NEWSInsider Edited by Eleanor Jones Anti-rollkur campaign ‘starts to make tracks’ A petition calling for an end to hyperflexion is to be submitted to the FEI within weeks, while top judges and trainers are among those joining the call for action Judges and trainers should ‘explain the right way of schooling horses’ Library image A CAMPAIGN against rollkur, also known as hyperflexion, is gathering momentum, with support from top judges and the British Horse Society (BHS). A group of BHS Fellows and dressage trainers have created a petition calling for an end to the use of rollkur. The petition, which will be submitted to the FEI in the coming weeks, also calls for the federation to define the difference between “forced hyperflexion” and “classical training systems” and their different influences on horse wellbeing and performance. “I think we’re really starting to make tracks,” said classical dressage trainer Heather Moffett, who helped launch the campaign. “We have List One judges on board and quite a lot of grand prix riders. I think the FEI will find it quite difficult to ignore us. “We have to be careful that we don’t lose Olympic dressage through public outcry over rollkur. Many horses in stages of training get overbent, but when you see them with their chins welded to their chests, that has come from enforced training.” Four-star judge Christoph Hess is supporting the petition. He said it is important to By RACHAEL TURNER understand the different reasons why horses can be behind the vertical, and that this is not always damaging to the horse. “A horse that’s shorter in the neck isn’t necessarily going the wrong way,” he said. “What’s important is that the horse is in front of the rider, seeking the bit and moving forwards. When this happens it’s nothing to do with rollkur. “It’s important judges, trainers and riders explain the right way of schooling horses. I think we also have to educate stewards as much as possible so they can see how harmonious the horse and rider are. If there are a couple of moments of disharmony, that happens. If it always has a positive forwards tendency then it’s fine.” Mr Hess said rollkur is an ongoing issue, but one that has improved in recent years. “British dressage riders have had an amazing influence on good riding,” he said. “You have Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin, who give a really good example.” The BHS is in support and plans to spread the word about the petition. Dressage rider, trainer and H&H columnist Pammy Hutton, who has been instrumental in the campaign, said this is an important development. “We’re excited the BHS is joining the campaign,” she told H&H. “They’re going to make more noise about us at their conventions. I also want to thank Horse & Hound for running with this. As a welfare issue I think it’s really important — anything to make horses’ lives more comfortable. “We are weeks away from sending the petition to the FEI.” BHS BACKING BHS director of education Alex Copeland said the charity is “fully behind the campaign”. “We’re working with Pammy, Heather and Tim [Downes] to promote what they’re doing,” he told H&H. “The right people are talking, like Christoph Hess. We’ve updated our education and training and made sure we are recommending best practice, and hope the FEI follows.” The BHS has offered the campaigners stands at its coaching conventions at ‘Anything to make horses’ lives more comfortable’ PAMMY HUTTON Hartpury (26-28 March) and Myerscough (16-18 April). “It is a chance for us to show best practice around coaching, but also to make sure people are aware of the big issues,” added Mr Copeland. Trainer and BHS Fellow Mr Downes, who has been assisting the campaign, told H&H it is important not to point fingers at individual riders. He said positively influencing top-level riders would feed down correct training methods to the less experienced. “If we want to improve the image of the sport and keep it in the Olympics we shouldn’t be pointing out its shortcomings — none of that is good for its image,” he said. “We need to educate people better — some are only looking at the horse’s head and neck and they don’t have the education and understanding [to see the whole picture]. “The education of these people is just as important [as those that are riding incorrectly].” British Dressage (BD) reiterated its statement provided to H&H after a letter written by BHS Fellows about rollkur (news, 28 December). “Dressage is all about the harmony that can be achieved between horse and rider,” said BD chief executive Jason Brautigam. “Hyperflexion has no place in our sport. We are proud to be at the forefront of developing sensitive training methods in the UK and will continue to promote a more considerate approach to riding.” A spokesman for the FEI told H&H it is in “constant consultation” with the equestrian community and “respects all views on the sport”. She added that the federation will “carefully consider” any approaches on the subject. ● To read the "time to act" letter, visit tinyurl.com/y9fp4e2z and to sign the petition, visit surveymonkey.co.uk/r/ RLNGCQV Pictures by Lucy Merrell, Sportsfile, PA Archive/PA Images and trevor-meeks-photography.co.uk 4 Horse & Hound 8 February 2018
Share your news story Call 01252 555021 Email firstname.lastname@example.org @ eleanor_jones_ US dressage video sparks debate on qualification criteria and judging THE issue of “bad” riding, horse welfare and when officials can step in has raised its head again as video emerged of an amateur dressage rider at a US show. Footage of one combination riding at inter II level shows the rider using her whip, and kicking while wearing spurs, as she attempts some movements, while the horse can be seen at times bucking and tail-swishing. The video sparked debate online, with some criticising the rider while others spoke out against “bullying” personal comments, or said judges should have stopped the tests. Hallye Griffin, dressage managing director of US Equestrian (USEF), said that apart from a score required to qualify for freestyle competitions, USEF “does not have rules in place regarding riding standards or qualifying requirements to move up the levels”. There is a USEF rule outlining possible reasons for elimination, which states that during a class or test, the judge at C has the authority to eliminate for reasons including “cruelty and abuse”. “Performance standards and qualifying requirement proposals have been and continue to be explored,” Ms Griffin said. “A 2008 proposal generated a great deal of debate but little support, but discussions have taken place to Judges consider riders’ aids and effectiveness When riding turns ‘bad’: time to act? By ELEANOR JONES revisit the topics. We look forward to working with USEF affiliate the US Dressage Federation, in obtaining feedback and coordinating forums on the issue.” Top British dressage rider and H&H columnist Anna Ross said one UK rule could help prevent scenes such as the one filmed. “It can be a very blurred line between bad riding and a welfare FIVE-YEAR BAN FOR SHOWJUMPER issue,” she told H&H. “You could say anything that’s uncomfortable for the horse is a welfare issue, and people make a lot of fuss about balanced riders whose horses are a centimetre behind the vertical, but bad riding can be much worse.” Anna said she believes rules should “protect horse and rider”, including those riders who may “get a bit ahead of the game”. “As trainers, we have to point people the right way but some seem to think we can physically stop someone competing, which we can’t,” she said. “I think we’ve got a really good system in Britain. You qualify with a certain score for prix st georges (PSG), but if you get a score under a certain level, it means you have to requalify. “Judges try not to humiliate people but rules should protect the horse.” A British Dressage (BD) spokesman said that to compete at PSG, riders must achieve 62% or above in advanced 102 or 105 or FEI young rider level in the previous 12 months. Should a rider score below 50% at PSG or above, he or she has to requalify. “At the heart of our sport is the horse and its welfare must be paramount at all times,” she added. “When judging a test, at any level, effectiveness and aids of the rider are considered and marked. If the horse’s welfare is compromised by misuse of aids, the judge reserves the right to eliminate the combination from the competition immediately on welfare grounds.” BD rules state that riders must keep both hands on the reins, apart from to salute or pat the horse, so taking a hand off to use the whip would mean elimination. THE video was released during the same week Austrian showjumper Bernhard Maier was banned from equestrian events for five years. Mr Maier, whose round on Paddys Darco that ended in elimination at a one-star show in June 2017 was filmed and widely shared online, is forbidden to enter events until December 2022, as a rider, spectator or coach. He was also fined €5,000 (£4,400). The Austrian federation said the rider had shown “unsportsmanlike behaviour”, threats to third parties and “overburdening” his horse, as well as “damaging the reputation of equestrian sports”. The punishment was not only for the show in June, the federation clarified, as there had been a negative response to his riding last March, as well as arguments at shows. A report to which the federation’s statement directs online readers states that his “list of offences was long”. Last June, Mr Maier released a statement in which he admitted he is not a strong rider, but that he had completed harder courses than the one shown in the video. He said he had been suffering from cardiac problems and was not feeling well, and that a smear campaign was being run against him, which he believed was due to envy of himself and his daughter, showjumper Johanna Sixt. “It always has been important to me that the sport is fair and good sporting results are achieved for [Austrian riding],” he said. HORSES IN THE NEWS EDWULF The racehorse who collapsed and nearly lost his life at Cheltenham last year has won the Irish Gold Cup (racing, p64). “I can’t stress enough the job the vets did and how well he was looked after at Martinstown Stud over the summer,” said trainer Joseph O’Brien. PORTERSIZE JUST A JIFF Irish event rider Camilla Speirs has announced the retirement of her pint-sized four-star partner, aged 18. The 15.1hh part-bred Connemara took Camilla from Pony Club to the Olympic Games. The pair competed at Badminton five times, two World Equestrian Games, an Olympics, two senior European Championships and four Nations Cups. WHISPER The Grand National hopeful trained by Nicky Henderson has been ruled out for the season following a vet inspection. The Grade Onewinning 10-year-old had been giving a 33/1 chance for Aintree’s iconic race but “an issue reared its ugly head” and he was not entered. 8 February 2018 Horse & Hound 5
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