The Academic Art of Riding

When in 2004 I found the book by Bent Branderup, it, or more it's subtitle "For the ambitious leisure rider", totally changed my approach to riding: suddenly it was thinkable even for me, an ordinary spare-time rider, to actually get near the lessons of the high school of riding!

Suddenly there was not solely the way over the traditional academies Jerez, Vienna or Lisbon, but from now on I could hope to learn some pieces like the best did for centuries myself . Beside my work and all the other duties, in my own limited speed, with the simple means I only had at my disposal! Thus it became for me the most valuable book of my lifetime!

The most important lessons I learned during the last years:

Horses don't show any pain if it is not sheer overwhelming! It would mean sure death for a flight animal to openly show the predators any vulnerabilities!

So we must search consciously everyday for the slightest signs of discomfort, as every time we notice, there will be considerable pain already!

If a horse doesn't understand a softly given aid, it absolutely won't help to give it harder!

The lessons are there for the horse and not the horse for the lessons! They shall make the horse fit in every aspect (psychic and bodily) and so enable it's use in the highest degree.

A very nice saying: Until the age of 6 he is the friend of your foe, after that he is your friend and from the age of 12 he will a horse for kings!”


Rationalizing in Riding

Rationalizing means to endow an action with a seemingly reasonable explanation.

Also in the art of riding with its multiple and varying challenges a rationalizing often appears, and because the explanation seems to him sufficient enough, the rider perhaps gets so used to this mistake, that he performs it for decades, without any arising of doubt, not to speak of correcting it. And if every rider around him acts in the same wrong way, he will even get encouraged, and change for the better will become virtually impossible for him.

To the question, why he is nearly permanently looking downward, the rider will answer astonished, how someone might pose such a dumb question: “ I must look down to watch how my horse is moving!”

But the subsequent question invariably will produce anger: “What exactly can you see when looking downwards? You cannot see how the horse’s legs are moving, or how the hooves are setting, because the horse’s shoulders block your view completely. Watching the movements of the shoulders brings only very seldom a useful information (sole exemption: when a beginner wants to test, if the shoulders are getting more free, he might give a touchée, to produce a pronounced twitch of the horse's shoulder, which would be nearly impossible, if it is “lying on the shoulders”; whereas a more experienced rider naturally can sense this twitching without having to look down).

Also the bending of the horse’s neck the rider can judge sufficiently without lowering head and gaze and even control its path better, which the horse shall go, when he orientates himself at markers farther away, for example circle markers, and checks posture or straightness of the horse at horizontal lines like riding arenas walls. Has the rider but succeeded in permanently holding his head upright, he will notice astonishedly after some time, that in reality he had already always felt every movement of his horse rather than seen it (and that the only occasion, in which looking down had been delivering a useful information, had been when as a beginner he hadn’t been able to feel if the horse was in right- or lefthand canter).

The true reason, why riders are always looking down, is the forward inwards rotation of their shoulders due to a wrong holding of their hands (pronated instead of correctly slightly supinated hands).

Due to insecurity or little confidence in their horse many riders can find it hard to correct this stance: as rolled-in shoulders lead to a sitting on the horse's forehand, they feel this impedes the horse's abilty to race forward suddenly (which some horses with a high percentage of hot-blood might be prone to). But this permanent "brake" also prevents the horse's shoulder to become free!

The word “actually” indicates a rationalization fairly precisely, as it means, that one had acted against better knowledge, unreasonably:

"Actually" the rider knows, that he should hold his head upright and his gaze straight forwards in the direction he goes, but….


See also "Research" here

Should I use the Full Potential of My Knabstrupper Horse?

Reading my account of the potential the Knabstrupper owns, one might be astonished that this horse is suitable for nearly everything (naturally only for home-use as a recreational horse as it is naturally not capable for high-end disciplines: he would never win a high-jumping show or a trotting race championship!).

If one owns such a diversely suitable horse, it naturally is very tempting to use it in every direction: one time as carriage puller, another time as show jumping horse, the next for a fox hunt with not to big barriers, next as dressage horse and again as a distance horse (so as a real multipurpose horse).

But in spite of all these theoretically possible kinds of usage, you should always keep in mind, that some of them might bring (sometimes nearly unrepairable!) disadvantages for the others with it.
Should somewhere along the road I might decide the ultimate aim for me will be dressage or even the academic art of riding, I might have to change my horse severely and might regret producing some mistakes hard to correct.

The biggest mistake is a hard hand or bit: any usage with relies on producing great push evocates a massive force of the hand on the Horse's mouth: I don't know of any show jumping or hunting rider who in his way of riding can direct his horse with his seat alone and without significant force in the mouth! Carriage driving creates massive forces on the mouth, too!

A soft and unmolested mouth will enable the rider to reach the desired lightness and comfort in dressage much more easy and earlier!

Art of Riding for Cross-Country

A special bonus for the recreational rider is the substantial rise of quality while riding cross-country in form of security-gain, comfort and calmness. A horse which doesn't react on the rider only from fear but is begged softly by his rider to cooperate as the academic art of riding teaches us, will in a case of emergency turn to it's rider trustfully for help and guidance and not give in to the possibly greater fear of other things than the the rider's violence and run away.

A turnable, schooled horse allows the closing of gates from the saddle, is very comfortable to sit, and its “durability” is far higher due to the enormous safety in footing as result of putting more and more weight on the hind legs.

Should in an emergency the necessity arise to overcome a barrier, a high schooled horse has got much more power and precision in the hind legs to perform a jump providedit is not to high or wide for its shape and educational stage.

Development of thr Art of riding

Important books:


380 v.Chr. "Über die Reitkunst", Xenophon (*430 v. Chr. - †355 v. Chr.) (griech.)

1550 "Ordini di cavalcare", Grisone (*1507-†1570) (ital.)

1556 "Trattato dell’imbrigliare, atteggiare e ferrare cavalli", Cesare Fiaschi ( † 1571)

1562 "Il Cavallerizzo", Claudio Corte (ital.)

1567 "La Gloria del cavallo", Pasquale Caraciollo (ital.)

1584 "The Art of Riding According to Claudio Corte", Thomas Beddingfield, London, (engl.)

1584 "The Art of Riding: A Discourse of Horssemanship", John Astley, London

1595 "Le cavalerice francois", La Broue (*1530- †1610?) , La Rochelle, (frz.)

1609 "Della Cavalleria", Löhneysen (*1552-†1622) , Remlingen,(dt.)

1623 "La Maneige Royale", Pluvinel (posthum) (frz.)

1625 "L'instruction du Roy....", Pluvinel (posthum) (frz.)

1650 "Il cavallo del maneggio",Giovan Battista di Galiberto (ital.)

1658 "La Methode General...", William Cavendish/Newcastle (*1593 - †1676) (frz.)

1667 "A New Method...", William Cavebdish/Newcastle (engl.) : stark abgeänderte Übersetzung ins Franz. 1677 von Solleysel;

1677 "Methode nouvelle ", Jaques Solleysel, stark veränderte Überstzg des engl. Newcastle von1657; Paris, (frz.)

1696 "L'Arte del Cavallo", Nicola und Luiggi di Santapaulina; Padua (ital.)

1700 "Neu eröffnete Reitbahn", Übersetzung des Solleysels von 1677, Nürnberg (dt.)

1722 "Neue Reit-Kunst", Johann Elias Ridinger (dt.)

1727 "Manege moderne..", Friedrich Wilhelm von Eisenberg (London) (frz.)

1733 "Ecole de Cavallerie", Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere, (*1666-†1751) (frz.)

1747 "Dictionnaire des Termes du manége Moderne", Eisenberg

1748 "Wohleingerichtete Reitschule...", Eisenberg, Übersetzung der Manege Moderne, Zürich (dt.)

1756 "L'Art de Cavalerie", Gaspard de Saunier (posthum) (*1663 -†1748), Paris, (frz.)

1760 "Vorstellung und Beschreibung...", Ridinger (*1698 -†1767) , Augsburg, (dt.)

1774 "Der Bereiter", Johann Gottfried Prizelius, Braunschweig, (dt.)

1777 "Vollständige Pferdewissenschaft", Johann Gottfried Prizelius, Leipzig,(dt.),

1790 "Arte da Cavalleria", Andrade (*1755-†1817) (port,)

1791 "Die Reitkunst", Daniel Knölls Gueriniere Übersetzung , Marburg, (dt.)