Statutes of the Knighthood of the Academic Art of Riding

1. The Purpose of the Knighthood

The knighthood is a community of passioned horse people who share it’s fundamental ideals and
have proved a basic level of skills. It is an international academy with the main tasks of research and education, always aware of ethical aspects that concern the human-equine relationship.

The members of the knighthood are carrying on an old European cultural heritage, investigating in and trying to restore what got lost over the centuries, mainly relying on the old Masters Xenophon, Pluvinel, Newcastle, Guérinière, Steinbrecht, Weyrother and Holleuffer. But any old or new knowledge about the art of riding shall be seen with interest. The members see themselves as
members of a brain pool where they in exchange help each other to develop.

2. Fundamental Ideals of the Knighthood

To the members of the Knighthood riding is art of living, giving quality in life to both man and horse. We want to reach the highest possible level, without neglecting the rules of nature.

  • Using systematic gymnastic exercises to promote the horse’s physical and mental well being.
  • Using dressage for the horse, not the horse for dressage.
  • Looking upon dressage as an art that offers horse and man a task in their life that can be performed with dignity until a great age.
  • Honouring the art of riding.
  • Enlarging the circle of those who are dedicated to this art.

The ideal of the Academic Rider is to ride the horse mainly from the seat, making the horse light in the front and lowering the haunches, while the horse is always long in the upperline, searching forward-down to find light contact with the rider’s soft feeling hand.

The rider is leading the horse’s hips between his legs and its shoulders between the reins.

The curb is used with one hand only. Its main purpose is to keep the horse supple.

The skull is placed in a position to the hip, so that the shape of the spine between the scull and the hip is able to enter a continuous flexion, in a state of relaxed activity.

The main aid is the seat of the rider melting together with the horse searching for the ideal of the
Centaur:

The two minds want to do what the two bodies can do.


3. Membership in the Knighthood and Examinations

The examinations that can be taken within the Knighthood are to be seen as a part of it’s educational program. A test is a prove of knowledge and skills at a certain time. The different examinations include the most difficult demands possible, up to the Capriole.

The members of the knighthood should be willing to support it’s agenda and therefore show the interest to continue in their own development as a rider and an educator of the horse and to support the necessary research. A single examination is not suitable to judge a riders interest and abilities. Therefore the active membership in the knighthood has to be updated every 5 years.

The Knighthood contains different positions.

  • Squire
  • Knight
  • Member
  • Gold Rings
    – Piaffe
    – Passage
    – School-canter
    – Levade
    – Terre à terre
    – Croupade and Ballotade/Capriole
  • Master
  • Supreme Master
  • Grand Master
  • Table Master
  • Honorary Member

A rider can do the following tests:

  1. The groundwork/lungeing test
  2. The squire test
  3. The knight test
  4. The Gold Ring examinations
  5. The Master examination

To make the squire test the applicant must have done the groundwork/lungeingtest and be recommended by a member of the knighthood who also introduces the applicant at the round table of the year. no one votes against, the applicant can become a member of the knighthood. If an applicant can not come to the Round Table of the year for a good reason, then he/she may come in the year after, but the 5-years-rule counts from the year of the round table that was skipped. Those who did a groundwork/lungeing test but did not pass the squire test yet, can not be members of the knighthood. When a squire has educated a horse according to the rules of the Academic Art of Riding and passed the knight test, the squire can be knighted by the Grand Master, if no squire or knight at the table votes against.

The examinations can be seen as stepping stones in the personal development, they can be markstones on the road to the (higher) level of artistry. They are meant to give orientation, but not to earn a symbol of status. Therefore the status of a squire or knight is a temporary status that has to be updated. A squire or knight who is not able to pass the next examination or to repeat the last examination within the timelimit set, stays a member of the Knighthood but loses the status of a squire or knight. He or she can reactivate the membership with a squire or knight test and thereby earns the status according to the test.

All members of the Knighthood meet at the round table of the year. A rider who passed the squire- or knight examination and came to the round table, can only become a member, if no squire or knight votes against.

3.1. Groundwork/Lungeing test

Basic examination, presenting the horse with the cavesson on the lunge line with a wooden hand whip, according to the principles of the Academic Art of Riding.

Groundwork
The equipment is the same as for lungeing, a lunge attached to the cavesson. The groundwork test consists of the walk exercises of the squire test with the same choreography.

Lungeing

  • With the horse standing show that the whole horse is bent and that the hip comes to the inside with the positioning of the horse’s head.
  • Understride in walk.
  • Transitions on the circle; walk – halt, halt – walk, walk – trot, trot – walk, trot – halt, halt – trot, a few canter strides, change the lead through the circle.
  • Everything shown both to the left and to the right.

3.2. The Squire of The Academic Art of Riding


A squire is allowed to speak and vote at the round table. Squires will be named on the website, and the whip decoration including gold rings.

A squire has to keep him/herself updated after the 5-year-rule. This means that within five years after the examination and within five years interval after this, the squire should be able to take the knight examination or a ring test. Otherwise he needs to repeat the squire examination in order to stay a squire. If he/or she can not update him/herself within this period he/she will stay a member of the knighthood without voting rights. If the examination can not be ridden by the squire he/she may ask for dispensation at the Round Table of the Year, in which the examination should have been ridden.


3.2.1. Squire examination

At the examination the squire rides with a cavesson and is allowed to add to it either a curb or a snaffle bit. The reins may be held in two hands except for the curb reins.

The squire examination is an examination about the aids in the following choreography:

  1. Halt on the centre line, greeting the judge
  2. In standing shoulder-in to the left, quarter-in with a little halt
  3. In standing shoulder-in to the right, quarter-in with a little halt
  4. Forward in walk on the center line, at the end to the right
  5. Diagonal: forward down, bending to the right, at X change the bending
  6. Short side: collection in left bending
  7. Next diagonal: forward down, bending to the left, at X change the bending
  8. Short side: collection in right bending
  9. Next long side: quarter-in forward, collection, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  10. Next long side: shoulder-in forward, collection, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  11. Next long side: few steps shoulder-in, then travers to the center line, collection, half pirouette, forward, travers back, collection, renvers through the corner
  12. Short side: halt, change bending, slight school-halt
  13. Next long side: quarter-in forward, collection, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  14. Next long side: shoulder-in forward, collection, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  15. Next long side: few steps shoulder-in, forward, travers to the center line, collection, half pirouette, forward, travers back, collection, renvers through the corner
  16. Short side: halt, change bending, slight school-halt
  17. Step 4-11 and 13-15 in trot
  18. Circle in trot, at X transition to canter, at X transition to trot
  19. Change through the circle
  20. Circle in trot, at X transition to canter, at X transition to trot
  21. At X to the center line, halt, greeting the judge

3.3. Squire/Knight of the Academic Art of Riding

The squire/knight is allowed to speak and to vote at the round table. Squires/Knights will be named on the website with their whip decoration including gold rings.

It is expected that a Gold Ring will be reached within five years after the knight examination. Otherwise the knight repeat the knight examination, to prove that at least the level of handcraft is still kept, or he can update his Membership with a squire examination and become a squire. If he or she does not update, he/she will stay a Member of the Knighthood without voting rights. If the examination can not be ridden by the knight he/she may ask for dispensation at the Round Table of the Year, in which the examination should have been ridden. Only when the knight reaches the level of a Master it can be kept for a lifetime.

3.3.1. Knight Examination

The horse ridden in the examination must be self-trained. If the horse was trained only partially by the rider, he/she must let the judge know. The applicant can be accepted only if the judge is convinced that the applicant is riding at a level showing that he/she could now train a horse completely on his/her own.

The training of the horse is more important than the quality of the performance in the examination that day. Therefore, the effort put into training a difficult horse should be appreciated as much as a perfect examination performance on a good horse.
The examination consists of two parts:

First part – Riding

Equipment

  • The reins are held in the left hand. The right hand is only used to shorten the reins. A double bridle may be used but the snaffle reins must hang long.
  • The right hand is holding the wooden whip straight up, with a slight angle going forward-left. The whip can be briefly used as an addition to the other aids and lifted up to its position again.
  • Spurs may be worn but used as little as possible.
  • Further equipment, clothes and music are chosen by the applicant. (Not considered in the judge’s decision.)

When entering and leaving the required way of greeting the judge is as follows:
The wooden whip is taken from its basic position vertically in front of the face, then on the heart, followed by a nod with the head, finally back to its basic position. The choreography of the knight examination is:

  1. Halt on the centre line, greeting the judge
  2. In standing shoulder-in to the left, quarter-in with a little halt
  3. In standing shoulder-in to the right, quarter-in with a little halt
  4. Forward in walk on the center line, at the end to the right
  5. Diagonal: forward down, bending to the right, at X change the bending
  6. Short side: school-walk in left bending
  7. Next diagonal: forward down, bending to the left, at X change the bending
  8. Short side: school-walk in right bending
  9. Next long side: quarter-in forward, school-walk, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  10. Next long side: shoulder-in forward, school-walk, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  11. Next long side: few steps shoulder-in, then travers to the center line, collection, half pirouette, forward, travers back, collection, renvers through the corner
  12. Short side: halt, change bending, school-halt
  13. Next long side: quarter-in forward, school-walk, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  14. Next long side: shoulder-in forward, school-walk, forward, at the end straigten up the horse
  15. Next long side: few steps shoulder-in, forward, travers to the center line, collection, half pirouette, forward, travers back, collection, renvers through the corner
  16. Short side: halt, change bending, school-halt
  17. Step 4-11 and 13-15 in trot with half steps instead of school-walk
  18. Canter to the right
  19. Quarter-in in collected canter
  20. In canter slight shoulder-in forward
  21. Shoulder-in, travers to the center line, ½ pirouette, travers back, renvers through the corner, flying change at the middle of the short side into left canter
  22. Quarter-in in collected canter
  23. In canter slight shoulder-in forward
  24. Shoulder-in, travers to the center line, ½ pirouette, travers back, renvers through the corner, flying change at the middle of the short side into right canter
  25. From the middle of the long side to the centre line, full halt from canter
  26. Greeting

Second part – Theory
The theoretical part of the examination is based on the videos and books by Bent Branderup, Guérinière and Steinbrecht. Based on this theory the applicant must judge his/her own as well as the horse’s strengths and weaknesses. Weaknesses in the practical part of the examination can be made up by strengths in the theory. The theoretical examination should be seen as a conversation between the judge and the applicant, giving the judge the opportunity to get an impression of the applicant.


3.4. Member of the Knighthood

Those who can not keep their status as a squire or a knight are still members of the knighthood. Every member of the knighthood can recommend a squire and is allowed to speak at the Round Table. He/she has no voting rights at the round table of the year. He or she can reactivate the membership with a squire or knight examination and thereby earns the status according to the test. Members who want to take a Gold Ring examination have to prove the basic level first.

3.5. Gold Ring Examinations

The movements may be shown:

– Under the saddle just like in the squire/knight examination.
– On a long rein (bridle with one bit and one pair of reins).
– In-hand (bridle with cavesson and/or regular curb and/or snaffle).

The Gold Ring examinations may (but need not) be taken with the same horse. The piaffe is the basic for all other higher movements. Therefore, with the exception of the canter examination, it must be part of every Gold Ring examination.

Passive members who want to take the examination have to prove the basic level first.The applicant must have taught the horse the movements on his/her own, or with the help of his/her master, after the principles of the Academic Art of Riding. Violation of these rules can lead to the loss of the Gold Ring.

Piaffe
Loose contact, the weight and impulsion carried on the bent haunches, rhythmical, elastic, to the left and to the right transitions from and to school-halt, walk, trot,canter and half pirouette. Straight on the centre line one unbent piaffe towards the judge.

Passage
The weight and impulsion carried on the haunches, rhythmical, majestic, transitions from and to the Piaffe, bent straight, 10 meter circle and halfpass. Everything shown to the left and to the right.

School-Canter
Full pirouette, series changes, all side movements: shoulder-in, travers, renvers, halfpass, collection and extension, everything shown to both left and right, halt.

Levade
Presentation of a horse carried 100% on its haunches by lowering of the haunches from and to the piaffe. The forehand should be lifted as little as possible. (Below 45 degrees.) The horse should stay in the levade for a moment. The underneck shall not be seen, both hindlegs and both front legs in the same height in the same angles. The hindlegs shall not be wide. The knight must show a levade to the left and right and straight on the centre line one unbent levade towards the judge.

Terre à Terre
Originally the terre à terre was the war gait where the horse was movable in all directions and tempi. Transitions from and to piaffe, shoulder-in, travers, half pirouette, everything shown to both sides. Straight on the centre line one unbent terre à terre towards the judge.

High school (two jumps)

Croupade
Developed from the piaffe, evolving into one or more jumps on the hind quarters with the forehand not touching the ground and a balanced landing. The lower the forehand is held on the hindlegs, the better.

Ballotade/Capriol
Should be transitioned into from the piaffe to the terre à terre to the actual jump; in the Ballotade the horse’s feet are facing backwards; in the Capriole the hind feet are kicked out backwards. Landing on the hindlegs.


3.6. Master

A knight who has passed the Gold Ring examinations piaffe, passage and canter, can take the examination to be a Master of the Academic Art of Riding.

The Master Examination consists of three parts:

  • The future Master must have coached at least 2 students all the way into a knightship.
  • A public 30 min lecture on a relevant topic chosen by the applicant himself/herself.
  • A freestyle with appropriate music, including all elements of the knight examination and the 3 first Golden Rings. Should one or more of the movements fail, they can be repeated upon approval of the judge. In addition the judge can also ask for repetition of one or several movements at the end of the freestyle.

The master examination is judged by the Grand Master personally. When the knight reaches the level of a Master it can be kept for a lifetime.


3.7. Supreme Master of the Academic Art of Riding
A knight who has passed all six of the Gold Ring examinations and who is Master of the Academic Art of Riding, may use the title “Supreme Master of the Academic Art of Riding”.

The sixth Gold Ring has the shape of a horse iron crown. Along with the Grand Master a majority of the Supreme Masters can decide on awarding the honorary Knighthood of the Academic Art of Riding.

After the death of the Grand Master the current Supreme Masters meet to choose a new Grand Master from their midst, who must be below the age of 60. If there are less than 3 Superior Masters below 60 the Masters must be involved as their equals.


3.8. Grand Master of the Academic Art of Riding
The Knighthood of the Academic Art of Riding belongs to the Grand Master. He/she is in charge of place(s) and time(s) of the examinations and the Round Table of the Year, chooses the Table Master and presents the silver whip decoration and the Gold Rings to the knights, Masters and Superior Masters. The Grand Master himself/herself functions as a judge at the examinations or chooses judges from the circle of Masters and Superior Master. He/she is supposed to listen to the knights opinions in all matters, yet he/she is in the position to make his/her own decisions, even against the opinion of the knights.


3.9. Honorary Member
All positions within the knighthood can be awarded to respected people.


3.10. Table Master of the Academic Art of Riding

The Table Master is chosen by the Grand Master to arrange the round table of the year.


4. Financial issues

Squire examination – 400 Euro
Knight examination – 200 Euro
Ring examination – 300 Euro
Master examination – 600 Euro

Updating the examination – 0 Euro

The Membership in the Academic Art of Riding is for life. The costs are therefore high to cover every knight’s cost during his or her lifetime. The entrance in the Knighthood should be well considered, not just a momentary idea.


5. Leaving and exclusion

5.1. Leaving
If a member wishes to leave the Knighthood, the knight sends his or her silver whip decoration and the silver pin to the Round Table of the Year together with a request for leaving the Knighthood. At the Round Table of the Year the knight will be struck from the Book of Knights. The silver whip decoration and the silver pin´s value will be refunded a total of a 100 Euro and for each golden ring 40 Euro.

5.2. Exclusion
Reasons for being excluded is provable animal cruelty or bringing the Academic Art of riding in miscredition. If there are well grounded suspicions or proof the accused member is summoned to the Round table of the Year. Here the member has the opportunity to defend his or her case. A united Table or the Grand Master can exclude the member. If excluded, the member must return his or her silver whip decoration and the silver pin at the Table and is struck from the Book of Knights. The silver whip decoration and the silver pin´s value will be refunded a total of a 100 Euro and for each golden ring 40 Euro.

August 2014