Many of you have asked me to write about Rollkur.
Up until this point, I didn’t want to approach the subject of Rollkur because it is such a hot button with Dressage and Western Pleasure riders – I didn’t want to do it badly.
You see, I’m not a Dressage or Western Pleasure rider and I didn’t even know what ‘rollkur’ meant until I looked it up. (Literally, the term Rollkur is a German word for the act of taking an antacid and then rolling on the floor to make it work around in your stomach.)
But, I realized that you don’t really have to be that learned to look at photos of Rollkur and kinda scratch your head and wonder, “Is that good for them?”
But, what do I know? So, I decided to do some research.
Oy. All I can say is that both sides of the subject are equally passionate.
My take was that the ‘pro’ group says it is the only way to really get collection and success in the upper level dressage show ring. And, they may be correct… It is true that most of the upper level ribbons go to riders who train with rollkur.
The ‘con’ group says that it is inhumane.
Well, it is tough to argue that the winning horses have not been trained using rollkur, which to me is a comment on modern dressage. What it reminds me of is the human athlete ‘doping’ argument…
Sure, doping isn’t good, but if you don’t do it, you cannot compete.
On the con side, the FEI did ban rollkur from all shows and show warm-up arenas. In fact, many show venues have gone to the extreme of putting cameras into the warm-up arenas to be sure.
MY INITIAL OPINION
After reading pages and pages of ‘this and that’ regarding rollkur from all sides, I came to the gut conclusion that rollkur was a quick-fix.
Now, I’m probably simplifying it here because I’m sure it takes a long time to make rollkur effective in training.
I guess what I’m saying is that not using rollkur in dressage training would take even longer to achieve winning results.
My initial hit was that rollkur is one of those dreaded training devices that skips a few steps of the proper technique, if you know what I mean…
But, even after all of this research, I still didn’t want to write about it because I felt like I was bringing up politics or religion at the dinner table… it would just start a huge debate and no one would digest any of it well.
Until… I came upon this one, very astute, very clinical and logical webpage. I have linked it here.
WHY IT MADE SENSE TO ME
The article is titled, Rollkur – Why Not? by Theresa Sandin.
Her article had photos and diagrams which made my tired mind feel happy.
Suddenly it all started making real sense to me – but for a different reason… the ‘debate’ (name calling and hash slinging) was shelved. Instead, the author used common sense, physics, physiology, science and logic to let the reader come to their own conclusions.
IMPORTANT TID BITS
The article was really long and intense. Some of it was beyond my dressage understanding. But, most of it was based on the ‘if this, then that’ type of logic. If you put your hand on a hot burner, then you will get burned.
I won’t re-print the entire article here, but I thought I would restate the several items that made total sense to me in a mechanical way.
A SIMPLE IDEA – THE HORSE’S FIELD OF VISION
THE OVERSTRETCHING (AND THEREFORE FLACCID) NUCHAL LIGAMENT
THE EFFECTS ON THE SPINE
BONY POINT IN SKULL
CANNOT SWALLOW HENCE DROOLING, ESCAPING THE PAIN – UGH.
CARRYING THE WEIGHT OF HIS HEAD LOGICALLY
DAP – DIAGONAL ADVANCED PLACEMENT (I had never heard this term…)
It isn’t tough for me to see why I would never allow this for any of my horses.
On the other hand, I know how tough it is to NOT use something that all of your competitors use… I’m not agreeing with it, I’m just commenting on the new character of ‘winning’.
For me, I’m glad I did this walk today because I will look at all those over-extended dressage horses and say to myself, “Wow. That horse is a real gem to allow that rider to make him do things so against his nature. What a fine horse indeed.”
I won’t comment on the trainer or rider – except to say that many riders don’t learn for themselves. They believe their trainers.
I know that I have…
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
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