For me personally, this video was the last straw:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hIXGiV4N4k

Watch it, please; read the accompanying article here...

http://epona.tv/uk/news/show/artikel/blue-tongues-at-world-cup-qual...

Ask yourself when enough is enough.

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I'm no expert but I find it hard to believe that this kind of "training" is even sanctioned.
The FEI doesn't seem to mind... From the article:

Odense's Chief Steward confirms to EPONA.tv that a complaint was lodged against Patrik Kittel's riding, but it was not deemed necessary to comment or take action, because Kittel was no worse than other riders using the same method.

Time for the FEI to grow a set and put a stop to it, and time for equestrians all over the world to step up and just say NO to this!!
Sounds lazy, to me. It just sounds like they can't be bothered to do what it would take to make the changes necessary to clean up the sport. The welfare of the horse doesn't even seem to be a real concern ... mere lip service is being paid. How unaware does a person have to be to not realize how brutal a practice this is?
Perhaps this needs condemnation beyond the FEI.

For example, I notice there was a crowd watching. When they see this type of thing, why don't they "boo"? I mean for the FEI to say it was no worse than anything else...have the standards of horsemanship and humanity really sunk that low? What kind of reasoning is that?

Does anyone have any suggestions about what the average person can do to condem this? I do think that if audiences had the guts to "boo" or heckle the rider right then and there in the training ring or warm-up ring, and if the condemnation was consistent and became acceptable, it would have an impact.
Some things we can do

Posting a quote from another discussion list, with the author Dr Ritter's permission, to share it:

Re: [ClassicalDressage] Re: Worldcup warmup disgrace.


>The sad thing is Lynne, this is just the tip of the iceberg.br />
That's exactly right. This kind of riding is rampant today. Patrick Kittel is by
no means extreme or unusual. The problem is much more pervasive and systemic
than one rider or a handful of riders. You can see it to varying degrees at
every show, and these riders are routinely rewarded at the highest international
levels, which is why it became so widespread in the first place. Somebody just
happened to capture this on film and put it on youtube.
The reason why it's so hard to make an impact is because many of the people you
complain to are using the exact same techniques. It's like trying to clean up a
corrupt government or police force where everyone you turn to for help is
corrupt and working for the other side, too.
Persistence is probably the only thing that will work in the long run. It will
have to be a multi-pronged approach. It's good to write protest letters and
e-mails to the FEI and all the national federations. It's important to support
Gerd Heuschmann, the Xenophon society, Allege Ideal, and other individuals and
organizations like them. It's important to educate riders, trainers, and judges.
Clients have to boycott trainers and judges who practice, teach, or condone
Rollkur. If you are a competitor, don't ride for judges of whom you know that
they are rewarding this kind of riding.
Trainers have to educate their clients about physiologically correct riding.
Authors have to write books and articles that explain correct riding, and take a
stand against Rollkur. Good riders have to demonstrate correct riding in
practice.
Everybody can raise the issue at USDF conventions and other events that are put
on by the establishment.
Trainers who go through a certification process can raise the issue with the
teachers and examiners - at the risk of failing their exam.
Vote people into office in the national organizations who are anti Rollkur.
Ultimately, the only thing that will shut Rollkur down is if it doesn't bring
money or fame any more. This is where judges and clients play a very important
role. If horses that are short in the neck and on the forehand are consistently
placed last, riders will abandon this technique very quickly.
If clients consistently take their money to riders who teach physiologically,
biomechanically correct riding, and consistently avoid riders who ride their
horses deep, with a short neck, and a high croup, then the Rollkur riders will
either have to reeducate themselves, or they will not survive.
When I started to take my first riding lessons in the 70s, we were taught that
having the horse behind the vertical was the greater evil than having him above
the bit, and that correcting a horse that's behind the bit is more difficult
than correcting one that's above the bit. This mindset has to be rediscovered.

Thomas Ritter
www.artisticdressage.com

Candace, another contributor to the Classical Dressage List on Yahoo Groups suggested:

"Thomas and the others have made some excellent suggestions about change. I
would like to add one more---go to the sponsors. Make a list of those who
sponsor the big competitors who use RK. Make it a point to purchase products
from non sponsors. With each purchase send a copy of your receipt and a note
stating that while they manufacture and excellent product you cannot in good
concience purchase them because of their support for this type of riding. This
can be especially effective on big ticket items like cars/trucks trailers etc.,
but it works for almost anything, especially if you can get friends to do the
same. Where there is money, there will be abuse. If you take away the funding
and, as Dan suggested, take away the big reward of public accolade for events
like the olympics, then changes can be made.

It will not be quick, but every one of us can participate by speaking up,
supporting and rewarding good riding, and trying to undercut the status quo."
Gee. this is truly horrible, and it does not seem to get better. Instead of booing why not just yell "BLUE TONGUE" of "YOU'RE BEHIND THE BIT" every time you see something like this. I do not go to any type of horse shows, mainly because if I pay to watch someone ride I want to see good, correct riding, and in today's shows I get the impression that good, correct riding no longer exists mainly because the dressage shows reward Rollkur trained horses. The bad influence has spread to many seemingly unrelated styles of riding.
So all I can do is to refuse to have anything to do with Rollkur or behind the bit riding. I told my riding teacher years ago that I would NEVER ride a horse in Rollkur, and she agreed. I will never take lessons from a person who rides regularly behind the bit (even if it is not as extreme as Rollkur), and I would never ever ever let one of these people train or ride a horse I am responsible for. Of course if everyone BOYCOTTED these shows in any way (refuse to compete, refuse to pay to be in the audience, refuse to buy anything from the sponsers) and tell the people who run these shows and companies exactly WHY you boycott them in around 50 years things may change around. Money, ribbons, more money, trophies, they seem to trump good horsemanship and public opinion any time.
I've embedded it here. I admit I couldn't watch the whole thing.
What baffles me is all the care they take to wrap up and protect the horse's legs!!! What a conflicted picture! Blessings on this dear horse.
Thanks for embedding this - I couldn't figure out how! :) (And like you, I couldn't watch the whole thing either.)

People are kicking ideas around for protests on several of the US forums (usual suspects!).
That is quite disturbing to watch!! Most of the horses in that clip are behind the bit in varying degrees. Trouble is they are being rewarded for it. Even at a low level dressage comp you can see most horses in the winners circle have been behind the bit in their test. Behind the bit is now normal practice !! If we really want to make a difference, become a judge and don't reward movements behind the bit at the lowest level. Let me tell you , that is VERY hard, but if enough judges do it it will stop. It will take a very long time . Join a pony club and instruct , take control of the welfare of the horses in your sphere of influence, be vocal at every opportunity when coaches and judges get together. We cannot leave such an important issue to the bureaucrats .
When I started riding around 40 years ago being behind the bit was NEVER accepted in hunt seat, jumping, or dressage. It was considered harmful to the horse and dangerous for the rider (a horse that far behind the bit can REALLY run away with you, and there is no way to stop him other than by running him into something.) What in the world happened? How did the elite level horsemen (riders, judges, owners) allow this to happen?
Yes, I know, greed for ribbons, trophies, and gold medals. Greed for fast bucks. Greed for perpetual students who can never go off on their own. Greed for owning/riding the flashiest highest stepping horse of them all. Has international/Olympic dressage sank to the level of the Tennessee Walking Horse big lick show classes? They are getting near, and without a sored horse in sight.
It has gotten so bad in dressage that I have decided that if I ever take lessons in using the double bridle that I will avoid the dressage stables and take Saddleseat lessons. At least THEIR horses do not go behind the bit!
Geoffrey - I agree with you wholeheartedly about needing to tackle the root causes - including the way we teach our riders, teachers, coaches and trainers, and the way correct training is judged in competition.

We also need to encourage people to read widely and watch classical experts riding, teaching and training. When I was a child our local library had a fantastic range of books on all things equestrian. I soon came to understand that what I was seeing and being taught didn't fit in with the ideals and practice taught by the classical masters.

People like you and Dr Thomas Rittter say things much more eloquently than me. So here's another quote from Thomas Ritter on his Classical Dressage list.

See below for the quote.

Maria

Re: [ClassicalDressage] world cup warm up petition

>In other words, these practitioners must cease to achieve competitive success.
This doesn't require a banning of rollkur ; it requires that the judges uphold
the rules. If it really is true that we are now afflicted with a cadre of
judges who actually cannot PERCEIVE the faults exhibited by horses trained by
this method, the task becomes exponentially larger. br />
I completely agree with Lorrie. We need to cure the illness, not waste our time
with symptoms. As soon as judges penalize Rollkur and reward horses that are
ridden correctly uphill, the competitors will stop using Rollkur. As long as it
is rewarded in the showring, these riders will still practice it at home behind
closed doors, even if they can't do it in the warmup ring.
That's why the real task is to educate the judges and professionals in correct
horsemanship, i.e. training that works WITH equine biomechanics, not against it.
And THAT means that we may have to convince the FEI and all the national
organizations that there is something wrong with the current education system,
which could be the most difficult challenge of all.

Thomas Ritter
www.artisticdressage.com

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