Anky van Grunsven is considered the queen of Rollkur by many. She calls her system Low, Deep and Round (LDR). In these three videos, Anky talks about her system of LDR in a clinic while demonstrating the techniques on her horse Nelson.
While I’m not a fan of Rollkur (and yes, these videos are meant to put the training technique in a more positive context), I did find these three videos to be really interesting and if you can put the Rollkur issue aside, and listen to it with an open mind, they are thought provoking. It’s not every day that you get to audit a clinic from a rider/trainer of her caliber for free.
One interesting bit at the beginning is that she states that these are techniques for the professional rider and should not be attempted by amateurs without supervision. Kind of like those car ads that say in the small print, “professional driver on a closed track.”
What do you think?
5 thoughts on “Anky’s training methods in her own words”
I think you are not afraid of Pandora’s box! I loved many of the ways in which she rode this horse. In my (notably amateur) opinion, Long, Deep, and Round is another way of saying “RollKur”.
I like and understand the concept of being able to vary the horse’s outline in such a relaxed and trusting manner. I was surprised to see any relaxation in her horse during the LDR/RK phases. And I did. I was disconcerted by her horse’s acceptance of the RK outline as a normal part of his work day. Does that mean he’s okay? Or that he’s one of those lovely enduring souls who give you anything, even if it hurts? I don’t know.
It’s my understanding that one of the problems with RK is the potential restriction of the horse’s airway, depending on individual confirmation at the throat latch.
Even if we were to determine there are a few rider/horse pairs that can perform RK for short periods without cruelty, who will make the call that X rider with Y horse can perform it safely,but for another pair, (different confirmation/riding style), RK is a heinous torture?
Realistically you can’t allow a “little” RK: it’s an all or nothing decision. A disclaimer saying “professionals only” will not stop riders and trainers everywhere from emulating the top dressage riders in the world: they do RK, they win, I need to do RK.
Personally, I think it is cruel. Roughly 15 minutes of ‘explaining’, and showing it can be done for very short periods without tension (note I do not say without stress – how do we know the horse isn’t stressed?) doesn’t mitigate the enormous and potentially disastrous impact it could have on the physical and psychological states of dressage horses at every level. Blue tongue. Need I say more?
Even if I could be convinced Anky can do RK without harm, which I am not, how many Anky’s are there in the world? One. Verses how many Anky wannabe’s? Hundreds of thousands.
It’s plain silly to believe only one specific exercise (RK) can gymnasticize and build up certain muscles. It’s not true for people, why would it be for horses? Competitive athletes do not all do the exact same exercise to build the same muscle. Training is tailored to their conformation, strengths and weaknesses.
RK/LDR should be banned, period. Other than that, I loved the way in which she rode, the simplicity and lightness of her approach.
Not that I have an opinion or anything. 😉
Just happened to be blog stalking and wandering through the wonderful world that is the internet and I came upon your videos. Needless to say I sat and watched all three, so thank you for posting them!
My opinion on Rollkur is a negative one, but I do believe that the issue has been blown out of proportion by over-eager mob media trying to point fingers. I think the real problem lies in the fact that there is no progressive training system set up there that is proven to work. I understand that horses are individuals – I embrace that fact knowing that in the horse world you can ask 10 people the same question and get 9-and-a-half different answers and they are all correct. However the over whelming lack of education, especially in the United States, really escalates the problem. Personally I have no problem using a “round, deep, and low” position for stretching or suppling. My problem with “rollkur” is when it becomes a ‘frame’.
Another issue for me is how to define Rollkur. Is it once the horse is behind the vertical? Or perhaps when a horse is broken at the third vertebra? Or is it when the nose touches the chest? When does it become cruel? Is it not just as cruel to see horses running around inverted with their necks like giraffes?
[: My thoughts, and I hope I have not offended anyone!
Thank you for posting the videos of Anky’s clinic. Listening to her, I hear a defensive demonstration of her highly awarded technique.
As long as judges look at everything except horses backs her excellent riding remains the standard.
I looked at Nelson’s back by noting where his head and the top of his spine connect. From my eye I never saw Nelson’s topline look alive or actively engaged. Observing where his poll position was when she released his neck “and the nose goes forward” looked to me like it moved to the vertical without relaxing the poll.
I seek a path to training that allows a horses neck to lengthen and widen, extend and contract, where the head is trained to delicately move up. Besides nothing delicate with respect to his head, I never saw any change in muscles whatsoever, anywhere.
My experience of a body can best be described as an instrument of music, one that should be tuned to its highest and best tone.
An accordion would be my instrument of choice to describe extension, contraction, and bending. However, I can see the standard is set and it is more like bending a type of material which can be straightened or bent that has a permanent curl at its end, not living breathing sentient tissue. That is quite the tool.
Recognizing that my aspirations are very different than hers, I am an Olympic spectator, I do like to give voice to the horse. Perhaps the future of judging will evolve as ice skating has where every little bit is critically marked using replays and riders horse’s head placement on the spine connected to their backs will be taken in account and awarded points as well.
Which is why, I, wanting to work to bring out the best of the living form, study how to teach the muscles I need to contract and those not needed in a given moment to relax. It takes a long time and is highly challenging and a fun way to connect with my horse.
I think it looks like that would really hurt the horse.
Why not be nicer and not so hard on horses. I live in Canada and so many have seen your rollkur. None like it. For the most the horse community thinks this is disgusting. I have seen so many videos. I am origanally from Denmark and all my horse friends feel the same way.
I am 62 years old and have had happy horses my whole life.
I wish you would stop and show the world that you can be a good dressage rider without the RK/LDR. I guess I am happy that I care and love my horses.
Your horses are only walked outside a few times a day. My horses have lots of property to run on. My one horse is a dutch warmblood that is the happiest horse in the world. He knows I treat him right and care.
This horse is happy and relaxed throughout the video. I do not believe horses trained in pain or stress will perform this beautifully. She does not need to defend her methods as she is the one holding all the medals. I hear her trying to explain so that people will understand that she is not harming her horsesbut much like those who do yoga merely stretching muscles. She says to start slowly and not do it all the time but to vary positions. She walks l them and turns them out. She says to allow them to run free so they can move the way they like. Some people who posted seemed to only hear the parts they wanted. As far as banning at least here in the US we are supposed to be free that means allowing everyone to be an individual not forcing ones beliefs on all. If someone is abusing that is different but I personally have seen many horses not in LDR that were definately being abused so how do you police all of this. That is the job of show management and the TD’s. I don’t think its right to attempt to ban any techniques as it will not solve anything. Next are you going to ban all the overweight people that try to sit the trot while hanging on their horses mouths? I think that is far worse to watch than any “rollkur” session I’ve seen and it happens alot more often. I wish more of us could ride as softly and beautifully as she rides. I think for the horses they enjoy the clarity of her aids most of all. She has so much to offer and I personally enjoyed this post and loved the clinic!