I haven’t covered the Danish National Championship this year, just yet, for two reasons.
One, I wasn’t at the finals, because they collided with an event I was at with my own horse, and two, I am a bit unsure of what to say.
So, let’s start with this. The day we were there, my friends and I, there was no out- in- the- open rollkur, no obvious abuse, even from riders we caught on camera last year, severely mistreating their horses. Clearly, someone, learned something, about not bringing those training methods with them to the warm up or to the show ring, which is a very positive step.
The less we see it, at shows, the less commonly accepted will it be.
It does raise one question for me though. If these riders CAN ride without rollkur, why do they still do it? Clearly they all proved at this National Championship that they don’t need it, but at the same time, a lot of the horses showed clear signs of having been rollkur trained.
A lot of the horses were off beat in their gaits, and quite a few of them became downright lame during their passage, in the show ring, right in front of the judges. To me, that is still unacceptable.
But yes, light-years better than the abuse I witnessed at the Danish National Championships last year. The question is, what do we settle for?
Better? Good enough? Not obviously abused?
Pretty? Harmonic? Well ridden?
This horse for instance, my friends loved this one. I have to say, and it may just be the critical heart of mine, I really don’t. Even in this “pretty” picture, it is a clear off beat trot. The nose is in vertical yes, but look at how it “breaks” its neck in the wrong cervical vertebra… Yes, it is much better than anything I saw last year, but is this good enough?
I didn’t take a lot of pictures myself, because my camera is dying, but my friend did, and I have to say, she has been rather selective about what she is displaying.
There was a horse, when walked on a loose rein, it didn’t have an impressive neck line at all. I mean, yes, it had a NECK. Very over developed neck muscles, not too evenly distributed. That is still a horse that is held together at the front, even if it hides it better than the riders did last year.
And it is NOT the only one. Not by far.
I have to admit, when I left the championship, I felt kind of happy that there was no open abuse this year. Maybe we made a difference after all. Maybe the equestrian world is not beyond redemption after all. Maybe there was a change in the wind…
And then I saw the pictures, the ones my friend posted on face book, which is clearly the few, best, out of MANY pictures.
Go take a look for yourself.
I have to say, my personal favorite was this little horse. And it is still too tight at the front, for my liking, but it did some very fantastic leg work most of the time…
You know, collection, self carriage… dressage…
As for the winning equipage, I have to say, I was disappointed. I thought this horse was better last year, and still, it “dies” in the passage and piaff. It completely loses energy, it lowers its back and it just… dies… Yes, it is mostly very nice riding, and of the riders presented this year, I do think it was their turn to win- don’t you just love that expression- but this is a horse, torn in two, split right underneath the saddle and for a National Champion, that is just not good enough, is it?
Which leads me back to my original question.
What is good enough?
No obvious abuse? Better than last year? Only a little too tight at the front, as opposed to rollkur?
It sure was better. Much better. Hats off to all the riders for proving that it can be done this nicely. Please don’t misunderstand me. I really thought that for the most part, the riding was… acceptable. And there was no deliberate abuse, which is a huge change in the winds.
So, why am I still not happy?
Why am I still feeling like, something is not quite right?
Am I just a hysterical little girl, who will never be satisfied?
Do I simply expect too much from our professional riders?
It is just that, looking at these nice photos my friend posted, and I have to say, if it were me and my horse in these pictures, almost all of them, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a moment like that. I realize it is just a moment in time, but these moments tell you more about the balance of the horse, about the carriage and the rhythmic beat of the gaits than any video ever could. And these are the nice pictures, because I know she didn’t post those “unfortunate” moments in time.
And no, these good moments, are not good enough for me and my horses. I would want to do better than this. I would strive to always do better than this.
And I really did like this horse… This was, by the way, one of the best riders of the day, no question about it.
So really, what I am saying here is that I remain unimpressed by our professional riders, almost all of them. But, I am relieved to have discovered that they left the rollkur behind this year and made it through the Championship without it. Thumbs up for that.