The news that the FEIF will allow the flash noseband in connection with lever bits has hit the Iceland horse world like a bombshell. Not yet available on FEIF’s website, the Icelandic horse magazine Hestablaðið Seisei relies on secure sources when presenting the breaking news. However, it should be allowed to ask why the news has not yet found its way onto the FEIF’s website, while the sport and breeding committee made the decision in the autumn. Did the FEIF expect headwinds? Is the year of harmony in the riding world over; has the time for rough riding come again? It is always a risk to readmit prohibited items, no matter where in life. Bans usually originate in a cause. In this case, the ban had been preceded by a series of bad press. Ugly snapshots from Icelandic horse competitions had found their way into the German horse press some years ago. Following a German Championship prestiguous horse gazettes published articles with compromising pictures, and FEIF received hundreds of open mouth snapshots, collected by a leisure rider’s initiative, along with a petition for a ban. In order to protect the public image of Icelandic horse riding from further harm, FEIF responded with a ban. The horses themselves played a rather minor role. For three years Icelandic horses were equipped with lever bits without constriction during competitions. For three years they could immediately show resistance by opening their mouths when the rider used rough riding. For three years, horses might have been equipped with nosebands at home, but at tournaments mouths remained closed more often. For three years, riders had the opportunity to reconsider their actions on the curb reins, as well as their general riding style.
Perhaps the ban’s withdrawl isn’t such a bad step by FEIF. It gives riders the unique opportunity to show what they have made of the ban regarding riding. Do we need the noseband on the Icelandic curb at all? He who will tie his horse’s mouth in the future, will put himself up against the wall and publicly demonstrates that he is not able to manage his horse differently. He demonstrates that he uses the curb bit far too early on his horse, that he uses the bit not for lifting the impression, but for lifting the horse’s head, that he disregards the training scale and would rather follow the scoring scale. He demonstrates publicly that he has something to hide. With the ban’s lifting 2015 is going to be a particularly interesting tournament year. The sport and breeding community, at whose request the equipment had been readmitted, clearly has a duty and should remember the power of pictures. The riders who are now allowed to use the flash noseband in public can once again prove that the Icelandic horse equitation has changed for the better. They are responsible for whether and in what direction the image of the Icelandic horse sport will change in the future. They should not take the ban’s withdrawl as a Christmas gift, but as a credit of trust – and prove to be worthy of it.
However, by showing an increasing number of flash nosebands on lever bits next year the Icelandic horse sport will have judged itself and proven that it is not able to learn. And obtains the right of being subject to negative headlines again.
The welfare of the horse should not be an empty word.
Dagmar Trodler – [email protected]