Academic Art of Riding

The Academic Art of Riding is based on the knowledge of great riding masters such as Xenophon, Guérinière, Pluvinel and Steinbrecht and aims to bring the Historical Art of Riding from the past back to life again.

The horse must be trained according to its abilities, concerning both body and mind. Thoughtful gymnastic exercises will keep the horse healthy and long living.

The academic riders see riding as an art form, an art of movement – like ballet. The foundation for this kind of riding, however, is good basic training, like the training of a working equitation horse.

The horse must be ridden with one hand, do all side movements, the half pirouette and the change of hand in all three gaits and must be able to show beginnings of collection in the half steps. From here the art begins…

Dressage for the horse

The foundation of the Academic art of riding is good basic training, like the training of a working horse. Thought must precede action – think first act later.

The schooling starts with the in-hand work and longeing with the cavesson. During the training you work towards the riding of the side movements, (half) pirouettes, flying changes and the piaffe.

Eventually the rider will ride these exercises with the reins in one hand and in all three gaits. These exercises are the basic for the real art: the high school dressage.

Because of the thorough basic training, the rider and horse become partners who work together in harmony. The horse must be trained according to its abilities, concerning both body and mind. Thoughtful gymnastic exercises will keep your horse healthy and long living.

During the training the rider and the horse both develop themselves to a level that is suitable for both of them..

The two minds must want what the two bodies can.

The philosophy is that dressage was created for the horse, rather than the horse being created for dressage. This method of education is suitable for all breeds and all riders, irrespective of their age, ability or chosen discipline.

Dressage is for the horse, the horse is not for the dressage.

Stages of the academic art of riding

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The essence of the academic art of riding is collection. A horse can only show a correct collection if it is able to carry itself while moving in total relaxation, without any form of tension.

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The basic principle of the collection is to ride the horse long and low in order to to teach the horse to search a forward-down contact on the bit. By teaching the horse to follow the rider’s gentle hand and relax, we will achieve the positive effect of the horse beginning to lift its back where the rider is sitting.

At first the horse is ridden in bending on a circle, both on the left and the right hand to assure that both sides are equally exercised.  As soon as the horse starts to understand the rider and to think in the right way, it is time to start focussing on the hind quarter to carry. This starts with the shoulder-in.

Shoulder-in

To teach the horse to carry its weight on the hind legs and use its back muscles, the academic art of riding uses the shoulder-in exercise. In the Shoulder In, the horse learns to step with the inside hind leg towards the point of weight. This teaches the horse to carry its weight on the inside hind leg and lift its shoulders.

In this exercise the effect of the inside thigh and inside seat bone of the rider and leading of the shoulders between the reins are made understandable for the horse.

Quarter in

The quarter in exercise is used to teach the horse to carry its weight on the outside hind leg. In quarter in (travers, croupe-in) the horse learns the effect of the outside thigh of the rider and thus a leading of the croup.

With the shoulder in and the quarter in, the rider can train four individual hind legs:
• The right hind leg as an inner leg
• The right hind leg as an outer leg
• The left hind leg as an inner leg
• The left hind leg as an outer leg

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Renvers

Renvers belongs to the work following the quarter in. The wall is in this case on the other side. This exercise gives the rider the opportunity to check the carrying of the hind legs and therefore the true shoulder freedom of the horse.

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Traversale

This exercise belongs also to work following the quarter in. In this case the horse does its quarter in while on the diagonal.

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Pirouette

The pirouette is the same as quarter in on a small circle. In the school canter all side movements, pirouettes and also flying changes are ridden.

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Piaffe

When both hind legs are equally strong we ask the horse to carry on both hind legs resulting in the piaffe.
The quality of a piaffe is to enable the rider to get both the hind legs under the point of weight and control the hind legs of the horse.

The piaffe is both the goal and the means of the high school. Whoever possesses the carrying capacity of the horse can control the pushing capacity.

Passage

The passage is the development of schwung of the back and development of pushing capacity downwards without loss of carrying capacity.

It is important that the horse remains relaxed and stays light between the aids throughout all movements. The horse must carry itself – not lean against the aids of the rider.

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Levade

The school jumps are the coronation/culmination of the academic equitation. The levade represents the maximum development of the carrying capacity. The horse balances on both hind legs with the same carrying capacity and bending of the haunches, with the front as low as possible.

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Terre à Terre

In the terre à terre the horse places the front hooves on the ground and makes an after-jump with the hind legs.

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Courbette

In the courbette the front is held in the air and the horse jumps one or more steps forward with the hind legs.

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.Croupade

In the croupade the horse holds the front in the air, makes a horizontal jump and pulls the hindlegs under the belly whilst in the air.

The ballotade is like a croupade where the hindlegs are held as if the horse would kick.

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Capriole

The capriole is a jump in the air with all four legs, whereby the hind legs kick strongly backwards.