Interim-Report 02.March 2017:
One year has gone by now, since I began to make the first tentative steps in the direction of the Gueriniere-Seat: it has fascinated me increasingly and I have succeeded in finding out the following:
Update 14.03.17: The "protruding lower neck" as a sign of quality with Gueriniere
Through my work in the Croupe-au-mure I became suspicious of his many depictions with a so-called "protruding lower-neck". Up to today I had believed this to be a sure sign of a pushed-down back of the horse. We all know the pictures of horses with highly elevated forelegs and a dragging hind, the latter causing a tilting upwards of the horse's pelvis and with this a shoving back-out of the hind-legs, a lengthening of the horse producing a pushed-down back and kissing spines. Only: with Gueriniere to the contrary the hindlegs are pushed forwards under the horse, the pelvis tilts down and so a vaulted-upwards back is produced: by this no pushed-down back should be able to occur!
Here the ocurring visibility of the lower neck by taking backwards the upper neck with the horse's head means that the forehand is maximally erected, and the weight of the forehand is pushed to the hindlegs as much as possible: the forehand becomes free (of weight) and by this can move much more freely!
Seen in this light the depictions on my Finds-Page, it becomes clear that a slightly visible lower neck was proudly shown on the best horses of their times. And I always had belittled the riders on the Parthenonfreeze and interpreted those as fooling around youths with little equestrian education: far from it! These had been the best educated riders and horses of their time, showing them in a maximal collection and shortening with a maximally erected forehand!
During the last week my horses have corrected me by actually showing a sinking of their back as a result of a too far retracted neck and head: so I have to shrink the usefulness of my gradient of collection to a much shorter range.
Should I find a suitable PC Software showing the weight on each hoof and processing my gradient of collection in real-time, I hope to find out the exact borders of "Anti-Collection" (with shoving back of the hindlegs and the striving away of forelegs and hindlegs from each other, on one hand, and on the other the exact point of pushing back the upper-neck of the horse too far. Until then I can rely only of the feeling in my seat again, hopefully telling me in time if one or the other occurs.
Maximally well erected forehand with a visible lower neck:
My impression is, that the old masters took back the upper neck only to the line perpendicular to the axis of the horse's body, and thought only of more than this as harmful. So a visible lower neck should be judged a mistake only, if the upper neck is retracted behind this perpendicular line.
The definition of this Angle of Up-Straightness then would be: Angle of the frontal rim of the neck to the body's longitudinal axis.
In the sketch by Pablo Picasso a pushed down back is produced through "Anti-Collection", wherein fore- and hindlegs are striving apart: a sinking back is the result, with a much reduced bearing-ability.
Too far retracted upper-neck:
With the Lecomte Hippolyt and in the east-indian school-halt we can see the second type of mistake in collection: the upper neck is retracted too much.
Gradient of Collection
The angle of Up-Straightness alone doesn't say everything about the degree of collection, we have to include the effect of increased load-bearing of the hind-legs, too.
In the standing, highly collected horse we can see very well, and even measure to a little extent, what is most important to Broue,Newcastle, Gueriniere and Saunier; from this I have developed my “Gradient of Collection”: If we draw a straight line from the highest point of the horse's neck (the atlantoaxial joint) to the farthest back standing leg (which is bearing the highest load), this line is the steeper, the nearer these points are to each other. This gradient (= steepness or tilting angle) is variant due the different shapes of horses: the type of frame, the length and form of the neck, the degree and way of the bending of the haunches, but also due to the lesson: School-Halt or Courbette (Levade) in standing, Piaffe, Walk-Passage, Trot-Passage etc. in movement, and is only applicable if a.) there is no anti-collection and b.) the angle of Up-Straightness doesn't exceed 90°.
In the School-Halt we can see very well how the freeing of the shoulders (of weight) increases with the steepness of the gradient of collection: in the bent School-Halt at first only one shoulder gets completely free of weight and lifts up first, and only when the complete weight of the horse is fully on the hind-legs, the second foreleg lifts up, too.
Measured Values: Most of the horses on my Finds-Page are standing in the square type, so in the following I won't indicate the type of frame. All values can only be approximations, as many horses are depicted somewhat obliquely!
The Grecian school-halt statue shows a gradient of collection of 70°,
The Saracen from the neapolitan. crib: 69°,
Roman seal-staone: 65°
Etude pour la course des Barberi: to the forward hind-leg, which ids the loaded
Riding lady in the Bois de Bologne: 62° (here the weight of the rider lies more
backwards, due to the side-saddle)
The mesopotamian school-halt:: 58°,
Napoleon on the white horse: 59°
School-halt in the Parthenon-Freeze: 70°
Broue,Newcastle, Gueriniere and Saunier use a high angle of Up-Straightness and a steep gradient of collection for many lessons: in the shoulder-in, croupe-au-mure, the Traversale in Pasege (and Passage?) and in the Demi-Volte and Pirouette.
Maybe one day we will find out that a definite gradient of collection is the best one for the fatigue-free skipping in courbettes ?
Ideal Courbette with Gueriniere.
Update 12.April 2017
Yesterday I found in Broue's "Cavalerice" that it is necessary for a good 80°-sideways movement, to not bend body and neck of the horse! Now this cleared up Saunier's words regarding the holding lower of the inside hand: by this he achieves positioning the horse's head without executing an "around-itself-bending inside rein"!
Gueriniere, too, writes that body and shoulders have to be straight in the 80°-sideways movement!
Thus I have possibly solved the riddle about Guerinere's hand positioning completely:
1. He puts the switch-hand lower, to minimize the effect of the inside rein on the horse's neck, to prevent a neck-bending (with the inside rein of the snafflecurb) while positioning the head to the side he is moving to.
2. He supinates the hand to achieve an upright and free rider's- seat.
3.He extends his index-finger along the switch-shaft to avoid using a pressing-thumb inadvertently.
Update 16.April 2017:
trained the 80°-sideways-walk over four months now in the
Croupe-au-mure (for which Gueriniere demands, to put the horse's outside shoulder onto one line with its inside hip), the Renvers-Karree (with ¼ pirouettes on the forehand
in the corners) and the normal Karree (with the croupe to the centre
and ¼ pirouettes on the hindlegs in the corners) and after some
tries to hold this angle in the sideways-canter in the field, I've
succeeded today for the first time in closing the Demi-Volte, which I
had started in the Sideways-Walk, by two jumps of
Terre-a-Terre while performing a Trot-Passade. Broue calls this
sideways-canter at the end of a Demi-Volte „Terre-a-Terre“; (see
Vol. 2, p.43).
Newcastle sees the diagonalized walk as a result of the
sideways-walk (with him for example with the croupe towards the
pilar, with the same angle of 80° as Gueriniere's Croupe-au-mure; which he calls "half a shoulder forward"). He writes, that when
the forelegs are crossing, the inner hindleg moves to the side, and
when the hindlegs are crossing, the inner foreleg moves to the side,
so this is the action of a trot.(=
Also about the Sideways-Walk, that when the forelegs are crossing over, the forehand gets narrow and at the same time the hind gets large, as the inner hindleg moves to the side. At the next movement, when the hindlegs are crossing over, the hind gets narrow and the forehand large, as the inner fore-leg moves to the side.
in the Sideways-Walk the horse is always in half a Terre-a-Terre: the
Terre-a-Terre of the hindlegs, when this is large, and in the next
moment in the Terre-a-Terre of the forehand, when the latter is
Wanting to ride a traversale in walk yesterday, my horse took it for granted to start going sideways: I was very astonished! But no wonder, after all this months of work in the Sideways-Walk! So I had to tell him explicitly how much forward I wanted him to produce. At this point it became clear to me how wrong I had been over all the years in my thinking about producing a traversale in working-trot.
The explanations of Gueriniere in the chapter:„Passage“ are also (possibly mainly?!) meant for the walk-passage as here again he writes: "As we have said in the chapter "artidfical gaits" the Passage is a restrained, measured and cadenced Walk or Trot, wherein the horse lifts up a foreleg and a hindleg crosswise at the same moment, as in the normal trot, but much more shortened, determined and cadenced as the ordinary trot, and with every pace it is doing, the hoof in the air not more than one foot (ab.30cm) moves foward than the hoof still on the ground.“
From now on I will try to think for myself his chapter "Passage" as the chapter "Walk-Passage", which after all these years proves very difficult for me, but at the moment seems to be the right thing for a beginner....
Very difficult also is to rethink the traversale from the space-expansive (on the forehand) one used today, to a slow Walk-Passage-traversale with erecting the forehand highly!
When Gueriniere at the changement through the manege on two hoof-beats speaks about Broue saying, that the rider needs to be very careful in supporting the crossing outer foreleg in a certain moment, I'm reminded now of the way, I'm trying to support my horse during the 80°-sideways.
At the moment I prefer to execute a steep, but shorter sideways-walk-traversale, as I'm still much to impatient for a long and slow changement.
The stable Gueriniere-seat enables the following very fine and light giving of aids to bend the horse:
Holding the switch in the upright fist in the semi-bouquet grasp (the end of the switch vanishes completely within the upright standing fist) with a foward tilt of the switches tip of only 10°, while supporting it on the basic phalanx of the little finger, one can by bending and hyperextension in the carpal joint induce finely calibrated a bending of the horse.
At the start, to sensitize his body and that of the horse, one begins with the strongest bending and extending in the carpal joint: for bending the horse to the switch-hand side one uses a hyper-extension and holds the switch-hand behind the rein-hand. For example, to get a shoulder-in to the right, being in the right-hander seat, the fist is rotated so far out that a maximum of hyperextension results: the knuckles (MCP-joints) of the switch-fist point as far to the right as possible, the switch-hand stands farther back than the rein-hand, and the rider allows his left thigh to press a little more against the left forward part of the saddle. With this the left shoulder comes a little forward.
Wishing to change into a right croupe-in, the rider simply needs to take his left shoulder a little back and lift the left thigh somewhat from the left side of the saddle, which leads to a turning of the horse under him into the croupe-in.
For the bending to the left (the rein-hand side) he shoves the switch-fist farther forward than the rein-fist, turns it from hyper-extension into a strong bending, so that the knuckles of the switch-fist now point to the left side, and allows again additionally a little more pressing of the right thigh against the forward part of the saddle for the shoulder-in; for the croup-in to the left he again turns the horse under himself.
Also a very smooth change from shoulder-in right to croupe-in left is finely possible .
Trainig is done best on a long straight way outside, or in a big riding hall on the middle line (because only here the pressure of both walls are equally strong on the horse)
Naturally the same applies for the left-hander seat, inversely.
After achieving the feeling for this aid, and some routine, you will recognize that for the most time there will be no need for a strong rotation in the switch-hand's carpal joint, which can even be far too strong during canter, where the horse can easily feel overstarined by this light aid and begins to throw his head oder actually stops the canter! Here one is learning speedily, how little is needed to hold the horse in shoulder-in or croupe-in while cantering!
A straight Straight between these aids, exerted minimally, is achievable easily!
Having translated the Chapter 33, Vol. II accurately now, in preparation for my La Broue Book, I'm training the full halt from a lively gait after his fashion: but customized in the way, that I use the school halt instead of going backwards (as the horse is not able or willing to decide reliably which one I want, and will prefer to go backwards, because this is much easier). I would never have expected, that this heavy type of halt would leave the horse so calm: but the 4-5 steps in a very collected walk , which thanks to the sideways training gets more and more unhurried and relaxed, and the 2-3 turns afterwards are pacifying the horse completely, and nevertheless it shoots forwards promptly in the next try. Already this lesson seems to improve all the other lessons, as he wrote, and the horses get more assured and courageously every time.
L'Arrêt avec le Cavesson (The full halt with the cavesson), Lithographie by Charles Motte, ca. 1830, after Eisenberg
„To form the full halt with grace, the horse must bend its haunches, it shall not traverse and not press against the hand, it shall hold its head still, the neckline high and before the rider. With young horses one is not allowed to make the full halt too short or to suddenly, so as not to ruin his hocks or his mouth. At the beginning the rider has to approach his calves to the horse to animate it, he brings his body back, brings the hands with the cavesson and the reins higher, and after that extends his knees vigorously and steps into the stirrups and at the same time lowers the switch ."
During the translation of Chapter I-34, immediately I thought of this picture from Delft: this rider might have been influenced by the Cavalerice, holding the hind legs of his horse wide apart.
18.12.2017: Die Beinhaltung: Zwischenbilanz nach 21 Monaten
The art-rider's seat I had named after Gueriniere, because I found in his book very clear pictures which regrettably cannot be found in Grisone's and La Broue's; because I feel Pluvinel's seat not korrect and Newcastle's to far in front of the saddle.
The expression "Legs before the horse" fell into my lap ny a transltion accident und is by me nevrtheless since then because it hits the mark correctly.
If he holds his legs before the horse the rider can feel by the power he is treading into the stirrup is travelling through the whole lenght of his legs straight into his complete spine, without losing his seat, not even whne he pulls up his heels. The musculus gastrocnemius (the dorsal thick belly of the calf muscle, which while lifting the heel would lead to an additional bending in the knee joint) is then little or complettely not in use. but more or only the flat calf muscle musculus soleus: the rider often gets the feeling of a tightening only of the calf's sides.
Are the legs but behind the horse, this line of force will be broken at the rider's knees and the lower legs are merely appendixes of the of the knee joints: the rider looses stability significantly in the longitudinal direction of the horse, but also sideways stability, falls forward and often hits the forepart of the saddle unpleasantly: here the dorsal thicker part of the calf muscle, which is used to drive the horse forwards, is more tensioned.
Delft Tile, ar. 1790, the rider has his legs far behind the horse
A middle postition I couldn't find out yet, it seems there is only before or behind the horse. So my aim is always to as soon as possible return to holding my legs before the horse again after having them put back for a short time, be it out of old habit or to use them more behind as an aid.
The line of force can also get broken completely through bringing the legs far forwards, as in "legs over the horse" [see Marc Aurel or the mesopotamien school-halt]; here also the lower legs thighs are merely appendixes of the knee, additionally now the feet have no or very little contact with the stirrup plates. Here no muscle on the calf's back is tensioned. (Riding completely without stirrups, naturally there is no build-up of this line of force possible: one either lets his legs hang downwards straightly or puts them over the horse).
Holding the legs before the horse, the rider always treads a little bit into the stirrups and uses a force between 20grams and many kilograms, depending on the need.
Here develops a far increased fundament for the rider's equilibrium than that of the englisch seat, one could call it a tripod by bottom and both feet: the rider stands and sits simultaneously like on a one-legged standing-stool.
A very important benefit is that the rider can dampen very finely the shocks, which the horse's back gets by the rider's weight, depending on the degree of tension in the flat calf muscle (m.soleus).
The distribution of the rider's weight I guess is: ar. 60% on his bottom, 15% each on every thigh and ar. only 1% to 5% on every stirrup plate (auf jeder Steigbügelplatte (except during a stirrup tread).
But in the stirrup tread there can arise sometimes a load of ar. 50kg on this plate (as my horse have a wide fundament, the don't sway hereby).
The difficult situation regarding trhe equilibrium in the englisch-seat costs the rider much of his concentration, in the Gueriniere seat a lot of this gets freed: the rider can put this to work on other tasks (in the first days actually something seems to be amiss!)
Grisone 1550: The rider shall let his lower legs hang down in the way, that they position themselves on their own in the stirrups, as if one would be standing on the ground; the points of the feet turned so, that at turning the horse on the resp. side they point into the same direction as the rider's nose.
La Broue 1593: The back straight and firm, the thighs fast at the saddle like glued on. The kness closed and turned more inwards than outwards. The lower legs as near by the horse as necessary, firm and straight, as in standing upright on his legs on the ground, if the rider has a big or medium stature; if he has a small stature he shall, when possible, hold his lower legs forwards adjacent to the horse's shoulders.
The heels lower than the points, neither turned inwards nor outwards [means ar. 30° outwards rotated as in normal standing], the soles of the shoes shall lie straight and with safe dependence upon the stirrup plates and so, that the point of the shoes surmount about one thumb's breadth the plate.
Pluvinel 1626: The rider has to keep himself upright in the saddle as in standing on the ground, the lower legs far forwards und shall be treading fast into the stirrups, holdings his knees closed always and with all his might. With the point of the feet coming near the horse's bow, his heels pushing downwards; his soles shall be visible from the ground. Picture from: "Le Manege Royal":
Newcastle (frz.1.Buch) 1657: The rider shall sit in the front of the the saddle as far as possible, letting his legs hang down as if standing on the ground, thighs and knees as glued to the saddle, the legs put firmly into th stirrups, the heels somwhat lower than the points.
Gueriniere 1733: Holding the lower legs unconstrainedly straight downwards, not too far forwards, because one has to use them sometimes behind, but not too far behind, because one would come with his aids into the flancs, which are too ticklish and sensitive to work there with the spurs. The heels not too deep down, to prevent the lower leg from getting stiff, the points of the feet turned not too far outwards, for the spurs not to touch the belly, and not too far inwards, to prevent the paralyzing of the lower leg. But rather one has not to rotate the lower legs inwards, but the thighs. In his book also these pictures can be found:
Prizelius (1777) shows on nearly all his depictions a wrist-flexion of the minimally supinated switch hand, together with the "legs before the horse":
Looking at the old pictures one realizes that the advice to let hang down his legs straightly can be meant in two different ways: a contemporary show-rider, grown up in the englisch seat, with his legs behind the horse, wants to say: so, that still at least a little angle in the knee joint occurs, with tightening of the thick m.gastrocnemius ( =not treading into the stirrup!); and on ther hand the art-rider before 1800, who is holding his legs just a bit before the horse, without an angle in the knee joints, ( = always at least a minimal tread into the stirrup!), except for short aides.
While holding the legs before the horse is at the beginning quite difficult for the rider to uphold, for the horse it is even harder: during riding englisch the relaxation of the rider is shown by throwing away all pressure in the rider's seat and body, sometimes relaxing the legs by putting them fowards, meaning pause for the horse, but now the real, loose work shall start with exactly these signals!
The horse has to adapt greatly, as the rider tries to hold his legs forward as often and as long as possible, whereby from him are stolen not only the spurs (Pluvinel) but also the calfs and the heels for driving the horse!
Here he must find other means and learn to use them: at first one thinks of the switch, but it alone often will not suffice: he also has to dismiss the sitting on the forehand, which is used in the Englisch-/race-/jump-/hunting seat, in favour of a forehand-unloading seat, which consequently will be a hindquarter-loading seat, which is an important gaol of the academic art of riding, by bringing back his upper body a little, by not pronating his hands, by letting his belly come forwards slighthly, by not rollig in his shoulders, and so on.
Additionally he has to allow the horse to step forwards freely by tilting his pelvis forwards (or at least doesn't let it stay tilted backwards) and, if appropriate, use the pinky-push; and instead of driving the horse by heels/calfs/spurs using a stronger or weaker loading of the stirrup at the time when the horse rotates downwards its ribcage on the same side, to increase the forward stepping of the hindlegs.
Increasingly in the lessons known to him and the horse, the clutching of the lower legs behind the horse will vanish, but in a new lesson easily occur again, which is not always to be seen as a mistake, as the horse can agree only to a lesson it understands, and the rider also has to get a feel for the new lesson, which all can be achieved often only by increased driving with the legs. Thes "false" aides can be abandoned or at least reduced in the later trainig.
The horse-scales have been here: Paco's weight combined with mine and saddle is 660kg. Only the forehand on the scales it shows 330kg, the scales is 20cm higher than the surrounding ground where Paco's hindlegs are standing: that means some weight is already shifted to the hind already. We had only very little time and could only use our standard school-halt once: the scales showed then only 240 kg for the forehand: 90kg less on the forehand means 90kg more on the hindlegs = 420/240kg. Described in another way: the forehand was unloaded from normally about 60% to 36% of the weight! So in this medium school-halt the haunches had instead of normally ar. 40% now 64%: a real, slight "arret sur les hanches"!
To train once in a while a whole halt on the haunches from the lively trot or from the canter produces actually the effect La Broue predicted: all collecting and higher lessons get much better, from the school halt and the very collected trot onwards!
Since having begun very cautiously to test his instructions for the Courbettes, I have begun again, after many years, to levade my horses, which I avoided for a long time out of fear to produce a harmful Pesade: As La Broue describes, we should begin with Levades out of the forward movement. With me, it developed into somewhat else, so at the moment I can elevate the forehand of my horses somewhat during a slow canter uphill at every second leap (my inner picture for this is the tile from Delft of 1650, which may show exactly this movement, and Ridinger's picture "A strong halt out of the canter").
While doing this, I think of La Broue's comparison with the "Jeu de paulme" and the result is a body stance of the rider similar to the forearm pass in volleyball: the rider's legs then are so far forward and a little bit up, that one has to speak of the "legs above the horse" here, all the more as the rider's knees are bent a little bit, too; additionally the rider's hands come forward, too. On top of that, I reinforce the lifting of the horse's fore-hand by a pronounced pinky-push, and for now I achieve (perceivedly) sometimes half the height of the Delft rider. The elevating of the forehand leads to a distribution of much more weight to the hind-legs, which then bear the weight more under and more forward under the horse.
At last the Terre-a-Terre straight forwards (=Mezair?) develops further, as the horses now understand better that I want them not to move forwards much. Yesterday on the way back to the stables, where the horses always quicken up a little bit, Picasso offered my of his own volition in this gait in a 45° degree angle to his "good" side, very calm and leger, eight leaps sideways, holding his body and neck straight: probably for avoiding me to get the idea to let him leap sideways on his stiff side, as he doesn't move well to his stiff side when wanting to reach a place fast. Trying afterwards to do this on his stiff, left side, he became very entier, went against the right heel and switch and became on the right side very constrained/tight (= bent the whole body and neck maximally to his right side). So in this gait anew a lot of gymnastication awaits us!
The Semi-Boquet grasp of the switch-fist (see 01.Nov.17)
gets finer more and more: For the swinging out of the horse's hind it's not necessary anymore to put the switchhand before or behind the rein-hand: now I can leave it beside the rein-hand, it works solely by the rotation of the fist in the carpal joint. To swing the horse's hind to the left, I swivel the switch-hand to the left, so that the knuckles of the switch-fist point to the left, to swing the horse's hind to the right, I swivel the switch-fist to the right, so that the knuckles point to the right: the movement is simialr to that of hitting a tambourine against the other hand for sounding it's jingles. Thus I initiate a volte to the left by turning the switch-fist to the left for one to two steps, holding this stance if I want the horse to hold the haunches within the volte. If I want to lead the croupe back onto the circular track, I turn the fist shortly to the right (held longer to the right, a slight renvers occurs). During Canter on circular lines this proves to be very useful: Start with a turn to the inside for one to two canter leaps, then a short turn to the outside for stabilizing the circle-movement, then inside again for a better stepping under of the hindlegs, and so on.
It makes a very good support in the 80°-sideways, too: sideways to the left: knuckles to the left, and vice versa.
The chain of transmission from lower arm>shoulder>muscles of the back>rider's pelvis>seatbones is palpable (maybe sometime someone finds out the differnet participating muscles?).
At least regarding the switch wastage I feel coequal to Newcastle meanwhile: My current natural switch (an apple shoot, dried according to Bent's tutorial) I have in use since more than four months now. Newcastle/Cavendish
proudly reports in his first book, that his switches last up to three months, as evidence for his gentle treatment of his horses. One could argue, that he surely has worked more horses per day than me, on the other hand he writes, that he not seldom works 5 horses within 30 minutes, so the duration of use might be comparable, after all. AND: he always wore spurs additionally, which I have never put on for 17 months now!
In his second book,nine years later however, he writes that his switch endures 6 months, and at the end of this book he even mentions a duration of one year.... I wonder, if my little stick will keep this long?
During my night-duty yesterday, just as I passed Remlingen, the village where Loehneysen wrote his „Della Cavaleria“, it occurred to me that the chapter 7 of book II of „The Cavalerice Francois“ I'm translating currently, is actually the one Gueriniere refers to in his chapter „Passage“!
I had needed several months to realize that the meaning of “Simple curb” is not “”one rod” but “once broken rod”, and some more months to realize that this was the most favored bit of La Broue and Gueriniere, then several weeks of planning and scale drawing with making adjustments to my horse's mouth-width, then some weeks of interchange of ideas.
This snafflecurb is made with a broken mouthpiece exactly after my wishes. From now on I will be able by twitching at the inner rein to push the horse's lower jaw to the outside (which is the main use of a snaffle) and just after that use the uprighting curb function.
The mouthpiece gets thicker to the outside conically, to be sustained by the side lips of the horse, too,so that a pull on the rein first reaches the lips and only a stronger pull the tongue and the bars.
It was made hollow for a smaller weight, as the old did, then (Löhneysens called those „Hohlbiß“). As its diameter in the region of the bars is still bigger, it makes it less hard on them.
Also this mouthpiece probably will always tend to slide to the middle of the mouth, even if it should be a little to wide for the horse's mouth.
Being my first bridling of this type, I didn't dare for now, to let the lower branches be made as long as Gueriniere and La Broue recommend, instead I tried at first 18cm. To let the leverage not grow too great, I let the upper branch elongate to 7cm, just as Gueriniere's.
Thus the leverage grows only from my former curb = 1:2, to 1:2.5 (with Gueriniere and La Broue 1:3 is a normal value).
By this I gain an 1.7 times longer rein way, which means for example: from 4.4cm to 6.3cm. That means my horse has much more time to sense a tightening of the rein before the curb is fully engaged and also that I could ride with a more unsteady hand.
The weight of this prototype is, despite the longer branches, the same as that of a short dressage curb plus snaffle-bit, or of one of the heavier El-Mosquero curbs.
The curb tells the rider similarly as with the Renaissance-curb exactly the moment it begins to take effect, and after short probing I had learned how to twitch at the inner rein. The positioning of the head then is actually as La Broue describes: nearly only the head is positioned, with only a slight bending of the neck. Showing the horse additionally the switch on the outside led to a more rounded neck as before with my old curb, and the muscle bump behind Picasso's atlas was gone, and I hope very much, it stays this way!. To lead his head higher I needed only a short little pull upwards (I always combine this with a pinky-push to make clear to the horse that I don't mean a half-halt) and a wonderful upright neck and head resulted and it stayed this way, too! For the first time on Picasso, after many years, I could really put my hands very low, without him leaving this position, the reins hanging down beside his shoulders in a leisurely way, and I actually had the feeling to be one of the riders in Gueriniere's book. I hope very much that all these effects will stay with us in the future, too!
One drawback: the little chainette, holding the lower branches together to prevent the upper branches leaning into the teeth of the horse and also the long lower branches, both forbid me from now on, to let my horses nibbling twigs from bushes and trees along the roadside..
As the long lower branches of my snafflecurb are in danger to touch the ground and engaging the curb by that, and also the danger exsits, that the horse's hooves could touch the lower branches, I'm forced now to position the horse's head significantly higher. With the old curb I often had let the reins hang through while strolling cross-country, which resulted in my horses going far forward downwards (not least in the hope to catch the odd blade of grass), they now keep always a wonderful, very smooth contact to the bit, which produces a continual communication to the rider's hand. My impression is, that this trusting softness of the horse's mouth is due to the length of the lower branches: even when the rider's hand is sometimes held a little bit unfocused, it does not lead to full engagement as soon as with the old curb, as the rein way is far longer. But also the very big mouthpiece seems to play a role, and the facility for the horse to position the now movable two shanks in the mouth where he likes it better.
Also, at least in the longer necked Picasso, the reins come off the front rims of the shoulderblades (which I always have the feeling of diminishing the horse's forward impetus), and run now a little bit before the shoulderblades, because the position of his head is higher.
But the expected effect of twitching the inner rein is unexpectedly the very opposite: the horses most times put their head to the outside then! I think that by the four resp. eight years long use of a not broken bit both are trained for a long time to interpret the wrong effect of that curb into reaction intended by the rider. Now they will have to unlearn this again...
So I rode yesterday in the correct hand-canter, but with a very far to the outside held head and neck of the horse through the corners of the riding hall! Having quite a bit of time in walk to get the head right posture, in trot it already is a bit more difficult, but in canter the try to softly turn the head inside by showing the horse the switch on the outside and by my seat can easily take five to eight canter-strides. Laying the rein against the outside shoulder in this situation is unfortunately interpreted by the horse as an around itself bending rein and so of no use at all ....
The text by Prizelius arrived just at the right moment for me: for weeks now I have a standstill in trying to produce from a very shortened walk a diagonalization. Only very rarely I got, for one or two steps, the impression of successfully joining the movements of the hindlegs to those of the frontlegs. Because of this I had reasoned for a longer time now, if it might be possible to reach my aim by shortening the trot further and further.
Both my stallions give my since many months a very slow trot, which lets my sit very,very softly on their backs. The tact frequency of this trot of ar. 80/minute is mach nearer to a trot-passage than to a piaffe on the place. But ist shows not the pronounced lifting up from the ground as is characteristic for trot, piaffe and trot-passage, nevertheless it lifts the rider clearly in very good swing in a two-beat: This must be the feeling Saunier will have got from his "walk"-passage, I assume. Might this be already this gait? At least the way could be the right one. Possibly there is a walk-piaffe, too? In an old video of the spanish riding school in Viennaone can see two horses moving on one place in very slow trot more near the ground.
If a movemnt feels comfortable for the rider, it cannot be bad for the horse is an old saying: so I#m quite sure, that I will not a mistake by this, but to the contrary will gymnasticize successfully to the positive. The old masters always say, we have to train our horses according to their capabilities, and some horses just don't lift up their legs very much and a little less gracefully than others.
The text by Prizelius might justify these thoughts:
Gueriniere and Saunier gave the very slow trot-passage the name "walk"-passage because this movement was slower, not so abrupt and more near the ground than a normal trot-passage.
The "school"-walk of Prizelius, Eisenberg and Ridinger is a very slow trot, sometimes with very much bent haunches; the latter would be the same movement as the above mentioned "walk"-passage.
The old school-walk before ar. 1750 of Gueriniere and La Broue was a simple, four-beated, collected walk with a higher forehand, as it occurs for example during shoulder-in or haunches-in.
Marc-Aurel-Seat and Jeu-de-Paulme Movement
Marc Aurel uses a slight dorsal extension (over-extension of the back of the hand) in his free, right hand, while maintaining a slight bending of the elbow-joint (would the latter be fully extended, transmission to the rider's back muscles would be impossible and thus no driving impulse would occur to the horse). This movement is similar to shoving a shopping trolley with the wrist, and by this the rider's belly comes forward more than in the perpendicular pinky-push and with far less tilting forwards of the rider's pelvis. Is the arm elevated exactly this much, the pronation of the right hand cannot block the pushing forward of the rider's belly!).The opposite, collection, is to be gained by flexion in the carpal-joint of the free hand (tilting the Hand downwards).
Update 21.April 2018:
Interpretation of the Gueriniere-seat brings highest harmonie into the rider's posture: his light supination of the switch-hand in combination wit the flexion in the wrist leads also to small approximation of this stance in the rein-hand: now the rider's belly comes a little bit more forward, the lighthly opened hands shape an imaginative bowl wherein the rider's belly nestles. The back muscles of the rider relax completely symmetrical. If one had no need for giving aids, I would ride in this posture permanently!
Update 30. April 2018
When some weeks my hoof-orthopedic pointed out to me that the horizontal, reddish-bluish line, which had been discernible quite well on his white, right hind hoof, was a result of a kick by his left hind hoof, I realized, that I had underestimated the slipperiness of the meadow with its still frozen deeper ground. Tellingly this bruise must have occured during the sideways canter to his good, right side, so I'm sure, I had allowed too much bending of his neck, which easily occurs to his good side, and this on top of the ground problems! Since then I am extra careful to put only his head into the direction of movement and leave neck and body straight, as La Broue advises us! (Good thing that Picasso doesn't wear iron horse-shoes!).
By the way Prizelius holds his switch hand I have come around to Gueriniere's again after many months trying out other ways: if one lets descend Prizelius' hand downwards, the rider can maintain his good posture and be prepared to grip the right rein if the need occurs, too.
The strong uprightness on the first day of using my snafflecurb has never occured again, so I assume additionally to the newness of the bridle, the mares in heat outside the riding hall and the frosty weather two had played a part in that.
Two weeks ago, after having ridden always for eight weeks with my snafflecurb, I had gone into the country today using again my old unbroken curb, which I had had in use for many years. The difference on this day was clearly to be felt: the horse didn't take this very fine appuy any more, but got often scuffed off by the bit fairly hard: the horse laid itself considerably more on the rider's hand, the rider's arm got tired more than with a safflecurb by the uncomfortable pulling by the horse's mouth, and the rider often got pulled out of his free, independent seat!
After 11 days riding-pause then, again putting on the old, unbbroken curb, Picasso had found his former equilibrium again, and the light, former appuy of his mouth is palpable again. This clearly different appuy I call now "over the hand" as, contray to that of the simple snafflecurb, it is not felt as "in the hand" (with the feel of a direct connection into the horse's mouth), but more of avoiding a direct contact to the bit. If the reason for this is the thicker mouthpiece with support by the horse's lips or the considerably longer rein way, I will only be able to find out, when I can test the 3rd variant of the simple snafflecurb I intend to try: one with very short lower branches as the one in Nestier's picture.
The prototype I have used until now had a far too high freedom of the tongue: so it seems to me now, that Gueriniere wanted to show us another (top?-)height of the freedom of the tongue, as for 140 years then the sketch in La Broue's book had been known in all the world (see German translation). My next one will be a mix of the freedom of the tongue like La Broue's, and the side parts made curved like Gueriniere's, which nowadays might be called S-Curb, as only after having used this one I will now, how rider and horse felt exactly in that time. This type of bridle was used for horses which had been given a good deal of education already: they at first started with a cavesson, then in addition to that used a straight snafflecurb, this at first without a chain; only after that they trained the horse on a curved snafflecurb, at first as guidance still with a cavesson attached; this combination was mostly used, when starting a new lesson. Depending of the quality of the horse and that of the rider these steps naturally had different time frames, which today we actually might shorten a bit in some cases, as we live in the time of the highest art in training horses from the ground, and using this, before and accompanying the work under the saddle, so much of the explaing to the horse has beens done already, when the rider tries the training under the saddle.
Meanwhile I am convinced, that the view of most riders today, that a snaffle were the best bridle for the beginner and the young horse, is, at least to a big part, due to a misinterpretation of the old masters. This mistake occurred not least because in French today the snaffle is called “simple canon”. The reader of La Broue's and Gueriniere's texts learns thoroughly, that the simple canon is the very best bridle, but by this term they meant a “simple snafflecurb”, a very different type of bridling! A snaffle was seen by both as an unsuitable bridle in these cases!
Though other reasons surely have contributed, too: If the rider has not learned to make a halt solely by his seat, he will do it by using the mouthbit and so easily damage the horse's appuy (= leaning on the mouth) or even the mouth itself! A halt or a turning by seat only in a racing situation, for example a jumping parcours with time-accounting, is impossible actually... Many people think, in these situations a "little" snaffle will do less harm.
Also a snaffle is cheaper to produce, and additionally the longer lower branches of s snafflecurb impede grazing during a rest, even drinking in shallow water.
As much of the old knowledge of adjusting a simple snafflecurb is lost, I'm very curious if we will succed in developping it again with the help of the informations of the old masters!
La Broue's lesson of the passades with doubled voltes at their end is beautiful to ride and probably really a good preparation for improving my demi-voltes in the sideways, for which I still had not found a satisfying starting point: maybe this will help?
Only some days into this training it dawned on me that with two or three, he gave an incorrect number of voltes: one starts the volte at the last point of the passade by letting the outer front foot tread over the inner one, then riding a whole volte and further another half one, which is concluded by shoving the croupe of the horse inside, so that the forefeet and the hindfeet nearly simultaneously reach the line of the passade, to be able to start staright forward from the hand presently to the other end of the passade. Actually these are only one and a half voltes, one more would make two and half. So La Broue's term :“doubled voltes“ in reality mean, that only the first half-volte is repeated.
The perpendicular pinky-push with upright standing rider's fists ha helped me greatly over many months to come away from the forehand-seat to the middle position and to unburden the horse's forehand, with higher stepping of the forefeet (I think this is an important part of „making the horse lighter“ (fr.:“allegrir“), as the old wanted us to). But hereby the movement of the hindlegs stays uninfluenced, and should one overdue it, the horse even will stretch out and an anti-collection occurs with undesirable lowering of the horse's back. With the short-backed Picasso, who seldom stretches his hindlegs far out, this is not a great problem, but Picasso tends to do exactly this nearly always (I even got him tested for PSSM because of this!). For some months now I'm using the perpendicular pinky-push nearly only when the horses in the country don't want to go forward (be it on the first hundreds of meters away from the stable, or when nearing the unloved pig-stables).
But for collecting the horse, meaning increased treading under also, the horizontal pinky-push has proved very valuable (though really horizontal one cannot hold his fists, only a supination of ar. 60°is possible, at least not if one doesn't want to hold the hands very far forwards). By this the forefeet are activated not as much, but the forehand is elevated a bit nevertheless, and the whole effect is distinctly collecting.
This pinky-push is used most nicely and most easily in riding single-handed solely on a curb: when using a cavesson additionally, one must concentrate always on pushing the ring finger distinctly forwards , too.
Also an excellent aide to reach a better uprighting of the forehand of rider and horse is the way to hold the switch as the "Old Fritz" does, here in a porcellaine figurine in the Köpenick castle, Berlin
Finally I have a word for the movement of the switch-fist, which reigns the hindquarter so finally and precisely: "Tambourine Slew" (s. March 3rd., 2018).
Having been quite
astonished in the beginning about the smallness of La Broue's voltes
at the ends of the passades with ar. 3.50m, meanwhile we succeed now,
thanks to the tambourine-slew, to produce much smaller ones. At the
moment I canter the passade, letting the horse come to a near
standstill at the end, where I promptly induce a walk-volte on one track
by telling the horse to put his outer leg over the inner one. With a
fully inwards tambourine-slewed switch-hand the horse narrows itself
maximally and is able to produce 1.50m voltes. The problem then is,
that in the intoxication by these very small voltes I often don't
notice what easily happens then, and only when the horse stops, I
recognize that once again I have only watched the nice action of the
forehand, and not felt that the horse's hind has wandered inwards
more and more: that means, it has meanwhile come before the movement!
Should the horse want to proceed in this stance, it would have to set
the outer legs behind the inner legs, which is very dangerous! So I
have to reduce somewhat the tambourine-slew for a short time, the
horse gets a bit less narrow and the hind is following again on the
There is no better place to train the sideways than a row of fruit-bearing apple trees: as soon as we come near its branches, the horse's body and mind tension considerably, he stands very quiet there, reacts very finely to my demands: "You want me to move just a little bit sideways? You're welcome!", "You want me to climb down this dry trench in the sideways, parallel to its sides, for some centimetres, or more?Certainly!" And all the time in his stance the question: "Can you reach the apple now?" Here the word "adverty" ( = advertent, mindful to the riders actions), which La Broue uses so often, feels to be fitting completely!