October 23, 2009

Shame on you Patrik

The Swedish dressage rider Patrik Kittel was filmed at the warm up pen in WC qualifier Odense, Denmark.

This type of riding has nothing to do with dressage, and it makes me sick at heart and ashamed as a Swede, and as a dressage rider.

Please, all you out there.
If we are to make a change, we have to make our voices heard.
Send a mail:

To the Swedish Equestrian Federation, Tomas Torgersen, head of sports section:
and ask if riders on the Swedish National team doesn't have to comply with FEI's code of conduct?

To the largest equestrian magazine in Sweden, Ridsport:
And ask them to have comments on this from the federation, and from the rider.

Or contact FEI:
as the Chief Steward was approached, but nothing was done.

Mails in English should be no problem.
If we keep silent, nothing will change.

Please sign the petition to the FEI:


Siri said...

I've watched that video before and it just makes me sad... the tounge is blue for *** sake! LRD is a method of traning which only focus on results for the rider, the horse is just a "use-and-throw-away-toy", makes me sick to my stomach... poor horse :(

Jennifer said...

The blue tongue maybe because the bits were pinching? One above, one below, by accident?

Every horse in there was over-flexed... So throw them all out of the sport! That's my vote!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I saw this video yesterday and it made me sick. It's disgusting what that poor horse has to endure, and his blue tongue, horrible. It seems the horse is almost strangling. There is no reason whatsoever for this kind of training and behavior and a stop must be put to it. I will write to all the links you supplied and hope more people get on board with voicing their opinions and not condoning this sort of behavior from anyone. It looked as if most of the horses in the arena were practicing their 'hyperflexion' too. What a crock.

He should have been pulled off that horses and had his head tied to his chest and made to run around the arena until his tongue turned blue!

HorseOfCourse said...

Jennifer - if the tongue has come above one or two of the bits, the rider normally feels it after a very short while.
I therefore doubt that this is the whole explanation to the blue tonge, but it probably is the reason why the rider stops to check the bit.

trudi said...

Thanks HofC I'll write to them and to some UK and French magazines. I will link from my blog to here too as I really think we need a global approach...Blogger is so good for that!
I watched a video of his test last night and it's so easy (just like all the others that do it) to see the way this horse has been trained :-(

Di said...

Thanks for the links HofC.
Yes, the bits were pinching, because the noseband was cranked as tight as possible and because of the way he was using his hands, the curb chain was digging into the jaw. The horse couldn't possibly get his tongue back into his mouth!!

Anne i Hannover said...

From my point of view, one of the main problems is that the FEI Statement on Hyperflexion of the horse says: "There are no known clinical side effects specifically arising from the use of Hyperflexion" (Nov. 2008). It also says that "The FEI does not permit excessive or prolonged Hyperflexion", and that the steward are responsible for making sure that this does not happen.

So if I've understood correctly, it's up to the steward to decide when the Hyperflexion is excessive - but Hyperflexion is in itself excessive (it's in the mane! Hyper...), and how long is prolonged? Up to two hours is a long session, but not unusual for horses at this level.

As long as the rules are so unclear, I don't think much will be changed - and since nobody's been able to scientifically show that it's harmful, the FEI can't really ban hyerflexion as such.

I agree with all above that Hyerflexion really looks terrible, and I don't support it in any way - but isn't it strange that Anky's horses (who have been trained like this for the longest time) are still going strong and never misses a show?

As for Patrik's horse, in Lingen earlier this year the noseband was fitted extremly tight and as low on the muzzle of the horse as possible (to keep the tongue in). So the tongueproblem isn't new, but unfortunately the rider seems to treat the symptom and not the cause itself.

I'm sorry my "comment" ended up this long, I didn't mean to write a whole post on your blog Maria;) But it's an engaging subject!

Anne i Hannover said...

Ok, so I meant "it's in the NAME, not in the MANE";D

RuckusButt said...

Ugh, that is awful. What I don't understand is why riders ever use this in the first place. I just don't understand the perceived advantage at all. To me, over-flexing doesn't feel good. I'd rather ride a horse who doesn't go round!

HorseOfCourse said...

Anne, I love long comments!

Yes, FEI has a headache problem for sure.
As I see it the use of rollkur is totally in opposition to anything dressage really stands for.
The problem is, as you say, that as long as they cannot prove the negative consequences in an objective way they have large problems to get the training method banned.
I believe that the only way to achieve this is to create such a storm against it so sponsors will leave riders, and the overall good name of the sport is in danger.
And the judges will have to stop rewarding these riders. Then the temptation will be smaller for the rest.

Epona has posted another comment by the way, which I believe is interesting:

Anonymous said...

My goodness, when I questioned the riding of dressage horses on mugwump, you were all insulted.

Change of heart, perhaps?

I mentioned the Olympics and their placings. You felt that ANYone that got to the Olympics had a lot more knowledge than any of us discussing it.

HorseOfCourse said...

And it is now confirmed from Swedish Equestrian fed. that FEI will investigate the matter.
Those of you who read Swedish can read more here:

HorseOfCourse said...

Anon, or GoLightly is it?

Mugs tried to have a discussion about training techniques,and tried to keep it as objective as possible.
I don't believe anyone was insulted by your comments as such, more of the tone you kept in them.
I have never, ever accepted rollkur/hyperflexion as a training method, which I also believe I clearly stated at that time.

I do not like to critizise people on the internet; here however I believe it is time to make an exeption.

horspoor said...

Okay, that video was hideous. Makes you just want to snatch him off the horse by his blonde hair...and step on his throat, till his tongue turns blue.

FEI, USDF and the rest of them make a lot of noise about standards and not accepting this kind of stuff...I don't see anything changing.

It is shameful. The dressage world should really make a stand against these practices...if they'd do 1/10 of what they talk about we'd see some change.

GoLightly said...

I was genuinely interested in your opinion, HOF. At the time.
It seemed, at the time, that you felt you were not qualified to insult anyone.
My "tone" if you will, was one of genuine interest in your opinion.
It was your condescending tone I took umbrage with.

Many, if not all, of the top placings were awarded to roll-kur practitioners.
I simply find it quite surprising that you have finally said SOMEthing.
It's about time.

When do you think this terrible descent into all roll-kur, all the time, started?
After Klimke? Uphoff? Did Uphoff start it?
Genuine question, here.
No need to respond, as my "tone" seems to upset you.
Which is odd, considering that my genuine interest seems to be misconstrued as rabble-rousing.
It was Laura Crum who resented my "tone", as I recall.
Honest questions do not deserve honest answers?

Have you read more on the western ways of the world?
Roll-kur has infested all horse-sport.
I've read that it's very common, in western, to tie their heads down. For hours. Mugs herself has told terrible tales of western "training".

I think the practice needs to be eradicated, not from the bottom up, but from the top, down.
How will the inexperienced rider learn the difference, if these examples win at the Olympics?

That is what truly surprised me, when you felt you couldn't insult Olympic riders.
Why not, if they are clearly not showing dressage, as it was meant to be?
If Anky cannot halt her horse, what does the inexperienced rider learn?

Never mind.
My tone is insulting.
Who Knew??

trudi said...

GoLightly, does it matter?? Scoring points for who got there first? HofC doesn't and has never condoned any cruelty. I believe she may have dipped her head in the sand a little but then when we love something we often don't want to see it's dark side. This is a time to attack the perpetrators not to have a fight within the ranks. We're none of us perfect but let's pull together for the sake of horses.
Can I therefore urge any of you on Facebook to join the blue tongue dressage group and fight together.

Anne i Hannover said...

For those interested in learning the history/background of Rollkur/Hyperflexion there's a book written in 2008 by Heinz Meyer called "Rollkur - Die Überzäumung des Pferdes" (Rollkur - the "overbridling" of the horse).

I'm not sure if it's been translated to english yet but it surely will be with time. The book is over 600 pages and extremely thorough (well, he is german;) and covers the entire discussion of the horse's neck-/headposition from Xenophon to Anky.

A short summarization:
According to Meyer, Hyperflexion is not a new method - already in 1667 (!) W. Cavendish proposed a "New Method and extraordinary invention to dress Horses" which is similar to Hyperflexion.

In the last 15-20 years this way of training once again became "trendy", mostly through the success of two horse-rider combinations:
Margit Otto-Crepin/Corlandus (Winner 1987 European Champ.) and Nicole Uphoff/Rembrandt (Olympic gold 1988 and 1992, Winner European Champ. 1989 and World Cham. 1990).

Corlandus was trained in a Rollkur-position due to his weak backmuscles - the idea was that trough a deep headposition his backmuscles would be (even more)raised.

Rembrandt had another problem - he was extremely shy and tended to throw his head up whenever he got scared (so, normal nervous horse behaviour really). Here the idea was to limit his area of sight by putting his head down, so that he primarily only saw the ground before him.

This is a tactic that's become quite usual in the modern dressage sport - instead of limiting/eliminating the horse's fear (by familiarizing them to whatever's scary) the rider tries to eliminate/dodge the source of disturbance. (It also "saves time"!)

In earlier days, as the horses were used in wars, this wasn't possible - nowadays it is.
In addition, the sporthorses of today are so ready to react and are breed to have tons of energy, as opposed to the cooler type of horses used in the cavalry, or todays policehorses.

I haven't read the earlier discussions on the different blogs, but I for one am convinced of HoC's position against Hyperflexion/Rollkur (also in "real", non-blogging life!), regardless of what's been written/not written before.
I'm also pretty sure we're all pulling in the same direction and, more importantly, working to improve the welfare of the horse!

Anne i Hannover said...

Well, yet another long comment for you HoC!;)

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments.

Trudi - I am not on facebook, but I have signed the petition to FEI which I believe is a good way to make our voices heard.

Anne - thanks for some more info. 600 pages in German is a bit tough, so I am greatful for your sum up!

Link to petition to FEI, if you haven't signed please do!

Once Upon an Equine said...

That's very disappointing and all those riders over flexing their horses are disgracing their sport.

horspoor said...

I own a hot timebomb feeling mare. There are times I will put her behind the verticle for a few strides, or have her drop her head almost like a 'peanut roller' you'd seen in WP. A couple of strides, a few seconds and she re-groups.

It is not a frame I would recommend for any period of time. A friend laughed about the peanut roller frame...said her brain rolled back down into her skull...and she could go on.

She was an abuse case I got when she was young. She still has issues, very reactive. She just needs that little pause...put your head down, breathe, regroup and go on. She can also buck like rodeo stock, bronc bawl and all. I don't keep her behind the verticle, or head stuffed down for any length of time. (Hey, I do have some sense of self preservation). lol

I don't quite understand why these horses, stuffed in this hyper-flexion just don't nut up? Why aren't they falling apart, getting upset, blowing up? Gawd, horses are too forgiving, I swear.

HorseOfCourse said...

Horsepoor - you know the ones that fall apart, physically or mentally, we won't see. We only see the ones that made it.