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Right Rule — Wrong Place March 21, 2009

Posted by mikeschaffer in balance, Behind the bit, calmness, competition, dressage, half-halts, hyperflexion, performance standards, Riding.
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Although I have been in support of the two finger rule since last September (Real Performance Standards) I oppose petitioning the F.E.I. to adopt it.

The F.E.I. is the international equestrian federation and is responsible for setting the rules for international dressage competitions — C.D.I’s.  While the USEF almost always shadows the F.E.I.’s rule changes, it doesn’t necessarily have to.  In fact, there are many rules that apply to horses competing at C.D.I.’s that don’t apply to horses competing at USEF shows.  So, it is possible that the petition could hit the wrong target and affect only horses at international competitions.

Frankly, it is targeting of the petition that I take exception to.   While it is popular and apparently profitable to target riders at the top of the pyramid, the fact is those successfully competing internationally are very competent, knowledgeable, talented, and dedicated horse people.  Every horse entered in a C.D.I. is jogged for soundness, inspected for overall heath, and likely to be drug tested.  In addition, those competing in world class events are already working with world class trainers, vets, farriers, saddle fitters, and grooms.  So, why does anyone believe they know what is better for these horses then the people already caring for them?  I, for one, am very hesitant to tell those doing it better than I did or can what would be better for their horses.

On the other hand I have no problem stating as fact that those learning about dressage would be far better off without tight nosebands or spurs.  I have no problem stating as fact that a “trainer” sending a green horse and rider into a training level test with a tight noseband and spurs is doing them both a great disservice.  I have no problem stating as fact that tight nosebands on green horses and spurs on green riders is crippling thousands of horses and ruining thousands of riders every year.

So, I applaud the sentiment and good intentions of the petition, however, I think it needs to be directed to our USEF and, if other countries believe it useful, to their national federations.  I also think targeting these efforts to national federations and to lower level tests initially will have the greatest chance of being passed, will affect the greatest number of horses and riders, and will therefore do the greatest good.

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