As we move through this new norm of virtual everything, the time we spend connecting with ourselves is dissipating more and more. Blindly falling into the trap of instant gratification and forgetting the deeper reasons we are here. This fast paced emptiness we are surrounded by has nothing to do with horses! Especially the classical approach! Nor is it even close to a classical approach to anything! Anything fast, forceful, rigid, tight, empty, or instant truly is not classical. The divide is becoming greater between what is true and what is not.
What we forget will be lost!!
The greatest arrogance of the present is to forget the intelligence of the past!
The definition of classical is 1. simple, pure, well proportioned, harmonious, balanced, symmetrical, elegant, esthetic 2. (typically a form of art) regarded as representing an exemplary standard, tradition and long established in form or style, i.e, “classical ballet”
Classical Dressage and Classical Ballet are extremely parallel to one another. The meaning of classical ballet is a system of dance based on formalized movements and positions designed to enable the dancer to move with the greatest possible agility, control, speed, lightness, and grace.
Classical Dressage in it’s truest form is Art
Riding as a sport has lost the essence of art. Nuno Oliveira had me immensely intrigued the day I found out he never competed a day in his life! I knew there was way more to riding than chasing after ribbons! I had been competing for almost 15 years of my life successfully in eventing (Training level), Jr Jumpers (5 1/2′ Courses), Second level Dressage, and all before the age of 18! I was fed up with unhappy horses! I wanted more! I wanted to understand the horses and train them better!
The Golden Grail of Horsemanship
One day, God threw me right into the path of the truest form of classical dressage, and that was the “Golden Grail” of horsemanship for me! From that day forward, I followed this path and never looked back since 1995. I was tired of seeing horses being forced into “frames” to win at competitions, along with the lack of physical development and impeding upon their movement to train them to do some form of “discipline.” As I studied more, I learned, when properly done, horses are capable of much more with much less effort (force) with much less resistance. There are many forms of riding and all of which can benefit from a true classical foundation.
You must start with balance.
You must begin teaching balance on a circle and you must always go back to the circle. “I have been attempting to ride a perfect circle for 40 years I hope I will soon succeed.” Nuno Oliveira quote in “The Wisdom of Nuno Oliveira” by Anthony de Coux
As we enter into the world of the horse and begin to understand the circle and the power it bestows upon us to create better balance in our horses, one must always remember that from the moment you step into your “horses circle”, you have to always focus on creating a better balanced one. Through leading, body language, haltering, training, lunging, riding, to name a few. While cultivating the perfect circle, regardless of the size, you also have to establish straight lines and this is where the art begins.
3 Decades of Training
Close to 3 decades of professionally starting and re-training horses incorporating the time honored principles of classical dressage and evolving, I can respectfully categorize myself as an expert. Still with so much to learn, my journey of seeking more knowledge and education will never be over. My mission to stay true to the purest form of classical horsemanship and educate those who are willing to take this journey. You must have the courage to be humbled daily, be inspired by the true gifts of the horse. If you are willing to live in the moment, look in the mirror and want to be the best horse person you can be in the eyes of the horse, you have come to the right place.
Circling back around to the meaning of Classical
Classical horsemanship is the slow and intricate development of balance teaching the horse from the ground. Cultivating a relationship between the horse and the handler to bring out the best possible fluid, symmetrical movement attainable before mounting. Ensuring a long, healthy life along with a well educated horse who enjoys the time spent with the human. While classical dressage is the art of riding in harmony with, rather than against, the horse.
Correct classical riding only occurs when the horse is in a well developed balance, maintaining self carriage while the rider maintains a graceful, academic position that accompanies the horse’s movement. Perfecting the aids, synchronized with proper timing and the balanced movement of the horse. This is why it is an art and is a journey to be enjoyed by both the horse and the rider. Hard work, lots of thoughtful reflection, guidance from a skilled mentor who not only knows the theory but has practiced it as well.