The rollkur debate, so passé right? So 2006. No, so back. This bone of contention has a spooky habit of giving the dressage fraternity jip prior to the annual Global Dressage Forum in Hooge Miedre, the Netherlands.

In 2007, images of the Dutch team pony Power And Paint being lunged in very short side reins got people’s attention. Back then, Coby van Baalen was invited to the forum to explain the situation with the pony under her tutelage.

This time, the subject under fire is Sweden’s European team rider Patrik Kittel. Patrik is currently starring on youtube in a 4min26sec clip that shows him schooling his horse in hyperflexion — rollkur, basically. At one point, (in slow motion) the horse’s tongue is lolling out the side of its mouth.

Patrik isn’t here at the forum to explain the situation, but David Holmes, Executive Sports Director of the FEI, did open the day’s seminars with his organisation’s statement on the issue, reiterating that the FEI’s main concern is the welfare of the horse. He insisted they are taking the issues raised in the video and in the comments made by other youtube viewers very seriously and have opened an investigation — the conclusions of which will be made public in due course. He said it was difficult to answer any further questions on the topic at this time and could only refer people to this statement.
But because this is a place of “open discussion”, Global Dressage Forum moderator and H&H columnist Richard Davison then invited questions on this topic….which, oddly enough, David referred to his previous statement. He was also able to refer journalists to the FEI’s 2006 statement following their investigations into hyperflexion, which, in a nutshell, says they don’t have a problem with hyperflexion in moderation.
“[That the FEI is investigating] is not a negative thing against Patrik,” Daivid added. “We are looking at all the facts and will arrive at our conclusion as quickly as possible.”
So that was the first five minutes of the forum — there’s so much more to tell but you’ll have to pick up H&H 5 November issue for the full story because as I write Steffen Peters is gearing up for his presentation which appears to include two big old arm chairs and a collection of candles… I’m expecting him to come in smoking a pipe… if he does, I’ll let you know.