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In Loving Memory...
~ Gogo Fatale ~

6/2/01 - 10/11/11
~ Forever the Marest of Them All ~

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pictures of the Day

..... which are NOT Gogo, actually.

I present to you Philippe Karl.

Philippe Karl is THE MAN. This has to be THE most perfect piaffe that has ever existed on the planet. It is feather-light, Karl's position is absolutely impeccable, the horse looks completely comfortable and happy with a very soft eye, the work looks easy for them both, and there is a palpable sense of power there. This is the ultimate in collection, a level beyond what most upper level horses will ever be capable of. This is so classical, and so correct.

Now, compare this picture for example. This is a piaffe achieved through rollkur (if you don't know what it is, go here and you'll see why it is EVIL) and use of mindgames and force. This piaffe is front-end heavy, without collection, and is letting the horse's truck completely fall through. The horse is triangulating with its front legs, is falling behind the vertical, has the curb rein cranked tight, and looks annoyed. I'm sorry, but I can't stand Anky. She wins, and that is so wrong. She wins, and everyone thinks she's the Queen so they should copy her methods. But just look at this piaffe compared to Karl's piaffe:

That's at the OLYMPICS. WINNING A GOLD MEDAL. Sometimes, words just fail me. I don't even know what to say.

Here's some more pictures illustrating why I hate Anky:

And here's some more illustrating why I love Philippe:

(Pretty sure this is a mislabeled passage...)

Absolutely stunningly beautiful.


A legit post coming soon to a theater near you. Or maybe to this blog, if you're lucky.


Kelly said...

If you don't mind, I'm going to play devil's advocate.

It's not necessarily wrong or right. It's two different schools of thought of how to achieve a Grand Prix horse (or the Cadre Noir-- a high school horse).

While I'm not defending Anky or her methodology, I say give it a fair look and understand why there are two different schools of thought instead of completely denouncing it.

But first look at the quality of photographs- you have two shots in two very different environments, and in two different qualities and probably two very different moments in time.

The shot you took of Anky was also (from what I remember) late in her freestyle. You also have to realise that the horse is running out of gas, in a hot, arid environment. From the date of the shot ('04) the horse is still a young international horse. Whereas Karl's horse is about 17 in that shot. So the horse becomes a hair strung out.

But I feel that there are things you can take away from both schools that you can use in your day-to-day training.

The main thing I see here is having an adjustable horse. You cannot ride a horse up all the time or deep all the time, you cannot subscribe completely to one school and achieve results. Just I cannot condition my ponies in the arena and expect them to have a fabulous extended trot at the end of the day.

Training takes different components and different ideas. Even if they are unorthodox.

BTW, there is an FEI rule stating there needs to be contact with both reins.

And not everyone copies her. Obvious by your comparison.

Daun said...

I like Phillippe Karl as well. Yes there are two schools of thought: One favors the current modern warmblood, the other teaches all horses, regardless of breed, to unweight the forehand. I have to use Karl's methods with Brego because if he is taught leg to hand, he will run around on his forehand.

The whole point of collection is to unweight the forehand. So Anky's horses are not truly collected, in a purist point of view. Does that matter in modern dressage? Hell no. Should I personally care? Probably not, I am not at the Grand Prix level. But I personally need my horse to learn to get off his forehand, so I use Karl's methods and not Anky's.

If I had a 50k warmblood with incredible extensions and movements, sure riding deep makes more sense. But my horse's neck is thick, his jowel is thick, his head is huge and his back is long. I MUST strive to lighten him.

And, in my opinion, the purpose of dressage (not competitive dressage, of course) is to teach the horse to work in balance for his own sustainability. I spoke at length with Anky's chiropractor who worked on her horse right before the Syndny Olympics. Her horse was a wreck, in his terms. He barely put him back together and she went out and won gold (and named her son after the chiro by the way). He is very down on dressage.

When I take my horse to see him, every 6 months is improvement. I am building my horse up, not tearing him apart. Of course, I am not FEI level. But one thing this chiro was sure of, modern dressage tears the horses apart.

Andrea said...

Provocative replies!!

Kelly, you're right, Salinero was tiring at the end of his test and losing his ability to maintain collection. That being said, he still won gold. Should he have? Probably not. I wonder sometimes if it's not just more of a 'name' thing - Anky's a big name, he's a flashy horse... rewarding more the flash than the obedience and precision, which is such a violent veering away from classical dressage. I think Salinero has definitely come into himself much better over the past couple of years though. He needed to mature. And yes, I know contact needs to be had with both reins during competition, but that is not a competition picture and I think it shows a lot to be able to have a picture-perfect piaffe with just the snaffle :) You see so many riders cranking their horses in with the curb - like the picture of Anky, trying to hold it together - that it's refreshing sometimes when someone is skilled enough to not have to do that.
It's good that not everyone copies rollkur and that some people (like myself!) denounce it pretty fiercely. BUT, you know there are SO MANY IDIOTS out there that see Anky and go, well she's winning! and try to crank in their horse's heads without understanding the mechanisms behind rollkur and how to do it properly, if there is such a way. Anky is a very accomplished rider and can bring her horse out of being ridden deep - like you said, having an adjustable horse. A lot of other copycat riders will not be able to do that, and instead have a perma-deep horse who is very tired, sore and unhappy. Go look at that funky grey thing on The Jumping Percheron. Doesn't he look like a classic example of that?
Simply for the fact that Anky teaches this volatile and potentially dangerous training method to a lot of Joe Shmoes out there, I think she is being a bit unethical. It's beyond most people, and I think she should recognize that. If she can use it to her advantage and win, then that's her call. However, with our current trend is flash and sparkle, huge extensions, and enormous gaits, are we really creatining sustainable horses? If we're resorting to these very radical training methods and can't just stick to the original basics (because let's face it, Salinero WAS younger and got there a LOT faster than Karl's horse through these methods), we can create an athlete that peaks much sooner and fizzles out much earlier than it should. Interesting discussion!

I love how everything in your life is about sustainability! I have to agree with you. It's nice to know from someone working behind the scenes with horses being worked deep and round, and I know studies are being conducted about the ways in which it can be physically damaging - neck arthritis, mental trama, cacification of the nuchal ligament at its origin, etc. All Very Bad Things. I'd like to see more studies from horses regularly ridden classically or ridden

I try very hard to be classical. I believe in the simplicity of dressage, and the simplicity of tack too. My horse, in particular, will never see auxilary training items like draw reins (not just because I don't trust myself but also because I KNOW she'd flip herself in a heartbeat), because if I can't get her there with just a snaffle, then I'm doing it wrong and I need to look at myself rather than try to crank her down artificially.

The two schools of thought are very interesting indeed.

Daun said...

If you are looking for longevity, you can find plenty of examples. Karl uses a 20+ year old stallion in his dvds. Brenderup has an old stallion that has broken 3 of his legs and come back into the high movements. Salinero is going to retire soon at what, 15?

Anyway, if we really cared about true collection in competitive dressage, they would put the jumping challenge back in. I would love to see Anky piaffe and then in two strides, clear 3' jump. Karl does it all the time in his dvds. Salinero is so on his forehand in the piaffe, I would not expect him to be able to make it.

Or, better yet, put in a levade. I would pay big money to bet that not one of Anky's horses can levade. A levade is the ultimate expression of collection and the ultimate unweighting of the forehand.

Of course, I can wax philosphic all day, but my horse has done nothing amazing so I need to walk the walk before people will take my talk very seriously.

Meghan said...

I abhor Anky's "riding" and "training", and those pictures of Phillippe Karl are inspiring. Thanks for a very interesting comparision.

Anonymous said...

When talking about rollkur, I think it's very easy to see a 'right and wrong'. Rollkur makes horses angry, agitated, they are broken almost always at the 3rd vertebrae, pulled onto the forehand because they're chest sinks, they can't breath, and more importantly, they have tons of muscular and skeletal problems, especially long term. In my eyes, I just don't see anything 'fair' about it. I think it is a way to get a horse 'obedient', because when the horse can't see where he's going... he has to learn to rely on you.

I agree that the horse was probably getting tired. ...Probably because his muscles aren't conditioned to work 'up and high', but because she trains him deep and low. Look at the stallions at the Cadre Noir presentations--they don't look tired and strung out. This is what they should be conditioned for every day. The end of a Olympic test should not fall apart, just like a runner's stride does not fall apart at the end of running a mile at the Olympics. Besides, strung out for an international horse should look at least 'level'--not entirely on the forehand... which he looks in the beginning, or at the end.

Much agree with Philippe Karl. He trains light, but unlike other classical french trainers, still has impulsion. He doesn't systematically search out every resistance to make a submissive animal, like most German dressage trainers... the man is absolutely brilliant, in ever aspect. And he doesn't train 'high level horses', like it's different somehow. He just teaches dressage.

Kelly said...

Sorry if the following commentary seems a little serrated:

A score comes from the overall view of the test, not just one or two movements. If you play the game correctly, then bad or inferior movements can be netted out via coefficients. So, the question that a judge has to answer (about the kur) is not about one or two movements in the test, but is the overall kur harmonious and fluidity good?

The answer, in this case, is yes. That test was a highly accurate, well-risked, thought out and harmonious, especially for a ten-year old newly minted international horse.

Small point about international horses: generally the average age of an international GP horse is older (15 plus) and lasts only, if you're lucky four to six years and while it's sad to see a horse retire out after six seasons, the environment is vastly different than a haute-ecole.

At one point, if you could recall, Anky wasn't on top, in fact, last time I checked she wasn't the only big thing out there. There's still Ulla, Kyra, Werth, Hubertus, Gal, Klimke, Cappellman, ect who still are out there, and are doing extremely well and most of them subscribe to a different training scale.

Also, last time I checked, there aren't a whole lot of Joe Six Packs that are international, could afford her and wouldn't be allowed to ride in that barn.

Roll Kur/Hyperflexation was, according to Van Grunsven never meant to be for every horse, or sustained. Just as riding deep isn't for every horse or rider every time.

With your logic in place, it's likening it to secular laws that prevent people from teaching or even showing a different way. It's classic big brother thinking of "if we deem it bad, therefore it's so."

In fact, the classical masters would have looked at it, and incorporated principles or looked at it from a more objective stand point than what you are presenting now.

Nor does everyone follows or subscribes to this method, just as everyone who events doesn't subscribe to the a-typical thoroughbred model that has zero ability to get through a dressage test.

What it happens to be is a method used by an international rider that happens to work for the types of horses she rides. Combining this with rock start status, an eccentric lifestyle/husband and continuous press. It's a bad cocktail.

So lesson here is: work with what's best for you. If it happens to be the French school of thought, then go for it. But in the meantime, seek to understand why other schools are not only doing what they are doing but why do they achieve the same results.

As far as trends are concerned, the trend isn't going toward a horse that has three big gaits anymore. It's obvious in the way that people are doing the kur's now (highly technical, flexible, accurate).

And Karl's piaffe wasn't in a snaffle, it was in a double. Despite the curb rein being dropped, it was still in a double. My comment was referring to contact on the curb rein in Anky's photo-- which she has to have engaged via FEI rules.

Daun, if you wish to put classical back into tests, I suggest you start with the eventing tests. Last time I checked there was only one halt in the lower level tests.

Anonymous said...

See, that's where I differ from modern dressage. I don't do what's best for me. I do what's best for the horse. ;) The reason I pick something is not because it works for me--I don't think the german classical masters, French, or Spanish (current) get the same results. And I certainly don't think modern dressage riders come close to collection. Why look objectively at something I don't think is working? That's like trying to look at Cleve Well's Training methods and trying to take something away from it--LOL. The classical standard of collection is much higher then the modern standard.

Just a note; I've seen Anky ride, and I don't think rollkur, or deep and low, is bad because someone 'deems it so'. I think it's bad for the reasons I listed and can so clearly see--mainly the horse's clear discomfort, and the fact that it breaks the line from haunches to the hand, by breaking the flow of energy at the 3rd vertebrae. But I is not here to fight about rollkur/classical, so if it works for some people, then so be it. Yanking on bits and spurring and drugging works in the western world and they win world shows and 100's of thousands of dollars... but success doesn't make something right. 'Specially when you look at it that way!

Anonymous said...

Dur. That one you said was a mislabeled passage kind of looks like a spanish trot. The front legs are really high, and the back just seem to support it (like the spanish walk).
Almost no one trains it anymore though. ;)

Andrea said...

Mine will be just as serrated:

You are right about the scoring thing. I for one managed to get a 2 on a decently going test at the AECs (blow up city!) and somehow still managed to scrape by with a 33.0.

Is it ethically right to create fast burnout horses in the way that we do? Brilliant flames that die out from physical or mental trama at young ages? It's a different environment to be sure, but I wonder sometimes if it's really fair and worth it to subject these giving and wonderful creatures to these enormous stresses on their bodies and minds. Then again, I for one am not about to stop competing.

And I didn't quite mean that all the Joe Six Packs on Joe Grade Horse are going and training with Anky, I meant that they are going to watch her Olympic tests and audit her clinics and read her methods and go, I'm going to do this myself. Voila... disaster. Or unskilled and unqualified trainers who do the same, and then attempt to teach it to their clients. I know PLENTY of trainers like this; they're a dime a dozen. It's not necessarily directly coming from Anky - in fact, I think those learning it directly from her are probably okay. It's the fact that the people getting it INDIRECTLY are the ones crippling horses. If Anky says it isn't for every horse, you know not everyone is going to listen to that.

My logic means nothing to anyone except me. I make no rules, I run no organizations. I'm obviously not going to change anybody's mind about anything. But I do feel entitled to my opinions. If the classical masters want to incorporate these principles into their riding (which I do feel like I'd be awfully surprised to see someone like Karl rollkuring his animals!!), then I certainly know they are more capable and skilled than I am and would probably have success. I, on the other hand, am Joe Six Pack Adult Amateur, and do NOT trust myself to train my horse beyond simple, classical methods, designed to slowly and correctly create a beautiful athlete out of an average animal. I'm not trying to rush my horse to Grand Prix. I feel as though I will be lucky to ride a fourth level test in competition someday, and maybe not even on her. Simple, classical methods are meant to be kind and followed with a slow, gradual build, not a rush to stardom type of feel. I'm not good enough to be in a hurry, and I think every Joe Six Pack should be on the same page as me. If you are a superstar and are riding an exceptionally talented animal that you are aiming for international competiton at the age of 10, then do what you want to get there in that amount of time. My horse is 7 and showing 1st level, schooling 2nd. And I feel we're at a nice place, all things considered. Everyone who is learning NEEDS to learn things the classical, original way before thinking they can POSSIBLY do what Anky does, because the classical method promotes the idea that YOU, the rider, are doing it wrong if the horse is doing it wrong. If Joe Six Pack can learn to be humble and kind, then maybe later on when he's ambitious he can learn to be fast and furious without injuring his horse (is that even possible?).

And I don't believe in the typical thoroughbred model that has zero ability to get through a dressage test - I believe in the yank-and-go event rider with said thoroughbred who doesn't practice methodical dressage with the horse, just flatwork with the head cranked in. Yes, THAT horse will implode under those circumstances. But I've known enough UL thoroughbred dressage horses to know that this same hot horse CAN be successful with the right rider.

Okay, well, you know what I meant about the snaffle/double. Not IN a snaffle exclusively, maintained WITH the snaffle is how that was meant to be taken. Having contact wit the curb and cranking on the curb are two TOTALLY different things.

Event tests really are tests for the dressage retarded. Hence why no matter what Gogo does, she always is top three after dressage. Always. No really... ALWAYS. Because I actually DO a little bit of dressage. We're no superstars but we do our homework, and it pays off.

DIJ... maybe it is a Spanish Trot, really hard to tell from still photos sometimes!

I was actually semi-involved in a huge research experiment done not too long ago with an old professor of mine who moved to the University of Guelph from Lake Erie College (one of our few amazing professors!!) to develop their equine program. The experiment had riders ride their horses through a simple 'maze' of poles, then turn left and right out of the end of it - going left, the horses would be immediately rollkured, and going right, the horses were ridden classically (by capable riders, of course). Then, the horse was allowed to chose which way it wanted to turn, after going through it several times both ways. EVERY horse except one (one WEIRD one who was actually a jumper who had never done dressage a day in his life) chose to go right and be ridden classically. Interesting to note. I'll have to see if I can find the published paper somewhere.

Daun said...

My comments will not be serrated, because I am enjoying this conversation and really appreciate Kelly's input.

Anyone see Anky's Bejing Gold Medal Freestyle? I did, about 50 times. It was gorgeous. It was the first time I have really seen Salinero relaxed. And one secret to Anky's success is that she is SO DARN PRECISE. That test was technically perfect. And she had some good elements of collecting: the extended canter to medium canter to collected canter to canter piroette comes to mind, all on a straight line. Very technical stuff, executed to perfection. I think that maybe three people in the world can do that.

See, I am not a hater. I am a critic. :)

Anky achieves collection, but her strong point is the extensions. That's most modern warmblood's strong point. And the modern warmblood is dominating dressage and so the tests slowly evolve to favor big extensions and less collection. No big deal, the flashy gaits win spectators or whatever.

But let's call it what it is. Those horses have extension the baroque masters would kill for, if they wanted them. And they don't truly collect.

So when I said, bring Levade back into dressage, I said I wanted true COLLECTION back into dressage, not classical training back into dressage. If Anky's horses can levade trained by hyperextension that great! My guess is they can't because they are not learning to unweight their forehand. But I could be wrong.

So let's talk in terms of true weight and balance and movements, not Anky this or Karl that. Because Anky's last gold medal test was one of her best, in my opinion.

And Kelly, don't get me started on eventing tests. I think they are someone misguided, to say the least. But don't complain about the halt. Anyone see Anky's Bejing Gold Medal Freestyle? Only one halt, at the beginning. In fact a technical fault, but who cares, Salinero was perfect. :)

Which reminds me, Andrea you should do a post on what is wrong with modern eventing, too? I am thinking of quitting eventing because it, too, does not put the horse first anymore.

Andrea said...

LOL well by serrated I didn't mean to say sharp and nasty, I meant to say totally jaggedly jumping all over the place.

I will totally do a post on that Daun, because eventing is in Big Trouble right now. That's a great topic to talk about.

Kelly said...

It's your blog and you are entitled to whatever opinion and logic you have, despite me having a different viewpoint from it. Heck, I'll wave your flag too;-)

But first DIJ:

Because objective gives you a different view, and a new tool to use in your training. Because objective makes you a better rider, instead of a closed-minded one. Whether you use the method, the tool, its ultimately up to you.

You may disagree with it, but its like any education. You cannot learn just what you want to learn, you have to look at it all, good, bad, ugly. If you've looked at it objectively, and still render the same opinion, that's super.

Also--Likening it to drugging, and general abuse is a wee extreme, especially in a sport the prides itself on being rather clean. Earning success ethically, albeit, controversially is vastly different than earning it unethically and foul play.

There ends my little soapbox stand about education;)

While you won't find the old masters hyper-flexing, you will find them riding deep and low on an occasion. But, as I said before, I'm not condoning the behavior or the method that hyper-flexing, but I am looking at it from how she uses it and why. That I can understand.

Why people copy it, when they don't know how to use the method correctly is beyond me and I'll agree with you that they should learn the theory, put the theory into practise and the know how before they start changing the rules (old adage: if you know the rules, you know how to break them accordingly).

Heck, I spent two years on a lunge line without stirrups or reins on a GP schoolmaster learning said rules before I was allowed to ride alone. (On that note-- one of the two schoolmasters [not the GP, but a third level horse] was an OTTB). Also evented for sometime.

Personally speaking, I understand both sides of the equation and I use both sides of it, depending on what the horse needs at that moment. In the end, I want an adjustable pony that has the strength and ability to carry herself through an FEI test.

Will I do it via hyper-flexation? Probably not. I'll admit right now I'm not quick enough nor skilled enough to use that tool (think meat cleaver versus scalpel).

But its because we're in a country that promotes DIY instead of going to a knowledgeable source that it does occur more frequently. It also stems from the mentality of if Joe can do it, I can. Despite Joe being international, and having the background to do it.

However, from where I sit, I don't see HF frequently in main stream dressage, probably because its not rewarded, and we don't have an overall community that subscribes to that ideology. But then again, I sit in a different place that the three of you.

I've come to find over the small decade and two years I've ridden the sport that competitive dressage isn't for every horse (but dressage, to a point is). Going along that same vein, not every horse is going to be an international superstar. It takes a special horse that can cope with the pressures, the training, the everything.

Ethically is it alright to push a horse that isn't ready up through the levels? IMHO, no. But it's not my horse and therefore, not my call.

Its also partially why the Young Horse tests are so controversial is because people are now just realising that their horses aren't cut out for that lifestyle and you cannot drill the movements. So it creates resentment, and ruffled feathers that their horse isn't incredibly special.

The other part of that resentment comes from Joe Blow winning all the time. So, as you said, they copy methods and it doesn't pan out exactly as planned (and in most cases are punished in the score department) and therefore they groan about that and start pointing at the originator without understanding the original intent of the tool anyways.

So, science and studies aside... no one school is truly the be all, end all and that's what I'm initially pointing out (but good for you if you found one that works). That it truly does take a village to raise a dressage horse and, at one point, even the old masters were radically different. That, even they still continue to learn and incorporate some of those principles. It's only when we stop to consider the effectiveness of the method, and how we are using it as well as in what context is when we begin to understand it.

Extension comes from collection and they really do have an expression of 'ultimate' collection- pirouettes. While I agree with you that the old baroque horses wouldn't have the extension of the warmbloods today, have you taken a look at what's out there now? The Andalusians, Lusitanos, Friesians, ect are breeding and getting both.

Looking at '08's Olympic freestyle, he did halt (2M of walk to halt), square, immobile for about three to four seconds. Since there isn't a minimum time requirement, she met the requirements of the test. It probably scored a 7.

Yes, I know I'm playing semantics at this point;)

Kelly said...

Also noted on the serrated, for me it also wasn't supposed to be taken as snarky, but I was jumping subjects a bit:)

Anonyma said...

Well, well, well. This certainly is an interesting conversation. :)

Personally, I understand and respect all viewpoints. That having been said, after watching the life-changing DVD, "If Horses Could Speak", and spending 7 months of intensive training learning how riding while "flooring the accelerator with the handbrake on" or, worse, simply riding tricks on the forehand, can absolutely destroy your horse's musculature and take 10 years off their life, I think I'll stray away from our "modern" view of dressage. ;)

I doubt I'll be perfecting Phillipe Karl's movements any time soon or Hempfling's belief of riding with the horse in natural balance, but it can't hurt to have those goals in mind, can it? To the betterment of the horse, I say, and not so much to the ease of my ride or the appeasement of my eye.

But that's just my opinion. ;) Eveyone else is welcome to their own opinions and techniques.

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