What is Classical Training?
There are now many instructors and coaches offering classical work from many of the old schools of dressage. The Germanic and the French schools predominate and almost all of that on offer comes from the old cavalry traditions. The lineage I have chosen to become qualified in is from the earlier, noble equitation tradition taught in France for 200 years during the ‘Golden Age of Equitation’. This work predates competition riding and nearly disappeared after the French Revolution. It comes from a time when the aristocracy sent their sons to learn Equitation, not only to improve their horsemanship but also to learn leadership, ethical decision making and honour. The horses schooled in this way become calm, supple and fluid with a level of mental curiosity and engagement in working with you.
Classical work is relevant to any rider who is looking to a well balanced horse that is a joy to ride. All horses are capable of and deserve the chance to learn to move with grace and comfort. Unlike modern dressage training the classical work focuses less of specific school figures and more on general manoeuvrability and fluent conversation between horse and rider. I personally compete in Endurance, Trec and dressage and find my classical training as relevant to opening gates, dodging low branches and performing half pass.
The aides I use and teach actually arise from the movements of the horse, they have meaningful context to the horse and are not learnt cues. Using an ancient tradition of touch based communication, called the Mediterranean work, you and your horse can learn to move with the harmony and synchronicity of the best figure skaters. When there is no tension or opposition in the way you ride, the horses learn to hold themselves in balance and become light in the hand and responsive to the softest movements of your leg.
This work attracts people who are drawn to discovering the best in both themselves and their horses. It takes bravery to look inside yourself and see where you could act with more kindness, more compassion and develop more emotional balance and physical awareness, all in the best interests of your equitation. All I can tell you is that it is the best journey I’ve ever been on.
I am so honoured to be one of three instructors worldwide to have achieved certification from the National School of Academic Equitation and have the chance to share my experience with you.
Listen so attentively that you can observe the whispered the secrets of his unique balance.