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 Traditional Dressage / articles

SCROLL DOWN TO READ THE DIARY BUT LET'S first look at those two photos from the Home page again:

Leg mover vs Back mover comparaison/ a new page Here, on the left is an example (more photo compaison will be created on the website).

Do not look at the rider so much here: but "compare the type of engagement behind and how the energy is received in the front. Both horses have the nose in front of the vertical, but only one is able to engage his hind legs and therefore carry the rider.

Look at the knees too. The bay horse will not put down his foot forward where the nose is pointing, the grey horse will, he is truly moving as a unit.(We discuss training to learn to see better, to ride better and to improve our knowledge, not to attack riders).

One horse is tense, one is not. The grey has rounded joints, feels comfortable, the bay is pushing and not able to engage, his back is stiff, he is "holding himself" (on that photo).

And for those who think these are different trots: well a trot is a trot.. An extended or medium trot should still show the particularity of natural paces and this includes "engagement", no DAP, etc.

Catherine's DIARY



Today is Pat Manning's memorial service (see events).

She has been a great teacher for me and many.

She is one of the voices "I listen to" when I work on my riding. She is the silent one...

A master of "contact" and "riding in silence", to hear the horse's responses. 


Today I would like to ask people who read this diary at times , if they know about someone who rides and is studying dressage and has battled, or who is living or has lived with cancer.

Having experienced cancer myself, I would like to encourage those who are suffering or did enconter the big little C, to contact me and come for a day, riding and discussing at GFS. I think that together we could do something to help others, still in hospitals.

I also will try to put a special page for those who love horses and training and are in need of a little community of support within dressage. There is a sort of "feeling different after such an experience", and horses are very good to keep our attention focus on life instead of diseases.

So please contact me if you know anyone and we could have a day, riding and discussing, taking photos with horses, print them on posters to encourage those who are in the middle of their battle, still in hospitals. I think the wards would love to have positive posters to put on their walls. Thank you to write to me at[email protected]

The simple alternative is to send me photos of yourself riding or with your horse and a short text to explain what happened and how horses have helped through difficult times and thereafter.

Thank you!

26.02.2010 again

Good letter on H&Hound : someone called Peter Bolitho is also hoping that British Dressage officials will take a stand against rollkur.. Thank you Mr Bolitho.

It is on page 13 of the Horse and Hound dated 25.02.2010.


Classically trained horses move in balance.

Many horses in competition are not in balance, but nevertheless look very flamboyant and flashy.

In fact they look extravagant because they are out of balance.

The public, anaware of the damage caused to the horse's joints and nervous system, applaudes.

This horse is going forward on the ground, but he is not going "forward"

(in the real equestrian meaning of the term).

His front hoof is going to have to come BACK TO LAND.. so all this demonstration of energy is a waste of energy. His is "holding himself politely in front of the vertical but his whole body is not participating to the movement. His natural paces have been affected negatively, the hind legs are trailing, the back is hard and locked. (We only discuss the photo, hopefully the horse has been retrained since he won his competition that day.

The display of the high knee front leg action attracts the uneducated public, but this high action is not "necessary" to go forward, the horse is hold tight somewhere in his body, and this asks from him much too much effort: the flow energy is blocked, the legendary gracefulness of horses is lost, we have a demonstration of nervous electric "power", which destroys because there is no throughness (see hind legs).

The joints are hammered: the dressage is not beneficial to the horse.

I repeat myself but it is so important for the horses and for dressage.


What is the problem with rollkur applied without "aggressive force" ? mmmm mmmm

The mind boggles....


"The security we all need as a presumption of our freedom and dignity cannot ultimately be derived from technical systems of control. It can come only from the moral strength of man, and where this is lacking or insufficient, the power man has will be transformed more and more into a power of destruction."


Thank you again for those who wrote. I cannot find time till tonight to answer emails. Thank you for your patience.



The dressage seat, the independent seat, the deep seat.... this is what has to be learned. There is no replacement for it. 

"Looks are not enough", truth is hidden at a deeper level, we learn this by... "learning"!

Time and dedication, as well as effort and receptivity are needed. Failure to succeed must be accepted as a normal process of learning. We learn through curves and like waves, we must go with the ups and with the down.

Are riders maybe blocking their horses' back in the up position because they do not acknowledge yet their own "lows"? There is nothing wrong with having "difficulties" and having a hard time or a little bit if "inability to do something". The masters of the past said it all, the bad lessons/sessions are the most important (one remembers them).

The way to learn, seriously learn, a subject is to accept that we are studying it. What is needed is Time, patience, receptivity, kindness to the horses, Love of the subject, genuine joy to be in a position of "learning" something which has the potential to change us.

One cannot study "what one likes". That would not be learning, that would be having a hobby, which is good. But is not dressage. One study what one does not know, this is why we make mistakes.

The rider must question also and search in order to understand why he /she makes mistakes. There is a need for this "dressage understanding - (physical and theoretical). Mistakes can be reduced to the minimum when one is under the guidance of a trainer who follows a good set of Principles him/herself.

The young generations are told that they must be "successful in everything they do". 

They must be fun, handsome or pretty, sexy and charming as well as having a great time all the time. So are riders, they are told they are great, advanced, just because they got some lateral work under the belt. They compete on a tense horse and receive good marks, even win.... no surprise one could not teach those riders to work on their seat: they are already successful... they do not need to train their bodies.

 I wonder how many millions people live tragic dramas, well hidden withing themselves and these inner dramas are then projected onto others. Including the horses... 

It must be hell to live with a facade all the time, a defense system that prevent any serious receptivity of any kind. ... If one cannot show the difficulties and the problem lived, to the world to others, for fear of disapproval and fear "of not be part of the herd" must be a living hell, it must in fact "be" hell..

To open up to learning and to the world is to accept to be hurt, to receive serious lessons and deep experiences that are necessary for us to learn from. The idea is not to "create" problems in view to solve them either... just to learn from problems, and understand why they happen at the first place.

The result of "success at all cost generation" is a tragic "state of affairs". People protect themselves instead of improving, they seek comfort teaching, comfort lives and comfortable reassurances in order to breathe. In fact, they seek the opposite of what they need.

The consequence of all this is they prefer "not to do" anything seriously challenging: the risk of failure is too great. Riders choose to have lessons with "entertainers" teachers at time, those who make them laught and "feel good", why not.

But then, what does one learn? Too often one learns to ride "front to back riding". Well, this is not dressage. Too many riders are now spending thousands of pounds a year being trained to ride a "neck" instead of the whole horse, they are taught that suppleness is "bending the neck where they want it to be. There is another way.

I think they should be given a choice. Amongst them there must be some who are willing to spend years to improving their riding and learn to ride the whole horse "through". Surely...... ;)

A positive attitude is needed to accept "failures" and "mistakes" made. Those teaches us to "ride the waves" with joyful desire to improve well established in the heart.

And last, no one should be made to feel bad to have problems in their riding. This is what is so wonderful when one is surrounded by people who understand and do not judge the "person", nor attack them so as to destroy their desire to learn and evolve. We must Love horses yes, but also love studying and observing things at a deeper level, read and ride, to understand what dressage is all about.

Without knowing the goal, the motive behind dressage exercices and practise, experiences can be reduced to an empty "occupation" that lead to frustration and despair.

To conteract this negative (and defensive) state of the mind, I suggest that riders, and I include myself of course, remind themselves of the joy of learning and progressing steadily towards progress without fear of "failure, and without worry about what "others" think, unless these "others" are participating to the great journey themselves and show "understanding" and interest in the horse's and rider's training.

This is not a dressage seat.

Aled Jones said: "there is nothing wrong with making mistakes in life, they are only BAD mistakes if we fail to learn from them."


Thank you to all who sent me lovely emails of interest and support. I will answer them asap individually. Catherine

"Without integrity, motivation is dangerous;

without motivation, capacity is impotent;

without capacity, understanding is limited;

without understanding, knowledge is meaningless;

without knowledge, experience is blind."

Now an extract of notes taken during one of Arthur Kottas' clinic :

"There is no substitute for what is right. Nowadays new-born trainers teach and are winning competitions without having ever felt a true self-carriage throughout all the movements, with sound basis. If you put the head of the horse in that position (close to the chest) you lift and block the back up. 

This is not the feel we want. People think it is, but is is not. They do not know. They have not felt it within themselves. How can they train and teach. They have techniques, they make things happen. But they do not know it".

Good old Arthur.... this and his remark at the Global forum about Totilas "more Tenessee walker than dressage". Now that we are preparing towards the "after rollkur" era: we need all super expert trainers, like Arthur Kottas, to speak up and take openly a stand for the horses and aiming again at correct Dressage.

These expert trainers could dedicate more time to "train the judges"? Teaching them, making them experts too.. at seeing the training which has happened at home by looking at what is presented in front of them. Certainly there are plenty of good judges already around, but what about those, new and less experienced judges, who are shown leg movers as being "winning" combinations and marked very high in spite of their way of moving?

If not, we have judges who never open a book in their lives and do not study dressage in depth, cannot see "training" in front of their eyes and are very defensive when questions come their ways. Being defensive/aggressive, shows lack of expertise.

One top international judge said one day "one does not need to be an expert to see that Totilas is amazing."

Well I think one needs to be an expert as a judge. If the judge is not an expert, why not then give the World Dressage Cup to the combination who is the most popular with the crowds?

Especially at those international top levels I believe that the judges must have felt true self-carriage and know what established Basics look like and feel like, or I am too greedy?  

The "good morning Dressage, bye bye Showdressage" phase has started. mmmm I hope so anyway.

For the horses.

Totilas, looking at me after his European Winning test in 2009. I think he agrees it 's a good idea to discuss, study and to ride horses within the frame the Scales of Training and the Classical Principles.



I have CHANGED THE PAGE about the silence from British Dressage from the website after my friend Zuleika received a little statement from BD (see on the menu, under BRITISH DRESSAGE: a statement) and after I received threats.

Many people nowadays read texts with their own "emotions fully engaged" instead of with their logical left brain, and whole mind well engaged. So they bottle up, accuse the text to make them feel that way and become nasty instead of debating.

When they read someone who questions or has different than their own view, the "emotional nature of their thinking make them take things personally. So they go for revenge and attack, they ridicule, belittle or threaten the person who has different views than their own, or which are not those of the silent and obedient "majority". It is called a "projection" in psychology. Instead of anwering or responding about the ideas contained within the texts they read, "they shoot the messenger".

I received yesterday some this nastiness and threats fo all sorts. (we know where you are, etc.) I received now regular calls "from unknown" too and the phone is put down.

There is no need for all this, but I am in a yard with horses, and because the horses come first, I decided to withdraw the text in which I questionned the idea of sending BD (horses and riders) members to Holland for training with the rollkur specialists. 

No one wishes horses to be in trouble, because of a strong exchange of arguments about this. I know my reputation is attacked, my riding ridiculed and that many from a certain group do a very clear "character assassination" campaign. I suggest they stop.

In the text which created so much reactions, I clearly said the word "IF".

that IF it is true that BD is sending riders and horses abroad to rollkur specialists, it is "unacceptable." ( wrote"if this is true, I did not say it was true).

In this text, I also question why those judges who used low marks when necessary, (when the training is "insufficient") were demoted or simply ignored.

I stick to my principles here or course and believe that the Nation of Horse Lovers, (they are known around the world) the British, must not allow this to happen.

Why not sending their good horses to the SRS trainers instead?

Why not import have SRS riders and trainers to train the teams?

I will nevertheless prepare an open letter to BD and gently discuss the problem of "banning" people from speaking up for the horses, as I was and now as my friend is. We must be allowed to discuss training and ask questions relatively to judging and training in a country which support "freedom of speech", even in dressage.....

Now enjoy this little video to lift your spirit. Spring is coming! The grey arguments will gently dissolve in the sunshine. One must learn to be kind to people who think differently. 

There was a wonderful exchange between a certain Wilma (?) who rode in rollkur abroad and Zuleika who does not accept that rollkur is a "system of training". The exchange was polite, friendly and very interesting while absolutely civilized. 

This is how debates between sides should happen. See if I can copy this thread from the BD public forum (accessible to all, even little people lik me).

To be kind does not mean being "weak", it means to stand one's ground, without becoming nasty and also to be willing to dialogue with "the opposition" with great interest and be receptive to their views as long as they do not become "nasty, rude or threatening".

When this happens, I think the best is to "walk away", make a firm step towards the "golden thread" and seek the horse's gentle company instead, and ride.

Here is something to read for those so angry with my website that they want to take things "further"... and who are threatening me and spreading false rumours about my person and abilities for having "views" that are different than theirs and accuse me now of being racist because I talk about "the British" as being animal lovers...(not a good idea... me think in these days and age).

Thank God for the Horses! And good news, I received many lovely emails of support too from people who are "alive". Thank you ever so much for these people for their good words and taking the time to write to me. It means a lot. 

And yes, I believe in God. I do not think it is men who invented this marvellous planet, its organisation and its ability to grow and evolve. This will certainly provoque more "unfriendly" responses... Ah well! The birds are singing ! This is more important.

I put this link here to keep this in mind. Thanks to the FEI for the clear information provided recently.


On the British Dressage: a statement page (click on the menu on the right) I have put a copy of the youtube video made by the FEI, which is very good and clearer than the previous statement made on the 9th of February 2010. Good news. Have a look! BD said they are following the same rules as the FEI, so we could say that BD has now made a statement. It was officially sent to a BD member who was stopped from writing on British Dressage forums because of her views. Just one little statement, but I think it counts as one.

It's not the size that matter, it's the motive behind which counts...

 Even if it costed a "paying British Dressage member" to be banned from the forum to ask for such a statement to be made.

 Entertaining Dressage forums:

Monty Python - Argument Clinic

A very funny skit from Monty Python's Flying Circus


I added the statements in the menu: the German Dressage Federation statement. 

At GFS we wish to organise small meetings of like minded people. if anyone is interested to come and join a discussion, please write me an email with the subject "Meetings at GFS" and I will keep in touch with you relative to meetings when the weather is midler.... so we can all enjoy discussions about "losgelassenheit" without freezing.

Also a barefoot trimmer who teaches at colleges around England will make a talk soon at GFS and this should be very interesting. He comes with whole frozen horse's legs! mmm The idea is to discuss the whole horse in relation to the feet and will talk biomechanics.

FIlipa Valenca is coming back in April.


Response to the FEI statement regarding the Feb.9th FEI roundtable on Rollkur/Hyperflexion by Col. Christian Carde, Saumur.

I am not surprised with the outcome of the meeting. Had the FEI truly condemned the hyper flexion of the neck, it would have rejected the training technique behind the success of a triple Olympic champion, and disowned the judges, trainers and riders who have benefited from it until now.

In reading the text of the FEI’s press release, we find that the FEI is now authorizing Hyperflexion when it is obtained without force (“Using the technique known as Low, Deep, Round (LDR), which achieves flexion without under force in acceptable”.) It appears the roundtable of February 9th did not really change anything.

To justify its position, the FEI committee implied that Rollkur and LDR are different. They chose to completely ignore the history of Rollkur. One must remember that this training technique was developed by trainer Sjef Janssen who baptized it “Low, Deep and Round”. It then became commonly referred to as Rollkur by Swede Theresa Sandin on her website. Without a doubt, Rollkur and LDR are exactly the same technique as all the pictures published on this topic can attest to.

In reality, it would have been better to set aside Rollkur and LDR which are one and the same, and focus the discussion instead on hyper flexion, which is easier to define. To forbid Rollkur and authorize LDR is meaningless. It is akin to forbidding the consumption of pork but allowing pig!

In the final analysis, the conclusions arrived at by the FEI will only be valid if the FEI produces different photos showcasing on the one hand, the difference between Rollkur and LDR, and on the other hand photos showing horses in the authorized LDR posture. Otherwise, the ambiguity will remain. "



Reponse du Colonel Carde au communique de la FEI regardant la conference sur le rollkur du 9 Fevrier, 2010

Je ne suis pas surpris car en condamnant l’hyper-flexion de l’encolure, la FEI rejetait un procédé qui avait fait les succès d’une triple championne olympique et désavouait les juges les entraîneurs et les cavaliers qui s’en étaient accommodés jusqu’à présent.

Mieux, si on lit avec attention le communiqué de la FEI on s’aperçoit que la FEI autorise l’Hyper flexion lorsqu’elle n’est pas obtenue en force (The technique known as Low Deep and Round (LDR), which achieves flexion without undue force, is acceptable.) La réunion du 9 février n’a donc rien véritablement changé.

Pour justifier sa position le groupe de travail du 9 Février a laissé entendre que Roll Kur et LDR étaient différents. Or c’est faire table rase de l’historique: il faut se souvenir que ce procédé LDR (low, deep and round) inventé et baptisé ainsi par l’entraîneur Sjef Janssen, a été ensuite appelé familièrement Rollkur par la suédoise Teresa Sandin sur son site internet, mais c’est exactement la même chose, toutes les nombreuses photos publiées à ce sujet l’attestent.

En réalité il faut oublier Rollkur et LDR, identiques, et parler d’hyper flexion plus facile à définir. Interdire le Rollkur et autoriser le LDR n’a donc pas de sens : c’est un peu comme interdire de manger du porc et autoriser à manger du cochon !

Et les conclusions de la réunion du 9 Février ne seront vraiment convaincantes que si la FEI produit différentes photos montrant, d’une part, la différence qui existerait entre Roll Kur et LDR, d’autre part montrant des chevaux dans l’attitude LDR autorisée. Sinon l’ambiguïté demeurera. "



Talking about swinging back....

A back that wriggles "left and right" is not a swinging back.

The swinging back goes up and down smoothly, not one that wriggles.

The seat is not taken left and right but flows and is carried up and down and forward.

What counts is that the back swells, widens, softens and pulsate and feels forward, the energy from behind can pass, the horse becomes united and comfortable.

All the parts of the horse, the "the limbs/neck/middle" are moving in harmony with each others, thanks to the back whose activity generates a healthy nervous system, as well as good blood circulation and pulsating muscles.

It is the actual "texture", "feel" of the back that changes through training. The horse is not "locked in the up position", but the energy centre is under the saddle.... So the rider can converse with the horse with his seat.

The more the horse swings in his back, the more wonderful the feel in the hands is changed, lightens and the lower legs are filled by the horse who relax his whole middle.

A sure way of seeing if a trained horse is moving correctly is to see if the croup and the back move "as one", with no break of energy in the loins or "rolling croup", croup becoming up down while the back is still, etc. (it can be discreet, but an expert can see this easily).

Swinging back is a back that generates the paces, the limbs' action, which means a back that can do its job, to pulsate and be alive under the rider's seat so that the neck muscles carry the rider thanks to the energy from behind when the horse is in movement.

If a horse does not generate the limbs' action from the back, thanks to the muscles and the nervous system un-damaged, the horse's body becomes a "rectangle/cardboard" transported by four legs who do all the work.

Totilas is a very good case: he is a great leg mover. He is nearly pure "showing", bordeline circus. Wonderful accuracy etc. but, there is a but.... Many top Olympic experts trainers around the world think he is not a dressage horse as such.

The horse's back and croup are not "together": there is a big gap of energy )which can be more clearly seen in extended paces and this particular horse has to do all the work with his "lower joints" in an angular fashion in order to perform. 

Seeing him before "warming up techniques" is interesting, his trot is rather normal, rather nice in fact, as he is so young he still reverts to a nice way of going (not exceptional) that would put him in the 6, 7 brackets... marking without the modern techniques of training..

But when the rider use techniques that block the use of his back again (little reminder are enough at shows), he becomes "the breathtaking leg mover" that crowds and non experts admire.


I added some photos on the pages: H. Handler's notes and Self-carriage. Click and see two good photos of self-carriage, this will surprise many, who are now so used to see too round horses - even when not collected. 

Another photo here, this time from the SRS a photo of an working canter where the whole horse is going forward up and to the bridle.

The "photos page" is rather unfinished, hopefully in the spring we will show more photos of horses in work.

Re FEI meeting in Lausanne: a good step in the right direction!  

This time round, the FEI members have not repeated that "rollkur is acceptable in the hands of experts or experience riders", which is in itself a great victory.

Here is the full text of their report:

To condemn forceful riding is a good way out at the moment.

It relieves because judges mark HIGH pressure and maybe a proper debate about judging standards could begin?

I am all for getting rid of the cause : high marks given by the judges to the "result of wrong training".

This is the next step.


For pure pleasure of a relaxed and lovely picture of a piaffe. I also added some photos of Handler riding on the page dedicated to his notes.

This is a photo of Mme de Padirac.


After a talk with the FEI (man in charge) who organises the FEI meeting TOMORROW, IN LAUSANNE:

The main subject of the meeting is to discuss the "image of the sport" now, after rollkur has been exposed to the public and also to discuss the fact that there are also evidences that rollkur is taught and practised by much too many young riders, pony riders, novice riders etc. in an attempt to get their horses moving "in an apparent sort of dressage way".

So the purpose of the meeting is not, this time, to look at scientific evidences, but to discuss more "the effect" this way of warming up has on the lower ranked riders (who imitate the emergency technique already, as said above..).

The image of the sport mainly to try to clean their act before the Olympic 2012.

There has been a quantity of judges who wanted to change the rules so that leg movers who move "artificially" should not be marked down..

So enthuse they were about the leg movers, there were some judges who thought maybe the rules should be changed. I think that S. Janssen is one of them who wish to "change" the face of dressage and Balkenhol' letter appears to be a response to S. Janssen's own views.

It has been decided at the FEI that the scientific evidences are too confusing, when one side shows an evidence, the other side comes with another research which contradicts the other experience, etc. This is why the FEI is discussing about the "image and repercussions" of Rollkur on the 9th.

i was told that the "judging system", (the cause) will not be discussed during the meeting. Only the symptoms will.

Maybe another meeting will be organised about "the way of judging and recognise back movers from "leg movers", in the near future. And hopefully the actual Rules will be not only kept, but also respected!

I gave this to Z... to write on the official BD forum I hope she posted it!

Also two letters today:

One is the letter written by Klaus Balkenhol to the FEI and I opened a special page for it, so as to file it, as people who signed the letter with him are worth noting as good ethical trainers and riders. So click to the right to see this letter. Bottom of the menu.

And a nother letter herewith: from Colonel C. carde of Saumur.


Dear Gerd,

You have been invited to take part in the FEI roundtable discussion scheduled for February, 9th.

At the heart of the debate will be the hyperflexion of the horse’s neck. I want to personally let you know that like many trainers, judges and thousands of riders, all my thoughts will be with you on that day.

Rollkur must be strongly discouraged in riding/training and banned from competition:

- Because it has no place in a philosophy of training designed to develop horses into happy athletes.

- Because it is contrary to the classical Dressage principles applied in all the Schools.*

- Because it is dangerous to the horse's health when badly executed – which is the overwhelming majority of cases.

In Dressage competition, it must be forbidden for the entire duration of the competitions. In order to implement this rule, at the very least, the warm-up should be monitored by a judge and at the very best, it should be scored and that score should be included in the competitors' final ranking.

Good luck, we are counting on you.

Colonel Christian Carde

Ancien écuyer en chef de l’Ecole Nationale d’Equitation et du Cadre Noir de Saumur

(Former Head Rider of the French National School of Riding and of the Cadre Noir in Saumur.)

end of quote


We were taught long time ago on the continent that as soon as horses truly swing in the back, including iberians, all (breeds) feel the same AFTER training. I experienced it, I even felt 4 years old thoroughbred change into a warmblood back and it is a wonderful experience. 

The Real BAsics aim at this and dressage basics are not to be misunderstood with just learning to walk trot and canter without falling off. There is a very long and deep study to journey into and of course this journey is much into practising with horses what the mind has discovered through study.

Riding is a journey towards harmony and the rider is a researcher.... 

So, when a rider becomes good enough to ride a back mover or is sat on one on the lunge, the feel is a little bit like this:

the back becomes comfortable, wider, softer, smooth, more alive, swings up and down and FORWARD as you can feel the energy from behind coming through, to reach the withers, the poll, while your lower leg feels the softening and the more responding sides coming to your legs to receive more information from you.

B Leach says: "you are then carried like a feather". The horse softens the landing of the hind legs under to carry you and you are lifted comfortably at every stride...

The conversation can only start after the horse has understood and succeeded to use his neck muscles to carry you and the real basics have been established.

What is amazing is to see modern saddles. How do you feel the horse's back through?

And are riders taught to feel the horse's responses or only how THEY FEEL?

It seems to me that too many trainers teach riders to "feel" physical sensations and forget that the most important about feel is that it is a two ways system:

a communication system.


Notes relative to the forecoming meeting about Rollkur In Lausanne on the 09.02.2010:

The FEI represents horses and riders. If it is going to continue to allow partially and uneducated audiences to guide them the name "equestrian" should be changed.

Most riders and trainers nowadays will obey whatever the judges say and so the judges' responsbility is even greater.

FEI judges must be able to recognise the training that has produced the performance they are seeing, and judge accordingly. This lack at present (either through fear or ignorance) is resulting in superb young horses and riders, worldwide, being completely spoilt. And here we risk joining the Tennessee Walking Horse authorities.

The FEI must be run or advised by experienced and ethical trainers. The rules are there for the benefit of riders and horses. If competition winners (under selected judges) are in charge, the crowd appeal will rule.

What goes on in the warm up areas must become under the same rules, and horse events cleaned up before 2012.


Here is a good example of a leg mover. The body is restricted, teh topline in not stretched, the horse back is flat, the hindlegs have to go wide behind, the horse has to project his front legs as far as possible and high not to fall.

No self-carriage.


Riff raff on the British Dressage forum where a photo of a young lusitano mare ,ridden by me is being shown by a unknown strange person, for a rather dark motive. Look at Lessons at GFS, Prices' page, to see it (Home page shows the same horse, later, for those interested).

I am rather pleased that the British Dressage posters there do not like this photo of a horse who is stretching out for the contact. Riders and young trainers seem not interested in the various necessary stages of preparation and are also used to see horses that are round in front and STIFF (back in the UP POSITION), even when young as they look much more "impressive"....

Nevertheless, when following a system, one does not just "round the horse's neck in front because it looks good. One prepares .. The photo below shows I am in good company.

The "stride" obtained on the photo is from a lusitano high knee mover spoilt mare. One can see the start of a rounded stride coming from under the seat of the rider.

Mare has very active ears and still has (she is still in work now in her twenties).

Everything is interesting to discuss, and of course, the subject of spoilt horses learning to regain a good stride is one of my favorite. This is what I love to do when I retrain a horse that has been restricted or has a "locked" back. It is lovely when the hind legs finally can swing through and under again, now that the horse unlock its middle.

Yes, the mare on my website is not typical of a dressage horse and not yet rounded and collected. But she shows good tendencies and this is what dressage is all about, training.. various phases and passion to observe and discuss.

When a horse has a stiff back, we could see it by the way the front legs would move (with angular joints/dishing again) and of course how the hindlegs come under and how the whole horse is well coordinated and not in DAP.

Pat Manning loved that photo and the one on the Home Page as it shows work before collection and we do not see many of them now, unless the horses are too high in the neck and too round in the neck too. 

The photo was taken just before the horse rounded her body more towards the contact, as it is exactly the phase missing in most young horses in dressage nowadays, who seem to have an "empty neck".

When I can get my computer back (on a borrowed one at the moment, I will scan an old photo of the mare, with too much knee action when she was stiff,to compare. That should be interesting.

I just found a scan I did in the past to show that phase of training as demonstrated in "The Spanish Riding School"'s book. Amazing hey.... how much the horses were allowed up and seeking the bit while learning to carry..... So, here are young nice horses doing some good working trot.

Young horses at the SRS:

If we agree of course that horses should learn to have a working trot before collecting that is.... So I repeat: this is not yet a round horse, but a demonstration on how it erally look to ride horses with NOSES who are really parallel to the canon bone of the foreleg and are stretching to reach, while developping their chest/shoulders/front.

I think that modern dressage would say the horses are "hollow" as this phase above is altogether "skipped"!

Super interesting !

But again, the people who tend to dislike this phase of training are those who "LOVE" Totilas' way of going.. I think that riders now are getting used to see the wrong finished products and focus seriously much more on the neck than anything else. 

When time allows (warmer, longer days) I will show more photos to discuss. The idea being not to show "perfect" work, but work in progress to discuss and compare.

And there is no harm in disagreeing, what counts are the horses, and the Spanish Riding School used to allow the young to develop, not just to show results to impress the uneducated eye.

Careful in riding not to horses "on the bit" instead of out in front stretching towards it....... because a rider has to sit "in the middle of the horse", not on his withers and the horses need time to develop. 


New page on the Website!

A wonderful text about the seat, written by Egon Von Neindorff.


Someone asked me a typed copy for the British Dressage Forum and so I also printed it here for all to read: a superb text. Just below the Hans Handler's notes... Enjoy!


Things are happening on the official Public Forum of British dressage. It is getting more and more interesting... We even learn things: a British Grand-prix rider told the public Forum that British Dressage is funding riders to go to the rollkur experts to refine their riding skills.

I am rather interested to know if these trips abroad, to the rollkur experts, are funded by the member's fees, therefore mostly by the grassroot' s riders?

I would love to ask the question, but having been banned, even from the public forum because of my views on this type of training, prevents me from doing so. 

 Please anyone having access to the BD forum, could you ask how the rollkur training has been funded? Many thanks. The other way is to ask the BD committee in writing.

 But why do judges mark the RESULT of this training SO HIGH?

Anky Van Grunsven Hyperflexion/Rollkur

This is a video I made about Anky Van Grunsven, who is one of the most barbaric riders I've seen, she cannot train her horses correctly and does it in a inhumane way, roll kur, she is doing a lot of d...

28.01.2010 / addendum

Dressage goes deep in the psyche of the horse, than just acting on the postural muscles etc. Dressage deals with energy.

Once the rider can ride the "energies", (mental and physical) he or she starts to feel what is offered by the horse and learn to channel them in the right way, without going against Nature.

The horse has the responsability over "his body" in correct training. This is why it is so important that riders first learn to be in contact in a moving/passive/receptive way without disturbing the horse, but being in contact with them, before attempting to collect.

Contact meaning : lower leg, seat bones and hands moving with the horse without disturbing the horse so as to later being able to communicate with the horse.

This intermediate stage is most important, the horse do not feel trapped or restricted in any way, but guided.

This is what put dressage training and riding in a special place, while manipulating their bodies to try to "imitate" collection is so so wrong.

Once we start to act, without first being expert at being respectful of the natural flow they offer, we destroy their ability to respond in a relaxed way.

I thought of writing this today, as we talk so much about which muscles does what all the times...


On the following forum: ......

where some of like minded people try to discuss with not so like minded people.

I got the list of the participants to the NEW ROLLKUR MEETING in Lausanne at the FEI, SEE BELOW.

Also on this public official British Dressage forum, a certain Zuleika says:


"Why not just re-training the judges to recognise and mark down the leg movers?

The leg movers show:


neck not part of the movement

hind legs not matching the front

topline not matching the legs

not in self-carriage (instead they hold themselves "impressively)

energy not swinging through,

circus tricks shown (angular joints movement)

instead of flowing dressage rounded strides as the FEI rules stipulate (swinging back). "

and another post :

"The day the judges are trained to SEE AND FEEL the "energies" which are the base of dressage training (unlike showing), dressage could be reborn out of the rollkur ashes.

Learning to channel, swing and collect the energy from behind, forward and uphill, THANKS TO our sensitive and beautiful horses who show us when we get it right or wrong......

Rollkur would dissolve into the big "Bad Ideas' Universe", along with the men's nylon only shirts, DDT sprayed on fields and other not so good ideas after all.. "


HKH Prinsesse Haya, FEI President of FEI

* Alex McLin, FEI secretary general

* International Dressage Riders Club

* International Dressage Trainers Club

* International Jumping Riders Club

* David Broome, show jumping representative

* Sjef Janssen, dressage representative

* Graeme Cooke, FEI Veterinary Director

* Trond Asmyr, FEI Director Dressage and Para-Equestrian Dressage

* John Roche, FEI Director Jumping and stewarding

* Catrin Norinder, FEI Director Eventing

* Ian Williams, FEI Director Non-olympic sports

* Carsten Couchouron, FEI Executive Director Commercial

* Richard Johnson, FEI Director Communications

* Jacques van Daele, FEI Honorary Steward General Dressage

* Frank Kempermann, President Dressage Committee

* Sven Holmberg, President Jumping Committee

* John McEwan, President FEI Veterinary Committee

* World Horse Welfare, Roly Owers and Tony Tylor

* Ulf Helgstrand, representative of the national equestrian federations

* Dr. Sue Dyson

* Dr. Gerd Heuschman

Why aren't they any "man of the street" representative? mmm My friend Zuleika thinks it may be possible.... Thousands out there find that calling Rollkur a method of training inappropriate and very bad for the image of the sport.....

Google these names, and write to them if you could. I think Sven Kold, the Vet of Willesley is also going. I found amazing that Sjef Janssen is on the discussion committee as a dressage representative..... I think he could participate yes, but as a rollkur and "showdressage" representative, NOT as a dressage representative.

Today 27.01.2010

"Let the love for the feeling of responsibility toward the horse rule all your decisions and actions." Egon Von Neindorff


Read in W. Museler : riding Logic:

extract for us to ponder on:

How does a rider know whether his horse is balanced?

The question has been puty in this way because it occurs to most people in this form. All quadrupeds are nearly always balanced. A foal can stand up and run very soon after it has been born and although it is at first a little shaky and clumsy it is far ahead of the human child, which has to learn to "balance" on its two legs.

Therefore, the young horse very quickly learns hot ot deal iwth a rider's weight. That, however, does not mean that teh rider's line of gravity coincides with that of the horse.

Not until complete co-ordination between teh two centres of gravity has been obtained are rider and horse in equilibrium.

And it is then that we can say that "the horse is balanced". Otherwise, the horse will verye soon lose his stride, because his mechanism is interfered with. Unfortunately, this is not always noticed at once, and mostly too late.

A balanced horse reacts immediately upon every displacement of the rider's weight. displacements of the weight forward or backward are difficult to execute without altering or changing the seat. Also they impair the smooth, close contact between rider and horse. As soon, however, as the horse reacts to the "bracing of the back" (tilt of pelvis .. ) it can be said to be balanced.

The horse must immediately respond to lateral displacement of the rider's weight, and according to the influcences of the back, legs adn reins, must either flex or turn. The rider must be able to ride a serpendine track by mere displacements of his weight and without any rein action at all. it follows, of course, that he must drive his horse well foward with back and legs."


This is a good photo of a young SRS stallion being backed. What is interesting is to see how the horse is "pushing" through to carry the new weight.

The rider is just going along with it and the horse nicely is using himself naturally : no bend in the body yet of course as the horse leans to turn... and not yet carrying from behind.. but all is well, as it should be, at that stage... just pushing and discovering how to carry this human being without being manipulated "in front".

This horse has not been forced down and overbent.. why would he be asked this as a young unspoilt horse?


"Good riding creates a balanced horse. Balance means you keep the whole body working well as a unit. In this, there’s no difference between a warmblood or a quarter horse, or between an American, French, or German trainer."

This quote is very important. What does a horse working well as a unit means?

Well it means that he horse is able to use his whole body, all the cells in his body, to move. Like a dancer, he can use himself wholly and freely and has no negative tension in the body. When a horse is not able to use himself as a harmonious whole, he must resort to use tension to stay upright and perform.

This tension often happens in the back muscles, where the rider sits and of course in the neck. But as we know, the neck is symptomatic of the hind legs so if we look carefully when a horse "hold himself" in places, the hindlegs are also stiff.

Stiff hind legs can be very active, but watching carefully one can see that they do not swing through with ease, forcing a horse for example to bend them a lot in the air and hit the ground with rather stiffened joints, or wide behind etc.

A sign of good training is when the croup and the back form a unite, a harmonious unit. A sign of bad training is a croup that rolls and is well separated from the back in its movement.... I must find someone English to correct this diary input.. but the subject is very interesting and needs to be expanded.

Our eyes must not be taken away emotionally by beautiful horses moving their front legs extravagantly: we must look through the bling and learn to see with our logic and reason to see if the horse is moving with a rounded dressage stride or with angular joints movements that harm his nature.


Various stages.....

"This straightening of the horse is part of the work preparatory to producing forward impulsion. Impulsion comes from the hind legs; if this impulsion goes off at a tangent instead of flowing straight forward (ie if the horse goes crooked) it will cause a stiffness on one side and eventually will be the reason for your not being able to ride correctly through a corner, or do a flying change or the canter on one rein." Hans Handler, SRS

end of quote.


Today, I changed the design of the website. I do hope this will make the site easier to read. Also I added a very interesting article about un the menu title of "Righteous judgement?".

A rather spiritual and (science based) paper written in 1972.