Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tropical Soup

Talk About Wet

The air was like warm soup when I went out to feed this morning. I hasn't gotten any better--perhaps worse as we have already had one strong thuderstorm roll through.

Suffice it to say we cancelled the plan for a riding lesson with my 4-H'er.

I ended up going to the chiropractor for some neck maintenance, and then grocery shopping to get some salad fixings and incidentals. When I was at the supermarket, a huge thunderstorm rushed through with pouring rain. I don't know if the same thing hit home here, as I am about four miles from the store, but it had rained here at least some.

I had thought of stopping off at the pool on the way home, but that was obviously not going to happen as I am sure they closed. Hard to say if they will reopen.

As for working the Boys, we'll see. It never cooled off last night and doesn't look too promising for tonight either. I plan on staying home at any rate so if the thunder does start rumbling again, as predicted, I can bring the Boys in where it is a bit safer.

I cannot recall a soggier summer. I have mud. I really miss those lovely days of a few weeks back. Now I am sorry I didn't get to ride every single day.

But, I cannot live with regrets. Sooner or later it will dry out again. I just wish sooner than later.

Here is a link to a comprehensive article on rolkur.

Overflexion is used without relief to the horse, and even the correct use of deep and round, or low deep and round, can be damaging. I had a Danish rider school PJ once when I had a broken wrist and I was sorry I allowed it. He was forcing PJ to go deep and overflexed and as a result it took three chiropractic adustments until he was OK again. The rider had added tremendous driving with his seat and was very demanding of a willing horse who was giving his all trying to please his unrelenting master.

Overflexing in the front without engaging the hindquarters, as Muriel points out, is another fault of riders who do not understand the principles of deep and round. This serves no purpose except to make the horse flexible in front so he merely appears to be in a frame and on the bit. Unfortunately, there are some horses whose natural, lovely movement can disguise the fact that they are not truly "through" to the bit. I once trained a rider on a beautifully moving Thoroughbred that had been taught to round up in front through his racetrack training. He would place well in dressage tests even when he was not properly connected, but his rider always had trouble sitting his trot because his back was not rounded up under her seat. He placed even better when he went well, but often getting him there was a difficult task because he had wrongly learned to "give" in the front without "giving" in the back.

Muriel is right about the correctly trained reining horses. If you watch the good ones, you will see how "underneath" their hindquarters go and how "round" in the body those horses appear. The primary difference I see between them and a well schooled upper level dressage horse is the fact that the reining horse carries his head low. (This is proper as part of his job on the range would be to make eye contact with the cows and to focus on how and where they are going to move so he can out wit them for herding.) So, essentially, the ideal dressage picture just takes that reining horse outline and elevates the front end while the hind end stays engaged underneath. As a matter of fact, a movement such as the levade carries this image to the maximum if you think that the horse's hind end is totally under his body as his front end lifts off the ground in an exercise of incredible balance.

Baucher is noted for using flexions in training the horse. At moments, some of the Baucher exercises resemble rolkur. But, these are not held, nor are they "driven" into the horse. My understanding of the French school of dressage is that suppling the front end will allow the hind end to "come through" to the front, as opposed to the basic German concept that the hind end must be driven forward in order to lighten and soften the front end. (There is a lot more to it than this, but this is kind of an elementary simplification of the two schools.)

I tend to train using basic elements from both schools and, to be honest, some days my horses are more "French" and some days, more, "German." There are moments, as the other day on the long lines, when my horses tend to go in rolkur--the not good kind--when they go behind the bit in a very deep frame to escape the contact. Tucker will do this as a way of evading the bit. He kind of curls up into a little ball to avoid pushing his energy through his body to the rein. That's when my goal is to get him to stretch his topline and step forward elastically into the rein contact. Tricky indeed, and ever a challenge. Horses that learn to overflex into the rein can be very difficult to retrain, so I try to avoid his using that evasion as much as possible.

So, that's my take on rolkur. Hope it helps and I certainly do welcome discussion.

When it's this hot and muggy outside, I have to think my riding instead of doing it.


  1. It's disgusting here too, the storms keep rolling through one after the other.

    As for rollkur, I'm against it in any form and see no purpose for it. I've done a few posts on it and I can say that if anyone wants to really see what happens to the horse during these training/riding sessions, rent or buy that DVD If Horses Could Speak. It's wonderful and very informative.

  2. Anonymous4:58 PM

    Informative post. My old Quarter Horse Noble came to me as a lower level dressage horse who had apparently been ridden relentlessly in draw reins. Any contact, and his head would go to his chest. It took a lot of work for him to accept contact without nervousness, but once he learned to do that, his movement was lovely and round despite his long back. Alas, he is now retired at age 29 - I miss riding him.

  3. It's wet here too. What was predicted as a "barbecue" summer has now become a wet and cool summer. At least we don't have the stifling heat and humidity you have on the east coast.

    Thanks for the discussion of rollkur. I haven't been exposed to it really but I will know to say no if someone suggests that I do it.

  4. Rolkhur is what has digusted me of Dressage. I used to love Dressage, I still enjoy to watch well ridden dressage horse at any level, as Jean wrote when a horse works well through he looks like he is worth more $$$$.

    Dressage scene is now corrupted and very political.The rolkhur debate seems to be an excuse for some person to promote themsleves as the defensers of the horse ect... I won't go into details because it is a political minefield, but it has been MONTHS since I have been on a forum.

    I have also realised that when I worked 8 hrs at the yard, I had very little energy left, I did not feel like spending it on the net. It made me wonder of this so-called-pro or experts who rule on many forums, if there are really what they pretend to be ... IMO not. Some day my trainer rides up to 12 horses, after that he goes to bed. When I have groomed 8 horses, and ridden my mare so do I.

    It is 7:45 am here, before I go to work at the yard. When I come back at 20:00 I read but I do not post.