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Interesting, I didn't realize that there was a term for this. Some of the top trainers in the Arabian industry use this technique occassionaly. I personally used it on a gelding I own who had EPM. After the disease the horse didnt use his neck correctly and this technique is what helped to re-teach him what the illness took away from him. It was a long slow process but I got great results and I don't think it hurt my horse at all. I wouldn't have used it if I had. But, like anything else I've seen it misused. It sure does have a debate going in the dressage world though.


Thanks for the comment. Over bending the horse for the purposes you described is a little different. In some cases a horse might benefit from a slightly deep flexion for a short time and only on occasion, and only for very few horses.

Those situations would have to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Hopefully, if this method were being used it would be merely to guide the horse to the desired result, not force them. That is a lot different than force trapping the stretch of the frame by over flexing the neck, and holding it there for long periods of time.

The horse's neck is used for balance--to over flex and force a frame is not taking into account the fundamentals of training Rhythm, Relaxation, Contact ,Impulsion, Straightness and Collection.

I think a lot of the controversy stemed from what was witnessed during warm ups. The horses were performing Grand Prix movements – from walk to trot to canter – completely cranked in. piaffe, passage, flying changes, walk and canter pirouettes and half-pass at the trot and canter in this manner

The actual meaning of dressage is "to train" again using the scale as example Rhythm, Relaxation, Contact ,Impulsion, Straightness and Collection.

It seems today lavish gaits,tricks and precision are what is rewarded in competition rather than the quality of the training, or the willingness of the horse.

To me the beauty of dressage is seeing horse in rider in true harmony. The definition of dressage is returning the freedom to the horse while under a rider. Extreme restraint and force to achieve this seems to be the opposite of this definition...
Then again, I have never trained a horse to GP level... this just my humble opinion on the subject.

Patricia Barlow-Irick

I am so glad that this world is a long way away from where I live. Can the horse be trained to hyperflex at liberty using positive reinforcement? If so, then maybe it is not so bad, but if the only way to get to it is through methods of avoidance of greater pain, then it is not respectful of the equine.

It reminds me of when I have to ride in the back seat of my jeep and keep my head ducked down to avoid bonking the roof. Yes, it makes my neck sore! Now if it was fashionable to walk around with my head ducked down, would I do it just for style? Me thinks I would not!


Draw reins were quite regularly used by showjumpers when warming up on the flat for competitions. These were often used in such a way that the horses were overbent. I wasn't keen on it then as looked a very unnatural position for the horse. I would be interested to know what is the purpose/benefits of this technique?


After looking at the 'rollkur' videos on youtube, I did a serch and found a Klimke video. The difference is remarkable -- what a difference when the poll is the highest point and the horse is free to use his neck as intended! Note as well that the horse's head is steady and does not drop behind the vertical.
I thought 'behind the bit' was a cardinal sin in dressage. Clearly 'politics' is the new classical training method...


I'm a showjumping rider myself but I have done abit of dressage and all te research I have done has pointed to the fact that rollkur is harmful to the horse. Anky did say a scientific article was coming out to say that rollkur was biomechanically better for the horse but this article has never turned up. The problem with rollkur is that they are trying to achieve lightness from the front of the horse and not from the hind. This means that the hindquarters get left behind. This isn't noticable in the Krack C video but if you watch the grey Matine at WEG you can see her hind is not truely engaged and she is always overbent. Rollkur also causes the nuchal ligament in the neck to calcify/start to form bone in it to try and strangthen it from the stress that rollkur causes. Rollkur causes the nuchal ligament to rub on the vertebrae of the neck, with lesions forming after just minutes of rollkur. Also horses in rollkur cannot swallow and they have the great strings of saliva hanging from their mouths. Finally you can often see horses in rollkur bouncing off both back legs together in trot as they cannot probably balance with their heads pulled in like that. Finally all they can see are there hooves. How would you feel in a medium canter and all you can see is your feet-scary huh. So basically rollkur is bad and a lazy way to get a horse with a fixed headset rather than ride it properly. And to be honest is Anky really that good of a rider?? She certainly grinds her pelvis into their poor spines and sometimes looks unbalanced. And when her horse bolts she panics and screams for help?? A world champion??


I think hyperflexion is a great method. I use it every day as warm up, for about 5 minutes, i also use long and low. and then after that i go into my normal training and put my horse normal into a competition frame. Its works well if you dont over do it.


Jack, you're joking right? Hyperflexion isn't and never will be a 'great method'. Horses can be permanently injured in as little as 20 minutes using this excuse for a training method. Hyperflexion/rolkur is a method for dominating the horse, gives contrary aids (brakes at the front, turbo boost from the spurs), is hard on the horse's mouth and can cause permanent damage to the horse. It puts the horse on the forehand, means that the horse cannot use his legs correctly and is a major factor in kissing spines.

It should never be used, even for 5 minutes. Anyone who thinks that it's a 'great method' needs to do their homework and get educated.


Rollkur is insane, did people get into horses to win or for the great partnership feel, (it might just be me that likes that)
Horses are so great to us, sure they buck and rear every now and again but otherwise they do so much for us when we push them all the time to make them perform better or just to get fitter (if anyone else is like me, u'll find pushing urself harder everyday for fitness is HARD)
They put up with us banging on there backs (no one was born with balance on a horse) and kicking and flapping, and what do we do to them in return................(not saying everyone is like that, just a wee bit crabby that people do this)


Dressage is not a bad sport, although a majority of it is insanity!
rollkur is INSANE. Horses LET US ride on THEIR back! They were meant to be FREE! Not with some IDIOT person named Anky on their back! What this world has come too I do NOT know... I am dissapointed in dressage people right now doing things to a horse like that!!!!!!


Disgusting. Man can rationalize anything, like having the gall to state that rollkur benefits the horse. It's all about satisfying human desire, which has no limit.


Wow that is crazy who would do somthing like that to your horse . Doing the rollkur to a horse is absolutly absurd having that much tension on the neck and that much bend is not healthy causing tension on the neck and back , even when it is not flexed it is tense causing sore muscles and if not relaxed or mesaged it can really hurt these beautiful creatures . Those of you who think the rollkur is a good method do tis "exersise" stand up tuke your chin so it is toching your coller bone and jog around your house or yard while making sure your back is straight . Start running (hopfully you don't have any trees or fences in your path cause you will hit them) now start doing circles , dancing on the spot soon you will become very dizzy (unbalenced) and feel like you are falling forward (on the forehand). That is the exact feeling a horse who is having hyper flexation.Also a horses source of balence is there neck and if they cannot swing there neck or move there neck they will be super unbalenced and with a rider apon there back just makes it even more unbalenced , and expecting national levals of dressage out of them when they are this unbalenced and not colected is a silly thing to ask from them .think of it this way would you be able to do it? would you be able to carry a person on your back while spuring you making you unbalenced asking you to go to extrem lengths , just to be elegant .


Hi all!
This type of riding is NOT dressage and it should never be called that! The world of dressage judges need to go back to school and learn that the walk is 4 beat, the trot 2 beat , the canter 3 beat and the gallop 4 beat. It is the fundamental truth behind the movement of horses. If they insist on judging this type of riding, then I suggest they build a robotic horse to appease their desires. That way AVG and the rest of the world of Competitive riders can still have their fun without harming these beautiful creatures. After all, if the judges can learn to judge DRESSAGE CORRECTLY, then this would now not be an issue and we would not be talking about it


This is truly disgusting. Rider's who like to 'cheat' dressage are nothing but fakes. I hope everything comes to them as to what they deserve. Call them 'riders'? Haha, don't make me laugh!!!


rollkur has ruined my horse. my dressage trainer introduced me to it but after a few months of using it i didnt feel ocmfortable doing that to my horse. i researched it on the internet and stopped using it instantly. i encouraged my horse to use the correct muscles and i rewarded him with the rein with he softened, and squeezed the rein if he didnt. however, his muscles were not used to working like this and his neck and back muscles started to knott. he soon became very resistant and started kicking when he was mounted. i thought it might be the saddle, so i got it checked, and it was the saddler that noticed the 'dips' in his back. i called the physiotherapist immediatly and she explained to me what the problem was. thankfully as he was a cob he was very forgiving and let us start the long physiotherapy course. we are starting to hack out again (1 month later) but we can only go in straight lines. its going to be about 6th months until i can show or event him again which means i have missed this show season. rollkur has ruined my horses back and i hope he will start to work supply again. because od rollkur he might not be able to forfill his full potential. i had hoped on going to hickstead on him as he was exceptional at working cob, however i do not want to put him through pain like that again so i may have to retire him to a happy hacker which is so sad as he absolutly loves his job, and has competed 3"3 xc and is only 6. so if your instructer introduces this method to you, change instructors!!
hannah - 15


When I did dressage riding in my late teens/early twenties, what is now described as "hyperflexion" was called being "behind the bit" and unacceptable.


I am an avid dressage rider 11 years and going and I really disagree with this method of training. To me it totally defeats the purpose of horse and rider being in sync with one another. Dressage is such a beautiful and elegant riding style and it really disgusts me to see these top riders who many people idol practicing these techniques. And now I know why some people don't like it because they see these tops riders abusing this historical sport.

Joni Solis

I am so happy to see that most of the people that have commented on this article do not feel that "hyperflexion" is OK to use on a horse.

Following the golden rule for people and horses it the way to go: do onto others what you would have done onto you. Love and respect your horse and always keep learning so you can do what is right for them.

Thank you for posting this info.


i have been riding for practicly my whole life and i have never used rollkur/hyperflexion, and i never will, and i have been very succesful in dressage with many differnt kinds of horses. I see dressage as allowing the horse to use its natural abilities, its a good sport and i love it. when i see some of these so called top riders using rollkur/hyperflexion it makes dressage seem like an abusing sport.

rollkur/hyperflexion- should not be what dressage or and equestrian sport is about. its not right, it IS abusive.


this brought tears to my eyes, the sadness. we have been civilized by our relationship with the horse, and this is the utmost insult to our gracious instructors, an animal so trusting at the mercy of our deisre to conquer its beauty.


Joyful submission is what I aim for from my horse.What a difference that is from the total domination and destruction of rolkur. But as long as it is rewarded in competition, it will continue to prosper, to the detriment of the horse.No wonder the average life expectancy of a Dutch dressage horse in Holland is around six or seven years old.


In the following video you can see some naturally occurring overbending in an untrained free running horse - I am in the process of building my own opinion about the value and risk of this training method. By the way - I think that every rider should be disqualified from competition if the horse shows any sign of mistreatment - especially bloody spots from spurs - here comes the video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJ0J9TvgPWo

Mary Seiden

This method of training is just as bad as the cruelty inflicted on gaited horses who are chained and padded and burned with caustic chemicals to get them to lift their legs higher. Anyone who supposedly knows anything about horses should be ashamed to use these cruel techniques, especially dressage riders who claim to be classical riders. Shame on all of you who can't enjoy the natural beauty of a horses gaits & that care only about winning ribbons. How disgusting!

debby miller

I would like permission to use one of your pictures in an article on how horses mouths are abused
Thank you

katie lewis

I am writting an assignment for my biomechanics module at Uni on rollkur, i can not find any pro arguments apart from the one on here and a breif interview with Anky who was very vague and didnt seem confident in her argument, does anyone have any scientific proof it is beneficial? I can only find science showing the bad. I can see where the pro rollkur lot are comming from - they think it makes it easier to then bring the horse 'up', and because evrybody does it its ok, im sure it does as your horse is so releived not to be in such a deformed state! No long term damage has been proved if you raed the FEI paper, is this just because it hasnt been going on long enough? It saddens me greatly the ignorance of self claimed horse lovers, submission should be asked for and if your horse trusts you he will let you lead him, why force him? you really dont need too. Also, it looks really gross! I welcome anyone to educate me and or convinve me it is a good method.

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