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 Traditional Dressage / articles

Blue Sky is my "forum name", so I use it for this page of thoughts, quotes, interviews, copies of articles,. etc. a diary of some sort.. scroll down to read previous entries. and email me on [email protected] if you wish to comment on what is presented here. Thank you!


In Alexander technique I believe that riders learn to stretch their head high above their trunk... to liberate tension, align the spine etc.

Same for the horse. 

It is how we should prepare the horses.... with their spine stretched and reaching OUT in front towards the bit, before dropping their head onto the contact.

Being careful that the contact comes from behind, from the whole horse, not just from the feel of the neck......

So, yes, neck should be "out in front" first, then, and only then, go down onto the bit.....That would solve many crookedness and stiffness problems... : the contact sort of "draw" the horse through forward.

A good sentence to discuss is : "collection starts with the spinal stretch".

Deep and round is a remedial way of riding. It should not be necessary to overstretch the topline if the horse has been trained properly.. 

Forward in dressage does not mean forward on the ground, but more that the energy that circulate within the horse is going forward: that the horse is not "back or behind the leg or that the neck is not empty and means that the energy produced by the hindlegs reach the poll and the contact without being restricted in any way.

Forward. And energy cannot circulate through or permeate through if the horse moves with angular joints or broken lines (BTV with an empty feel)..

A btv horse can be filled and moving as one unit, but he will not stay btv for long as the energy swings through and restore inner balance and harmony from within.


Thomas Ritter wrote this on his blog, and I thought some may be interested:


"At the heart of Classical Dressage is the spirit of establishing a connection with the horse. The horse is not a vehicle, either literally as a means for transportation, or figuratively, as a vehicle for success, prestige, and power. The horse is a living, breathing, and FEELING being, and it is of the utmost importance, in the training, to connect with this essence. This connection involves a careful balance between trust and respect. It would be idealistic to think one could achieve this simply through indiscriminate kindness to the horse, but if such kindness and softness are not balanced by sensible boundaries, the horse will never learn either respect or trust. Both go hand in hand. One is not possible without the other. The horse thrives in an environment of love, fairness, and consistency. It is the human's responsibility to provide fair and consistent boundaries in the horse's life. The horse, just like a child, can sense when he is treated with love and respect. He will accept any justified reprimand and even outright strictness, without losing his interest and love for the human, if it is fairly executed and balanced by reward and love. On the other hand, if the horse is treated without love and respect, he will withdraw in order to protect himself, and either become afraid or angry. It is our responsibility, as the caretakers and trainers of our horse, to see that his spiritual and psychological needs are met. If we are to train the horse in the spirit of Classical Dressage, this cannot be ignored, and the horse cannot be treated merely as livestock or assets.

True classical training is gymnastic training. It can even become physical therapy. It preserves and prolongs (and in some cases, even restores) the soundness of the horse. Classical training does not teach the dressage movements as tricks without the necessary gymnastic preparation. It ensures that each movement is learned and executed in such a way that the horse uses his body economically and efficiently by minimizing friction and wear and tear through balance and suppleness. In classical dressage, movements are not an end in themselves, but they are gymnastic tools that make specific muscle groups stronger and more supple. Such an approach to training as gymnasticization continually improves the horse's balance, suppleness, and straightness, which results in smoother gaits, less jarring, less bracing and resistance, and consequently greater soundness and longevity."


Someone wrote on Classicaldressage forum about Egon Von Neindorff Institute.

"Also, another very important part of riding at von N(eindorff) is that during lessons he would also read traditional texts to the student, and they would discuss them at night. I have no idea if he did that in later years. Frau Ohlert (who often taught the lunge lessons could drop any rider in about ten minutes unless they had very opened hips." 

The right way to practise and study dressage. How wonderful.... It feels educated, humbling and how can we ever be grateful enough for people of the quality of Neindorff to have kept the deeper knowledge of dressage, so alive.

People are so confused nowadays, they are given so many mixed informations, especially since internet. Without folllowing a system of thought and a set of principles, many get lost on the journey simply because they jump from one branch to another without the understanding of the roots, the reasons behind the system...


In the last editorial of BD magazine a Judge explains that she became rather emotional after watching Totilas. 

If the result of rollkur training is so much "loved" by the judges, the only logical next step is to teach rollkur during their numerous clinics?

Anyone can see that the horse moves rather "normally" before being "put in his artificial way of going", so is rollkur going to be next in the curriculum?

Much work needs to be done I suppose in teaching judges "ways of seeing". For me it is blatantly obvious that many top horses now have a neck that is "separated from the body". 

The horses look like if they are light and good, but they are in fact struggling a lot as they cannot use their topline as nature intended. The lower joints do all the work and the back is no more orchestrating the limbs acti

I think the emotions are running wild ... and as we all know, when emotions run wild, they makes people blind, deaf and do the opposite of what they should.


Here is an interesting and very informative article from Thomas Ritter (USA):

His website is


"People often ask whether classical dressage can be successful in competitions, or whether you have to sell out and sacrifice the horse’s well-being and the principles of classical dressage in order to be successful in competitions.

There are several different issues involved that need to be examined in order to be able to answer these questions.

First of all, what is classical dressage, anyway? Answering this question deserves its own separate article. Suffice it to say that confusion is widespread. It seems that countless people will claim to be classical riders, although they don’t really have any firsthand experience with it, or any knowledge of what it is, or how it works.

On the other hand, there are many riders who want nothing to do with classical dressage, because they also have never experienced first hand how effective it is, and they have only seen incompetent riders who claim to be “classical”.

My advice is not to trust anybody who has never studied for an extended period of time with a member of one of the big classical schools.

In the past, that used to be quite different. During the first half of the 20th century, the top competitors were all classical riders, since the competitions were first organized and run by the military for commissioned officers.

In Germany, colonel Hans von Heydebreck was one of the first competitors and judges. A student of Paul Plinzner, who published Gustav Steinbrecht’s “Gymnasium of the Horse”, Hans von Heydebreck was on the committee of officers who wrote the famous Heeresdienstvorschrift, the cavalry training manual which became the precursor to the current “Richtlinien für Reiten und Fahren”, the Guidelines for Riding and Driving of the German National Federation who has been in charge of organizing and administrating competitions since the end of WWII.

He also wrote a commentary for the 3rd edition of Steinbrecht’s Gymnasium of the Horse, which became the theoretical underpinning of the cavalry training manual and the FN Richtlinien. In addition, he wrote a booklet entitled “Die deutsche Dressurprüfung” (The German Dressage Test) with guidelines for competitors and judges that is based entirely on Steinbrecht’s work. It would be a good idea for modern judges and competitors to read it and implement it.

Another famous competitor was colonel Felix Bürkner. He was trained at the cavalry riding school in Hannover, where classical German dressage was taught and practiced. Between the wars he ran a private riding academy near Berlin together with his friend Hans von Heydebreck where the first professional trainers exams were held. During WWII, Bürkner was called back into the army and appointed commander-in-chief of the cavalry riding school that was now moved from Hannover to Krampnitz, close to Berlin.

In all of the training stables that he led, whether civilian or military, he always had two riders from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna “on loan” who helped with work in hand and piaffe and passage work. Felix Bürkner rode in the 1912 Olympic Games and trained Olympic horses during the 1920s and 1930s.

Richard Wätjen, another top competitor, who also trained horses for the Olympic Games, spent 12 years at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, as a student of chief rider Anton Meixner. He was also one of Egon von Neindorff’s main teachers.

Colonel Alois Podhajsky, one of the former directors of the Spanish Riding School, competed consistently and successfully at the highest levels. His greatest competitive success was an individual bronze medal at the 1936 Olympic Games with the little Thoroughbred gelding Nero that nobody had wanted to ride when he was a young horse, because he didn’t seem talented enough.

There are many other examples of classically trained riders since then who have competed successfully.

In the past, the divide between classical dressage and the competitive establishment was not as wide as it seems to be today, because the content of the teaching as well as the competition rules and judging guidelines were largely controlled, or at least heavily influenced, by the military.

Consequently, there was more uniformity in the standards than today. And since the military horse had to be safe, obedient and rideable under any circumstances, the training of military horses could not go quite as far astray as the training of a horse that is only ever ridden inside an arena to produce movements, because the rider’s life and safety depended on the quality of the horse’s training.

An issue that has become all too obvious in the last 15 years is that mainstream dressage is always subject to fads, new “discoveries” of questionable value and unproven novel methods. Some of these are in direct contradiction to the time tested classical methods.

When the dressage “establishment” embraces these new methods by incorporating them into their trainer certification programs and judges’ education, then the scores for classically correct training go down, the public interest in classical dressage wanes, and an entire generation of horses usually pays the price with their soundness.

When the pendulum swings back in the opposite direction and the latest fad is finally proven to be unhealthy for the horse and counterproductive for the training, the scores for classically correct riding go up again and the interest of the general riding public in classical dressage increases along with it, because “what wins must be correct” – or so many riders believe somewhat naively. The truth is that the best rider and the best-trained horse don’t necessarily win in competitions, because many other factors play a role as well.

A current widespread problem is that many judges seem to be so used to seeing horses that are on the forehand, with short, curled up necks and high croups, that they think this is correct and reward it. When they see a horse that goes uphill, with a lowered croup, raised withers, and an elevated head and neck carriage, they think there is something wrong with it and give low scores.

We now have a whole generation of riders – perhaps even two – who have never had an opportunity to experience classical dressage personally, i.e. who have never sat on a correctly trained horse, and who have never seen a correctly trained horse, ridden by a rider with a good seat, so they have no idea what correct gaits and posture look like, much less feel like.

This includes many trainers and judges. Those riders who still have the knowledge and practical expertise are very quickly diminishing in numbers, and since it takes so many years to train somebody thoroughly in this art, the old masters are dying faster than they can produce their successors.

There is also a tendency to score the horse’s natural gaits higher than his training. Some judges think that if the horse’s gaits deserve only a 6, then he should only be able to get a 6 for any movement of the test, even if it is executed perfectly. Any mistake that occurs is subtracted from 6, not from 10. This means that the scores reflect the quality of the horse’s gaits rather than of the training.

In other words, riders with average horses don’t really have a chance to place well or win, while the riders of extravagant movers can get away with doing a poor job of training the animal, because the sheer talent of the horse will cover up many shortcomings in the riding and training, so that they can still get fairly high scores – in spite of the training flaws.

For quite some time now, there has been a somewhat excessive emphasis on extensions in the tests, which favors warmbloods and other horses who are born with great thrust and a natural ability to extend. If there is a coefficient on medium or extended trots in a test, horses without much talent in this area will have little chances of winning their class. In the past, the extended trot was considered to be a carriage horse gait.

For the rider of a campaign and utility horse, as the practical riding horses used to be called, it makes little sense to spend much time in an extended trot. If the rider needs to go somewhere fast, it is much more efficient in every way to canter or gallop there. During the Renaissance and Baroque eras, the heyday of classical dressage, much more emphasis was placed on collection.

In my own experience, a classically trained horse that is ridden correctly in a test can still be competitive, although it will not always come out on top. Much depends on the judge and the current judging standards. Interestingly, even when the judges don’t reward the classically correct training, the spectators always seem to appreciate it.

The classical rider should not be discouraged and avoid the show ring because of fads and fashion trends that contradict the classical riding and training principles.

On the contrary, the more classical riders compete, the better. We can educate the riding public by showing well balanced, supple horses who go in an uphill carriage and by riding with a quiet, elegant, supple seat. Spectators, other competitors, and judges need to see classical riding and training if the art of riding and training is to survive. We have to prove the validity of the traditional training methods to each new generation of riders by going out in public and demonstrating through our personal example in the saddle that the classical principles achieve results that are superior to any other method. If classical riders hide and refuse to show, they only play into the hands of those who claim that classical riders don’t know how to ride and that classical dressage can’t “cut it” in the show ring.

In the big scheme of things, it is not so important that the classically trained horse /rider combination always wins. It is far more important for the classically educated rider to represent his teachers and the classical heritage with dignity and integrity by riding well and placing the horse’s well-being above all other considerations."


a farrier discuss rollkur?

Which makes me think of this:

Common sense

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who

has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was

since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as

knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the

worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more

than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children,

are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but

overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old

boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens

suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher

fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the

job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental

consent to administer Panadol, sun lotion or a Band Aid to a student -

but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and

wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became

contraband, churches became businesses, and criminals received better

treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a

burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live after a woman failed to

realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in

her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his

wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason.

He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, Someone Else is

to Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and

do nothing.

09.01.2010 TODAY!

Let's face it, we now live in a weird world where one has to prove "scientifically" that horses are back movers and that they need to be able to use their whole body to prevent damage (to the body body or/and mindor the art of dressage)...

..... amazing, extraordinary... ......

I thought that the fact that most young superb well conformed, and top bred dressage horses die before they are 10, could be sufficient to think that there may be something wrong in the training, riding and the management of the dressage horses?

Or just looking at their eyes when they are working with a stiff back? Why is not "facial expression of the horse taken into account anymore"?

It is a little bit like saying "one needs scientific proofs" that one needs to dress more to walk outside in winter, to keep warm.

And looking at the eyes of "famous people" is not something people do, they now look at the "body".... Botox bodies and stiff horses... mmmmm mmmm

Movement not allowed, could this mean something about a whole society? Keep the little people still, stuck, obsessed by money and by the "looks", so that their mind does not function, is as rigid as the horses' back?  

No desire to evolve and improve the real movement? Life in general... Could there be a desire by some to block serious training? No real Forward movement in the horses, and in life in general?

We all know that "up and down" is the work of the emotional turmoils and that forward and through is the way....

why do most trainers only teach the up and down blocked movements?

Is there a sort of political decision to let the little people play with the horses's legs and neck, but not to really seriously learn and become knowledgeable in dressage?

Must ponder on this. 


Takt, (regularity of the paces, no DAP in dressage as it is against the rules)

Losgelassenheit (all muscles, including the middle, inner muscles move, pulsate)

Contact (offered thanks to the above which prepared the horse to stretch to the bit)

Straightness thanks to the previous stages

Impulsion (now the horse is stretch out and seek contact, we can add energy)

Collection (only true if the previous stages have not been skipped).

The pyramid training scales lead to the state of Durchlassigkeit (horse allow the aids to permeate "through" the whole body) Ex. tiny vibration of the calf is felt in the hand,

and energy is received from behind in the hand.

The contact comes from the whole horse and the back feels wider, softer, stronger and very much alive. (vs being narrow and hard and not filling the rider's seat/empty)

 The rider should feel the flow of energy under the saddle coming to the hands from the whole body of the horse, not just from the withers. When he applies the legs, the whole horse should be moving forward over the shoulders.. not just the legs padding (like in doggy paddling).. 

The basics are 95% of Dressage and to apply good Basics as a rider, judge and trainer, one must study the true meaning behind the words.

It is of the opinion of knowledgeable people that even top bred modern big leg moving horses must be trained throughly with the system of the scales.

Even more time should be dedicated on the establishement of the basics to remove their tendencies of being weak in the middle and to help them to use their "middle" to learn how to carry a rider thanks to the neck muscles and the energy passing through the whole horse.

The so important first year, where the horse is strengthening his back muscles without being put into a "round frame", is not being ignored. All top young horses shown at the moment are "leg movers" and sold for a fortune, for no real reason as they are even more inclined to go wrong.

Horses pay the price as usual and so they carry their riders with a stiff back (usually fixed in the UP position) forever unable to swing through (cannot either extend their frame as they should in the extended paces)..

There is no excuse to skip the Basics and to teach horses to carry the riders without tension and to take time to teach them to build the right muscles...

Skipping the basics and using modern short cut methods is non ethical, there is no excuse to avoid preparing horses. No excuses!

Born leg movers (relatively bred for modern dressage/ weak in the middle and very leggy and long neck ready to be rollkured) must be taught to strengthen their back and keep it supple at all time.

THEY NEED EVEN A LONGER TIME to be prepared, patiently trained during an intermediate stage, where not "roundness is required". It seems to me that the present fashion is to lunge them already with a gadget before being ridden.

So many on the market nowadays.... Problem is, once you sit on the horse, you sit already on a "spoilt horse"... which feels restricted.. So these short terms experts then tell us that the horses are "hot", or very sharp and need to be worked very deep and very round.... mmm mmmmmm mmmm

Why are they so hot and bothered these horses so they need to be ridden with all sorts of strange forceful techniques?

What is the purpose of ROLLUR? Why not use the correct system of training which says clearly not to move up the levels unless the lower levels are established?

No time? Too much money? No common sense? Too much ego?


One gets used to what is wrong very easily, especially when it is attractive....


Principles and methods. To understand better the concept, read Hans Handler' notes, this may Help. I heard that some dressage trainers are discussing the subject on various forums. So pleased they are reading the "quotes" page of the website. This is the purpose of this place... to make one think and ponder ... Let's try to write something about it..

If one goes against principles (who comes from the Natural Laws/from Life itself) we become harmful... we destroy others animals, things, Nature or cause harm to oneself, on the long run too.. .: it is not good for the whole community, humanity and Life in general.

If one uses various methods according to background, culture, level of the riders, conditions, breeds , levels and type of horses (spoilt and unspoilt horses must be trained differently), while respecting the Principles, we are merely using common sense and the various roads are interesting to discuss and compare. This is where we can all learn from each others on the journey. Portuguese good riders going to meet German good riders certainly have much to offer each others. 

People from all over the world at the top, top meaning good and true people usually agree.

History has taught us that whoever thinks that Principles must be movable according to their own need, their pupils needs, or in order to win at all cost and should be able to change the rules.

Which is translated by a acceptance that there may be even several Romes in Dressage and that natural / artificial way of going must both accepted. That one must close the eyes on training which is not based on Principles...etc.

Usually the people who promote the idea get a reminder by "one of those principles". We all know how harsh life can be when we go wrong.... This is how we learn!

So, I suggest that one must be "obedient to the principles and study methods" without mixing them both.

This if one wish to learn on how to keep horses in work till their mature years, sound and joyful. At the same time the work done also improves a the rider, make him a better, person thanks to the lessons taught by the real teachers, the horses.

The overtraining of the young horses is a clear and blatant refusal to obey Principles of Life....It is a tragedy born out of impatience and arrogance which creates super products that wins everything short term and then break down...(Nature speaking) just in time to go to stud or to be sold to a Mr Idreamtobuyabrokendowntophorsetoplaywith.

Today I also ponder.. why do people carry on breeding, buying and riding horses that are so bad for dressage that they need to be overstretched and hyperflexed and superrounded?

Could it be time for some international riders and trainers to accept that they can only ride little nice and friendly horses and leave the difficult, hot and tense horses to the little people who are used to them and can ride them nicely, taking time ?


To help those who suffer from the cold, a farrier told me a good thing one day:

"there is no bad weather, ... just bad clothing".


Modern dressage horses sweat a lot.. in warm-ups, most of the time. Nothing else

is possible for them to show pain or difficulty to move with an unnatural stride...

(angular joints instead of a rounded stride, generated by a swinging back).


Message for the Dressage judges and all. One of my trainers wrote some notes

from judges and also from her own continental trainers... and passed them on.

So, I opened yet "another page" on the website to start the disscussion about "how to recognise a back movers and see better" and some "principles of judging" that were passed on. I hope this could be a useful complement to the website. Work in progress

as usual. 

Dressage training is the Art of training young, unspoilt or difficult and spoilt horses

within a system based on principles, patiently and without restricting the natural

movement of our horses.

Now we are told that things have changed and that because riders are too impatient (modern world and short cuts) and because they are unable to ride according to the classical method of training, we must accept that Rollkur is a necessity. Fair point.

Or is it because the crowd love the result of this forceful way of riding? The over extravagant super tidy mechanic and accurate leg movers of the entertainment industry? Or both? 

Good chinese video demonstrating modern riding in Holland for those new to the


Where does it say in the Rules that the horses should be trained to have a

"broken neck"?

On the above video, we see well the effect of rollkur on the overall movement

of the horse.


Thought of the day:When Rollkur will create "losers" in competition, it will die of its

own death. All what it needs it that the judges mark down the leg movers in competition.

I complemented the page "what is Contact?", with a post I wrote recently, have a read and please comment if you wish . Write to [email protected]

I must read all these articles that have appeared in the Observer and in the Daily Mail recently, see if they are good or just plain blablabla (smile).

mmmm mmmm

When Rollkur will creat LOSERS, riders will avoid using the technique, even at home.

The reality is that we now have too many international judges who are not taking enough oxygen in (they told us that leg movers leave them breathless) and could it be why they mark them as high as their emotions when they are taking them over?

James Lovatt wrote: "I think of dressage as a cake baking competition, at the lower levels it is all sponge cakes, taste is important but the aesthetics not so. As we climb the levels we look for more complex aesthetics but the judges should still take into account that the cake must still taste good.

A grand prix cake... can have the finest decoration but if it does not taste good it should still not beat the ugliest cake that does taste good as at the end of the day eating is what cakes are for.

For this we must remember what dressage is for and that it is the quality of our basics

that follow us right to the top, let go of these basics and suddenly you are not doing dressage. International judges need to refamiliarise themselves with what a good

sponge taste like."

I could not agree more.


page 58 in H &H. this week. I did not see the test, but how lovely to see Henriette Andersen's horse, Louis d'Or having a proper well "developped front", not narrow nor leggy, I bet some people will think he is just fat.... Seems that some good basics and training has been done?

Today I would like to praise some "top" people. Amongst them we have :

  • those who have had the courage to keep challenging or difficult horses on and worked on themselves in order to learn from the horses so as to improve on the journey towards more understanding.
  • those who made mistakes and who learned from them and have decided to study and practise at home, little by little in order to correct their bad habits, even if this mean not competing and not winning competitions for a while...
  • Those true experts who ponder on how to promote, teach and search for new ways of educating riders, judges and trainers while voicing their concern about dressage becoming a circus and an entertainment industry.
  • those who refuse to ride aggressively and with to regards to the horse's anatomy and natural energies
  • those who have studied dressage in depth and have been removed from the mainstream dressage because they were considered "bad for the sport". These includes all the judges who have been eliminated from the dressage judges list discretely because they were marking according to the written rules and refused to mark the leg movers over generously.
  • those grooms who walk away because the trainers who employ them are using emergency techniques daily (rollkur) and dare calling it a "method" of training
  • those who think "long term beneficial training of the horse's body and mind instead of short impact aim at "immediate successes"
  • those who put their horses first, riding softly and correctly at the entry levels
  • those who respect the Scale of training so as to preserve and maintain their horse's wellbeing, even if they feel alone and isolated amongst a crowd of onlookers who admire only those who "win"
  • those who take time with young horses and aim at "harmonious partnership" for the long term.
  • those who refuse short cuts that are forcing issues and harming horses.

Amongst them, there are many experts who dedicated their life and amazingly are not "invited" to give an opinion. It seems that many at the top, stay "a closed group" and

that any controversy, criticisms is repelled as "non educated" personal points of views....

Again, without accepting criticisms, discussing in a transparent manner, the sport of Dressage will destroy itself. I wish the Top people meeting together soon to discuss dressage and the problem encountered, (bad press/rollkur) would invite some of the above people to participate to their "big" meetings!

But let's be positive and wish that the "unknown rider", the unknown Top people" will now more and more voice their concerns for the art of dressage

and thanks to the internet, succeed to do so!


A thought : I wrote below that Stephen Clarke seems to say that judges, at the top

level, do not have to be "experts" anymore.

He wrote: "You do not need to be an expert to see that what Totilas is doing is amazing".

I forgot to write about my view:

"You do not need to be an expert to see that it is wrong".....


Interesting to look at the past at times..


Top people...... dressage trainers, vets, riders and judges are going to meet for a big "rollkur day" very soon I was told. More to come on this subject soon....


This year should be dedicated to discuss how horses cope when

their back muscles are being restricted.

I think it will be a year of research and also of riding.

A perfect combination for anyone!

One must be forever grateful for the horses, our professors, for their patience and

amazing ability to keep trying to teach, communicate, even when their human pupils

are blinded, deafened and "made numb", by the emotional overload which the

modern world is subjecting them to. 

After being "breathless" in 2009, I hope that part of the international dressage judges' community will regain its composure in 2010 and take the risky decision to go for fresh, deep and invigorating input of reality Oxygen and decide to cooperate to build up the foundations for a transparent dialogue with the critics instead of saying that their views

are "rubbish". Let's hope.

Living in a golden tower, full of defenses and protection system, in denial is not a good idea.....

This attitude can only leave us with a judging system which gives us no options but to accept that a new sport is born out of Dressage. If the international top judges do not follow the written Rules, one must decide, in this new year to change the name of Dressage and yes, create new ones.

A thought:

What seems to happen in Dressage is a little bit like if people put an engine on a bicycle (front leg movers/stiff back) and still want to be competing at the "tour de France"

with the other competitors, who have no engine on their bikes (classic back movers, rounded, softer limb action).


What better way to spend the last day of the year 2009 with a top... vet and surgeon, discussing about how to move the "rollkur" subject gently but nevertheless efficiently, more towards discussing the difference between "leg movers and back movers"? International Judges do not seem to see "energies".... it seems.

Who is going to train them?

The real issue in training horses is the "effect of the rider has on the horses"and this

"effect" must be beneficial for the horse (dressage).

When this effect is more beneficial for the popularity of the sport or efficient

at raising the emotions of the judges to the point of them becoming "breathless"

maybe it it time to accept to split and accept that the overwhelmed judges

should think of starting a new sport?


"During a clinic someone asked Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg what he

thought of the "modern way of training horses, deep and overbent", the

answer was a smile of sadness and he said :

"It is wrong. There is no substitute for what is right.

Nowadays new-born trainers teach and built 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, 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.""

end of quote

On this wonderful piece from Arthur Kottas,

I wish a Happy New Year to everyone.

During the new years to come, one must try to remember that criticisms are not personal, what is criticised are the "training methods, techniques and ways of going", not the people.

Another thought for the day, from Ann Valdez relative to judging:


"Every subjective system of comparison has a written or mutually agreed

on standard (as opposed to timed events or bullseyes scored, etc,

which have numerical standards).

Showing dogs has breed standards as guides.

Showing in dressage has FEI rules.

The problem occurs when due to some influence, money, popularity,

who's winning, who knows who or what, the rules become bent. 

In dogs you can read intense and intelligent remarks regarding movement,

and see dogs put up that in no way correspond to the standard.

As more and more of these dogs are put up, more and more are bred

to the "standard" of what is winning, not the agreed upon standard of the

breed club. 

The real problem occurs when the club then bows to the fad and changes

the standard to accomodate the "new" type dog without examining whether

this type is healthy or a valuable contribution to the breed.

I think we can all agree this is happening in competitive dressage. 

The rules are being changed in terms of what is allowed in training and

warmup, in terms of what is allowed in medication, and soon what the standards

for correct tests will be.

It is when they change that that we are really doomed.

Basically, the standards say the emperor has to have clothes, but when all

the emperors are naked and presumed dressed by people who should know

better but choose not to, they will rewrite the standard to include nudity as the


end of quote.


Stephen Clarke seems to say that sadly judges at the top level do not have to be

"experts" anymore:

"You do not need to be an expert to see that what Totilas is doing is amazing".


Thought for the day:

"Matter of taste belongs in the judges'box where expertise, not prejudice should



It is 6 am in the morning, the horses are fed and hayed. Time is now to drive to

the near patrol station to buy the Nag and dog, to read what a FEI judge has

apparently written.

I am told that it will be of interest. Good that these judges are speaking up now..

If they feel the need to speak up, it means that they are thinking?


A little reminder found in "advanced techniques of dressage" from the National

German Federation :

"Resistances and bad habits which develop during training can usually be

traced back to insufficient basic training, overfacing the horse,

misunderstandings betwen rider and horse, or the use of contraint."

The more we research about Magic Maggie condition (see below), the more

we believe that the manipulation of the neck is the cause of her present symptoms.


A very unwell horse in the stable who suffers from "Vetibula syndrom". She came to the presen and very caring owner, with a "broken neck" after some years of show-jumping.... We call her Magic Maggie..

Why do we do this to horses? I will search to see if the arthritic condition

she suffers from comes from the head position she was ridden in.


For the joy of it watch Argentinus at liberty.... The video below is to remind us

all how much power is to be contained in dressage.

If one uses restrictive or manipulative techniques in order to block the power

instead, we work against nature: not a good idea.


23.12.2009 continue

I find it strange that British Dressage has made no statement yet about rollkur, warmup etiquette, their position relatively to stewards training known, etc. Does anyone knows more about BD'S views on the subject?

A good idea on how to show the difference between leg movers and back movers.

Because the leg movers have angular joint movement instead of rounded movement,

.. no, I won't write it here just yet... But I think it is good, see if my idea is feasable

now and I will write about it again ..


I was pondering on the difference between Natural,

Unnatural and artificial…..

I found this written by H. Meier some 30 years ago,

which is a good way of describing the facts:

“A problem arises whenever the rider mounts

the horse and so burden him unnaturally.

The word in that context means not

pre-programmed in the nature of the horse,

but it does not mean that it involves a

requirement that it CONTRARY to nature

or to the animal physiology or psychology.”

On the other hand what one calls “artificial”

Is what is contrary to nature.

Artificial gaits (when the horse is

obliged to block parts of his body

so as to energize others) are artificial

because the horse is “manipulated”

not to work in one piece, as a whole


Like asking a dancer to perform a

ballet without the full use of his/her back!

I posted the above on the forum [email protected] because it seems

to me that there are now more classical trainers who like what is artificial !!!!

While competitors call me and seem to wish to work on what is "supernatural" ....

(above or beyond nature vs artificial) .

They are better placed and maybe because they have ridden some good trained

horses (who know?) some of them now criticicise the way judging is rewarding

horses who are "holding" their back in order to please the crowds!

Are things turning around!?


Someone asked which horse's training is the most correct between Totilas and

Rusty, or which one would win if they competed in the same competition..

My opinion and answer was:

In Dressage : Rusty

In Modern SHOWdressage : Totilas

This is why we must keep calling dressage dressage, and must find a new

name for "modern dressage" and I suggested Showdressage.



Reading through posts, forums etc. I thought that the whole dressage world is

aiming at "success". I suggest that riders aim at "progress", intermediate

learning and understanding. What I mean is that training is all about being

more aware of the purpose of training: harmony and the reason behind

"harmony": the handling of power without destruction...

What is important is to give horses time to improve.

Like any athlete, the horse needs to change and develop through stages.

It is unfair to go fast and win, then ignore the facts, the result of the false "

ego" and "£" based ambition: that the horses pay the price of it.

The "intermediate stage" is when the horse is not yet able to find balance,

but is merely looking for it.



After two minutes, there is a wonderful half-pass....... please enjoy.

Of course a back mover, like Rusty, shows problems and make mistakes,

but the esssence of dressage is there respected: the horse is allowed to move....

he is not blocked purposefully by the rider. Watch how the uphill movement

is allowed through and how the horse is "permeated" with energy.

Not perfect of course! But very interesting to learn from and compare

with "leg movers horses....


It seems that one is not allowed to name riders and trainers, on some forums,

who are using deep and round or rollkur and discuss the fact that it produces

leg movers instead of back movers.

This is rather interesting: firstly because rollkur is not forbidden, therefore

writing that a rider uses rollkur should not a problem, and secondly, it is interesting because it also seems that one is allowed on the other hand

to belittle and attack riders and trainers who are "against" the use of

rollkur or very deep and round techniques .

Could it be a case of double standards? Are dressage riders

beyond criticisms, unlike footballers?

I do not know, but will ponder on it.


The more I think about it, the more it appears that the only way to stop bad training

is to retrain the judges into following the existing FEI Rules instead of allowing them to follow their "emotions".

Sadly, we now have very emotional judges in charge. This Fashionhas taken over and instead of marking the "training" some international judges are marking "the X factor".... (felt and viewed according to themselves / at their emotional stage).

If judges would mark down (less than 5) the leg movers, as the Rules request, no

one of sane mind would train their horses at home in rollkur.

Rollkur and other various type of over deep and round techniques create leg movers,

the technique would be abandonned by the top names and slowly become obsolete.

Will rollkur creates "losers" one day? Yes.

Sadly now modern winners are leg movers. Not a back movers.

The front leg action starts at the elbows.... and sadly, it impressed the crowds.

The energy is not flowing "through", not permeating the whole horse with harmony.

The purpose of dressage is abandoned and the judges are marking high "excitment", tension and "angular joints movement". Could it be how some judges feel within?

Do they relate to this "way of going" so when they see a horse moving in the same way (energywise), they project and give high marks?

How come judges cannot feel/see the lack of natural subtle flow? Or even lack

of real power as the horses are unable to swing in the middle of their bodies?

Energy cannot pass through a block created thanks to special techniques which restricted some parts fo the horses and intensify the movement of others...

Sadly for the horses, judges do not seem to have been trained to see the difference between back movers and leg movers.

But there is hope and I have faith that the wind will turn. Horses have a

wonderful way of teaching us lessons and Time will tell how they are going

to proceed..

Dressage is dressage : for the benefit of the horse and seeking soft harmonic

real power contained and channelled : the horse and rider are united through a

third energy.

Circus is circus: for the benefit of the spectacle, excitement, crowd, etc.

When a horse moves with nervous energy, angular joint movements,

extravagant paces. The horse is pushed beyond its natural ability to

make crowds gasp...


Below is rollkur practised by an expert.


No comment yet. Ah yes,found something that could be interesting after those videos above.

Here is an extract of an interview with Gerd Heuschmann (by J. Bentley) :

"We have to admit we really don’t ride dressage any more. T

he horse who won the European championships Moorlands Totilas –

in a magazine in Germany, we had a big headline saying, “Welcome to the Circus.”

I got an email just after the championships from a vet in the U.S.

He said, can you imagine that we have circus lessons now in our Grand Prix, and they’re scoring 10s!"

On the continent circus training in dressage means that the horses training is

only done "to please the masses", enthuse and excite their emotions...

The purpose is not to dedicate the training to make them more sound, more

healthy and joyful and to participate to the development of their own training

in order to open their minds. It is not "an attack on "circus" as such as many

things in the UK.

The dressage masterclass shown at Olympia was certainly a master class about

hand riding and how to use double bridle in order to disconnect a horse's neck

from the horse's body and to stiffen the hind legs. I am sure some riders have

special bits in the horse's mouth that are made in memory foam or something..

Modern dressage is coming with so many new inventions, one cannot keep up!