I hear so many people complaining about Rolkur. What exactly is it, though? Something dressage-related I'm guessing? What do you think about it?

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its nice to read an innocent person question about this for a change.

Enjoy this state of happy innocence because pretty shortly the dessage world will jump at you with about 100 mph (mails per hour) and dragg you into the most controvesial discussion of dressage for the last 150 years.
It started in about 1850 in France. It fired up a heated discussion in Germany in the beginning of the 20th century long before word war 1 and before we knew that we would have to number them one day.

Its was fired up again during the 1970th at the show jumpers and now since a few year in dressage in Europe.

There are ardent fighters for all positions and the FEI hat lately run another wrokshop about it, claiming it has resolved the issue. Only of course to see that this fired up the discussion to new hights.

You may look at the www.eurodressage.com site to see nice editorial with a short introduction into a 150 year old controversy.

Enjoy it,- if you can; sometime sits funny.
I think ( no expert here) the short answer is that it is a head position and neck bend that causes the horse's face to be beyond parallel ( tucked in, nose to chest) or in other words, over collected. There is much controversy and debate among the issue in the dressage world.
This is part of my rough draft on the subject. It's relatively brief but it does explain the subject matter some.
just a real very little detail.

I've read your paper. Its a good summary.
The word "Rollkür" is misspelled. Its German, but does not have the German letter "ü". The spelling is "Rollkur". The word "Kur" in German means "treatment", so the verbal translation would be "rolling treatment". The German word "Kür" means "freestyle".

- very little detail, I admit :-))
but its easier to type on an QWERTY keyboard
Thank you! I saw it spelled both ways and I just picked the most German looking spelling. (I'm a 3rd year French student :P) I don't think my English teacher will notice. Or at least we will hope :D
Thanks! This was super helpful. Thank you.
I also did not know what it was.
I see horses with their heads tucked in with many disciplines (collected I hear its called) and wondered how they get them to do that?
It really does not look natural.
Is there some physical purpose to it, to strengthen certain muscles or something?
Do many wild horses do that, unless they are showing off for the mare or with 2 stallions duelling?
Just seems like it would be very hard on them to keep up the pace with their heads like that!!
All those contraptions they use on horses, to tuck their heads, to step higher, etc.
We should just enjoy their natural beauty.
There is collection and then there is hyperflexion. In collection you are encouraging your horse to use the rhomboid muscle (if you place your hands in front of the saddle while you're walking, you can feel it work) and asking them to lift them abdominals, so that they are light on the forehand. With collection, the hand aids are miniscue almost only being used for half halts or to aid with shoulder in and flexion. The hand aids are very soft (my trainer explains it to me as squeeze a sponge for a tenth of a second then release) You never want your hand aids to go backward. That's like putting rope in your mouth and pulling backward (more or less).

Hyperflexion is where the horses nose is behind the vertical (preferrably you want it slightly in front the vertical) and from many of the riders I've seen, they yank their horses head around with the reins. I actually took lessons for a long time being told when I yanked down, I was collecting my horse (times have changed and I don't clame myself. I blame my instructor for teaching me. I was young and had limited knowledge on horses). Most horses that are hyperflexion-ed (sp?) end up working on the forehand because pulling on their head adds stress to that sacrioilic joint and the horses have a natural want to be balanced.....so they compensate under saddle. When they start compensating under saddle, they start working all out of order because they have a riding doing one thing while they want to do another. This often breaks the trust between horse and rider.

When I first got my horse, she was very weak in the back and had a sacrioilic joint injury. I spent a year mostly walking her with her head streched down low and encouraging her to work from behind. (She was a hyperflexion case as well. Beautiful uphill mare being forced on the forehand.) In doing this I allowed her to stretch out her very tense muscles all down her spine and in turn stregthen her back muscles by encouraging her to work from behind. As we moved along in her training, I started asking her to lift more in the front to obtain the headset that eventually comes with pain staking patience. She had a very sensitive mouth so almost all my aids were done in my seat (She was also beaten around cross country courses, so leg aids were hard for her to understand.)

Basically, collection is a rider working WITH the biomechanics of a horse to achieve what they want. It's much more complicated in words. In riding horses, we are taking away part of their natural being. In nature, many horse conpensate to stay balanced. Say they injury their right hock. They will start using other muscles in their body to relieve stress on that hock. They won't flex it as much. They will favor the left lead instead of the right so that leg won't bare as much pain. When we step into the irons, we want our ride to be fun and relaxing for the horse. So as good riders we need to work with the biomechanics of a horse, to allow them to have a stress free and enjoyable ride. Every horse I've ridden since learning this classical art has come in from their ride, head down, muscles relaxed, eyes relaxed, and they seem to stay glued to your side. It's as natural as un-natural can be :D

As for the contraptions, I have a rather mixed stand on them. There is one I will swear by though. Vienna reins. Google them because they are definitely too hard for me to explain in my words. (I would start sounding like Dr. Suess, "The whatchamacallit straps to that thingy over yonder and then you kinda...kinda...") My reasoning I like them: They allow my horse to stretch down or lift his head. I used them mostly when I'm trying to stregthen a horses back or encourage them to strech. But like all contraptions, they have to be used with extreme care and properly. I pretty much rule out any other device because they have over time been created with the lazy rider in mind. Draw reins, side reins, and those crazy things that go up towards their poll and down toward their mouth.

So, I agree we should enjoy their natural beauty. But we should also keep our horses happy, healthy, and safe. I really hope this helped you out some.
I don't mean to seem....blunt, but I was not turning in a piece of writing for you to critic. There is much to riding than just a couple of paragraphs could summarize. Which was what I was doing, summarizing.

There are many points that you felt the need to counter attack me one and I would be happy to inform you that what I said is not all the equestrian knowledge I have. This is a discussion about Rollkur. If you want to comment on proper collection or the techniques seen in many other disciplines that are cruel, open a new topic.

I know for a fact my style of riding works, whether English, Western, Spanish or African.

Sorry, but I find you took an unnecessaaary stand.
As you can see, Sofia, the discussion is already getting quite heated, and it's just begun! There is no one who can tell you all the right answers (ask 10 horsemen a question, you'll get at least 11 opinions). Just read as much as you can, talk to as many people as you can, and try to sort out for yourself what makes the most sense after you have educated yourself (as much as you can!) on this topic.


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