Dressage Dilemma

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Carl Hester's Horse & Hound comment is always good value and can cause controversy. So it would seem from the activities of Twitter and Facebook in recent days and what seemed a fairly harmless remark was seized upon and then (to my mind) taken out of context in the Letters Page the following week. This has caused something of a furore in some quarters and it will be interesting to see if Horse & Hound publishes any more letters this forthcoming week, i.e. on Thursday, 15th January. Here we reproduce the Comment and the Letter  - with the latter of which, we firmly disagree. As regards a closer look at the interpretation of the FEI ruling - clearly Carl has made a good point, since too many confuse the height of the horse's crest with the height of the poll - and this is regrettable. CRC's position is that this calls for better clarification on biomechanical issues at judge training - as opposed to a change in the Rules themselves.

This is the letter by Dr Susan Kempson which was published in Horse and Hound, 5th February 2015.

'I am writing to support Carl Hester's request to the FEI that the rule of the poll being the highest point for a dressage horse be removed. Looking at the photographs of the dressage horses in the same edition, only one had the poll as the highest point. This horse was the one who looked the most unhappy.

Anatomically, the only way a horse can fully engage and move through his back is with the neck round and the head very slightly behind the vertical. Watching all the top dressage horses, including the magical Valegro, the poll is never the highest point.

As I watched the horses at Aachen last Summer, there was only one with the poll as the highest point, and his head and neck had been pulled backwards. It was horrible to watch as the horse was clearly very unhappy.

Despite this, he did receive good marks from the judges. It is definitely time this was removed from the FEI rules.'


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