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 Traditional Dressage / articles

Catherine's Diary

28?th of August 2010

26th of August 2010

A photo of Ulla and Rusty because it is in my view an important one. Why? Because the horse is uphill, the horse is using his whole body as a unit, not in parts, the energy from behind is reaching the hand/ there is a true contact from behind.

What surprises me is that many cannot see the difference between a back movers and a leg mover. I showed to children or young ones the film of Ulla and Rusty and they loved it. I showed some leg movers and they loved it too, but said it's a bit different... When asked what was different they said they did not know but it "felt strange".. 

Could it be why leg movers are so popular amongst the international judges? They like to feel "strange?

God knows..

23th of August 2010

We all say we "love our horses"... what does it really mean?

"Love" has variousl levels.. (like the dressage levels).

  • There is physical "love" (Love of one's own physical pleasure be it food or sex or group bonding, etc. ..) (Natural love unlashed).
  • Emotional "Love", ("unless you love me back I am going to hate you" type of Love) this may sadly include many "I love magic" type of people. Things are taken or undestood "in a personal way": if you do not love me, "I feel hurt".. etc, it may be why so many people try to be loved by people who are very wrong in their head....?
  • Then, after the emotional side of ourselves is sort of "understood vaguely" one start to aim at "spiritual Love", which means we do not really think anymore that we are as good as we "thought we were".. but we are opened to a new kind fo learning, where our successes and human abilities seem suddenly very small and inadequate: this is I think, where we start truly loving horses as "teachers".

In the meantime, many people seem impressed by "people who use harsch methods and show "what they can do".

If a corrupted system marks those people high (because they fund most of the sport and are talented enough so that juges ignore the "written rules" just to "make those people happy and are good "money earners for the sport, attracting sponsors etc,), we have a little problem in the dressage world.

We are impressing the "lies" within ourselves, instead of offering respect and impressing the horses, themselves. Now moder methods even aim at "absolute bullying" as long as it is successful, people thinks it's great.

Even Classical trainers now quote "competitions wins" to prove that one of their pupil is doing well (thanks to their methods.. ). Life is like that. But for those who seek the truth, the road is a tougher journey: they realise that they are not as "good as they thought they were" and decide to thoroughly enjoy the journey instead of the "acceptance of the uneducated, emotionally driven crowd.

I think to impress horses (body and mind in the right way) teaches us to recognise our mistakes, accept them and not be frightened by our own "lack" of truth. Once we are not frightened anymore that we are not "perfect", we relax and start the great journey of "learning" and improving ourselves with joy, wit and without being worried by "what others think".

It also frees in us the ability to criticise others and ourselves without bein nasty or revengful, etc. : just to be discussing openly the subject with love and respect for the horses (first) and also for the people involved (as long as one is free to tell them our true thoughts instead of giving them what they want and pleasing their egos...). Difficut but wonderful life!

What a fantastic thing to be around horses! Many people need psychologists, therapists, physios, etc. .. we have got the horses that show us directly (and truly) what is wrong with us!

Wonderful opportunity.

Any good rider must be humble and be aware of their own "problems". Horses accept problems, as long as we do not project our silly problems "on them"..

Just a little "rant, to discuss how to reduce the vet's billls. ;) Dont' send your own problems to your horses, it may be too expensive in the long run. Accept your physical problems, accept you are not as good as You would like to be, and start listening to the horses again, instead of your ego.

Imagine a life without horses! Who in your life would truly answer the right way about how you behave? Friends are those who say the things you may not like to hear... true friends.., like horses are...

19th of August 2010

I am a daughter of a scientific man who invented most things that are in your mobile phone or laptop. He retired at 50 years of age, saying that science was getting more political than educational.. also more "aiming at scoring points, instead of searching in depth for the causes and the elements that are missing in our lifes.".

Now the FEI is having a big meeting (another one) to try to learn that putting drugs into horses' body is in order to win competitions is not a good idea...

Someone 2000 years ago could have also said something about it. But the problem is not in "the saying, it is in the listening"... 

18th of August 2010

Hoops, someone is doing curbdressage with a cowboy outfit! 

And, the difficult, long, exhausting bute debate is happening at THE FEI:

In my view it seems to me that the only serious organisation who wishes to clean the equestrian sports are the WORLD HORSE WELFARE:..


"Roly Owers Chief Executive of World Horse Welfare, (GBR), referred to the FEI Code of Conduct, which states: “Participation in competition must be restricted to fit horses” and that “no horse showing lameness should compete”.

He questioned whether a horse that requires treating with NSAIDs in order to be ‘fit’ or ‘to alleviate signs of lameness’ should compete in an FEI competition. 

The stakes are high, both for the FEI and horse sport globally, he concluded, asking if the general public was ready to accept the use of NSAIDs in competition and if it was the right message to give to the ordinary rider.


8th of August 2010

Top, critical and good judges are needed at the ENTRY levels to prevent badly trained horses to get hurt or damaged, at a later stage.

This is the judges' duty: marking fairly in order to promote good training and thus preventing stiff and unbalanced riders to climb the levels. (See result in the hind legs in advanced work when the horses are not through and their back "flat").

I think that marking "to make those riders happy" is not right (again, for the horses).

These riders' egos will push them to ask more from their horses, too much relatively to the quality of their riding, their seat, etc. Judges have a great responsibility and BD should help them to say the truth, not "just be nice" for the wrong reasons.

There are some lovely young riders (Thurmann-B. and others) coming through the tests we see, are they going to be asked to "push too much", to "show too much" just to try to look "more advanced", even the horse horses are not ready (nor the riders)?

The remarks on the sheet should be based on a set of principles well defined by the standards and the FEI guidelines for dressage judges.

Not based on their "personal taste" or "fashion" or "fear" ...

Some new dressage participants would maybe then realize that dressage is about marking quality "training". It is not about pleasing the judges or prancing around on flat, shiny horses with fixed round necks, turbo-like stiff hind legs, and expecting high marks for all the hard work of cleaning the tack.

Rollkur is the result of bad judging, bad riding marked too kindly at the entry levels and riders allowed even rewarded to carry on thinking "they are good" enough, even encouraged to buy flashy horses when in fact their seat leave much to be desired: they cannot handle power yet and as the horses become stronger through further training and much "exercises" (the riders cannot contain, nor the horses swing) the double bridle is introduced for control, and we have mild LDR, hard LDR etc (rollkur in its various forms). 

Judges should become better experts in feel, able to see a feel, not just have done some mechanical movements on horses in competition in the past... They must be trained to recognise when a horse is not using its back to generate the paces anymore.

I am sure that if BD received 14'000 letters from riders to say that they want to be marked according to a standard based on a set of principles, fairly instead of nicely, that BD would have to change the way they prepare their judges... who would be more comfortable to write truthful comments.

It won't happen maybe, but it's just an idea.

My question is what about being nice to the horses first? Isn't this the first responsibility of the judges? I am sure many of them would agree: they are just not allowed to really write on sheet what they think. Or are they?

We are told to look at seeing things more positively, looking at the glass half- full instead of half-empty.

My answer is: "But, what is in the glass?

What are we made to swallow?" I would be concerned to be told to drink a large glass of a chemical rosy mixture, full of sweeteners myself.

6th of August 2010

Saddlebred horses can also work with a disorganised trot: DAP! (Look mummy I can do it too!.. )

Like Grand prix dressage horses?

Rider's heads have been removed so as not to attack anyone personally. We are discussing dressage here and the rules stipulates that trot is a two beats pace.

The rules are the rules, unless we change them. But if judges change the rules, why can't rider change them as well? What stops riders from doing ovals instead of cercles from now on?

4th of August 2010

There is not much to say.. apart from the fact that I am busy with the horses in this lovely good weather.

Nevertheless, a word about Gerd Heuschmann photos that "everybody has seen":

Gerd was “sitting on the horse as a vet, not as a trainer” as such.

And in fact, it was not rollkur. .. It was emergency riding to “get the horse to listen”, he did not send the horse at a fast pace forward with the head between his knee, he had no spurs and did not use this manipulation of the neck for achieving higher points from the judges.

If I saw Anky do that in emergency, I would not mind, what I mind is that some GP riders use it now as a “method”, (day to day normal training even when the horse is obedient).  

Only Gerd can explain why he used this unorthodox method, not pretty but not nasty.

The main question remains:

why do top international grand-prix horses need emergency methods when they are actually supposed to ride TRAINED finished/ready lovely horses (obedience problems should have been solved long ago, this is the purpose of training!).

Why at that level is it necessary when the horses are not spooky or sharp? Could it be that some of the top international GP horses have no basics established? Or do they use rollkur to increase the leg movement by blocking the horse’s back? This is what the FEI judges should wake up to. The big extraordinary thing that happened in the last 25 years or so, is that GP riders now are TRAINING using emergency TOOLS to get more leg movement, calmly, purposefully, like if it was “normal riding now” and the judges do not even recognise when a horse has been trained in that way regularly..

This is what we must be concerned about.

I do not think a minute that Gerd was aiming at exaggerating the front leg movement of that horse….. He was merely using this technique as a tool as he felt necessary, because the horse was not at all in the aids.

Riders who are experienced with many spoilt and difficult horses know that it may happen that those horses suddenly show their true side (horses you do not know and have no idea what their problems are) .. well, in emergency.. they will definitely round the horse’s neck sideways to prevent horses rearing, especially if there is a main road nearby.. (to prevent them to rear, obviously) and then release the whole topline to go forward calmly again.   

If I know in advance a horse is a rearer, I would take time and teach the horse to trust me and the contact /riding better. But sometimes, the owners do not say the whole truth and you are left with a “special moment” with a horse… to deal with safely.

That is why a rider need emergency tools in the box: they are not to use are a routine training, unlike some riders think. But do they think? mmmm