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The Rollkur Cure February 10, 2010

Posted by mikeschaffer in balance, Behind the bit, calmness, competition, contact, corrections, dressage, hyperflexion, looseness, roll kur, rules, training.

Since the F.E.I.’s official action on rollkur is a change of vocabulary, I’m again suggesting my solution to the problem since it can end this thing they’re now calling “positioning the head through aggressive force.”

I do congratulate the F.E.I. group on reaching the consensus, “that any head and neck position of the horse achieved through aggressive force is not acceptable.” This a huge improvement over previous statements because it is getting to the root of the problem which is not a particular head position, but any “forced head position.”

It makes no difference what the forced head position is. Forcing the head into a rollkur position is forced backwards riding. Forcing the head position too far to the side is forced backwards riding. Forcing the head up and back in a mimic of the classical position is forced backwards riding too. The problem is not the position, it’s the force. This is why the solution is not to legislate, it’s to educate.

Education will work because the horse doesn’t want to pull on your hands any more than he wants you pulling on his mouth. However, horses have to be taught how to react to the riders hands correctly just as riders have to be taught how to relax and allow their horses to go out to their hands.

“Educated mouths” and “educated hands” are not ethereal, abstract concepts that only an anointed few can hope to someday experience. These are down to earth, basic skills that you and your horse can learn. I know because I’ve been teaching them to horses and riders for over 35 years.

My DVD will show you how to teach this basic skill to your horse. It’s available online at My DVD.

For more insights as to why and how dressage works the way it does, check out my book at Amazon



1. Deb - February 10, 2010

As always Mike, you bring a fresh (and thought-provoking) perspective to a decision others are characterizing as an evasion of the issue or mere politics.

And as someone who has taken instruction from you and watched you train now for several years, all I can say is, “Yes, get the DVD, get Right from the Start (and the new book the minute it’s available)–and more than that, do a clinic with or take a lesson from Mike every single chance you get.” Riding your own horse correctly and teaching him the best way to carry you is one of the most important things you can do for his welfare, and when you finally start getting it to happen, it’s a blast!


Jenny Pournelle - February 13, 2010

Hear, hear!!

2. Hyperflexion/Rollkur/Blue tongue, Insanity! « The Dressage Process - February 12, 2010

[…] The Rollkur Cure […]

Pam - February 14, 2010

Mike, Is there any particular way that you can teach a student to get better at relaxing and letting the horse reach into the hand or is that something that just sort of magically evolves over time? I’m at the point now where some rides I achieve the good contact and sometimes it seems I’ll never get it. My instructor keeps telling me “Let it happen” – and I think that is what I am doing, but it must not be so when my horse refuses the contact.

3. mikeschaffer - February 16, 2010

You’ve asked a very good question. The problem is your instructors advice is incomplete. Before you can “let it happen” you have to train your muscles to relax and let gravity draw your elbows down and back. You have to spend a fair amount of time visualizing and imagining the feel of elastic contact with the horse. It is only after you have developed the conscious ability to deliberately relax your arms, that you can “let it happen,”

4. Mac - February 17, 2010

Hi Mike

Loving your take on this whole Rollkur issue. I do have a question though, completely unrelated…. How’s the new book coming along? I have your first and can’t wait til the second one is out! Sounds very exciting!

Oh and how is Indeed going? DO update his blog, please!!

=) Cheers!

mikeschaffer - February 18, 2010

Hi Mac,

The “new” book (which seems very old to me now) is very nearly “done” which means it’s about to start the publishing process which takes forever as well. I hope to have it to you soon – it’s actually very cool and makes a lot of stuff make sense.

Indeed is doing great – in fact I was trying to organize a video taping to show off his new flying changes and other fun tricks when we got he with all this snow. Hopefully I’ll get a new tape up in March.


5. Dorinda - February 26, 2010

Oh I am glad that I visited today to see that you have nearly finished your second book Mike. I can’t wait to read it and to see an update of Indeeds training. I am learning heaps from them even though I am way down here in OZ.


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