Nov 11, 2009

Clarifications on the Blue Tongue Controversy

Following up on the heels of yesterday's post, I thought of a couple of clarifications I wanted to make before delving into solutions for the FEI.  Firstly, the blue tongue in and of itself is not good, but a lot of people who have been riders all their lives have had horses slip their tongues between bits, over bits, stuck their tongues out to flap in the breeze, etc...  These things happen.  Blaming it on rollkur is going a bit overboard.  At the Syracuse Invitational there was a horse with his tongue flapping in the wind who performed great.  At the paddocks prior to every horserace are thoroughbreds with tongues hanging out, swollen and bluish whether from having tight chain shanks pulling on their mouths or horses biting their tongues out of pre-race nerves.  This is not uncommon and though I don't ever like seeing it, I can't deny that it happens and that it's not one thing that causes these issues.  I don't know that hyperflexion caused the blue tongue, so I'm not going to speculate on that and, frankly, I don't see that as the ultimate issue at stake.  That being said, had it happened to me I would have probably stopped my horse and checked to make sure there was no larger problem at hand.  At the very least I would have stopped and had a walk break.  That Patrik did neither of those things troubles me.

The simple fact that he rode his horse for 90 minutes to 2 hours does not bother me greatly.  If that was indeed the case, then the horse did not appear unduly stressed, breathing heavily or sweaty.  Clearly he was in the kind of condition that would allow him to work for that long.  The thing that does bother me is the assertion that the horse was ridden in rollkur for the entire length of that time, with only one walk break (as epona.tv explained in their FAQ).  That definitely changes things for me.  I don't think any horse should be ridden in any working frame for that length of time without several breaks.

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