This report comes from Horse Conscious, a valuable resource for the natural way we interact with horses.
Just when you thought the evidence was already overwhelming against hyperflexion, out comes another report which verifies that a horse ridden with a flexed neck position (aka rollkur) suffers a narrowing of the airway thus making it more difficult to breath. Look closely for the double-headed arrows in the image above.
The research was carried out by a team of German researchers and here is an extract of how they carried out the tests:
For the exercise test, the horses were ridden at trot and canter in each of the specific head and neck positions. The riders were asked to present their horses unrestrained (without contact between the rider’s hand and the bit), with elevated neck (with the poll being the highest point and the ridge of the nose slightly in front of vertical), and in hyperflexion (with the ridge of the nose behind vertical). All head and neck positions were achieved without the use of auxiliary reins. Each horse was ridden according to its individual level of training so it would perform willingly without resistance to the rider. Occurrence of abnormal respiratory noises, times of appearance, as well as the characteristics and alterations in dependence upon the head and neck positions were noted. Videos of each combination of gait and head and neck position were recorded.
You can read the full report here.
I have to say, isn’t it plain common sense that a horse should suffer breathing difficulties if it’s head is right back against its chest? You try it if you haven’t already.
Can exponents of rollkur really be so stupid that they haven’t worked this out for themselves? Or is it just the usual case, when there’s money and ego at stake, to turn one’s head (and heart) away from the abuse and pretend it’s not there?