Friday, September 17, 2010

Dressage research

Ok ok I'll even it up a bit from all the dressage as of late - promise! In the mean time, I found the following study interesting:

Horses suffer from work stress, researchers find
by Neil Clarkson

What discipline is most likely to drive your horse to distraction?

French research indicates that dressage and high-school work create higher levels of stress in horses than the likes of jumping, eventing and vaulting.

The scientists from the University of Rennes 1 said it was well known that stress at work could cause negative efforts in people, such as anxiety and depression. Could the daily work to which many horses were exposed result in similar effects?

The findings, published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, indicated that horses, like people, faced stresses in their daily life involving troublesome human bosses, difficult interpersonal relationships, undue negative reinforcement and poor rewards.

Such negative experiences linked to training could lead horses to switch off, becoming unresponsive and apathetic - the equine equivalent of work-related burnout in people.

The researchers - Martine Hausberger, Emmanuel Gautier, VĂ©ronique Biquand, Christophe Lunel, and Patrick Jego - set about studying 76 French Saddlebred horses stabled at the Ecole Nationale d'Equitation in Sanur.

The horses, aged six to 15, were all geldings and housed in the same conditions, spending 23 hours a day in their stables. They received the same diet. The only difference was in the kind of discipline they performed each day for an hour.

The scientists monitored the horses in their stables for behaviours called stereotypies - abnormal repetitive behaviours which serve no useful function. These include repetitive mouth movement, head tossing or nodding, windsucking, cribbing and weaving.

They found that the type of work performed by the horses each day had a significant influence on the prevalence and types of undesirable traits shown.

"To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of potential effects of work stressors on the emergence of abnormal behaviours in an animal species.

"It raises an important line of thought on the chronic impact of the work situation on the daily life of individual [horses]."

The researchers found that 65 of the 76 subjects performed some type of stereotype.

The horses were categorized as doing one of three kinds of work:

  • Jumping/eventing/advanced-riding-school.
  • Dressage/high-school.
  • Vaulting.
"Vaulting horses appeared to be the least prone to stereotypies and performed relatively 'mild types' such as tongue play, whereas dressage/high-school horses presented the highest incidence of stereotypies ... several of these horses performed two or more types of stereotypies.

"They also performed the 'more serious' stereotypies - cribbing, windsucking, head shaking."

Why should horses get stressed?

Horses, like people, are often asked to work on a daily basis, involving "interpersonal" interactions not only with other working horses but also, and mostly, with a "boss" who is the human who manages or rides it, the authors noted.

"Work sessions are based on training, using more often negative reinforcement or punishment than positive reinforcement.

"Physical and emotional constraints depend also on the type of work performed. Negative consequences of some practices, leading to physical and behavioural resistances, open conflicts and tensions during the work sessions have been described for some time.

"Conflicting signals given by the rider (urge forward with the legs and keep restraining through the mouth/bit) may lead the horse to frustration and neurosis.

"Finally, horses are asked to suppress emotional reactions from their early stages of work on, as such reactions may be contrary to the performance expected (dressage competition) or considered dangerous for the rider (such as bucking).

"Few studies, however, question the possible durable effects of such work stressors - interpersonal conflicts, suppressed emotions, physical constraints - on the daily life of horses outside the work sessions."

Negative experiences linked to training could lead to chronic states where horses "switch off", becoming unresponsive and apathetic - states described in humans in cases of work-related burnout.

Abnormal repetitive behaviours in horses are thought to be a way for animals to cope with an unfavourable stress-inducing environment.

The authors pondered why dressage appeared to cause the most stress.

"Dressage and high school both expect horses to restrain from expressing emotions and put a strong physical constraint on the movements," they noted.

"Moreover, cases where orders can be conflictual are more frequent here as the restricted gaits are often obtained by refraining movement through the reins and bit while pushing forward the horse through the legs.

"Therefore both physical and interactional stress can explain the high prevalence and types of stereotypes observed in these horses.

"Jumping, eventing or instruction horses were trained more to take long strides while moving forward in a less ritualised posture. These horses performed more repetitive licking or biting of environmental structures."

These, they said, are often considered to be early stages of stereotypy.

"Whether these horses would develop more serious stereotypies with time appears unlikely as they remained under these conditions for at least one year and often more. Maybe they were reacting mainly to the general unsuitable conditions (social separation ...) they were housed in.

"Finally, vaulting horses appeared the least prone to perform stereotypies and these were restricted mainly to tongue play. Vaulting horses had been chosen for their quiet temperament and spent their work time turning in circles, with voice orders.

"Interpersonal conflicts with the human are rather limited as they are just required to keep regular and slow paces, while accepting humans to make movements on their backs. Their originally quieter temperament may also make them more resistant to possible work stressors as observed in humans."

The authors pointed to earlier research suggesting that head shaking may be a last effect of strong bit action, resulting from damage to the trigeminal nerve, as riders work to keep their horse's head down.

This would explain why headshaking and nodding were performed more often by dressage horses as for most of their working time they have to keep their necks flexed in restrained gaits, they said.

"Although some work stressors involved here may be specific to equine work, others are clearly shared with other species, including humans: emotions suppression, interpersonal conflict, physical demands, lack of reward and negative future expectancy that are associated with depression in humans.

"The present study opens clearly new and further lines of thought about, on one hand, the causation of abnormal repetitive behaviours, on another hand the effects of work stressors not only on well known expressions of psychological disorders such as depression or burn out but also on the possible emergence of abnormal behaviour.

"The very controlled restricted locomotion allowed in dressage and especially high-school horses associated with rapid transitions may explain an increase of reactivity, especially when bit pressure and spurs induce additional aversive stimulations.

"The higher emotional responses of dressage horses in emotional tests provide further support for this hypothesis. Collected gaits may also be physically very demanding and these difficulties may frustrate the horse, but also its rider who can transmit additional nervousness."

The authors noted that other factors can be involved in development of stereotypies, including roughage availability, diet, social deprivation, lack of exercise and genetic susceptibilities. The length of time spent in stalls may also have an influence.

However, the results clearly showed that the discipline being performed by the horse influenced the degree to which they showed undesirable traits.

"We showed that, for a variety of reasons (physical, emotional ...) the limited time spent with humans might affect the remaining daily life of the horses.

"This may well be true for other situations such as handling, feeding, transporting animals. These results also raise the question of how different types of repetitive movements may develop.

"While some may be explained by lasting effects of physical constraints, others may emerge through chronic stress."

Of the 76 horses, 10 undertook eventing, 19 were show jumpers, seven worked in an advanced riding school, 17 performed dressage, 16 were high school and seven were used in vaulting.

So my initial thought was this: the study is incomplete because one major factor in this study, and that is how the riders who rode and trained these test horses. By the sounds of it, the dressage horses were not ridden in a truly classical form and thus I wonder if they had been ridden in a classical sense, would the results of the research done differ? What about how they were trained or handled previously?

Okay, so what if you were able to eliminate all of the following stressors:

- the troublesome human boss and difficult interpersonal relationships

- undue negative reinforcement, punishment, and insufficient rewards

- the expectation the horse is not to express emotion or interact with its rider

- a ritualised or forced pose

- strong bit action

So what if a horse and rider worked in such a (natural, classical) way where undue negative reinforcement, punishment, and insufficient rewards were non-existent? Where the horse was encouraged to express emotion and interact with its rider (coincidentally, I find when you allow the horse to interact and express emotion, they are not doing so in a negative way that affects dressage test scores) and the horse/rider relationship were harmonious? What about if the horse's 'frame' were derived naturally and classically and not forced, if the rider's hands were light and guiding as opposed to forceful? If spurs were used for refinement, to extend the rider's heel, rather than to push the horse forward into hard hands? Would the test results be different? In my opinion the answer would be yes.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Difficult decisions

This post comes in light of having to euthanise one of my best partners, a 7yo Paint gelding named Cody. I was given him August 2009 by a potential client who ultimately decided he presented too much of a challenge for her due to his abusive past. I took him on with the intentions of resale, however it only took one ride where I was forced to depend on him as my main ranch horse before it was decided he was never going anywhere. This horse was a keeper. My dad took a particular shine to him and since I technically owed him a horse (haha), I only felt it right to pass Cody along to him. He was an absolutely amazing horse with so much heart and willingness. 'Quit' or 'no' were never a part of his vocabulary, and he was beautiful to boot.

Cody, summer 2010

Friday (Sept 10) morning 8:36am I received a call from D, owner of the facility we keep Cody at. G, the manager, had fed the horses the night prior and noticed nothing unusual. Let me note too that this is a very nice facility with extremely safe pastures. The pasture Cody was in is devoid of anything sharp or otherwise potentially hazardous: board fencing, water trough, wood shelter, rubber feed tires, safe metal and wood gates. Friday morning G enters the paddock to find all the horses hyped up over something and looks to see Cody not using his left hind whatsoever. In fact, he can't even set weight on the leg and the foot appears to be 'flopping'. Immediately, he catches Cody up and takes him in to the barn - I give D permission to call the vet, imagining things are fine other than a minor injury we will have to treat. This is mostly a pleasure/trail horse so even if I am restricted from behing able to do cattle work or cutting on him, as long as he is sound and comfortable (and better yet, sound and comfortable being ridden lightly), we are happy campers. The vet calls me at 10:38 and I am asked to make a difficult decision. Somehow, both arteries and both tendons in Cody's hind leg have been severed from a deep cut sliced inside to outside. Surgery would allow for a risky future and be a good $10,000+. Cody was losing so much blood he was going into shock and he was in obvious pain, so I made the decision to put him down.

Which leads me to the following. I am sure we have all thought about it, speculated, discussed it. But what are your limits? When do you decide to put a horse down?

The above reason is why I have become even more firm in my decision to insure my 3yo CWB mare as well as my 6yo Thoroughbred gelding. Losing Cody has been difficult enough, but I cannot imagine having to euthanise my two youngsters with whom I spend/will be spending the majority of my time, my competition horses and partners. I likely would have had to make the same decision as I did with Cody with any of our horses, insurance or not - the outcome for the surgery was bleak anyways. However I would like to know that money is not a factor in my decision. I would like that assurance.

Recently (this year) our old mare was also euthanised. At the time, she was living with some friends of ours, teaching their kids the ropes, as she had been the past several years. Her death was to be expected however - she was around the 30yo mark. She was happy and well loved and doing what she enjoyed - taking care of kids (she loved kids). I believe she was euthanised but either way, it would not have been as difficult a decision. When the burdens of old age start outweighing the quality of life, the horse has led a long and happy life, and you have had sufficient time to deal with such a future decision, it is not as difficult a decision as having to euthanise a 7yo horse with a bad past who has his whole life ahead of him yet. Cody had had one great year with us but I wanted to give him so much more.

Since I do not have unlimited funds, money does of course play into when I might decide to euthanise a horse. Finances depend upon the individual horse and its use (unfortunately). While I have spent upwards of $6,000 saving one of my (2yo and otherwise healthy, good outcome to the procedure) dogs, my current situation dictates that I am in no position to do so at the time (my new dog is insured through Trupanion, for that reason) - neither with a horse nor a dog. Today's monetary limit would be much lower. The horse's use, the extent of the injury or illness, the relationship I have with said horse, the life history and age of the horse - all factor into my decision. Ultimately, my 'limit' is when the horse is no longer happy or comfortable - when the only reason to keep him alive is for my benefit, which is never okay. If large dollars will be involved to keep the horse alive, happy and comfortable, I am going to really have to think hard and factor in age, future useability, horse's history, and my relationship with said horse. If it is a horse who is say in its 20's, is not going to ever be useable, has led a happy and healthy life otherwise, and with whom I might not have as strong an attachement - I might be more inclined to euthanise. Those are my upper limits. I love my horses however I am also practical and realistic and tend to look at the big picture.

It is an issue we all think about, but when the time comes, you still always end up having to add all the factors together - like some form of mathematics - and weigh out the appropriate decision. Regardless, though it might certainly be easier in certain situations (such as when you know it is coming and the death is peaceful and non-traumatic), it is always a difficult thing to say goodbye. Thinking about it now though and preparing for the worst might mean the difference between having to make that difficult decision or not because you have saved up the funds, insured your horse, set up the situation in such a way that you might have other options, etc.

Just as a short sidenote, it cost approx. $200 for body removal in my part of Alberta and approx. $2,000 for cremation (no profit to anyone at that cost either), something I did not previously know. Of course one also has to factor in the farm call and actual euthanasia cost...just something to keep in mind in the future and especially something to keep in mind when judging someone for instead choosing to send their horse to auction or slaughter should they no long have the ability to care for said horse.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I found the following video of recent interest:

Essentially, it is a defense for hyperflexion and represents a valid point. My qualms however are this:

The horse in the video only sustains a hyperflexed position a couple of times for a moment or two each time, and during turns as opposed to during actual forward movement for more than a step or two. The position is never held for a sustained period of time and it is relaxed and natural - his entire body is loose, supple, and relaxed. The remainder of the time, the horse is in a poll-highest frame with his head in front of the vertical. If, for example, a rider were to place their horse in a hyperflexed frame for a moment or two (ie. moment = one second) to stretch said horse out, and said horse was loose and relaxed, I see no wrong in doing so. The problem only arises as these riders are asking their horses to hold such a pose for prolonged periods of time (1min +) - and the force and aggressive intentions behind such a request of the horse.

In the Steffan Peters LDR video I featured last week, it is evident the horse is mostly on a loose rein throughout the initial warm-up. The horse is loose, supple, relaxed, and evidently happy. No pinned ears or tail-swishing and no tension. At the very start of the video, as Steffan rides his horse down the long side of the arena and towards the camera, he even has it in a relatively hyperflexed frame and is asking the horse to stretch down and side to side. It is an exercise I also use on my Thoroughbred - to an extent - to supple him up during a work. While I do not specifically ask him to hyperflex, I do ask for the side to side down a center line - maybe a couple times at most within a session, and depending upon the session (it may not be asked for at all). It is not a position that is held or is forced, and the horse is choosing to entertain the position for a split second, based on how you are asking. The horse is naturally loose and relaxed - to be honest I don't think my boy is even behind the vertical much when I ask this of him. It certainly makes a difference to our work on days where he is a little extra tense - it is done purely for physical purposes, on a loose rein, and not to create a submissive horse.

The other point is the thinking behind asking a horse for such a position. When it occurs naturally for a moment or two and the horse is loose and relaxed and simply moving according to how it naturally feels and is encouraged through the exercises and patterns it is being put through and what feels right to it, both horse and rider are in sync and in partnership. The feeling is natural and the hands are light and remain guiding rather than forceful (the rein is even loose). When there is excessive tension in the reins and the horse is being told to hold a particular position such as hyperflexion, particularly for a sustained period, it is no longer natural nor beneficial to a horse, especially if it is done for dominance/submissive reasons. It is done with aggression rather than compassion.

Keep in mind a hyperflexed frame, when held for longer than a second, is inhibiting a horse's movement (hyperflexed, tense, and stressed longissimus, which prevents the horse from truly tracking up and working from behind) as well as its breathing. The only range of vision they have is their chest - it is a very submissive position and a position that is uncomfortable at best and painful at worst, to hold.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Starved mini

What a depressing story; it is sad to imagine how a pony can go from a healthy weight to being unable to stand!

Mini starved - Freeport, Florida

Judge throws out charges

Unsure as to why the judge threw out the charges...

Boundaries VERSUS punishment

I'm not sure why we chose to pick on this particular individual today...

I get that, all facts considered, the ad does sound suspicious. Why buy horses if you have to sell your herd of yaks for financial reasons, and why buy said horses in a different state??! However, since I am not standing in Jennifer's shoes, I do not really feel I am in a position to judge. Sure the ad might be a little odd, but really, is it worth publicly humiliating someone over?? Criticizing them, judging them, and sending your dogs after them??

And, surprise surprise, yes boundaries do actually exist in Natural Horsemanship. Just. As. Any. depends on the person.

"The horse simply doesn’t ever get a clear, concise signal that something he did was wrong."
Yea. I don't punish my horses when they 'do something wrong'. You know why? Because they are living, breathing beings who are simply responding to their situation and who are communicating the best way they know how. I do not subscribe to the belief that my horse should be punished anytime he steps a toe out of line, whenever he does something I deem 'misbehavior'. However punishment does not equate to boundaries...or lack thereof of either.

Had I punished our Paint when he kicked, because I pushed him past his limits, I would have only further proved his point - that humans are not to be trusted. In his case, he has an abusive past and does not trust people to pick up his hind feet. Pick up his hind feet and you have now effectively removed his means of flight - his first survival mechanism - should the need arise. So if he does not trust you, the last thing he is going to do is let you lift up his hinds. I certainly do not feel it appropriate to discipline a fearful horse for responding defensively. Instead, I work on his trust between him and I and he picks up his feet nicely for me. In the mean time, I am careful to read him so as not to push him too far for his current emotional state and level of trust or training.

Same follows for my Thoroughbred gelding, Link. He lashed out defensively on the ground at times as well as under-saddle. It was a fear-based reaction, a I'll-get-you-before-you-get-me reaction and punishing him to 'clearly and concisely let him know what he did was wrong' would have only further compounded his fear issues and lack of emotional collection. Instead, I did what no one yet had done with him - nothing. And soon he started to relax, realizing I was not going to hurt him, that he could trust me to be predictable and fair. Today, he never lashes out defensively. It just doesn't happen, because there is no need to.

One last example: punishing my warmblood gelding only elicited escalated behavior from him. Escalated behavior that was uncontrollable. Instead, establishing boundaries created control and eventually created a respectful horse.

The same has followed for any like horses I have ever worked with. Solving the root of the issue just works so much better - for both you and the horse, than responding to the symptom of the disease.

In short, you punish a disrespectful horse and it may work but it will ultimately create resentment and distrust; punishing the distrustful and fearful horse is only going to create a horse who is even more fearful and distrusting of you. It might not necessarily be all that noticeable, it might simply prevent the partnership between you and your horse from being all it can be. Boundaries, limitations, rules - all ways of earning respect, are vital. However respect cannot be forced and giving a 'clear and concise signal the horse did wrong' might not be the best answer.

"Therefore, being a horse, he starts to expand the range of his behavior. He says, hey, if I barged into him and that was okay, maybe I can smack him with my head the next time."
To get a little technical here, I really do not believe that horses smack your head on purpose. They just don't care or respect you enough to stay out of your space and thus not smack your head. The difference is huge. I don't tell my horses directly that 'smacking my head' (or any like rude behavior) is not ok, but my horses do not escalate their behavior, because they can't barge into my space in the first place. Boundaries. You don't have to smack a horse or otherwise punish it to prevent it from escalating rude behavior. Don't want him to bite or push past you? Keep him out of your space in the first place, unless invited (when he is polite). He can't push you or bite you if he is nowhere within your personal space. Don't want him to kick? Earn his respect. Have him move his feet more than yours and respect your space. Pretty simple.

"And there was that day when I was fidgety and she didn’t ride me because Pat says it’s ok not to ride on a day when they don’t feel like being ridden, so maybe this time I will strike at her in the cross-ties."
Let's get real. A horse is not going to strike at you one day because you didn't ride it when you felt it best not to ride last time. There is never any harm in dismounting. Let me repeat that: there is never any harm in dismounting. You might dismount because either your horse is too dangerous or posing a threat to your safety - in which case it is SAFETY FIRST or because you just do not posses the knowledge to handle the current situation. Continuing when you do not have the appropriate knowledge and skillset is a disaster in the making: you are either going to frustrate you and/or your horse (frustration in the rider leads to aggression versus assertiveness and frustration in your horse does not create an optimal learning environment), create mistrust in your horse (particularly if you are frustrated and thus your responses are aggressive) and/or create a situation where your horse does not learn and maybe even create damage you will later have to undo. If you are unconfident on your horse and feel the need to dismount, it usually is best, regardless of what the horse is or is not doing. By staying in the saddle and projecting your lack of confidence, you likely are not going to offer the type of leadership your horse requires and thus handle the matter in an effective matter where the horse is asked to respond respectfully or where the horse can trust your leadership and do as you request confidently.

To be honest, I have gotten off of horses many a time and it never ever set us back. Not even one step. Should the horse be disrespectful and misbehaving under-saddle (and you cannot handle it effectively), you simply walk away and approach it another day. On another day you might be in a better frame of mind, have researched the issue and be able to approach it from another (hopefully successful) angle with new ideas, or you might bring a professional along to help you. In this way, you have a relatively fresh start - as opposed to having continued on your horse last session when you really should not have, and having failed (ie. horse learns it can walk all over you or mistrusts you - digging yourself a deeper hole that endangers your partnership with your horse). If the horse is just not in the right frame of mind and is jittery, staying on may only compound that (if you do not handle it correctly), whereas dismounting represents not potentially pushing the horse excessively past its comfort level. Doing so allows the individual to backtrack and establish more foundation, build the horse up to the point where that comfort level may later be pushed safely or that comfort level is raised in the first place. Continuing when you should not have may only escalate a situation and create excessive and unproductive emotional distress, resistance, and tension in the horse (as opposed to relaxation) when there was another way.

Dismounting does not necessarily mean having to work the horse on the ground or remount after groundwork. Of course that would be optimal however if your horse is acting up and you are just not in a position to deal with it, there is no harm in dismounting, untacking your horse, and throwing it out to pasture for another day. Doing so will actually progress your training with the horse in question by allowing yourself a fresh start with said horse the next session and no work to undo. That said, if you have to do this say more than 3 times it is definitely time to find a trainer to help you because you are now establishing a pattern of behaviour the horse will attempt to continue.

Striking, for the record, is often an act of disrespect. What can you do about it? Keep the horse out of your space and stay away from his front end until you have sufficiently earned said horse's respect. My warmblood gelding learned to strike as a youngster however though I never directly addressed the issue, I addressed the root - disrespect. By earning his respect, he naturally had no reason to strike anymore.

Personally, I would much rather an individual constantly be putting away a horse they can't handle (and never going anywhere with said horse) than continuing on session after session, frustrated and lacking the appropriate knowledge and skillset (and frame of mind) to actually teach the horse anything correctly. The latter is going to create a frustrated horse who is an emotional wreck, whereas the former only creates, at worst (ie. the horse being turned out repeatedly and never being taught anything but that misbehavior results in no work), a horse who simply walks all over a person - which is so much easier to undo and less harmful to the horse. Dismounting excessively is not going to create damage that is impossible to undo, whereas failing to dismount when one should could create a wreck of a horse that could take years to undo (if ever possible).

"For example, if a horse is trying to barge along, I don’t just run alongside like a kite on a string. I take the time to stop, growl, back the horse up a few steps and then ask him to proceed at the speed I was wanting to walk."
Because growling really does the trick. Actually seriously, there are a number of ways to deal with this. My own rule with horses is that they can do 'anything' they want while being led, provided they remain out of my space and keep up. When I allow them to do a little of what they want, they usually opt to do a little of what I want ;) 99 percent of the the time leading my horses as such automatically results in them leading quietly behind me and to the side (for the record, if they jump at something, no, they do not jump on top of me - say hello to respect - ask me how I know). 1 percent of the time they might choose to grab a couple mouthfuls of grass (without stopping or holding me up) or might be initially (prior to sufficient emotional collection) too hyped up or disrespectful to walk quietly. Personally I find there is little to be gained by forcing a horse to walk quietly at my side. Instead, I set up a situation where they can make the choice to walk quietly with me. Forcing a horse to physically 'collect' when they are not 'emotionally collected' creates a horse who is stifling their emotions and who could possibly blow. In contrast, when they are permitted the choice to move their feet, more often than not they choose not to, simply because they know they can, should they absolutely have to.

When the fearful or reactive horse dances around, I simply continue walking along my original line and ask them to disengage their hind. Besides the obvious - halting forward movement, doing so causes them to cross their hind legs, which encourages thinking over reacting, and allows them pause to re-think and relax. When the disrespectful horse dances around in an attempt to have me move my feet, I continue on my original path and ask them to disengage, move their feet, move out of my space, etc - ask them to do more work than they would have had to do had they simply walked politely at my side. This puts me in the dominant position and thus in control. I have created boundaries (stay out of my space), limitations (no holding me up), and rules but allowed them the choice (you can move here and here, but not so much here). Allowing them the choice, they figure out pretty quickly that it's just less effort to walk quietly as opposed to dance around - they choose the right answer (particularly if they were dancing around disrespectfully). Furthermore, as you develop a balanced partnership with and further develop your horse, they choose the right answer more often than not anyways because they can (because they are sufficiently emotionally collected and respectful) and because they want to.

Juuuust sayin'.

In short, punishment just does not equate to discipline, which encompasses rules, limitations, and boundaries and just because a method (ie. NH, clicker training, etc) does not include punishment, does not mean it also does not include boundaries. When the ultimate result is a respectful, willing, and happy horse who is beginner-safe and/or well-rounded and well developed, boundaries obviously were involved.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anky retracts lawsuit

This entire debacle has been continuing for the past two weeks however we had a recent development in the past two days (that and my inspiration to write seems to have made a comeback haha), so I still felt it worth reporting:

Anky van Grunsven sues Eurodressage

(I'm sorry, but I just can't help it - when I read the part Sjef allegedly writes "you are a tiny miserable figure", I pictured a little snobby napolean-looking character sneering it out in nasally tones - ha!)

Most recently:
Anky retracts lawsuit

Should you desire to research the controversial technique of Rolkur further, I highly recommend Sustainable Dressage as informative reading.

Personally I disagree with the Rolkur/hyperflexion method. At best, it stretches the horse for a moment - however it does so incorrectly and by over-stretching the longissimus and thus possibly causing harm to the horse. At worst, when used forcefully (as it is much of the time), it strips the horse of its dignity and forces fear-based respect, causing irreversible and detrimental damage. I strongly feel that there are better and more effective means of stretching a horse and gaining its respect and obedience. Keep in mind also that a horse in a hyperflexed frame cannot possibly physically track up and get beneath themselves as well as they can when they are in a 'normal' frame.

(this obviously is not a method simply trickled down to inexperienced and uneducated hands using it incorrectly...this is how the professionals do it and I only see an uncomfortable and undignified horse)

(for the record, I am using Epona clips however am not an 'Epona supporter' - I actually honestly have very little idea of what they are about...but the clips remain appropriate)

Anky speaks of Rolkur:

On the other hand, I am not privy to the belief that LDR (low deep round) is necessarily the same as Rolkur - yet the two are often clumped together as one. Here is why I believe them to be different:

Steffan Peters and Ravel warm-up LDR at Aachen

Keep in mind I have seen Steffan Peters ride very little and a very thorough research and in-depth look at his performances would be required for me to accurately pass judgement on his personal training methods; I am simply remarking on his use of LDR in the above warm-up alone. In the above video I see a very loose, supple, relaxed horse who is, above all, on a loose rein. The horse appears comfortable and content throughout the LDR warm-up and note how its head and neck position differs from a forced nose-to-chest Rolkur position.

Just sayin'!!