February 09, 2010

FEI bans Rollkur

From FEI's news centre:

"Following constructive debate at the FEI round-table conference at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne today (9 February), the consensus of the group was that any head and neck position of the horse achieved through aggressive force is not acceptable. The group redefined hyperflexion/Rollkur as flexion of the horse’s neck achieved through aggressive force, which is therefore unacceptable. The technique known as Low, Deep and Round (LDR), which achieves flexion without undue force, is acceptable.
The group unanimously agreed that any form of aggressive riding must be sanctioned. The FEI will establish a working group, headed by Dressage Committee Chair Frank Kemperman, to expand the current guidelines for stewards to facilitate the implementation of this policy. The group agreed that no changes are required to the current FEI Rules.
The FEI Management is currently studying a range of additional measures, including the use of closed circuit television for warm-up arenas at selected shows.
The group also emphasised that the main responsibility for the welfare of the horse rests with the rider.
The FEI President HRH Princess Haya accepted a petition of 41,000 signatories against Rollkur presented by Dr Gerd Heuschman."



At last.

I suppose we all have to see how "aggressive force" and LDR are defined, but it is a step in the right direction.
Maybe I am the eternal optimist, but I choose to believe that times are a-changin'.
A victory to the massive uproar and all the petitions against rollkur the last months.

Video surveillance at the warm up pen? I like that.
The rider won't be able to solve the problem with a tense horse through rollkur anymore.
And if the horse is tense, the show results will be affected - which again might alter people's perspective...

All changes starts somewhere. The wind is turning, guys.

Unbottle the champagne in honour of our horses tonight.
Thank you, Dr. Heuschmann.
Thank you, Mr Balkenhol, and all the others who signed that letter to FEI.
Thank you, all of you who have done your best to make your voice heard - all for the good of our horses.
(And thanks for the link, Wolfie!)
Now we just have to make sure that FEI upholds its own regulations.


Wolfie said...

This is definitely a step in the right direction. I am very pleased to hear this. I think there will be some noise made about having cameras in the warm up areas (privacy), but I think it is a good suggestion. We have cameras at traffic lights, in banks, in shops, etc. If these riders are supposed to abide by FEI rules and guidelines, then I don't see a problem with having cameras in warm up areas of events.

HorseOfCourse said...

Wolfie - I believe that whether this will prove to be a real change or not lies in what intructions the stewards will get in the new guidelines.

Again - I do not believe that all those people that have signed the petitions will silently stand by if nothing happens.
The ball has started to roll.
We just have to make sure it keeps moving.

RuckusButt said...

I wish I were as optimistic as you, HoC. I DO think it is a step in the right direction but I worry that the FEI has merely created a loophole with the redefinition of hyperflexion and allowance of LDR. Horses that are trained with rollkur will no doubt offer it without aggression or force at a show. How then will they prove aggressive training/riding?

Like you say, time will tell how the definition plays out and how new guidelines are used.

Di said...

I applaud your optimism Maria, but I just feel that nothing will change. Anky Van herself is now stating that she trains with LDR (Low Deep and Round), but it's really just Rollkur!
And the FEI will allow LDR!! I agree with Ruckusbut, they've just created themselves a great big loophole.

HorseOfCourse said...

I do believe that the number of signatures makes an impression.
I also do believe that the letter from Klaus Balkenhol and others also has made an impact.

If it is enough to make a change, time will show.

Maybe we will experience that all is as before, but then we just have to make our voices heard again, right?

There might have been a need to calm the situation down, and the formulation of the statement sure bears sign of that. But it all comes down to what will be defined as "aggressive riding" and "LDR" compared to rollkur, and what kind of instructions the stewards will get, doesn't it?
And we have not seen the outcome of that yet.
Personally (but again, maybe I am too optimistic) I do not think they dare to do nothing.

Please also have a look at the enclosed photo on the FEI site. A row of smiling faces, but one person stands with crossed arms and is looking slightly sullen. Sjef Jansen.
Whether this is a coincidence or not, I do not know.

RuckusButt said...

I think you are absolutely right, Maria. After all, most changes worth making are neither fast nor easy. The conversation is going and with all the support of big names, I don't see it being dropped any time soon.

And optimism is good! Without hope there would be nothing to do but give in. I don't see that happening either. Interesting observation about the photo...I'm off to go check it out.

Shanster said...

Good news! Guarded optimism... people are sneaky and find ways around regulations and rules.

I worked at a gov't agency that tries to enforce the Horse Protection Act... the act that is supposed to prevent soring of gaited horses. It was sad to see we even NEED laws telling us this - same with rolkur.

The abuses go on but people learn to hide them or when the gov't agency shows up - the sticklers - people scratch and go home. Violence has risen against the enforcers...and the stewards alone don't do much because of the big names involved. They tried self regulation and training but it didn't work very well.

I think this is similar. We'll see a stretching of the regs and a qualitative view of how to define the rules but it IS a start!

The FEI sees there are big names against it and numbers as well. Numbers affect membership/entries, these things affect money...money talks. That is a good thing.

mugwump said...

This is wonderful. I would like to see the same sanctions and cameras in the warm-up pens in our world.

HorseOfCourse said...

Thanks for your comments!

RB- we will see what happens. I so much hope that we will see a difference.

Shanster - I agree with you. It is sad we need laws. Here we have the most wonderful, tolerating animal in the world, and look what people do to them for money's sake.

Mugs - yes. Maybe surveillance cameras would help. It is not easy for the stewards to speak up against powerful people. I believe all the discussions lately can help to give extra courage, and with camera proof in addition it might help.