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 Traditional Dressage / articles

Catherine's DIARY. Email:

To discuss training, photos and videos, not to attack anyone personally.

The purpose here is to give informations, discuss and look at the images, to ponder on training, various ways of riding and the results achieved through various methods of riding.​

Photos shows the truth, even at a moment in time, but people are nto judged here, only the "training".

I am not going to write much now on this diary. The weather is much too beautiful, the horses wonderful, to spend time indoor writing at the moment.   

27th of June 2010

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...

26th of June 2010

I cannot understand Dutch, does Imke Bartels explains to the camera why the horse she rides is broken in the neck at the walk? It does worry me that people are getting used to see wrong walks and now just consider this "normal".....

Paardensport - Portret: Imke Bartels

Een videoportret van Imke Bartels

Clínica de Adestramento Academy Bartels no Brasil - 01

Primeira Clínica de Adestramento Academy Bartels no Brasil. A Amazona Olímpica e Campeã Holandesa Imke Schellekens-Bartels em uma demonstraçao de adestramento.

Again this video of training in Brazil. I am amazed, the horse looks so easy in the contact to start with, but we are told the opposite, so rollkur and deep work is needed? This cannot be for Control? So why is it used? Why use deep and round on such a lovely horse?

Also the idea that one release pressure when the horse is working well.. why pressure to start with?

What is wrong with good riding? The two first horses are very much in the correct lines of training. Well done Mr Hess. Superb symposium. The two first riders are rather good..

something to keep in the "good" library, for sure.

The later horses, ridden by ladies are much more "leg movers" and do not seem to work on the right lines yet.

21st of June 2010

Read in www.EURODRESSAGE.COM (Astrid Appeal writes about Dressage with clarity of mind and allow discussions and comments being made about the "quality" of dressage presented):


First Judging System Pilot in Rotterdam

Rotterdam was the first official event where new judging systems were officially tested. The Grand Prix was judged by a panel of seven with two of them sitting in boxes on the short side at A. They all had telephones in their booth which linked to the Judging Supervisory Panel, which included David Hunt and Uwe Mechlem.

If the JSP felt the need to correct an unusual score of a judge, they rang the judge in question after the test and explained why they fixed a certain mark.

End of Quote.....

DEAR Dear Dear.... this is the end of an era,

judges now are not able to judge what they see .... now they are "corrected" by a panel. But one question here:

What does that panel stands for?

Does it stand for correct dressage or Showdressage....

.... making dressage more popular full of leg movers


does it wish to promote correct classical schooling and protect the existing Rules...

We seem to be taken for imbeciles who do not think. A panel is a great idea, but......

..........If the JSP felt the need to correct an unusual score of a judge............

The meaning is, if a judge is trying to mark DOWN a horse that is not swinging in the back, and wish to mark "correctly" (low) a horse and rider who performs without the basics established, he may be CORRECTED BY THE JSP? Am I right?

Why on Earth would you choose the British David Hunt in the Judging Supervisory Panel?

D. Hunt gave many interviews where he says that Dressage has changed and should move on...... Classical Schooling is outdated, or something of that sort? 

Will have to try to dig the old interviews....

David Hunt is certainly not the Judge to supervise others... he views are rather clear...

I believe that D. Hunt likes leg movers very much and thinks Dressage Horses have changed..

Seriously, re-read the letter to Gerd Heuschmann to the FEI, he says all there is to say.....







Great news that Totilas moves in a less extravant way (for him especially), I wonder which marks the judges will give him now if he carries on improving and work seriously on establishing the Basics in the superhorse? 

Message for Totilas:

Go Go Go Toto!!! Teach us and make judges THINK and ponder why they reached for such high marks when you were tense and in DAP?

Now if you could just move through and swing more and more, they may feel that they were taken emotionally instead of doing their duty, at times? Who knows. Good Luck Toto.

19th of June 2010

If dressage wants to become a "popular sport" it will have to accept that riders are criticized...If we please the crowds.. we also may displease them?

Replace the name "Rooney" (British Footballer) with a dressage Diva...

What is needed (again, repeating myself incessantly here) is the ability to discuss "training".

My aim, in the future is to condense this website, to make it much more accessible to riders and novice newcomers to understand what they should look for.

This will take time, in the meantime, please do forgive the fact the site is not "a finished product". At the moment, I just throw things when I find time. It should become better in the near future and it will be easier to find "what is good", what "we are looking for".

I apologise for delays.

Watch this: where is the need for rollkur here? Even if the horse is only work in progress and a little tense, the work is on the right lines:

One wonderful sentence from the German trainers .. "it does not matter.. take your time" ... 

17th of June 2010

Said something today to someone: not very clever, but still:

"Riding dressage without a trained seat is like cooking a steak without a steak..."

17th of June 2010

Kocanda 08 - část 2/3

Hubertova jízda JK Kocanda, 28. října 2008 - druhá část

A little video that remind us that horses love being out of the arenas? Interesting day out abroad... could not say where, but anyway just of a change..

13th of June 2010

Interesting. This text shows that some the writer does not think that those who discuss "way of riding, warming up" and voice their concern about modern methods of training, are discussing what the neck and head are doing for this exact reason: expert eyes knows that the neck and head is a result of what is happening in the hindlegs... and is a symptom of HOW the training of the horse is happening at home...

By observing the horses' neck (and whole horse, not just its position but its "quality", shape, lack of life, lack of stability at the nape of the neck, lack of muscles, type of "texture" or energy,etc. ) we are told what is happening within the horse.

There is more to the neck than just being poll high or not poll high... Energy is the name of the essence of dressage, and an "empty neck" poll high, can be visually pleasant but nevertheless not the result of good sound training.

Of course that trained eyes look at the whole horse..... and a whole horse should not be round in the neck and stiff in the body... the whole horse energy system must go round and up and forward.. The neck well stabilized and wide at the base, so that the middle of the horses grows more supple instead of bending its neck wrom the withers while staying stiff in the middle.

I will try to post an answer to his views, the Mrs Nobody I am, must do something and respond to this.

A very interesting article about "ulcers" in horses.

I may put a page of useful links about the overal horse health issues, including about farriery, trimmers, vets very good articles etc.

This will take some time, but if anyone hear about anything good and very well presented, please send the link to my email address so that I can add it to the list.

Many thanks.

And last: I took away the WRITE YOUR VIEWS page, as it does not seem to work, so I receive private emails instead, thank you for them. I will try to solve the problem with the website cie.

So, write to me at the above addresse if you have comment to make or good information to offer for the site, like an article etc. I wish to keep this website free and also educational, as a principle. Thank you in advance!

I also remind some that I am not of English culture and that my English is not really yet very perfect. ahem.. Do forgive the grammar mistakes please and do ask me of there is anything that is not clear enough that you would wish to understand better, or discuss.

8th of June 2010

To be fair on the great dressage riders, we must admit that dressage is more and more becoming a showground for horses who sadly have to live with the misery of having been bred with a very bendy neck that is permanently trying to stick to their chest..

A purebred dressage horse...

And below, look at this photo,when the rider has finally succeded to lift the horse's neck up: the front legs are coming with it!

The very capable rider spent the rest of the test trying to keep the neck up there, but sadly could not prevent the knees to rise as well, wich is not what dressage judges want to see surely.

We also at times see the riders desperately trying to lift their neck off the chest by leaning far behind the vertical and pulling, but it appears that nature is stronger after all.  

Riders seem to succeed to get the horse poll high for 5 or 6 minutes during the test, and paf, the neck drops again as soon as the rider relaxes (due to poor breeding/conformation) and sticks to the horse's chest as nature intended, see photo. below.

Riders nowadays must be very strong.

Mentally and physically.

Look at this other photo taken during training, it is amazing that riders succeed ever to fight those necks... The one on the right especially has grown a sort of "outside tendon" between the bit and its chin.. amazing.. Nature does evolve, for sure.

Poor riders! And those at the top not only have to fight those modern horses with fists of iron, they also have to put up with being personally attacked (having one's head cut off on photos is painful I heard).

Surely the search for harmony between rider and horse is the reason why all those top riders ride and we all wish them well.

But please breeders, make an effort, try to breed horses who are poll high and a bit more supple in the middle?

Anyway, good luck riders about those necks!

7th of June 2010

Pat Manning (FBHS and listed 1 judge), who studied with the SRS riders, Robert Hall, was the trainer international or Olympic Gold medallist eventer, Ginny Leng. This shows that good dressage leads to good eventing too.

She said in her last year that she could not "speak up" her mind, nor stand her ground about what she believed was right for the horses, sadly.

She said one thing that stick to my mind though, and I thought that this could be useful for all trainers, riders and judges to ponder about:

that the throatlash of a horse "on the bit" should form a "U" inverted shape, not a "V" shape. ..

Simple way of putting it... but true..

She also said that the horse's back should move up, but also down....while going forward..The swinging horse is not going left and right.. but up and down and through to the bit, energy going through the poll.

Is BD going to do something to celebrate the life of this very important BD judge and trainer? Or are we too busy "looking for the future" without learning from the past?

Free as butterfly and as short lived?

5th of June 2010

"Alternative people" against rollkur are as much to blame as the rollkur specialists. 

Everytime a anti-rollkur comes here and demonstrate their skill, they are avoiding the real issue at hand and are here to promote their "own system", their "own views" on things...

What is that "thing"?

Could that the personal search is going wrong, like being "being sucessful" at all cost, or having power over the horse? I have no idea..

So, we have the happy "manipulators" of people coming and demonstrating to me (us) that they can be successful too and make money too...

This is not the purpose of my quest. I am not looking for "success" but for people who are open enough to declare that the aim is not as easy as it seems, unless one is trained and enjoy the journey without feeling threatened.

Is it too much to ask? It appears so. I suggest that all who are confused learn from what has been taught in the past, must re-think and take anothe approach.

But this would mean to avoid being "personally involved", just receptive for a while, to something one does not yet know...

Understanding is offered to us, but is it only given at a price. No money can replace sheer real desire to learn and to accept failure with good spirit, in its true sense.

This is especially rare... particularly when a horse is saying no.

This is why bad lessons are often the best lessons. .

But the alternative is often that it is easier to blame "something outside" like the horse, the trainer or the system". This is the root for evil new people coming though with new "ideas"....

Now we live in a world where everyone is "great". Not many trainers say what they truly think. They are too worried to lose a client. Etc, etc. etc.

3rd of June 2010

Just a little thing today. Talking with a good podiatrist and vets make me think to write this below.

Have your horses' feet checked thoroughly.

Pay attention to tiny details and study the anatomy of the foot. So many horses are in agony while being ridden especially those who are considered "lazy" of "fizzy"..

It could be their feet that are cought up in too small shoes..

Check your horse's feet. Be aware of changes and check that your farrier give the frog plenty of room.... Read magazines about feet, learn to discriminate when reading, become knowledgeable. That may help many in dressage to see their horses with a different eye...

1st of June 2010

Riding with a round neck will never solve the problem of the horse's back. It only prevents the horse to use his whole body to move. Below on the photo, the rider's left hand is hanging on.. and why twist the horse's head? A good point thought this rider is riding without stirrups during a lesson. But the hands seems "fixed" instead of allowing. It seems the rider was told to ride the horse like a bicycle.

Here, on the right, is another effect of round and deep... An advanced international rider (rollkur rider) "training a lovely and kind horse... well.. what is the point of this type of riding?

Are we teaching young riders to manipulate the neck instead of riding the whole horse? Who is responsible?

I put this photo again here: a lovely stretch, with the neck "part of the body".. a rare sight? Why?

The arms are forming a straight line from the elbows to the bit during training... the horse is seeking the contact with his whole body.

And here on the right, a horse moving from behind

to the bit, through, collected and up, (withers UP)!

His neck is in harmony with the whole horse,

the hindlegs are coming through. The back generates the paces...

orchestrate the legs and is up and swinging so

the shoulders are free.

(Ulla and Rusty at Grand-prix)