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 Traditional Dressage / articles



Catherine's DIARY

30th of May 2010

The people who asked for proofs that rollkur is bad for horses, look at the videos and photos taken during warm-up competitions and say: ...

"but it is only a photo"!..

Look at this photo on the left: the muscles of this Grand-prix horse are wrong.

It took years of this type of riding to affect muscles in such a way, day by day.....we see the result on this photo.

This is not "just a moment in time".....

Some says: photos and the videos taken are still "not showing the truth".....

Anyone well trained who looks at photos taken, can "see" the tight muscles, the broken necks, incoordinated paces, horses losing balance and crossing their legs during highly marked tests: they see "training which created those tight muscles".

We are talking about Grand-prix international dressage competitions here, not about riders having to deal with a very difficult & badly trained horse which someone has asked them to "test ride" in bad weather, are we?  

28th of May 2010

Here are some recent photos taken in Wiesbaden on the 22nd of May 2010, from a video. Is there a need for comments? (Scroll down)....

Read the article and see the video

now. Thank God someone is filming all that. But what is going on in dressage?

Pfingstturnier Wiesbaden 2010 Hyperflexion/ Rollkur Dressage

22.05.2010 Wiesbaden/ Germany; Sequences were filmed within a few hours at the dressage warming up area. The FEI- Steward was mostly lost or invisible- don't know ;)The riders in this video are from...

26th of May 2010

I thought that an extract about the use of the double bridle, written by W. Seunig could be useful. So look on the right and click on the new page to read the article. I will write more when time allows.


Start at 10.30 For information contact [email protected]

24th of May 2010

Lovely loose curb.. ahem..

So, does the FEI allow this position for 10 minutes?

I wonder how the horse swallows.

Or it could be that "modern horses "have really changed"?

We are told they are different than 30 years ago and so maybe do not need to swallow and breathe anymore?

Interesting "fast track" evolution.

Well, if this horse shows good muscle development in his neck, I must seriously re-learn what muscles are for.. Surely it musty be me who cannot see. I wonder what the hindlegs can do within "this frame".

24th of May 2010

oohps la!

Why do horses cross their front legs in passage?

These are two different photos... different strides, same imbalance, lack of straightness:

the basics are ignored...


The diagrams shown by the FEI to demonstrate their change of rules... Now very deep and round is accepted as part of regular "training" while all the old rules promoted long and low with the horse neck stretching out (for the horse's sake) ?

Here is a good name for Rollkur:

"The "FEI system"

(of warming up for "showdressage competitions") Fascinating how the "authorities in dressage" (the Fei) are changing the rules to promote leg movers in dressage. What about the horses? Who on earth believe that overstretching muscles is good for them? Horses may learn to dance to be "athletes", not to do circus acrobacy, or .... .. mm

22nd of May 2010

Back to those famous basics. Here is a nice stretch.

20th of May 2010

I suggest that the FEI should remember that, as "athletes", the horses have rights in the Olympics constitution. Could it be the way forward? Send a horse representent to the FEI in Lausanne before the Olympic in London to complain of the overstretching of the athlete bodies as if they were circus acrobats?

The other option is to change the name "the happy athlete" into

"the exciting acrobat"?

This expression may catch up.

Here is an athlete doing tempis on a straight line, with some good acrobacy skills. (Rider's cropped form image to respect privacy).

And for the fun of it something non horse related to make you smile for the day:

Янукович и венок .mpg

15th of May 2010

Rollkur again what is it for?

My suggestion has always been to discuss the "need" for such an emergency tool used now as a "training method". I want to know what is rollkur for but to exaggerate the movement of some parts of the body (legs) by blocking some other parts (the back over stretched and locked).

It is a little bit if you were not allowed to use your back while swimming.

The fear of drowning would exaggerate your arms and legs movement so as to stay alive and on the surface of the water. ...

The fear, for the horses is to fall over.

This is why when we restrict their body (natural flow of energy and muscles system working with its natural harmony) to recreate the "excitement" of a started horse, day in day out, we get more extravagant movement.

This is what I discuss this within the frame of the Art of Dressage. Because in dressage we strive for the WHOLE horse to move as a supple and free unit working in harmony with the rider. The aim.

Training for "exaggerated movement" is not dressage, and this is why they should change the name of the sport.

And yes, a human being's duty is to stand on his/her two feet and say "this is wrong". For the sake of the horses and Dressage.

Now sadly people are "used to see" tense horses performing and applaude the results of this type of training.

We cannot revert time, but we can evolve and learn lessons, rejoin the right lines of training gently by reducing the "excitement" and increasing the "correctness", the balance of our horses, even if this means not going all the way to Grand-prix. What counts is as riders, we learn to help horses, thanks ot our aids (aids = aider means to help), to find balance and to learn to carry our weight without disturbance and without restricting the horse's body.

This is in itself a great achievement and those with special talent and good horses can climb up the levels while keeping these Basics well established in the Advanced levels. This is Dressage, the riders must have ingrained within themselves that the advanced work is made of 85% plus of those Basics.

Nobody forces anyone to achieve Grand-prix on tense horses, but society puts so much pressure on "winning" and "fame, popularity" that now trainers and riders are letting themselves be driven by the wrong motives.

Riding for the wrong motives give way to wrong methods being now used ... and as per usual, wrong motives and ego based ambition creates apparent "success", especially in a world which promotes artificially enhanced superficial beauty.

Dressage is one of the rare place where pure harmony is seeked, beauty can be seen and felt and where the Love of Life (not excitement) is celebrated through the unity of a horse and a rider moving together, while being different beings.

Reducing to a "entertainement show" is to allow wrong values to predominate. It will get better again, once the human beings in place wake up to the call of duty towards Art and the horses. I think modern training is a temporary Blip, I believe in the good nature of people once ego ambitions are slowly dissolved to let more room to a Love for Truth and for what is good for the whole.

15th of May 2010

Below is an old video of the SRS: (1944 German film... a bit quick due to the technology at the time). What is interesting is to watch the "feel of Life" coming through these horses. Not puppets, not machines, but horses using their "whole" body to perform. Under the seat, these horses are also alive... and only superb riders can contain such an amount of energy without harming the horses.

There is no other way even in "normal" dressage. The horses must stay alive, be horses while being trained and ridden. Creating "planks" with over active legs does not do any good to the horses and dressage is the very special "place" where we learn to respect the horses natural gaits and improve upon them. Not an easy task but a very magnificient goal. Even if one does not appreciate the "airs above the ground" it is worthwhile looking at how much the horses are allowing the use of their back in this video....

1944 German Color Film - Dancing Lipizzaner Horses - Wochenschau in Farbe (Winter 1944)December 1944 (Circa)-Nazi propaganda color film (Excerpt). Original soundtrack. The training of beautiful Li...

11th of May 2010




poster.jpg (JPG

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8th of May 2010

On the left, warming up on the right a good and lovely photo of a fit 3 days eventer. Compare and discuss between your friends and let's have a think...


lovely stride, not dressage, but

for a 3 days fit eventer, superb.

What happens if this horse follow the bit

on a big jump after this type of "put in the aids"?

7th of May 2010


Well done Xenophon:

-- Press Release issued by the Xenophon Society:

"We support the request for the prevention of aggressive riding, particularly through stewards able to exert their authority – irrespective of the rider’s standing and reputation.

However, we cannot accept that a horse can be forced into a deep and short neck position for 10 minutes through rein aids.

It is contrary to all training principles and rules of biomechanics to ride a horse for any length of time in one fixed position. A frequent change of the position of the horse’s head – an alternation between stretching and a more collected, self-carrying posture – is both valuable and important. Both physiologically and psychologically, this change of head and neck carriage is of decisive importance for the creation of optimal performance capabilities and performance willingness, as well as for the horse’s welfare.

A forced neck position achieved through the hands of the rider – irrespective of whether this happens aggressively or not – inhibits the tension and relaxation of the whole torso extensor system and thus prevents a supple swinging back.

Rollkur, Hyperflexion, Low Deep Round

From a psychological point of view, this is all about subordination. The clever rider is able to achieve this without using visibly aggressive aids, provided that the horse has been sufficiently conditioned at home.

It is not enough to condemn aggressive riding because the steward will only want to and be able to sanction visible, obvious aids but not the subtler or hidden ones which are equally stressful for the horse.

These guidelines are formulated in such a way that hardly any steward will dare reprimand a rider, let alone force him/her to ride in a more horse-friendly fashion. We hazard to guess that the announced diagrams will be of no help at all in this matter.

Overall, it is doubtful whether these decisions will result in any progress: through this renaming, it is only the negative connotation now acquired by the term ‘Rollkur’ that will be changed, but not the actual existence of the practice itself. In fact, the very same manner of forced riding will become legitimised.

We want to see horses who show a naturally supple self-carriage in both test and warm-up, as set out by the rules of national and international federations. As a consequence, a horse’s training, especially in the warm-up arena, must follow a method which is in accordance with those regulations and which demonstrates total respect for the horse."





I hope that it is not because she was against modern methods of training horses (deep and round) that nothing has been done yet.... She was a great trainer or British Olympic riders and at an excellent judge list 1, and at during her best years, a superb, magnificient rider able to "set up" a horse through, balanced and non restricted in all advanced GP movements.

6th of May

Young horses NEED their head and neck for balance, especially at the walk and canter. I think many could do with a demo/discussion about the walk...... and how to ride this pace..... What to look for etc. even if all this is written already in the Rules. But do riders and competitors read the Rules?

One advice: do read them. Buy an example at the FEI website. Here is the link:

Young riders all over the country now ride "constricted walk" with horses who are BTV at every stride. Why?

Learning to ride a good walk without interfering with the head and neck, nor with the purity of the pace, is not as easy as it sounds.

Many GP and many competition and non competition dressage riders could do with some "how to walk" lessons... I am told that this is not enough "interesting", but "tricks" are.. So some dressage trainers do not focus on the purity of the paces anymore but on how to get the horses looking "flashy" and "powerful". 

Then we are told that the walk is "not good on this horse".... (as the "trick training has now ruined this lovely pace). Many good "eye" on the ground, expert in dressage, can see WHY the walk has been damaged on a horse. Thankfully, there are plenty of good people out there who can see and discuss what is happening in modern Dressage to the horses. Sadly though, not many are in a position to speak out and take a stand for the horses' sake.

Does everybody know that at the walk, the horse's nose is not supposed to be "BTV and Vertical and BTV".... (poking his nose down btv at every stride)...

but instead the horse's nose should move from "vertical to in front of the vertical". at every stride, with a well raised withers and of course allow to stretch out in front before "going down" towards the ground when allowed the reins?

The fashion to round the neck and put the horses BTV to "supple them" is ridiculous. It only renders the horse "lighter" in the hands because the horse goes all fed up and "floppy in the neck". Not a great way to "supple the horse within...".

And that to collect a walk is an advanced movement?

2nd of May

The only way for BD to progress and to evolve positively is for the riders and trainers to accept a debate, a discussion, various views openly so that the "criticisms" are heard and digested.

  • Putting the head in the sand
  • banning people from discussions because they discuss improvements that must be made
  • cuddling together with people who already agree that "all is well in the best possible world"
  • attack personally those who voice their concerns for the quality of riding
  • creating a "fear" atmosphere amongst judges (be nice and mark high to make the sport popular)
  • sending young riders to Dutch competitive and "successful" riders who use unethical methods of training to get "the marks higher"... (forgetting of course the fact used by those trainers are considered inappropriate and ugly)

is the best way to destroy the Art of Riding and reduce Dressage riders to mere puppets racing after dressage points.

What about re-creating equestrian centres, (not colleges... but true school of horsemanship where the pupil is "trained" (instead of pleased..... and spoilt) and where riders can go and improve their RIDING, before competing and while competing, even at high level?  

Serious riding I mean (learning to have a still lower leg, a soft seat wide and relaxed, and good allowing hands, great feel).... before aiming at buying top horses that are "too much" and therefore need "emergency training methods just to walk around an indoor school". And why going abroad for no reason but to "feed the little egos of the parents and impress the pals, learning bad methods to train horses to replace "ability of riding?" 

The only way is to group all the trainers of GB and ask them to teach the RIDERS first. Check that they are agreeing on HOW to ride (together so as to work according to a METHOD). Trainers must train the rider's body and mind so that the horses benefit and improve, as well as the Art of dressage in the country.

I do not think that it is by "being nice" when judging that the standard will improve. It is by training the riders so they learn to stop leaning back and lifting their hands high sitting on turbo charged horses without collection...

Back to Basics: a stiff rider will stiffen his/her horses. We all know this as riders, checking oneself is the priority. Teachers and trainers could also aim at convincing riders to look at themselves first when problems are met. This would be a great, positive step toward a bright and transparent future for the lovely young riders in the country.

I am positive that this would increase the pool of QUALITY riders who could set an example for those abroad, who have gone wrong and are pushing and rounding horses front to back.

If the continent has gone wrong, GB should not follow them but stick to its tradition of "forward and throughness over jumps and riding in the open countryside".

Then they must learn to contain it, the right way, instead of blocking the energy. Riding truly "back to front", learning to let the energy circulate within the whole horse: dressage.

There must be one or two trainers out there, who teach riders to "prepare" riders for this? 

Power must be handled carefully, this is why the steps towards being able to ride from behind to the front, the whole horse, must not be skipped...  

Those are just thoughts for the day.

1st of MAY 2010

Below is a video found on youtube of a young horse. You may turn down the music a bit, but there are some good movement of head and neck, including stretch, filmed (not very well) at around a minute of tape. How can anyone wish to restrict so much joy of movement?

Collection is not a state of "restriction". On this video, one can see how much the young horse needs its neck and head to start with, at the beginning of training. Collection is about "containing", not blocking the flow.

This video also demonstrates well WHY we must be supple as riders, and not become little stiff, tidy puppets who are afraid to allow with the hands: there is much movement to "collect without stiffening the horse"!

The ability to follow movement which includes the head and neck is essential for a rider. This takes some time to learn and lunge lessons (for advanced riders as well!!!) is an invaluable way to learn this skill.

This way of learning is I think, the reason why THE CONTINENT HAS A BIGGER POOL OF GOOD RIDERS, seriously good riders. They go on the lunge and work on their body, seat, non-stop all along, during their career. They have lessons about "their riding", not just training the horses.

The fashion is to lunge with GADGETS, WHATEVER THEIR NAMES and to prevent the young horses full use fo their bodies, this is disastrous for the young horses. They learns to do circles with a set shape, much too early and therefore they do stiffen their back.

The idea to lunge with a leather Wels cavesson only to start with, (before introducing the side-reins) is now considered " a waste... the horse's energy not "channelled", not put into a frame... Could it be because people do not know how to lunge WITH AN ALLOWING CONTACT (not slack) with the lunge line?

Vini´s Lebensfreude.wmv

Oro Divino´s Lebensfreude :-) 4 Jähriger Trakehnerhengst