Thursday, 2 September 2010

Rollkur again

Or should that be LDR? Anky van Grunsven, Dutch dressage gold medallist, is suing Astrid Appels, a journalist on Eurodressage.com, for illustrating an article on rollkur with a picture of Anky's horse Salinero. Anky says her method of training is not rollkur, despite looking to the uninitiated (and I include myself here) remarkably similar. I've written about rollkur before; it's a training technique used by some dressage riders. Anky's version of this she calls Low, Deep, Round. To me they both look the same: the horse is ridden for long periods with its chin pulled into its chest.

I don't like the way a lot of dressage at the top level looks: I am not even at the foothills of dressage, but to me a horse swishing its tail, with its ears back, is an unhappy and tense horse, and that is how some horses look at the top level of the sport. I still think it ludicrous that Anky won the gold medal at the Beijing Olympics with a halt that was nothing of the sort, and Isabell Werth won silver with this display:


Dressage judges are doing the sport no favours at all allowing its stars to still win medals with performances which contain such gross errors. It wouldn't happen in other subjectively judged sports: fall off the beam in gymnastics and your chances are gone; hit the ice in figure skating and you have no chance.

Here is Reine Klimke, and Ahlerich in 1984, having won the Olympic gold:


Lovely relaxed horse, and none of this ridiculous oofing about not doing the victory parade because your horse cannot cope with it.

11 comments:

Mary Trafford said...

The difference is amazing. Klimke's ride is so gorgeous and the other, well, it's just sad. Horses don't lie. Let's hope extreme training measures like rollkur not only fall out of favour, but also become illegal. Thank you for juxtaposing the two videos!

Val said...

I second Mary ....completely

Jane Badger said...

The Reine Klimke is absolutely beautiful isn't it? Those changes... lovely, lovely, lovely. Absolutely what dressage should be - it's effortless. No spurs niggling away, no resistance.

Val said...

The contrast is stunning...
My Gramps would have a had a bit to say about the more modern version

haffyfan said...

Rolkur is taboo you see...calling it Long, Deep and round makes everything okay and everyone happy and smiley (bar the poor old horse that is) or so she would like us to to think...

Incidently I read somewhere regarding those medals that they are not just judged on the current performance but on their general performance/competition history so basically you or me (lol) or anyone who isn't a 'name' will never win even if they could come out and and blow everyone else away...no history, nothing to base judgement on apparantly - WTF!!

sorry think I'm with the pony book hunting crew (dressage ruins good horses) - there's nothing much 'natural' about modern day dressage!

susannaforrest said...

The Klimke is a joy to watch, truly.

This is my favourite dressage clip, as I love the story behind Steph and Mr President, and also he just LOVES what he does. He doesn't care that he's not a fancy pedigree warmblood. I think his tail swishing is of the "thinky" variety too, but just watch his ears as he takes in his applause.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mIXKwOxbzQ

Jane Badger said...

Haffy, I think you read that in the comments on one of my other bits on rollkur here: http://booksandmud.blogspot.com/2009/11/rollkur-and-blue-tongue.html.
I really wonder how much the horse actually enjoys dressage; at least at the top levels.

Susannah, I love the horse in your clip. This is where I fall down with dressage: I don't like the fact his head is behind the vertical, but don't know enough to be able to say how much that matters. All credit to the rider though for sticking two fingers up at dressage convention. More of that wouldn't go amiss.

haffyfan said...

Was that the horse that (I think it was) Carl hester and Your Horse magazine turned down in their search for a star competition several years ago now?

I do like this clip which (unintentionally) highlights the difference bewtween a horse happy and relaxed in his 'job' and one who clearly isn't.

Stressage verses reining

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ycY1S-BbwI

susannaforrest said...

Haffyfan – not sure if you meant Mr President in your query! He was bred as a harness horse, bought by his owner for messing around cross country, and turned out to love dressage. She's had to go from amateur to Grand Prix (just missed out on the Olympic team through injury) to keep pace with him. It's a true pony book story.

Jane – I don't know either, and he is probably behind the vertical, but if he's been roll-kur'd I'll eat a top hat. His sheer joy is just lovely to see though. Always cheers me up, that video.

Sue Howes said...

I may be entering a fancy dress class with a friend in the future (if they have one at our RS show next summer). We will dress up as The Dressage Divas, Manky van Gruesome and her frenemy, Isabit Worse. We have got some fancy dress tailcoats (left over from my days as a Rocky Horror devotee) so all we need to do for the costume is to make some cardboard top hats to fit over out hard hats ha ha! And if anybody laughs when I fall off I can sue them...

You know, that clip of Isabell Werth reminds me of something Carl Hester said (I am not on chatting terms with him, I just went to a 'do' where he was giving a talk). He said that often you will see the top horses acting up on the last day of a big competition as the atmosphere really gets to them.

Jane Badger said...

Rocky Horror eh... I *think* I can still do the Time Warp...Please, please, get someone to take photographs. Imagination is not enough!

As for big occasions getting to horses, well, I suppose you can allow them a little leeway, but watching Burghley yesterday nerves might have been getting to the riders, but the horses didn't seem phased. I wonder if the dressage horses' nerves are due to the way they're kept, or the fact dressage is so very controlled, in all senses of the word. You must be, to some extent, riding a ticking bomb.