For readers in the USA and UK, and other English-speaking countries
It certainly is an undisputed fact that Europe, and Germany in particular, in the past few decades has had an enormous influence and played a decisive role in the development of equestrian sport all over the world. Both advances in breeding that are strictly based on the protection of animal rights, as well as highly sophisticated training methods, which have evolved over the past centuries, have provided Europe with an opportunity to export its philosophies and spread the art of riding to people elsewhere who admire the Europeans' aesthetically beautiful, well-trained horses.
Consequently, Europe has been exporting countless numbers of horses to fulfill a huge demand. In order to cater to this market, the horse-training process is being shortened, and many of us Europeans are forgetting about the classical, time-proven training principles. A group of trainers has evolved who strive only for the quickest way to success in the horse show business, and with it the ensuing economic reward. Such a monetary goal, in and of itself, certainly isn't something that's fundamentally wrong, however, if on the way to such success the horse is reduced to a mere object or an economic asset to be moulded only for marketing purposes, then, in my view, we enter into a situation, which from the viewpoint of animal rights is not only very dangerous but also morally questionable.
Some horses are being trained with mechanical and technical devices in the shortest time possible. In other words, being trained mechanically. Other nations with little historical understanding of the classical development of riding and horse sports, are attempting to emulate these quick training methods, and inevitably, one of the means of producing such horses - "hand-dominated" riding - is also being copied.
Sadly, riders and trainers in a horse-importing nation like the United States are widely imitating this procedure, and this is happening despite the fact that hand- and strength-dominated riding isn't part of the American way of riding at all. Just remember all the reputable jumper riders who demonstrated to the world a wonderfully light and horse-friendly riding style! And, consider that it's an American, Melissa Simms, living part-time in Germany and working from the Von Neindorff Riding Institute, who is showing the entire equestrian world that riding with feel and delicacy in harmony with the horse also leads to great success.
During my last 20 years as a practicing veterinarian, I've learned some things that have made me stop and think. I believe the time has come to critically analyze our sport so that we don't continue the sort of riding and training trends I've discussed in this Preface.
The goal of training should be to further the horse's capacity to perform, and optimize his physical beauty as well as his overall well-being by taking enough time. By writing this book, I'm appealing to every rider to follow this goal regardless of equestrian discipline or nationality.
So it is with this entreaty in mind that I wish all of you great success and a healthy partnership with your horses.
Gerd HeuschmannFrom Dr. Gerd Heuschmann's "Tug of War: Classical vs "Modern" Dressage", published by Trafalgar Square Books (2007)
Warendorf, Germany, June 2007
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