I live in a small rural town in the North East of England, with a large horse owning/riding populace. I have returned from a fitness walk around my local town and have just witnessed someone hacking out (I think the american term is Pleasure riding) in draw reins and a bubble gag. Firstly the point of hacking out a horse in training is so that it gets a day off so it does not become sour to its training, secondly these sort of external aids should only be used for short periods of during an actual training session to help build the correct muscle structure. I personnally do not approve of these external aids as there is no real replacement for strong groundwork.

The reason rollkur should be banned is that the fashion for a large forestep created by Rollkur that has given amateur riders the green light to think that hacking out with these external aids attached is fine with no thought of consquence to the animal. We need a lead from the Industry leaders.

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If one thought that rollkur/hyperflexion was abusive at the FEI levels, consider that "Modern Dressage" has given inexperienced or under-experienced riders permission to train incorrectly. That's my biggest complaint with the practice. However, the use and abuse of training aids is a separate issue from rollkur. An FEI ban on rollkur will have little effect on training aids and how they are used.

Let's be honest, most riders will never develop independent hands and seat -- in these cases, training aids, used judiciously, can make the horse's lives a little easier. There are pros and cons to most training devices. Only by understanding them and the limitations of each individual rider can we make the best decisions for our horses.

In the case of hacking out in draw reins, you have to assume that either the rider is unable to control the horse, or the horse gets too "hot" on trail. Either way, the issue should be sorted out carefully, not coercively.
There has and alway's will be people who will use these training aids abusively, but it is only recently that I have seen people using them for everyday riding. Believe me on the two separate occasions I have seen people hacking out in these training aids "braking" was not an issue and as for the horse becoming too "hot" then they should not be hacking out at all if they are unable to control the horse with normal means.

I do sound harsh and purposely so as in our small country you cannot avoid riding on roads and therefore can very easily put yourself and more importantly your horse in danger. Training aids are just that and whether you agree with their use or not they should not be seen outside of menage. Whilst the FEI support this Fashion for exaggerated extension we will see more and more of this type of thing so I am doing the only thing I feel I can do which is to speak out against it and encourage as many other people as I can to do the same. I do this to try and minimise the use of these training aids, I DO NOT want to see them in use out on the roads!
Good point about not using training aids on the roads. Training aids must used with care, there are too many variables outside the ring -- uneven ground, unsuitable footing, motoroized vehicles -- for training aids to be used judiciously.

I've seen rollkur's detrimental effects on Training Level (I don't know what you call it in Europe) horses. One horse had the good forture to be retrained as a hunter, where he finally developed a topline, by virture of not being tugged on, forced into hyperflexion. Ugh... I think that in a decade or so, the FEI will look back and wonder, "what the hell were we thinking?"
here is an interesting bit of history about Rollkur.
Its not new, at all.

It was used around the year 1900 in Germany by Paul Plinzner. He prepared the horses for the German Emperor. This Emperor William II had a crippled left arm and couldn't ride well. So Plinzner chose to overbend the horses to make them 100% safe for William II. In addition William II sometimes had to use the reins (curb bit) to keep his own balance on the horse. So the horses had to be very "tolerant" to this. (of course he never dreamt of doing extended trott, though :-))

Well, since he was the Emperor it became fashionable in the cavalry to ride like this until a few years later. Than the military HQ issued the famous German riding instruction, which built the bases of modern dressage theory, effectivley forbid to use this overbending by order.

The reason why they did so was that too many casualties in military exercise damaged the fighting readiness of HM cavalry.

In other words, riding overbend horses cross country for military exercise has a good chance, you break your neck. Well, and doing that with some 100K soldiers will show a pretty desastrous performance.
All I can say is that Fashion is never a good thing (and I'll be honest not only am I a horse rider, I'm also a Goth so maybe I have a fashion issue....) but the similarity of Hyperflexion on the dressage field is so close to the Victorian use of the Bearing Rein on their carriage horses saddens me. The bearing reins' only purpose was to create hyperflexion in the horse again purely for looks. Docked tails are now illegal in the UK because again this was a fashion item. I'm sure every horse mad little girl (and possibly boy - sorry it is a female dominated world) has read Black Beauty. This was written as a "teaching" children's story (something the Victorians were very into) about the horrors of the bearing rein and about the other abuses horses of the time suffered, Please note it is a contemporary book, in fact Ann Sewell devoted a lot of her time and money on aiding abused horses and trying to prevent that abuse through education. I love the fact she writes herself into the story. I just find it horrific that supposedly well educated people i.e. the FEI Judges are so easily swayed by fashion and not good horsemanship.


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