The Right Way

On the site there is a discussion about some videos which have been posted as representatives of the ‘right way’ to do dressage. The idea is to identify riders who are not using rollkur as a regular part of their training program and support them. Interestingly, one of the videos posted was of a rider who has taken a stand against rollkur. YET, the horse still showed signs of the same disconnection seen in the rollkured horses. What gives?

This is my theory. What really is the difference between “deep and round” and “hyperflexion”? Where is that line that makes one OK and the other not? Just blue tongues? I guess. But really the only difference is degree because as the second video demonstrates (or demonstrated since it has since been removed by the user) the result is the same–disconnected toe flinging trots and no real collection.

So, we need to see riders who really follow the actual facts of classical training. I submit Cathy Morelli as one person who is competing very successfully and who does not just talk the talk, but walks the walk. If you head over the the site you’ll see that I posted a link to a video of Cathy on her horse BeSe. What’s interesting is that (unlike the rollkur crowd) she warms up her horse the way she rides the test–up, open and showing that collecting actually involves bending the hind legs. If you can’t wait to see the video just check it out right here

Cathy also has a great DVD where she explains her system for training, titled “The System: Understanding the Neck”. You can buy it on her site as well as see a preview there. It is also available for rent on Worth every penny!


  1. Yesterday the United States Dressage Federation put out this statement:

    In response to a recent incident at an international competition, the USDF Executive Board has issued the following official statement:

    The USDF does not approve of training techniques such as hyperflexion especially when taken to an extreme. While we recognize that we can not control how riders train at home, excessive techniques should not be tolerated at competitions. The USDF feels that it is very important that as a sport we police ourselves and encourage the USEF and FEI to call upon their licensed officials to ensure that cruel and abusive riding does not happen at our competitions.

    The USDF agrees with and strongly supports the FEI position as stated in the November 17 press release and in particular the statement: “The FEI acknowledges and welcome public opinion and will continue to ensure that the welfare of the horse, which has been central to this debate, will remain its absolute priority.”

    In addition, you can read the USDF Statement on Animal Welfare or the official announcement from the FEI.

    A step in the right direction, but I think what will REALLY make the change is videos posted on the internet showing international competitors using hyperflexion. The governing boards usually aren’t willing to take on a rider by rider fight on the show grounds.

  2. (The last graph is MY statement not the USDF – I’m not so swift on using html tags!!)

  3. I’d seen this statement from the USDF and wasn’t impressed. Particularly with the words, ‘taken to an extreme’ and ‘excessive’ because they suggest that maybe a leeeeeetle bit of hyperflexion (‘in the right hands’) is OK and it is NOT. That is just BS! They are treading that same careful line as the FEI. Trying to sooth the masses without ruffling the feathers of the stars. I’m thinking (hoping) that the ‘masses’ are a wee bit smarter than that and will keep asking, When are these organizations going to start to judge according the the actual RULES? I fear that too few even know what real collection looks like they are so blinded by extravagant trots, though.