Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Rollkur, and the "Blue Tongue"

Last night, I did something I "never" do. I signed a petition asking (hopefully demanding) that the FEI condemn the practice of Rollkur, and ban the use of it at FEI sanctioned dressage competitions.

There has been a video listed on YouTube, which has gone viral in record time:

The most disturbing thing, for me, is not the tongue hanging out, or the fact that it becomes bluish (in response to the circulation being cut off). That is just the proof that Rollkur demonstrates the extreme force exerted on the horse, physically and psychologically...and here is my opinion.

When a horse is being ridden (properly), s/he will sometimes put their tongue over, or in between in the case of a double bridle, the bit. That happens. But now we must ask ourselves, what is a horse's normal reaction when that happens?

In my experience, in every single case, the horse has a violent reaction and comes above the bit, slams on the brakes, and lets the rider know in NO uncertain terms that something is VERY wrong, and s/he is in extreme pain.

In this video, the horse continues for over one minute (that we can see, and it may have been more to produce the discoloration of the tongue) before the rider even notices that the tongue is in between the bits and lolling out the side of the mouth. And here is the key....the horse continued on the whole time, showing the rider no sign that he is extremely uncomfortable/painful.

The pain and discomfort of the Rollkur position is so extreme that the horse is unable to exhibit any reaction AT ALL to the discomfort of his tongue being pinched between the bits to the point that circulation is cut off! Can you imagine what pain the horse was in as a result of the tongue-pinch? So, which is the bigger cruelty? And what can we glean from this very apparent comparisons of pain--one which under normal circumstances of training produces an immediate and violent reaction to pain, and the other which overrides that normal reaction to the point that the horse is completely shut down to the original pain and just keeps going while his tongue turns blue? Again, which is the bigger cruelty?

To my mind, there is no room for doubt and this is the video that finally proves just how cruel Rollkur is. The poor horse's pinched tongue being turned blue due to lack of circulation (for at least one minute) is not even enough to override the pain and force of the rollkur position.

How can the FEI condone and REWARD this cruelty through scores of over 90% now? How can WE as a dressage community condone this practice?? We must send a loud and clear message as a cohesive international community that we will not stand by and do nothing anymore.

There is a title link to the same petition that I signed last night at the top of this post. I welcome all comments here, but even if you do not comment here, please go to the petition, read some of the comments attributed to the signers, and consider signing.

You may even sign anonymously, but remember, if the FEI is anything like the U.S. government, an anonymous signature does not count. Please consider signing your name--I did, and I am a dressage professional.

Thanks for reading this post.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

USDF/USEF Region III Dressage Championships

The Region III Dressage Championships are being held (today is the last day) this year in Wellington at the Jim Brandon Arena. I mentioned this when I listed the results for IRIDE Dressage in the post on 9/21/09 in this blog.

Friday and Saturday was the pre-show qualifier, and the Championships are on Saturday and Sunday.

I decided to drive down and watch Saturday's competition, since all levels were scheduled, plus the Freestyles in each level were ridden Saturday afternoon, and I love watching freestyles as much as anyone else. All four arenas had rides scheduled from 8am to almost 5:30pm--no sign of a recession here.

Judging are Gary Rockwell, Thomas Poulin, Dinah Babcock, Mary Lewis, Lois Yukins, and Joan Humphries. Each ring had a judge at C and a judge at B--who judged where and when is listed for each class on the results pages available on

Full results from Friday and Saturday's pre-show qualifiers are already posted on the linked page. Scroll down towards the bottom of that page and you will see the show listed and the results by day. Saturday had not been posted yet, as of this writing, but this management team is phenominal with publishing results in a timely manner, so I am sure they will all be available within 48 hours of the show's end.

For some beautiful pictures of the competitor's, visit the official photographer's site click on Photos on the top menu bar, and it will open the picture galleries. It usually takes them a few days to a week to post pictures, and the show isn't even over yet, so be patient. You can always come back here to get the link to check on the pictures. WARNING-when they do get posted, these photos are copyrighted, and are the property of Horse Sports Photography. You may look, but you may not copy or use these photos in any fashion....doing so is a violation of copyright law.

To give a general preview of Saturday until the results are posted officially, I checked the scoreboard at about 3pm. Most scores for the day were in the range of the 60's with a few 50's and a few 70's for Saturday.

Some of the more nationally recognized names who competed are Michael Poulin, Bent Jensen, Lisa Wilcox, Marco Bernal, Gwen Poulin, Linda Alicki, Heather Bender, just to name a few.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

American Riding Instructor Association's 25th Convention!

I will be going to the ARIA 25th Convention on November 18-22, 2009. It is held in Naples, Florida (which makes it even better for our friends from the cold climes!) and it is a BLAST! I have been to two of the other conventions since 2004, when I became certified, and it has never disappointed!

I have met some wonderful fellow trainer/instructors, been able to network with many, many people that I have admired for my entire riding life, and have picked up (or been reminded of) a ton of equine- and teaching-related information.

The whole convention is geared towards the sharing of information and contacts for our businesses. I touched on discussing how we operate and market our businesses in the last post, dated 10/08/09 on this blog, and this is a major one for me. It is not necessarily a direct advertising outlet to my consumers (students or potential students), but gaining the recognition, education, contacts and networking prospects is crucial to any business venture. Having people who "do what you do" creates a camaraderie because they "are where you are" in terms of problem-solving, idea-creation, marketing-solutions, etc. This is a valuable resource which only makes your own business more reputable, and recognized.

Charlotte Kneeland, the founder and director of ARIA, has built this organization into an internationally recognized and respected certifying agency for riding instructors, and was recently awarded the Equine Industry's Equestrian Vision Award for her service to the equestrian world. Drop her an email, and be sure to check out the website--it is full of information about certification, has a directory of certified instructors by state with all their contact information, and has a great bookstore/reading list, as well. It also has an explanation of the different levels of certification and disciplines that they certify instructors for that would be a great help to the consumer (potential student) when seeking an instructor.

The ARIA website is linked to the title of this post. I hope you will check it out, and I hope it moves you to attend the Convention. Even though it is almost here, it is not too late to sign up for it. You do not have to be a certified instructor to attend. We have some awesome keynote speakers lined up for this Silver Anniversary Convention, including Jane Savoie, Denny Emerson, Susan Harris, George Morris, and Julie Fershtman, among others and the exchange of information and ideas is always well worth the convention price. I hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shark Tank

I love the ABC show "Shark Tank". I think it is genius! It is the very best reality show on television now, and maybe ever. Why, you say? Because it is entertaining, educational, and inspiring.

I also love the "Sharks". They are real. What I mean by that is they are real people, with personalities that they are proud of and don't mind sharing with the audience. I know that there is a lot of prep work and auditions that we don't see, and that we only see a staged glimpse of what goes on in the real world, but what separates this show from the other reality shows is that every other situation is contrived--it is not really the way things would happen. Not the case, here. I have a feeling that this is very on-point with the way things happen on this level of the business world.

It is hard to pick a favorite shark, but I actually like Kevin O'Leary best. I identify with his style of business approach. Unemotional (and I will talk more about this later) is the only way to do business--any business. But I also believe that he shines (for me) as much because of the interactions with the other personalities in the room as anything else. I love the way their characters have developed over the course of the series so far, and I think this show has unlimited potential for subsequent seasons, as I think the American entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well--and in this economy, searching for alternative funding and capital investment. The banks surely aren't our friends anymore (were they, ever?).

I do have the entrepreneurial spirit, in spades. My business is successful, in its niche. My business certainly wouldn't be attractive to the sharks, because it is a niche-business, and is wholly based on in-person services at this point. That doesn't mean that it might not evolve into something that would be attractive to them, as I am always thinking, planning, assessing and adjusting my business model to keep bringing added-value to my customers and keep my business fresh and interesting. I believe I have made the correct business decisions and am constantly researching and re-assessing every aspect of my business. This benefits my clients, and when I benefit my clients, I benefit my business.

I would LOVE to hear from you guys and gals who are reading this blog--do you watch this show?, what you think of it?, and do you see any correlation between what is happening for the people on the show and how YOU do business? Please leave a comment! I would love to hear your take on this, and if there is enough interest, maybe I will do a poll......

In subsequent posts, and based on any feedback I get from the posts, I want to talk about the relationship between what we are seeing on the show, and how it relates to and can benefit YOUR business to watch this show, not only for the entertainment value, but for the educational value that is imparted from both sides of the negotiations...and yes, I believe it DOES relate to our horse BUSINESS, too. After all, business is business. Stay tuned for my take