I'm not one of these dressage riders who espouses a certain type of riding is the only way. We've learned a lot about horses in the last several centuries, how their bodies work, how they think, how best to train them. So, improvements in training methods are possible, and classical dressage can certainly change and evolve as horses change and evolve.
Rollkur is a word sure to spark hot debate on both sides. If you don't know what it is, take a look at the embedded video below and read this definition. I also found a good article on it here.
I've managed to stay out of the rollkur discussion because I really don't know enough about it. Ttrainers I respect have told me it works well with hot horses. I've seen it used to a point by a few trainers, and it's never bothered me. Yet, when I watched his video it really made me sick. I'm not sure why. The horse doesn't really look unhappy. He's not laying back his ears, not swishing his tail. Granted, he does have his tongue over the bit in the beginning. Maybe what sickens me is that the animal seems to have lost its spirit. Am I right or wrong? Who knows? I'd almost have to see the horse in the actual class after this warmup. I tried to find a video of the class and couldn't. I did find another video of him at the European championships. The horse looked fine.
In dressage, submission is important. But where is the line between submission as a willing partner and slavery? I have never been an opponent of rollkur, but now I'm not sure.
Regardless, I've been wanting to discuss this video which made the rounds a few months ago. Take a look, and think about it. I also found the wide range of comments on the video's YouTube page very interesting.
I'm interested in a civil, open-minded discussion, as I'd really like to hear both sides.