Rollkur: FEI offers hyperflexion guidelines

May 12, 2010

New illustrated guidelines have been produced by the FEI showing permitted positions of the horse's head and neck during pre and post-competition training.

Long, deep and round:

Low, deep and round:

Long and low:

The diagrams were produced by an FEI Working Group as part of a new Annex (XIII) for the revised FEI Stewards Manual on warm-up techniques.

One of the key stipulations in the Working Group's report was that all unacceptable training methods and techniques must be stopped immediately. The Working Group was also insistent that abuse of the horse must be avoided and, in particular, stressing the horse, aggressive riding and inflicting pain and/or discomfort on the horse must be prevented.

"The current FEI Stewards Manual already includes instructions covering aggressive riding, but the new Annex (XIII) has clear instructions on action to be taken if necessary relating to flexion of the horse's neck during pre and post-competition training," the FEI said.

"Any head and neck position obtained through the use of aggressive force is not acceptable."

Movements which involve having the horse's head and neck carriage in a sustained or fixed position should be performed only for periods not exceeding about 10 minutes without change.

Deliberate extreme flexions of the neck involving either high, low or lateral head carriages, should be performed only for very short periods. If these deliberate extreme flexions are performed for longer periods the Steward can intervene.

It is the Steward's responsibility to ensure that riders respect these procedures.

"Used in conjunction with the new Stewards Manual, these illustrations now provide the Stewards with the final piece in the jigsaw that will allow them to do their job more effectively, ensuring that horse welfare is maintained at all times", Working Group Chair Frank Kemperman said.

The diagrams show examples of acceptable head and neck positions.

The illustrated FEI Stewards Manual Dressage has been sent to all National Federations, which have been instructed to immediately forward it to all stewards for implementation from May 15.

Dressage will be the first discipline to use the new Stewards Manual, with the other FEI disciplines currently reviewing their individual requirements.

The Guidelines, which were produced by the Working Group formed after the round-table conference held in Lausanne on 9 February 2010, were approved at the FEI Bureau meeting in Geneva on 15 April 2010.

The Working Group was made up of Dressage Committee Chair Frank Kemperman (Chairman), Richard Davison (GBR), Rider/Trainer; John P. Roche (IRL), FEI Director Jumping/Stewarding; Jacques Van Daele (BEL), FEI Honorary Dressage Steward General/Judge; Wolfram Wittig (GER), Trainer; and Trond Asmyr (NOR), FEI Dressage and Para Equestrian Dressage Director/Judge. Input was also received from Dr Gerd Heuschmann and Sjef Janssen and from the FEI Jumping Committee.