Hyperflexion

The British Horse Society strongly recommends that all riders training horses on the flat and over fences should adhere to the official instruction handbook of the German National Equestrian Federation.

While we appreciate that horses are as individual as humans, and that some may require corrective schooling, the BHS’s stand on hyperflexion (by which we mean the extreme flexion of the horse’s head and neck beyond normal limits) remains clear: it is an unacceptable method of training horses by any rider for any length of time.

We recognise that the scientific evidence is conflicting, and likely to remain so as each party seeks determinedly to prove its case. For this reason we doubt that science will ever provide a single, clear, unambiguous and unarguable answer.

It therefore falls to humans to do what the horses cannot, namely to follow the precautionary principle: as nature provides no evidence of horses choosing to move in hyperflexion for an extended period of time, as hyperflexion can create tension in the horse’s neck and back which has no justifying necessity, as the horse in hyperflexion is by definition unable fully to use its neck, and as the psychological consequences of such treatment remain latent (perhaps in an analogous position with horses which are whipped aggressively but which can still pass a five star vetting), we should take all appropriate steps to discourage the use of this training technique, for the horse’s sake.

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