows, the kinds of training it tolerates, etc., every single equestrian discipline will eventually feel the repercussions. Note, the emphasis on the word, eventually. It’s a big world, with a lot of different attitudes. Let’s BE change. As Lisa Illichman reminded me just today, Mahatma Gandhi told us,

We must be the change we wish to see in the world

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DUBAI/FEI Alliance on Six Month Hiatus: Good News for Endurance?

DUBAI/FEI Alliance on Six Month Hiatus: Good News for Endurance?

In an August 4 announcement, Horsetalk.com, the New Zealand online magazine, said,

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, whose wife Princess Haya of Jordan is president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), has been banned from endurance racing for six months over horse doping.
The ban on the Dubai ruler came as a result of his horse Tahhan testing positive in two two-star races for a hypertension drug and the steroid stanozolol.
Sheikh Mohammed was also ordered to pay 4500 Swiss francs in fines and legal costs.
His trainer, Abdullah bin Huzaim, who admitted giving the horse drugs before the desert races at Bahrain and Dubai, was handed a one-year ban.

The Sheikh and Princess Haya of Jordan

The Sheikh and Princess Haya of Jordan

In my post entitled, An Alarming Alliance, I linked to a Horse Connection.com editorial entitled, The Emperor Has No Riding Breeches by publisher Geoff Young. In it Young warned of the FEI’s dangerously close relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also an alleged supporter of the Mongol Derby. It appears that this possibly mutually beneficial association is on at least a six month hiatus. One wonders whether the Sheikh will continue to exert his influence over the sport of endurance riding while banned from participating in it.

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum aboard Tahhan                                   image courtesy www.endurance.net/international/Bahrain/2009GrandPrix/

Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum aboard Tahhan image courtesy www.endurance.net

“This behaviour is not acceptable and needs to be sanctioned severely,” the FEI said.

Sheikh Mohammed was suspended for six months starting from April 3, the date of the initial notification. He was fined 3000 Swiss francs and ordered to contribute CHF1500 towards legal costs. The trainer, Abdullah bin Huzaim, was suspended for 12 months, also from April 3. He was also fined CHF4000 and ordered to contribute CHF1500 towards legal costs.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and speculations in this post are those of the writer and are NOT NEWS. Any news contained herein is quoted as such.  All else is speculation.

© 2009 enlightened horsemanship through touch and Kim Cox Carneal

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