When the nescessity of war horses diseappeared in the time of the French Revolution, the classical way of riding remained only as an art form for rich officers and nobility, who rode ‘pour plaisir’. In the last 100 years, Europe has seen a massive change in how we percieve horses and riding. Most people do not grow up with horses any longer, and take weekly riding lessons in a school. We have no longer these well-trained school horses to give us the perfect feeling, nor the possibility nor patience to spend so many hours on the longe. Everyone can buy a horse and we do not have the knowledge and experience of the old masters, nor the same quality in horses. Inexperienced people buy inexperienced horses, and this is where we see a lot of problems occur.
Nowadays, the goals is no longer to have a narrow combat horse trained for collection. Our horses are therefore mostly mixed breeds with more pushing capacity, to transport a rider from A to B. But with these horses we ride without them being able to properly carry us. This is what breaks down a lot of horses. Simply put: a horse needs to collect in order to cary the rider without hurting itself, and to make the horse pleasant to ride and easy to turn. That is where classical training can help. First, training your horse in a classical way, it means to look after the physical and mental welfare of your horse. It is a lot about ethics actually. Use dressage to improve your horse, not to break it down. Create a cooperation and a mutual understanding. Do not try to reproduce a certain exercise or shape just because it looks fancy, but see how you can do exercises to make your horse stronger. This means thinking about your training and how to build up your training in time. Only then, you can train a horse biomechanically correct and make it a healthy, happy horse that will last a long time. Look for example at the Spanish riding school in Vienna, where horses of more than 25 years old are healthy doing full work.
Classical means, always work from a decent basic work, think about the HOW, WHAT, WHEN and WHY for every exercise.
I like to share my thoughts on the Art of Riding with you here. Topics related to training and keeping horses and reports of my own experiences you can find here. Enjoy!