The Rollkur

What it is and where it came from.
Rollkur, riding deep, flexed neck.

    Do dressage people know what they are doing and does the dressage federation have any idea what is going on? Dressage has become a riding religion formed by beliefs and theories, and filled with never-ending arguments, and presented as some silly circus shows to entertain the clueless public. 
    This is mainly caused by the fact that this style of riding was infiltrated by the so-called people of intellect (amateurs), who either invent theories to justify their actions, or invent theories to be followed, while having no understanding of horses whatsoever. 
    The worst contributors to this confusion are the veterinarians, as well as the so-called credible or famous dressage people, and most of all the clueless judges, who like scientists theorize life instead of living it.

    In any case, how did we get to this point of riding horses with flexed/bent necks instead of in the poll, which, of course, brings the horse’s head too low, often below the impulsion line? Well, the only people that can explain this to you are people that have been there, done it, have grown out of it and moved on.

This is how fools teach others to sit, as in collapsing in the hips as the instructor on the ground is demonstrating, all this to prevent the bouncing on the horse.

This girl is what I call a "clueless" rider.
It took her less than 15 minutes in the posting trot (it's easier when standing in the irons) to get the horse to flex at the neck using the described greenhorn method, as before the horse was refusing the rider's hands by putting its head up. The horse is obviously on the forehand, but not as bad as in most advanced levels of today's dressage.

The horse may refuse couple of times, but if hands stiff enough and unyielding, the horse will learn to yield to the bit/hands.

Eventually the horse will yield and give in at the neck. Frequent resting of the horse is prudent, and in time any greenhorn can look as if he or she knows something. At least this girl knows that she is clueless, and yet she did not have the need for any noseband, spurs, or other related contraptions like draw reins and such. Just how bad must be the folks that actually use the draw reins?

No martingales, no draw reins, no tie downs, no nosebands, no curb bit, no spurs! If you need more than this on the horse's head you suck! And that goes for any horse in any discipline. Soldiers rode horses like this in the battles for God sake, and we cannot ride horses like this just for the pleasure sake?
If you cannot ride, try at least not to be crude and nasty to the horse!
CAUSION! If you try the above greenhorn method with spurs and a tight noseband, especially when dropped click here to see what could happen. In the more "advanced" stage it looks like this.

    This is how the amateur greenhorns got dressage to the state that it is in now. You can practice this at home and see how absurd the whole thing is. Remember what matters most to people when they start riding. 
    First of all, they’re concerned with not falling off the horse, just like anyone else  and so the gripping with legs comes to them naturally. The second problem they face is bouncing on horses in the sitting trot. Here they start to discover various seat adjustments to prevent that, most commonly by collapsing in the hips (some call it sitting on the pockets, or pushing the belly button back)
    After they finally mange to twist themselves into the saddle in some deformed way, they will invent a theory or some justification for it, and of course since they don’t know what they’re doing, they need to explain themselves all the time. In other words, they find an easy way to travel on the horse and then justify it.

    Once when the greenhorn gets to this stage he becomes concerned with the position of the horse's head, and no matter what he tries with his hands, the horse’s head is just too far up in the air. (He/she THINKS this is really bad.) He tries all sorts of training with side reins, martingales, nosebands and such, and almost invents a new technology just for that purpose. He still cannot accomplish it but keeps on trying. 
    One day finally something happens and the horse flexes/bends at the neck and this poor soul actually thinks that it accomplished something.

   The following will describe what is actually happening when horses flex at the neck and why, and how this could be accomplished on any green horse with just few days of riding by any clueless rider. 
    Stand up in the irons in trot (see pics on the left), cross your reins and set your hands solidly on the neck near the withers, then tighten the reins back a little, while at the same time asking the horse to move forward while not yielding your hands to the pressure. 

   The horse may try to free itself a couple of times by pulling up (the length of the reins is a factor), but if the hands remain solid (unyielding), the horse will shortly discover it can release the bit pressure by flexing its neck, putting its head closer to the chest to yield to it (this in reality is bit refusal). In short, it frees itself from the discomfort, and stays free from it for a short time. Needless to say that you cannot do this if the horse is not moving forward, obviously.
    If the person is patient and lets the horse frequently rest by letting the horse stretch its neck, eventually the horse’s neck muscles will stretch and adjust and the horse will stay in that position for a longer periods of time (now you can understand how some “thinker” invented the Rollkur exercise, get it?
    Now when you lift your hands off the neck, unfortunately (for you) the horse becomes aware of it, “thinks” it is all over and lifts its head up to the “undesired” (by you) position (to the horse more comfortable). 

    So now what? Well, now you have to learn how to keep your hands stiff and steady enough so it feels to the horse the same way as when they’re pressed against the neck. But how do we get the horse’s head down again? Very brutally and simply: just bother the poor creature in the mouth by pulling on the bit, keeping the reins tight (you know, the take and give bullshit), while urging the horse to keep going forward, and at the same time pulling the bit through the mouth a couple of times.

    As soon as the horse flexes its neck keep your hands still enough that it feels to the horse as if they are on the neck (fixed). The trick here is not to have your hands go back at the moment the horse flexes its neck (the horse must feel the bit pressure release), otherwise the horse will throw its head back up. This is where the horse finds some peace from the nuisance of the unyielding bit, and since the bit does not yield to the horse, the horse will learn to yield to the bit (again this is a bit refusal). 
    The horse then feels more comfortable, but only for a moment, before the unaccustomed muscles start cramping up at the neck from this severe and unnatural flex, in which case the horse will throw its head back up, to loosen up the cramped muscles. (See now where Rollkur came from? Idiots!) 

  If the horse does that, just reprimand it by repeating the same process all over again (tying up the lower jaw to the top one will make the horse more prone to respond like that, since he cannot open his mouth). Of course the nature of the horse is to look for ways to adjust and eventually you have the horse’s head set as the judges like it.

   Horses that are trained like this will very often put their heads behind the vertical, as a way to simply yield to the bit-or, in other words, they learn to refuse the bit by putting their heads closer to their chests. (Women just love the flexed-curved necks. It looks pretty to them, so they have to find some way to justify it.)  

    This is how absurd and brutal this whole thing is in dressage these days for most of the participants. In the old days of judging dressage the head past the vertical was considered a refusal. It was equivalent to rearing up or bucking and disqualification was in order. Today it is rewarded and scored for god’s sake!  

    This is how preposterous all this is, brutal and simple, because this is all that these amateurs can accomplish. Now you can see where all the theories and justification come from, like the nonsense of “riding the horse into the bit,” because that is what it is. Rollkur now makes sense, because in order for the horse to retain this deformed position for the duration of the ride, it needs to stretch its neck in all sorts of extreme and unnatural ways, hence the new name by the English speaking countries for Rollkur (German term) the Hyperflexion (hyper means excessive, excessively), which speaks for itself.

   Dressage today reflects the obsession of the amateur dressage riders with the position of the horse’s head, which reflects their amateur incompetence. They simply cannot go on from this point and grow as riders, because the whole concept of riding the horse's head and neck is preposterous. At this point you can now understand their need for Rollkur and its justification.
   In addition to this the practicing of the Rollkur also enhances the exaggerated high-stepping that is so revered by the silly dressage people of today, which is a separate issue which will be presented in a separate article.

    Most preposterous of all are the debates about the use of Rollkur, as it’s like arguing that a god made out of wood is better than one made out of paper. Can’t understand the comparison? Of course not, since it makes as much sense as debating Rollkur, especially when saying that only the advanced riders can do it safely and correctly (the latest defense of Rollkur)-how preposterous is that? It’s like trying to explain or justify to people the correct and proper way to pick your nose in public, instead of saying that it is simply impolite no matter how it is done.

    Now we can understand a few relevant reasons people these days prefer warmbloods. First, the warmbloods inherited longer necks (often a little flexed already) due to being bred for light draft (agricultural) use, which helps them lean and pull. This is also present in more extreme cases in the coldbloods (heavy drafts), which is why they are also used for that type of work.

   The second important reason for using warmbloods is that their temperament is somewhat dull (which was needed for the work on the farm), and so they are less prone to refuse or fight the inadequate rider. Once programmed to do a particular work they become almost like some biological computers, which is great for the farmer, but not something that a decent rider would prefer, because of the dulled responsiveness of such animal. (Today’s warmbloods are predominantly the offspring of the agricultural types rather than the riding type, since between the two world wars there was hardly any need for riding horses, while agriculture still lacked the technology of tractors and pickup trucks. Hence, the breeders adjusted the breeding to the agricultural type that they could sell; simple economics.)

  Since these warmbloods have longer necks and duller temperaments it is easier for them to perform this nonsense that is called dressage these days. 
These foolish dressage riders are completely ignorant of the fact that most of the warmbloods, as well as all coldbloods, are front heavy. They were bred to lean into the harness and not bred for riding. They flex at the neck and lean forward because of their body weight distribution, which was bred into them, and because the work load was placed behind them rather on the top (simple physics and zoology).
    In short, these horses are completely unsuitable for riding purposes, especially for dressage, which explains all the injuries in dressage.

   All the injuries in dressage horses can be very easily explained. As mentioned above, most horses are not suitable physically for the sport, but because they have the tendency to flex in the neck they are preferred. The weight of these horses adds to the problem, since we are talking about extreme lateral stress when riding in dressage rings.
    To add to this, the flexing of the neck sets the horse’s head below the impulsion line, throws the horse more on the forehand (desired for pulling), and then when you add the natural attribute of the front-end-heavy warmbloods it’s no wonder that so many go lame.

 Tightening up the lower jaw to the top one will make the horse more prone to respond like that, cannot open his mouth. 
This is downright crude and nasty!

This is not a gallop/canter but a trot!
The horse in this picture is supported just by one leg in the front during the trot, imagine that. This is called the "extreme on the forehand". This is what the rollkur does, literally in most cases forces the horse on the forehand.

Please notice the immense and crippling stress on the left front by the horse during the half-pass, because this horse like the above is on the forehand. These people are literally progressively breaking the horses down, while calling it dancing, or even worse, a ballet. This is why the dressage was at one time for the very advanced riders only! If horses were on the forehand they were disqualified at one time, but not anymore, they give them gold medals now, totally ignoring the basics of riding rationales. If and when the horse's head is not on the "vertical" the rider will get penalized (for not having the horse collected, as if that would be some determining factor of collection) even in the lowest levels of dressage, imagine that nonsense!
The rollkur, and the bit below the impulsion line will always force the horse on the forehand, ALWAYS! How can anyone even debate that?
Any young jerk around horses knew that much when I was a kid.

   Many of these horses are shod with wedge pads and bar shoes to prevent injuries of the overstressed front end. The fact that most of those in the higher levels of "this dressage" shoe horses to prevent injuries to the front only testifies to the fact that these horses travel very heavy on the front end due to all the attributes described above.
In reality one has to wonder just how tough some of these horses (very few lucky ones) have to be when managing to do this for few years. However, most will break down from this riding that is actually supposed to make the carrying of the rider safer for the animal. As it is, the opposite is true.

  In my younger days no one used the terms flexing or bending the horse or its neck. We used the terms like setting the horse to the right or left hand; no bending or flexing of anything was ever mentioned.

    To sum up the above, dressage today is all about the head and neck and its position, outside other nonsense like high stepping and such. When finally accomplished to the desired level it completely contradicts the nature of the horse and its movement, not to mention the riding rationales of dressage. Therefore the need for Rollkur to stretch the muscles of the horse to the extremes where they were not meant to be stretched, nor need to be for any riding purpose.   

    This of course results in complete distortion of the horse’s movement, which for most part is ignored by the judges, because it is not about how a horse moves but how the horse looks to the baby boom generation of the Barbie doll horse. (That thing has a flexed neck)     

    What I find most absurd is when people argue or debate a complete nonsense. I am including some links on this issue, and all you need to be just a little open minded to see it.

    I will be frank, unbiased and without any prejudice, and of course politically incorrect, when I say that women did this and the men let them, because most of the participant and judges, instructors and teachers are women. 
    What caused it? A woman's inability to deal with guilt when harming an animal. Rather than admitting and then correcting the abuse, they invent a justification (excuse) for it, and then they will stubbornly argue till the day they die, because admitting the guilt would break their hearts.

    By nature they do more thinking than living, while most refuse to do anything without explanations and justifications. This results in people trying to ride horses according to some theory instead of according to the nature of the particular horse. 
    Most modern women like freethinking and resent discipline; one will hardly learn anything with such attitude. 
    In order to improve the “old way” of riding you must learn it first. If you cannot get as far as the dressage predecessors did before you, you cannot improve on them. One learns by listening, observing and by obedience to the teacher, and freethinking is out of place when learning the other’s way. After you’ve learned it then you can implement your freethinking and improve it, but not before that. Before you want to go better, you need to learn how to move.

    Riding is something you learn first by doing it before understanding it, hoping that one day the understanding will come, hence the riding student should literally obey his teacher without asking any question or without demanding explanations.

    I have yet to see a modern woman that is willing to obey another human being without asking question or without demanding explanations or justifications. Even if she would somehow manage to scramble up enough self-discipline to keep her mouth shut, she would be thinking about what she has done the rest of the day and half the night, while most men would simply go for beer and think no more. 
    No thinking is often better than too much thinking. In the former one does stupid things and hopefully learns from them, while too much thinking will without a doubt reward you with endless confusion about everything. Hence today dressage is where it is, confused; too many “thinkers” and no horsemen.

    In conclusion, anyone that is even debating Rollkur, not to mention recommending it, is a downright idiot. The same goes for anyone who uses terms like “riding the horse deep” or "low and long" and such and so forth, as all these are the products of female thinking for justifying the rider's incompetence.

   All these are new age inventions of people that failed to learn and understand the “old ways” before trying to improve on them. There are several millennia of human interaction and experience with horses, which these THINKERS consider useless, because they see themselves as intellectually superior to the simple horsemen (and people that did not have refrigerators, cell phones and such) and THINK that in their short lives they’ve learned more about horses than the human race did in thousands of years. 
    If you wish to see arrogance and ignorance riding on a horse, you will see it in most dressage riders, especially at the Olympic Games in all equine competitions. 
    Why is it that people think of themselves as more intelligent just because the generation before them did not have refrigerators, TVs, computers and such? Technology doesn’t make people more intelligent and smart, it makes them more stupid, because they have machines to compensate for their thinking and skills, not to mention that people relying on technology become very weak, needing all sorts of drugs just to live.

   If you like to be with horses to release the stress of your frightened life, please don't, lest you will make another horse crazy, because these creatures by nature adjust to the environment, which they then reflect, which unfortunately (for the horse) also includes you.
    If you are on some stress reducing drugs, antidepressants or any other brain stimulating garbage, you are unfortunately mentally ill, and doctors will not help you, because they sold their souls to the drug companies that are selling you the shit they call medicine. Doing yourself in is as good, if not better, alternative than surviving like that, or you can just snap out of it and stop being a pussy and then go ride your horse. Oh yes, and please, leave your "intellect" at home, because the horses cannot relate to that.

Why this?

So they can go like this...

because they cannot do this

The New way

"The old way"

Short and deep? 
a horror?

The Rollkur

How can people be so stupid to even debate this?



This is what you get if you ride the horse's head. Of course you need to stretch the poor sucker's neck to extremes, as on the left, so the horse will stay in this crippling position at least for ten minutes.
One leg on the ground in trot?
This one should get gold medal for riding on the forehand.



There are no tricks for this. No side reins or lunging will help. You have to know something to get this done-not that this is perfect (loss of collection = insufficient impulsion), but the expressions of all the depicted horses speak for themselves. As I have said, just open your eyes and look and notice!
Imagine the irony where a Gestapo guy is more sensitive and considered of the horse he is riding than the modern progressive women.

This is a torture!

This is brutal!

This is acceptable.

    The problem any mediocre rider faces, when riding in hand, is not to have the horse flexing at the neck but at the poll, which requires a skillful rider. When a horse flexes at the neck when ridden, it is a problem, not an accomplishment for god sake! Instead of learning how to prevent it, they justify it, hence a fault and inadequacy in riding becomes an official attribute in today's "dressage" and gets rewarded.
    The lowering of the dressage (equestrian) standards rewards the dressage federation with more members (membership fees and show entries, ensuring its own existence), because it becomes more feasible for the amateur public. 
    It is a business like any other and the welfare of the animal means nothing, though they have to defend it against those that do not like such treatment. And who do they call for help? Of course the "very reliable and trustful" veterinarian, who gets rich from fixing up and drugging these poor creatures that get injured through this human greed, arrogance and ignorance. Of course the vet will say that it is OK, since he needs these fools to bring him sore horses to make money on. It's just that simple, though some people don't want to believe it, since they put so much trust in these veterinarians.

   The most deplorable fact of those that debate the training method of Rollkur is that no one at these debates even mentions the main problems that this causes: forcing the horse on its forehand, which is what actually leads to the injuries of dressage horses. These so-called experts are so stupid that they don't even see it. They overlook such stupid, brutal and obvious errors as one leg on the ground during the trot, while they debate whether or not the Rollkur hurts the horse's neck. It just could not get more absurd if one would try.

Related Articles: 
Possible danger of Rollkur to the rider (Your horse may develop a bad habit)
Neck flexing and other stretching exercises. Do we need it?

Here, some actual debates on this nonsense: 

or just type Rollkur into Google search engine, you will not believe some of the websites.

If dressage is not easy for the rider, or if the horse does not look easy-going, or if it does not look to a less experienced rider as if most riders could do it, then it is not dressage.

Edited by J. G. April 28th, 2006
Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a Lee Stanek