The Olympics Equestrian Events – the Horses Deserve the Medals

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Not to take away from the skill and phenomenal amount of training that goes into a successful rider’s career – even though they make it look effortless those equestrians are as schooled and trained as their mounts- but the horses really deserve the medals.  The humans do not have to endure the painful and debilitating equipment, nor the unnatural postures that can permanently disable them like the horses do – and unfortunately similar abuses are not limited to the dressage world, they occur in many riding disciplines.
For some events the horses are forced to carry their heads in an unnatural posture that leaves them unable to see where they are going. This state of hyperflexion is called “Rollkur”, but while officially banned at the Olympics by the International Equestrian Federation two years ago controversy continues to brew (Swedish dressage rider Patrik Kittel is facing charges by horse advocates that he used this method in Friday’s event).

Yet none of this is necessary, and more horse owners are turning to natural horsemanship.

Carolyn Resnick, who teaches horses at liberty, writes:

If you think about it, once you put the leg and rein aids on the horse correctly, the horse is like a piano. A piano is a generic instrument. You can play classical music or jazz on the same piano. The only requirement is that the piano be in tune.
There are many ways of developing the dressage horse. My interest is to use the lightest aids from the beginning to create the maximum performance in each horse. I find that taking the time to develop the horse through the fundamentals of the classical methods builds the horse’s understanding and willingness to perform. In the end it is the fastest way to create a fully schooled dressage horse. Using the principles of the classical school of dressage, no horse or rider is put to a task that they can not achieve.
In unity there is harmony. Dressage is the practice of unity between horse and rider. Unity is an art, the formula of practice, and the first and last step in dressage. Getting the resistance out of a horse when the horse is resistant is not dressage.
It is important to remember to keep the philosophy of dressage in the act of riding and training your horse. One rule that should never be broken is to never ask your horse to perform any movement before he is prepared and willing to try.

This rider is performing freestyle dressage with just a neck ring (no bridle), showing how willing a partnership with your horse is so much more rewarding than relying on severe equipment:


Sustainable Dressage has an in-depth discussion as to why the horse’s head position is considered important.

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