Rullkur & Riding on the Vertical - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 03-30-2020, 11:39 PM Thread Starter
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Rullkur & Riding on the Vertical

So I've been learning about Rullkur, hyper flexion, and head set in horses (especially dressage horses) and was wondering a few things. I know that the Rullkur position is damaging to nerves, bones, muscles, and tendons in the horse's neck and causes hyperflexion, and not to mention pain and discomfort to the horse. What about riding on the vertical? Does riding on the vertical have similar negative effects on the horse, or does that damage mainly occur when riding in the rullkur position or behind the vertical? I'm not super knowledgeable in this area so let me know if I got anything wrong

Thanks!

Do you give the horse its strength or clothe its neck with a flowing mane? Job 39:19

Last edited by Equestrian Girl 3000; 03-30-2020 at 11:40 PM. Reason: adding a few words for clarity
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-31-2020, 03:37 AM
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There has not been a great deal of scientific study over rollkur.

This is an interesting artcal - especially the last paragraph!


https://thehorse.com/120993/rollkur-...-implications/
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-02-2020, 10:42 AM
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It's awesome that you're looking into this!

Equine biomechanics is a really important topic for anyone who's a rider to understand. Being knowledgeable about the way a horse's body works can help prevent injuries and unneeded stress down the road.

The basis of it all comes from impulsion. If a horse is not pushing correctly from behind they can't carry themselves properly or lift the front end, so you have more force coming down on the front legs which leads to further injury. Rolkur is an extreme example of this, but most dressage today is completely incorrect and trains the horse to put their face on the vertical without any proper push from behind.

Look up videos of the Spanish Riding School and Paul Belasik - they're the most contemporary examples of how correct horses should travel. Haunches down, back legs reaching under to the girth. They're on the vertical, but their bodies are moving properly and with correct way of travel.
Then watch a horse like Totilas - a complete disgrace to dressage - and see how incorrectly and stunted his movement looks. At no point does he really reach under himself with his hind legs and lift the front end.

If you really are interested in this sort of thing and want to learn - Gerd Heuschmann has written amazing books on the subject that I would highly recommend reading.
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-02-2020, 12:53 PM
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A horse should be arching over the back and reaching into the contact, and being on the vertical should come from that. Unfortunately it often comes from forced compression instead. Now, that outline can become legitimately more compressed during collection, but it shouldn't always stay that way. A horse should have a nice open throatlatch. Check out this one. Though it is a little in front of the vertical, it's close to being on it. And look how long and open the neck looks:

https://dressagetoday.com/.image/ar_...ttermann-2.jpg

And this horse is on the vertical, but is in a good stretch and reaching down:

https://dressagetoday.com/.image/t_s...f-stretch-.jpg

So it's not being on the vertical, itself, that's the problem. It's what people do to achieve it.
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-02-2020, 01:02 PM
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Another indication that the horse is being pulled into a false frame is that the poll won't be the highest point. It SHOULD be, but in a false frame, the highest point of the neck with be a few vertebrae down. As seen here. https://thehorse.com/wp-content/uplo...perflexion.jpg

Last edited by SteadyOn; 04-02-2020 at 01:08 PM.
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-02-2020, 05:37 PM
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I've always thought that the below blog post had a really good explanation for your question above.

::: Sustainable Dressage - Rollkur - How And Why Not? - Behind the Vertical Explained :::
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-03-2020, 06:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteadyOn View Post

And this horse is on the vertical, but is in a good stretch and reaching down:

https://dressagetoday.com/.image/t_s...f-stretch-.jpg

So it's not being on the vertical, itself, that's the problem. It's what people do to achieve it.
Not trying to hijack the conversation, but is this a sustainable way for a horse to be moving? My mare seems most comfortable with her headset close to this, she tracks up fairly well through her hind and is still fairly light in my hand. I always thought that working long and low was good for muscle development but have also heard that the poll should be the highest point of the neck, which seems like a bit of a contradiction to me.

Sorry if these are stupid questions but is it damaging at all for a horse to go like that consistently? Or does it just mean that they aren't as light in the forehand for more advanced moves?
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-03-2020, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivo View Post
Not trying to hijack the conversation, but is this a sustainable way for a horse to be moving? My mare seems most comfortable with her headset close to this, she tracks up fairly well through her hind and is still fairly light in my hand. I always thought that working long and low was good for muscle development but have also heard that the poll should be the highest point of the neck, which seems like a bit of a contradiction to me.

Sorry if these are stupid questions but is it damaging at all for a horse to go like that consistently? Or does it just mean that they aren't as light in the forehand for more advanced moves?
It really really depends on who you ask. Long and low is used as a reward for my horses. They get the stretch as a 'hey you did the hard work in a more compact frame well' sort of thing.

The MOST IMPORTANT aspect of a horse moving correctly is the back. Look behind the saddle. If the spine is lower than the haunches there, you have an issue. The abs of the horse should be engaged and lifted up. The spine shouldn't have a U shaped dip in it.

Look first to the haunches, and how far the horse's back legs are tracking up. Then to the area under and behind the saddle. Is it lifted properly? THEN worry about the head.
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-04-2020, 08:06 AM
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So would something like this at least be on the right track? I can definitely feel her come up over her back when she goes like this but should I be aiming to have her more engaged? She isn't as strong as I would like her to be but for low levels is this at least not doing any damage? There's definitely a dip behind the saddle but she also seems a lot more angular through her croup than a lot of dressage horses I found photos of. She's a tb cross if that's relevant.

Sorry if I'm coming across really neurotic, I'm just worried I'm not doing the best I can for her and I can't get out to any lessons at the minute to annoy somebody else
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-04-2020, 09:30 AM
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Forward first. Forget about what's happening in front of you and really focus on getting her moving up with her hind legs.

Her croup is higher than the wither so it's going to be very hard for her to ever look correct, but your first order of business should always be establishing the correct impulsion.

It may help if you correct your lower leg position, sink down into the heel and stretch the back of your leg. You can wrap your leg around the barrel better from there and really influence the hind end that way.

Overall you're doing nothing detrimental to your horse, she just is heavy on the forehand.
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