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 Global dressage forum 2007

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Capriole
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PostSubject: Global dressage forum 2007   Sat Mar 15, 2008 5:12 am

There is a great article on the Global Dressage Forum for 2007 on the horse magazine website.

I wish I'd been there to see his presentation:

Quote :
My presentation was next. I was invited back for the second time as a result of the delegates’ survey conducted at the end of every GDF. As a result of the furore of last year over the Rollkur debate, where some delegates were accusing Anky of training ‘learned helplessness’ rather than dressage, Joep asked me to specifically give a presentation on LH. I decided I would break up the presentation into 2 parts: the first on a description of training principles and the 2nd on LH. I opened describing the exciting new frontier of Equitation Science. This International Society of Equitation Science is a new society that embraces research in all matters of equitation that can be defined and measured. It blows away some of the myths peddled by horse whisperers and new-age trainers. It is the only scientific society that I know where you don’t need academic qualifications to join. To keep a sense of relevance, membership is also encouraged from professional riders and trainers. There is so much mythology surrounding riding, handling and management of horses that this is a timely emergence. Equitation Science has nothing to do with animal rights but much to do with animal welfare. It encourages correct training philosophies that align with psychology and ethology. Even for professionals, science gives us new tools because on the one hand it educates and on the other it re-organises our existing knowledge.

Learned helplessness (LH) however was my focus. LH is a psychological condition whereby individuals learn they have no control over painful conditions, their actions are futile and they are literally helpless. Broadly, it is when animals seemingly ‘tolerate’ large amounts of pain. In a series of experiments in which dogs were exposed to inescapable shocks it was found that this lack of control subsequently interfered with the ability to learn to avoid pain. Studies of other species including cats, rodents and primates have shown similar results. Clearly this condition relates very much to an animal’s interaction with humans. The helpless state comes from losses of controllability by the animal of its behaviour, and where pain is unpredictable and inescapable. So even ordinary acts such as stabling, tying up and riding cause some stress in terms of losses of controllability, but domestic horses seem to habituate to such things and therefore appear not to be disturbed by it.

However when the animal receives relentless pressure, it loses controllability and predictability and the potential for serious learned helplessness increases. Top performance horses are therefore candidates for at least some amount of LH, but top of the list also includes poorly ridden and badly trained performance horses that have no self-maintained rhythm or tempo and are constantly running away into the bridle. The list also includes therapy horses, trail horses and riding school horses, because some of these horses receive on a frequent basis relentless and unpredictable pressures. LH seems to be a continuum of stressful unpredictable events and, with full-blown LH, it ceases responding altogether. It won’t buck or bolt, it just becomes dull and at some point of this condition it is irreversible and fatal. Unfortunately, like many human disorders, LH is not easily identified until it is too late, however the common cause is easily seen: constant painful pressure.

All riders need to be vigilant about this and there should be more concern by dressage and hacking judges about constant states of pressure especially bit pressure. Lightness and self-carriage should be seen as the Holy Grail for all performance sports and its importance should be reflected in scores. This impacts on the Rollkur debate. Critics of Rollkur are right to criticize the posture as having poor welfare if the position is painful and the horse cannot self-maintain it. That’s where the relentless pressures come in and these are very damaging. But the debate is wrong to focus only on Rollkur. If critics are genuine about their concern for welfare then they should be just as vocal about shortened necks in the upright posture with constant strong pressure in the mouth (as well as on the vertebrae). Short contorted necks and stilted extravagance are still too common and are being rewarded. The fact is when you shorten necks whether they are up or down, you get hollowing of the loins, interrupted gaits, stilted steps and cadence is replaced by snatch and jerk. And it will continue to occur if competitors are rewarded for it.
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MumbleBee
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PostSubject: Re: Global dressage forum 2007   Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:18 am

Quote :
If critics are genuine about their concern for welfare then they should be just as vocal about shortened necks in the upright posture with constant strong pressure in the mouth (as well as on the vertebrae). Short contorted necks and stilted extravagance are still too common and are being rewarded. The fact is when you shorten necks whether they are up or down, you get hollowing of the loins, interrupted gaits, stilted steps and cadence is replaced by snatch and jerk. And it will continue to occur if competitors are rewarded for it.

Yeah, there's a lot of that about... and I once overheard a coach tell a rider that as a horse gets more advanced, then you have to have more contact! Shocked

A lot of food for thought there "Cappy" tongue
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Snowy
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PostSubject: Re: Global dressage forum 2007   Sun Sep 28, 2008 12:00 am

Andrew mcLean is cool. I know what he means about trail riding and riding school horses. There like zombies it's so sad! Crying or Very sad
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