Classical Equitation by Charles de Kunffy

Posted on October 8, 2019 by Jerrilee.
Categories: history, riding, training.
image from equinethos

image from equinethos

(Excerpt)    Classical equitation is an art. Humans have unique attributes that take information (knowledge) and analyze it, then form syntheses and arrive at understandings, insights and the possession of wisdom. This is what enables mankind to create art. For the classical equestrian, his horse is his source of information, but without analysis, synthesis, insight, understanding and, finally, wisdom, he will never know the art of riding. Instructors are custodians of the equestrian arts. They must encourage, inspire and advise their students, but they cannot make them great riders. That remains the pupil’s job.  The word “dressage” is used precisely because of its double connotation for taming and training. One cannot train any animal without having its full attention and focus on the trainer. Taming—focusing the horse’s attention— is difficult because he is genetically determined by instinct and is programmed for multitasking. The rider’s job is to gradually replace the horse’s instinctive behavior with one of utter focus on his rider. This enormous change in the horse’s behavior— disconnecting from his instincts and focusing instead on his rider—can be earned only by a rider deserving of the horse’s total trust. Teach your students that horses trust consistency of behavior and kindness much like people do. A good rider teaches the horse by showing him what he wants patiently and repeatedly. A good rider does not overreact. He controls his own emotions and impulses much like a well brought up person should. Success is born out of empathy for the horse to the point of understanding the world through his point of view. The humility that comes from understanding that there are points of views in variance with our own is a guiding virtue in equitation.      Horses progress by being taught. It is a process opposite of disciplining. It is based on repeatedly showing what we want them to do and aiding, not punishing, them. This is what helps them figure out how to do what the rider wants. Horses are not proactive; they are merely reactive. The horse has no plan to disobey.    The rider must discover the reason for a mistake, and the instructor must assist him. The rider must show the horse what he wants, help him understand it and give him the skills to perform it. This means developing a plan for your student that gradually and systematically increases the horse’s strength and skills to reach the goals we want to achieve (while avoiding the monotony of drilling).

Horses are expected to startle. Startling is a life-preserving, inherited behavior that we must understand and accept. However, shying is induced by incorrect rider behavior. A shying horse perceives his rider as an enemy or attacking predator. When a horse is startled or takes flight from an imaginary danger, the rider is supposed to take flight with him, becoming a partner to the behavior. This reassures the horse of his safety. However, if the rider tenses and attacks his mouth with rein restrictions, the horse learns to fear his rider. That is why horses begin to shy. They will never understand why you want them to visit an object of imagined danger.  When a horse startles or shies, he becomes tense and stiff. Making him supple again starts with first calming his mind. Suppleness is a concept based on changeability, adjustability and controllability of the horse’s energies, which include his posture, his strides and his level of collection and engagement. The horse’s rhythm and tempo should also gradually become more precisely adjustable. There is no end to the development of suppleness through changeability. The rider should pursue suppleness— adjustability and energy freely flowing through the horse—from the first day of training to the last. Anything done with a tense, stiff horse is harmful to him. A young horse’s mind may wander, and he will alternate between periods of attention to the rider’s aids or attention to the environment, but a well-trained horse will remain on the rider’s aides because he trusts them. for the full article go to Facebook: Dressage Today

equi-works

equi-works