Saturday, August 04, 2012

Rollkur Rears Its Ugly Head in London

And the World Watches

Once again, dressage was dealt an ugly blow in front of the entire world.

Some of you may have seen the warm up picture of Patrik Kittel using rollkur in the Olympic schooling arena. It's gone "viral" on the Internet and is causing an uproar in the dressage community. Bad, indeed, but according to the FEI, no rules were broken and the rollkur was "momentary...."  Yeah, right...

Top it off by Adelinde Cornelisson's entrance into the competition area, cranking Parzival's head right, left, right, left over and over every time the horse even took a breath or stretched correctly into the bit. I was screaming at the screen, "For pity's sake, leave his face alone!!!" prompting my friend who was on the phone with me to ask what was wrong.

But it gets worse. Even during the test, Parzival tended to go behind the vertical with the only "payback" to his rider during the reinback. They halted, and then Cornelisson asked for reinback, Parzival momentarily resisted, as if to say, "What do you want? My head curled up, or something else?"

During a replay of the test they showed a close up of Parzival's head with only a scant few inches between his chin and chest.

But the final blow was the score. Second place at over 80%.

As long as that kind of riding gets a reward in the competition arena, it's not going to stop. As long as it's tolerated in the warm up, it will be used.

And now the entire world thinks that's how a dressage horse should be ridden.



  1. Rolkur is disgusting and abusive. I agree the judges should not have rewarded with a huge score. The judges should be ashamed of themselves as should the riders. The riders should be disqualified not rewarded. There's got to be a way to stop this abusive practice and I think one way is to start with the judging.

    The world is watching and unfortunately the amateur riders are looking up to these "icons" of the sport. They will most likely think it is acceptable and the way to get a good score and so follow suit perpetuating the abuse. I feel so sorry for the poor horses who endure this and wonder how horrible their lives are back at the barn.

  2. Parzival was the horse with the bleeding mouth at the 2010 WEGs - why am I not surprised to read this.

    I purposely skipped watching Cornelisson's and Kittel's rides.

  3. complete disgrace.. i know i was complaining i couldn't watch due to being at work but wouldn't have wanted to watch that....

    i cannot get over what the h*** the FEI think they are thinking.....if indeed, they ARE thinking....

  4. I saw the ride, and I mostly agree with your position. Except for a few points:

    I saw a lot of beautiful rides this year. Overall, most of the rides were soft and classical. Much better than the last Games! And, the whole world saw Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro blow everybody out of the water with her test. That girl showed everybody how to ride!

    And, I must defend the judges. They cannot score a horse solely on the head and neck, nor can they score the horse solely on the a-hole-ishness of the rider. It is taken into account, but they cannot punish a ride because of it. They must be impartial, they must look at the whole picture. Parzival put in a good test. He performed the movements very well, in spite of his rider. I wonder what score she would have received if she got out of that poor horse's face!

  5. Hi Jean, I am still around ;-)
    I agree with Shanon. You have to remember that These Dressage horses are very HOT. Perhaps she was so much in his mouth to keep him under control! Edward Gals had his horse quite cranked up too O_o
    I believe in the judges to be fair. They judge what they have UNDER their eyes, not the warm-up!!!!

  6. UGH!!! I'm so glad I don't have a television! don't want to watch the videos of it either. It just makes me ill. Sure, FEI, make these rules then be too afraid to enforce them.
    - The Equestrian Vagabond