Category Archives: Competitions

FEI Launches Investigation into Odense Dressage Warm-Up & FEI Position on Hyperflexion

This is the modern version of Dressage showing the 'competition trot' with the front leg overextended and not parallel with the hind leg, plus the horse's head is behind the vertical. Notice the horse's rump high and not rounded - the horse is on his forehand and cannot make use of his backend for thrust. He is being ridden from front to back instead of back to front as in Classical Dressage. He may have been trained using hyperflexion (roll kur) techniques.
This is the modern version of Dressage showing the 'competition trot' with the front leg overextended and not parallel with the hind leg, plus the horse's head is behind the vertical. Notice the horse's rump high and not rounded - the horse is on his forehand and cannot make use of his backend for thrust. He is being ridden from front to back instead of back to front as in Classical Dressage. He may have been trained using hyperflexion (roll kur) techniques.

October 26, 2009 – The FEI is aware of the video filmed at the FEI World Cup Dressage qualifier at Odense (DEN) and posted on YouTube by Epona TV at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hIXGiV4N4k. FEI’s main concern has always been and will always be the welfare of the horse. We are taking the issues raised in the video and in the comments made by members of the public on social media and by email very seriously and have opened a full investigation. The conclusions of this investigation will be made public in due course.

Please read Dr. Gerd Heushmann’s book “Tug of War” and see his DVD “If  Horses Could Speak” about the dangers of using this method of training and the long term effects of forcing horses to be hand ridden, ridden incorrectly from front to back which is is SUPPOSED TO BE as in Classical Dressage – from back to front, and pushing young horses into doing Dressage levels at too young an age before they have completely developed. I had posted that I interviewed him last week and will be posting more on this in the very near future. Click below to purhcase his book and DVD.

See previous blog post: http://horsesinthesouth.com/blog/index.php/2009/10/28/dr-gerd-heuschmann-author-of-tug-of-war-dvd-if-horses-could-speak-lecture-clinic/ . Click on this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TahYWzsCdQM to watch a YouTube excerpt from his DVD which you can purchase from the Amazon.com link above. This should be ‘required reading’ for all of those who compete and for judges, if you do not know the true form of Classical Dressage or riding the horse from back to front to have a happy horse!

FEI POSITION ON HYPERFLEXION – updated 17.11.08

 “The FEI held a successful seminar on Hyperflexion in 2006. There has been no change in the scientific evidence since that review. There are no known clinical side effects specifically arising from the use of Hyperflexion. However, there are concerns for the horses’ well-being if the technique is not practised correctly. The FEI does not permit excessive or prolonged Hyperflexion in any equestrian sport, and has a strict stewarding program to protect the performance horse in all disciplines.”

 “The FEI regulates international competition principally. Also through its work it seeks to educate riders, trainers and judges thru their NFs how to deal with issues which have a bearing on the welfare of the horse.  Where there is a specific training issue which brings the welfare of the horse into question it is for the NF to legislate at National level.  At international competition level it is for the FEI to act.  Through the ongoing training of stewards and all officials we seek to develop peoples understanding of what is acceptable and unacceptable training techniques.”

 David Holmes, Executive Sports Director

Associated info at HorseandHound.co.uk: http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/397/291211.html

British Horse Society chairman Patrick Print has since written to HRH Princess Haya requesting the FEI launch a second investigation into the practise of hyperflexion.

Print’s letter reads: “The concerns so widely expressed are reasonable and therefore deserving of an urgent two-part investigation: first, an inquiry into the treatment of this particular horse on this particular occasion; and, second, a broader inquiry into the ethics and consequences of hyperflexion. In this second aspect The British Horse Society stands ready to assist the FEI in any way it can.”

Forums are rife with angered comment on the topic and several facebook groups have been set up in condemnation of rollkur.

The Classical Riding Club have also written to the FEI and are urging all members to sign their petition to the FEI to ban all hyperflexion in competition. 

Another YouTube video showing hyperflexion used in show jumpers and western riders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7o-Ref-owE

More to come on this important issue!!

Isabel Werth’s Gigolo FRH has died at 26

gigolo-werth-dies
Atlanta Olympics in 1996 - Team gold and Individual Silver.

Olympic gold medal winner Gigolo FRH, horse of renowned equestrian Isabella Werth, has died at the age of Twenty-Six.

On September 23rd, Isabella Weth’s top level dressage horse was put down after declining health resulting from an injury. Winner of four Olympic gold medals, two Olympic silver medals, four World Championships, eight European Championships and four German titles, Gigolo proudly served as Isabella’s friend, teacher and sport partner for many years.

Bred by Horst Klussman (Pursau) (Graditz x Bunett by Busoni xx), Gigolo was discovered by Dr Schulten-Baumer. Although a plain horse to look at, but he thrilled spectators with his precision and charisma. Born in 1983, he was ridden by Werth for twenty years.

Werth and Gigolo won both team and individual gold at the European Championships at Donaueschingen in 1991. They repeated the double in 1993 at Lipica, in 1995 at Mondorf, and in 1997 at Verden. At the 1994 World Equestrian Games in The Netherlands and in 1998 in Rome the pair also won two gold medals each time.

Gigolo’s four Olympic gold medals were won in 1996 in Atlanta (individual and team gold), 1992 in Barcelona, and 2000 in Sydney (team gold). The two individual Olympic silver medals were in Barcelona and Sydney.

Youtube Video:

AHorse Blog – 3 Tips for the Correct Length and Height of Your Horse’s Neck, by Jane Savoie

Lots of you tell me you’re confused about the correct length and height of your horse’s neck so I thought I’d address that in this article.

1.     Neck too high: The height of the neck is determined by the degree of engagement of the hindquarters. So, the height of the neck changes as you go up through the levels and your horse becomes more collected.

Always keep in mind, however, that if you ride with the neck too high and short and the angle of the throatlatch too closed, there can’t be any bridge from the back end to the front end.

The neck has to be in line with the power train of the hindquarters-not above it. When the neck is too high, the hind end is disconnected from the front end.

2.     Neck too short: I like to say the length of the neck is proportional to the length of the stride taken by the hind legs. So, if you crank the neck in and it gets too short, the hind legs take shorter steps.

Always strive to keep your horse’s neck long.

Even though you want more and more of an uphill balance as you go up through the levels, you still want to see a long neck blooming out in front of you.

This is an exaggeration, but I like to pretend that I have 1/3 of the horse out behind me, and 2/3 of the horse blooming out in front of me. The last thing I want to see is a short neck with 1/3 of the horse out in front of me and 2/3 trailing out behind.

Now, it’s really not 1/3 behind and 2/3 in front, but that gives you a good visual for always having a long neck blooming out in front of you. And that’s the case whether you’re in the horizontal balance of Training Level or the uphill balance of Grand Prix.

One of the mistakes you see at the FEI levels is that riders think they’re collecting their horses, but all they’re doing is shortening their necks.

This creates all kinds of problems because the hind legs are blocked. For example, in a canter pirouette, a horse might switch leads behind or break to the trot. In piaffe, the diagonal pairs might break up, and the piaffe is no longer a real 2-beat trot.

3.     Rules of thumb for your horse’s balance: At Training Level, the horse has approximately 60% of his weight on the front legs and 40% of his weight on the hind legs.

That’s the same balance that a horse has in nature because a horse is built like a table with a head and neck on one end. By virtue of the weight of the head and neck, horses naturally have more weight on the front legs than the back legs.

So, at Training Level, with 60% of his weight on the front legs and 40% of his weight on the hind legs, the horse is in what I call “horizontal balance”. His topline looks pretty much parallel to the ground.

At First Level, exercises and movements like smaller circles, leg yields and a little bit of counter canter, cause a slight shift in the center of gravity back to the hind legs. That’s because those exercises create an increase in the bending of the joints of the hind legs. The horse’s croup goes down a little bit, and the forehand goes up proportionately. So at First Level, you might have approximately 55% of the weight on the front legs and 45% behind.

At Second Level, you begin “modest” collection. More weight shifts toward the hindquarters by virtue of the exercises such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, renvers, and simple changes of lead. So you end up with about 50% of the weight on the hind legs and 50% of the weight on the front legs.

At Third Level, you have the beginning of real collection with more weight on the hind legs than on the front legs.

As you go up through the levels there’s a progressive increase in the loading of the hind legs. As a result, the horse, like a seesaw, gradually sits more behind and comes more “up” in front.

Jane Savoie
1174 Hill St ext.
Berlin, VT 05602