|The Renaissance of the Art of Riding
Renaissance of the Art of Riding Today, Philosophy
The origins of the Renaissance of the Art of Riding can be traced back
as far as the 4th century BC. Murals from this period document that
horses were used for military purposes and that horsemen used curbs
for one-handed riding. The Greek commander Xenophon is the first
known author of a treatise about horsemanship: “Such are the
horses (i.e. those that master collection and the bending of the
haunches),” he writes, “on which gods and heroes ride,
as represented by the artist, and the man who knows how to manage
such a creature gracefully himself at once appears magnificent."
One who will most certainly have appeared magnificent to Xenophon’s
eyes is Antoine Pluvinel, the great French riding master of the
Renaissance period. It is through him that the art of equitation
reaches new heights in the 16th century. His book „L' instruction
du roy en l'exercice de monter à cheval“, in which
he teaches Louis XIII of France the art of riding, is not only remarkable
for its conciseness and clarity, but also for its educational insight
that retains relevance to this day.
In the Baroque period the gentry finally withdraws from the battlefields.
What was once done for military purposes is now becoming solely
an art. François Robinchon de la Guérinière
is the great riding master of this age.
All the masters in history have one thing in common: they based
their work on later usage. This means they studied with great care
which parts of the training were the most effective and the most
beneficial to the horses’ health. Therefore the art never
became artificial. Training the airs on the ground lasted six to
eight years, which means that the horses were intended to be used
for a long period of time and consequently their health was made
a central priority.
The 20th century, too, had its share of masters who continued the
great tradition: Don Álvaro Domecq Díaz, Don Javier
García Romero and Egon von Neindorff. It is from them that
my teacher Bent Branderup received his knowledge and experience
which he has been passing on to me in the last nine years.
THE RENAISSANCE OF THE ART OF RIDING
Different breeds and different tempers make every horse and
pony a unique individual. Nevertheless horses share the basic physiology
and require similar gymnastic training taking into account individual
characteristics like breed and disposition. Today horses are our
partners with whom we like to spend our leisure time. Nonetheless
we have to pay close attention to proper training since there is
one fact that has not changed in the course of time: horses need
to learn how to carry the rider’s weight.
This is the principal objective of
the Renaissance of the Art of
Riding. Based on “Losgelassenheit”,
the horse is formed in line with its physiology and sustains a healthy
body when mounted. What starts as a craft can finally become an
art – by continually improving the rider’s senses.
It is up to the rider’s wisdom how to apply these
rules with care and intuition to his horse. Certain things do not
have unambiguous rules, since horses are not all alike.
My whole approach to gymnastic training is based on the horse’s
individual physiology and its mental preferences. There can be no
school of equitation pursuing a consistent program without taking
the horse’s individual character into account.
„It is the rider’s routine using hand and leg
aides, paired with an excellent empathy for the horse and a long
experience in the art of riding which allow him to resort to a thousand
things and more at the right time that cannot be explained or written
down but only result from the given situation and necessity.
My training centres on the thought of man and horse being a unity
of body and mind. Your education as a person is as important to
me as your horse’s education. After all, it’s not only
the person training the horse but also the horse training the person,
providing you with an opportunity to rediscover physiological senses
and perceptive abilities which were taken for granted in a distant
epoch but are rarely stimulated today.
I made it my personal aim in life to accompany people and horses
in the poetic art of academic riding by teaching the principles
of an intelligent craft. When the thoughts and movements of rider
and horse converge a collective meditation of two living beings
occurs. If you take enough time for yourself, your horse and your
dreams, you will certainly be able to experience and feel that one