by Fran Jurga | 8 April 2010 | The Jurga Report at Equisearch.com
What's okay and what's not okay in the warmup area at FEI competitions? A new report from the FEI's working group should shed some light on the finer points of distinguishing hyperflexion from LDR. Photo from fOTOGLIF
A week from today the first document of its kind will be in the hands of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), the world governing body of horse sports.
An examination of what exactly could be termed "aggressive riding" and how its practice can be discouraged, defined or penalized is expected to be of great interest to activists around the world who have been campaigning for an end to hyperflexion or "rollkur" as practiced by some riders and trainers in the sport of dressage.
A special FEI Working Group tasked with expanding current guidelines for Stewards to facilitate clear implementation of the policy on warm-up techniques says they have finalized a report on guidelines to prevent any form of aggressive riding at FEI events. The completed document will be submitted to the FEI Bureau at its meeting on 15 April. A further update on the proposed warm-up guidelines will then be issued.
The document is expected to spell out the difference between "rollkur" (hyperflexion) and "long, deep and round" (LDR) riding. LDR riding is not considered to be harmful to the horse by the FEI.
The working group was chaired by Dressage Committee Chair Frank Kemperman. Members included Richard Davison (GBR), Rider/Trainer; John P. Roche (IRL), FEI Director Jumping/Stewarding; Jacques Van Daele (BEL), FEI Honorary Dressage Steward General/Judge; Wolfram Wittig (GER), Trainer; and Trond Asmyr (NOR), FEI Dressage and Para Equestrian Dressage Director/Judge. The working group also drew on the expertise of a number of other specialists, including but not limited to the delegates at a round-table conference held in Lausanne on 9 February 2010.
You can see right through the mouth of this horse in the warmup ring at the Alltech FEI European Dressage Championships Individual Grand Prix Special at Windsor Castle in England last summer. Photo by EPA/Alan Crowhurst, from fOTOGLIF.
After that meeting, the FEI redefined terms related to hyperflexion, or overbending, and pledged to continue to refine FEI awareness of all forms of what was loosely termed "aggressive riding". Objections to the way that horses are warmed up before competitions is an area of scrutiny.
On April 5, the FEI began operating under the next phase of its Clean Sport initiative for new veterinary and medication policies, although the actual revised list of allowed substances is being held for further review in the fall.
Germany, meanwhile, has taken the lead among nations with its own new policies, known as "fair equestrian" (or "fair riding", depending on translation). Along with a revised medication policy, yellow and red warning cards for unsportsmanlike conduct will debut in Germany after April 28th, according to the website of FN Verlag, the national office of horse sport in that country.
FN Verlag estimates a cost of about 500,000 Euros to enforce and administer its new clean sport initiative in its first year. Read more at www.pferd-aktuell.de.