Sunday, September 6, 2009

You tell 'em boi! And extensions update...

If there were such thing as ghetto gangsta dressage riders, that's what they would say to Philippe Karl.

I know I'm probably a bit behind on this (this is, like, a month old, I think?) but oh my God it's about time! I have seen a numerous outcries about rollkur and other grievances of modern dressage - particularly from equine medical professionals, who's unfortunate tasks range from injecting the backs of very young horses because they've been pulled up into the bit (and they will probably need those injections for the rest of their lives because they've been ruined at such a physically tender stage) to having to surgically "snap" horse's necks back into place from them being broken at the tird vertebrae so they can be "supple" (supple, yeah right) - but this one is actually from a classical rider! Excuse me, a traditional rider. A very good traditional rider. It is these "old masters" such as Philippe Karl that I wish we had in places other than Europe or the East Coast or Rockies at some insanely high-end facility. But hey, these guys earned their high-end living. They didn't cheat their way to it.

This is a gorgeous piaffe. The horse is uphill and engaging his hind quarters.
Karl is
not pulling the horse up into the bit (notice the very loose lower rein and even how the top has some give) and the horse is not directly on the vertical nor is he behind it, but actually holding his head up himself and comfortably on the bit. Another huge tell-tail sign (pun intended) is how the horse's tail is nicely arched. I have heard from many an instructor that this is a sign of comfort. If a horse's tail is stiffly straight and out, they are not comfortable in the least bit.

I found the English version of Philippe Karl's letter on his website. Here is his very well-written letter to the German Equestrian Federation (which has been doing some major revamping, I believe, due the recent drug scandals. If only I could add "among other things").

The GEF's response

And then Philippe Karl's response back

The GEF (well, really, the abbreviation is FN, but that's in German so I'm sure it would make no sense to us ignorant Americans) agreed to a meeting to discuss the matter with Karl. Good!

Here is a bibliography of all the letters and responses, and how it's all going so far. I didn't want to spam this post with Karl vs. GEF links.

Ugh, politics.

At least this looks +positive+ so far....

Now, for a Greta-licious update! The indoor was about 3/4 dry - the covered end was dry and the uncovered end had dried, but the middle part was still sloshy and wet - and the outdoor arena was good. The round pens were still closed off, but we don't use those anyway! It was really humid outside, so we decided to ride in the indoor arena. Greta had a nice walk going on.

I'm working on driving her into in the bit with my legs, pushing her to reach for it, and so far it's been so-so. There are sometimes when she'll do it, and others where she'll sort of do it. I feel it's me more than anything. I probably did it right, then adjusted or stopped and she stopped.

The extended trot work went pretty well. It feels extended, though when I watched the video we looked really bleh. My chair seat came back! Noooooooo! And I am totally flapping my elbows around when sitting the trot. I look like a chicken! So for the rest of the ride I was obsessed with making sure that was in check. When lessons weren't going on in the indoor arena (we could only use half of it, so that constricted things a bit lol) I did go in and do some trot work until another lesson started up. I tried to collect up the trot a bit, and she did that wonderfully! I saw her in the mirror: on the bit and picking up her legs and tail had a nice little arch and everything! Oooh, I wish I hadn't put away the camera by that point! There's always tomorrow though. Labor Day is fun.

Two of the riders did say that we looked good together! That made me feel really good. And I noticed how "swingy" Greta's tail was at the trot. Besides being cute, from what I understand that is a very good thing! Afterall, it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing.

Feel free to cringe at our riding. Also, feel free to give critique!


  1. Well, I would love to give you some critique but I think you look great! I'm sure you could give me a pointer or two. ;) Your girl moves beautifully and you two are definitely in sync!

  2. LOL you don't have to worry, broken at the third vertebrae is a figure of speech, not an actual medical term :) There is no physical repair that needs to be done to fix it, jut better riding. Here's a more detailed explanation (, but being "broken at the third vertebrae" means that the horse's highest point is not the poll, but is instead the 2nd or 3rd vertebrae instead of the atlas.

    My only critique is that these are lengthenings, not exensions :) Lengthenings come out of working gaits, and extensions from collected gaits. I have a dream that one day, I will really understand and achieve collection. Gogo right now is getting all the low 70's in the world at First Level, but I think we'd probably be laughed out of the ring at Second. Maybe I'll try Second 1 this coming fall just to see the CARNAGE!

  3. lol yeah, I know they don't literally break the neck. Yikes! From what I understand it's when the rider forces the horse into the bit and the horse doesn't reach for the bit themselves. I couldn't think of a better word to use other than "snap" (not the best word lol) because they do have to sometimes resort to surgical procedures to loosen the muscles because the horse has been ridden with a hyperflexed neck for such a long time. Not very common, because it takes many years of being hyperflexed for the neck muscles to get like that, but it does happen. They don't actually cut into the neck, they have to inject the horse with lots of needles, which means general anesthesia for most horses lol. So it falls under the category of surgery. They referred to it in If Horses Could Speak, which is a really good documentary. All in German, but it has English subtitles.

    Yeah, didn't word that right. When I get passionate, my syntax is completely disregarded :D

    Thank you for the critique! Totally did not know that hehe. We will be working on lengthenings right now then, since we're only doing the working gaits and schooling first level. We'll show in training level.... sometime soon........ when we get around to it.

    LMAO Just tell the judges that Gogo's having a bad day.


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Thanks guys!