Research about Rollkur, or low deep and round.
There is lots of controversy surrounding the subject of neck positions in horses, specifically that of hyperflexion. This article aims to investigate different research done concerning the biomechanical, physiological and behavioural effects of this posture.
- Research investigating unridden horses showed that the hyperflexed position resulted in a larger amplitude of dorsoventral back motion and a ‘bow-and-string’ effect in the back.
- Another researcher analysed the ridden horse and concluded that there was no harmful effect of hyperflexion in the horse when achieved in the correct way.
- Studies investigating cadavers showed that just as in humans, neck flexion enlarges the intervertebral foramina through with the cervical nerves exit, while extension of the neck decreases their size.
- The final research investigated the effect of experienced trainers riding with rollkur on the behaviour and comfort on the horse, and in this experiment no signs of stress or uneasiness were found.
To conclude, many factors influence the effect of rollkur or low deep and round on the horse, such as rider ability, the confirmation and age of the horse, the force used and the duration of application. Therefore, the author feels a discrimination should be made between low, deep and round which indicates a hyperflexed position achieved without undue force, and ‘Rollkur’ which indicates the same position but achieved in a forceful, aggressive way.
Expert opinion by Els Smet
The author of the article highlights that we should not condemn the position itself, but rather the way it is achieved.
> From: Weeren, Vet J 196 (2013) 290-3. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd.. Click here for the online summary.