A Change In The Wind

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.


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
This entry was posted in Horses and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Change In The Wind

  1. LHK says:

    It is not good enough, and we should not settel for this, it should be even better.
    And we still have a long road to go, before reach an even accepteble level…!
    That said it was better – by miles, than last year… But still not good enough by far…!
    And yes I only postede the very best pictures this year, and considering that, these pictures aren’t, by a long shot, good enough. These are the best riders of this nation, they should be able to do loads better…!
    I do not agree with you though about who was best, the brown horse that actually won was the best, when you see all the picures… A lot less off beat, a LOT more selfcarriage and collection than the little black one, those two pictures were the absolute only ones I took where it was not off beat in both the canter and the piaff. And our new danish champion did better than that, by far… But yes, it does miss that “extra”…
    I would like to publish more of the pictures, I just havn’t gotten around to it yet… But you can have them all, and play all you want… 🙂

    • Starstone says:

      I don’t need them all, really the point to this, was not who was the best, or how many ugly pictures can I show… It was simply, these are the very best pictures, and really, are they good enough?
      Still, I have to say, looking through your pictures yesterday, the brown horse that won were quite off beat in the canter, it hollows its back as much as the little brown one and all in all, I am really not impressed.
      That said, I still think it was the best, in many ways, and I still think it was fair enough that it won.
      What I really liked about the little dark one, was the energy, the flow, the way it seemed like a little rubber ball at most times, without becoming overly tense- I know, it was tense, but you know what I mean, it wasn’t Akeem tense and gasping for breath- still, the program it did seemed easy, where the horse that won… seemed forced in the passage and piaff work. Not like, beaten, muahahaha, forced, but like it, for some reason, were unable to carry itself in the way it was asked to do, and therefore there was a huge loss of energy… I really don’t like to see that in a horse on that level.

  2. saraannon says:

    is one of the few articles actually looking at the physiology of hyperflexion. It documents how forcing the horse’s head into the low-deep-round position makes self carriage impossible and results in uneven gaits and exaggerated action in the front.

    • Starstone says:

      I can’t see the article unless I sign up, I’ll have to look into that later, but I am glad I am not the only one saying it 😉 People seem to focus only on how LDR and rollkur makes it hard for the horse to breathe and somehow they never realize how damaging it is for the entire body of the horse…

      • saraannon says:

        Signing up for thehorse.com is free, and some of the articles are worth it…
        This study only looked at the superficial muscles in the neck and shoulder, but if the horse can’t use the trapezius muscle on the outside of the shoulder blade chances are they cant use the deeper muscles that attach on the inside of the shoulder blade like the rhomboid or the serratus ventralis that make up the sling of muscles that carry the horse’s ribcage either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s