The grail is found!
After four years of intense research I
finally have found now the rider’s seat in the old academic art of
Let’s make something of it! (See
update 15.Mai 2020)
Research Object Guérinière-Seat
Since March 2016 I have used a slightly customized seat after Guérinière with some success. For this seat the rider's legs shall be held a bit forwards, "before the horse", and hold this place in most situations.
The rider's chin shall be held up and his thoracic spine pushed slightly forward, the shoulder-blades shall wander downwards a little without too much pressing them together in the back, fairly like a 100m sprinter trying to tear the finish tape as the winner.
Guérinière's basic stance furthermore contains an upright, over the withers held left fist, in which the reins are led one-handed on a sole curb-bit, with the upper rein between 4th and 5th finger and the lower rein running around the little finger. The thumb's nail is on top, the little finger at the bottom. The rein-fist stands nearly perpendicular, seen from the side as well as seen from the front, it is tilted ab. 10° to the left (supinated 10°) and this stance in riding straight forwards will be varied only minimally.
[CORRECTION 2020: At first I had thought, that the thumb always points to the front and lies parallel to the horse's spine column, but now I know that the thumb points 30° to 50° to the switch-side!].
For a bending to the left the switch will be held parallel to the right side of the hores's neck, to push the head to the left, for bending the horse to the right, the switch is held crosswise over the neck: both reinforce the outer, bending away from itself rein).
Sometimes the right rein has to be held by the right hand separately, the switch-hand is positioned lower than the rein-hand, otherwise both hands are kept on the same height and near to each other (Amendment: this only with a snaffle-curb!, see also Update 29.11.19!). To train this special seat-balance, I use the lowered switch-hand very often, even without leading the reins separately. Gueriniere's favorite curb bit was a "simple canon", a snaffle-curb with a broken bit, which allows leading s.t. with separate reins to be far more exact than with an unbroken mouthpiece.
For collection Guérinière lifts the rein-fist, and for advancing he lowers it.
My customization is, that for advancing I will push the PIP-joint (joint between proximal and medial phalanx) of the rein-fist's little finger forwards (which I call the "Pinky-Push") and by tilting this way the rein-fist backwards (as if you want to touch the middle of your forehead with an imaginary switch held perpendicular in the rein-fist): in extreme the rider then can see the base-phalanxes of the second to fourth fingers. The result is a radial (to the radius bone) kink of the wrist. In this occurs a strong tendon tightening over (radial) and under (ulnar) the wrist, reaching up to the middle of the lower arm.
For collection however I will pull the little finger backwards to my belly and by this tilt the fist to the opposite direction through this motion: in extreme, the rider cannot see the nail of his thumb anymore (as if you would touch your horse with your imaginary perpendicular held switch in the rein-fist right between the ears). This results in an ulnar (to the ell = ulna) kink of the wrist. The movement in the carpal-joint is similar to the one of the lower hand on the single paddle in a canoe during backwards paddeling,the resulting tension in the rider's back-muscles are similar, too. This movement I call "Pinky-Pull".
In both cases the thumb will hold its place, building the rotating point.
The switch-hand is held on many of his pictures, too (supination is a palm held upwards [imagine eating soup out of your hand] ) (the opposite, holding the hand of the back upwards would be called “pronation”).
Only the supination (or at least upright-standing) of the rider's hands creates the necessary space for the rider's belly to come forward (pronated hands prevent this!): I call this "the belly before the horse".
A Pinky Push of the switch-hand is possible, too, but for that it has to give up the supination and use the upright position.
The gaining in advancing happens very spontaneous: even while pushing forward the little finger it is already starting, continually like one would take pressure off a steel-spring! But the collection happens so softly, that I always need two or three steps to fully register it.
Part A of the research would initially consist in confirming the following impressions I get:
1. The advancing by the Pinky-Push is not due to bringing it's minimal weight to the forehand, rather it permits the rider's belly coming forward a little, reflexively resulting in a little pelvis-tilt forward.
2. The initiation of collection by the Pinky-Pull is mainly the result of the retraction of the rider's belly as a reflex on the pulling back of the little finger and the consecutive pelvis-tilt backwards.
3. Holding the switch hand in supination results in a little move backwards and a freeing of this side's shoulder, accompanied by an approaching of the rider's right upper-arm to his chest, restoring the equilibrium.
4. Pushing, with forwards held rider's legs, the forefeet down onto the stirrups lets the rider's heels rise up slightly and consecutively lightens the seat through taking the upper-legs' muscles away from the saddle, giving the horse's chest room to rotate freely (this must not be confused with simply pulling up the heels!).
Part B of the Research: If one or more of my assumptions in A will be confirmed by other riders, we would try to define the muscle-movement-chains of the rider's body triggered through these movements (here also orthopedics, physiotherapists, osteopaths and chiropractors probably could contribute a lot):
Possibly it could be described like this: „The Pinky-Push (tilting of the fist for advancing) leads, via a tensioning of the ulnar hand-abductors to a tilt of the shoulderblade into the ribs, with a straigtening of the thoracic spine and by this a hyperlordosing of the lumbar spine, which results in a forward tilt of the rider's pelvis: with naming all the involved muscles, their movements and possibly their opponents, too.
Or for the pronation of the rider's switch hand: „The blocking of the rider's right shoulder through a pronated switch-hand is the result of a tightening of muscle X, which leads to holding fast the shoulder-joint Y and because of that, over a tightening of the right side long muscle of the rider's back to a lifting of his pelvis on the right and with this to a pushing over to the right the rider's body above his pelvis.“
If enough riders will have tested the seat and agree to my assumptions in A, I would be glad to build a discussion platform for everyone willing to contribute to B.
Dr. Daniel Ahlwes, Schimmerwald, July 2016
P.S.: Caution: with legs held forward, you should not use your spurs there: they likely will hit the unprotected horse's elbow bone (very painful!)
Reasons for using Guérinière's Basic-Seat:
I agree to the opinion that sees the curb as a most valuable instrument. Also I think the one-handed leading of the curb reins is for most occasions the optimum (I use the two-handed leading only in special exceptional cases). My two-month test with an academic hackamore showed a similar result, so one has to assume that cavemore and even the one-handed led cavecon will be possible, too.
If, while using the single-handed rein-leading one doesn't want to work with only one dominant rein, which touches the horse's neck only on one side (as seen in the Marc Aurel statue) , but wants both reins to act with equal pressure on the horse's neck, this presets the only possible position for the rein-hand in the middle above the withers : with Guérinière for the straight or bent straight: perpendicular in the middle above the withers, the thumb pointing forwards, being parallel to the withers' length.
As now the middle over the withers is occupied already, we have to live with the fact that symmetry for the rider's upper body is impossible: we can only try to find a compensation somehow. The stance of the rein-hand constitutes a minimal supination in the left hand: this effects the approaching of the left upper arm to the rider's chest, were it stays in a relative stable position.
Supinating the switch-hand compensates this not only through freeing the right shoulder, but also by the approach of the right biceps muscle to the rider's chest, thus offsetting the effect of the left hand's supination: now the rider is sitting straight again (but not symmetrically!).
For turning the horse, the rein-fist will be tilted so, that the thumb (pointing as always to the front) wanders outside with the fist's base staying fast on the spot. The resulting minimal difference of pressure of the reins on the horse's neck results in a prompt and finely tunable turning! To support the right bending Gueriniere positions the switch supinatedly across the horse's neck and the reins to the left side, pushing the horse to the right. In the left bending, the switch is held at a distance parallel to the horse's neck on it's right side, pushing it's shoulder to the left. My future plan for self-education (under occasional, regular supervision with the high-value help for self-help by Marius Schneider, MAAR) is to train at first Guérinière's basic seat for some more months with the goal of riding at least a third of the time of each riding unit in an approximately good basic seat. Only then I will try to approach the extended seat of Guérinière: Guérinière shows on many pictures another feature: to achieve a more pronounced right-bending of the horse's neck, he uses the little finger of the switch-hand to grab the right rein: so in effect he rides with separate reins! For this Guérinière holds the switch—hand held a fists-height deeper than the left and keeps all the above mentioned features of his basic seat: he “simply” adds the grab of the right little finger into the right rein, which now runs considerably lower now than the left. Doing that the rider needs a very good command of the basic-seat and also of leading separately the snafflecurb-reins, as this very easily produces a hard and unbalanced force on each rein! If one calls his basic seat challenging already, reaching and holding for a certain time his extended seat deserves being called a little mastership, I would say! An intermediate effect is achieved by extending the rein-hand's little finger to the switch-side, pushing with it the rein more pronounced for bending.
Update August 2016:
Meanwhile I see the basic Guérinière Seat as a very reliable foundation of my riding seat, of which the most important pillars are my mostly forward held legs, the 10° supinated rein-hand and the 30-90° supinated switch-hand (the upright fist taken as the reference with 0°, from which up to 90° supination to one side and 90° pronation to the other side are possible). Sometimes still necessary bigger movements of the switch-hand can be leaned on these stable elements very precisely.
Most riders will have experienced frustrating situations through the non-reproduceabilty of certain effects on aids: if one, for example, leads the upper-arm of the switch-hand near the upper body, possibly a soft, prompt croupe-out to the opposite side is produced. Having performed this successfully 5 times, one is elated as seemingly a new aid is detected. Then sadly is doesn't work anymore over months !! The reason lies, I see now, at least to a big part in the way of placing the upper arm to the chest: in pronation it has a different, sometimes even the opposite effect than doing it in supination! Because of this I'm now trying to observe always which kind of rotation my lower arm is in: so the thrust of my switch, which I'm using as substitute for a sword/machete, at thistle-heads or bramble-twigs is getting a lot more precise and smoother in supination (like a forehand-hit in tennis or polo: in this movement the considerable capacity for outwards rotation in the shoulder joint enters the game,too!).Also toucheés to the horse's hind on both sides I perform now only with a supinated switch-hand: if ,on the bent side, I do this around my belly to the opposite side, it will work only in this way: would I try it in pronation, my whole spine would contort and tact and movement of the horse be disturbed heavily. This pronounced rotation of the upper body I use also as gymnasticication of my switch-hand shoulder, which comes forward more and easier (and as preparation for using an instrument on the "wrong" side, too!). One has to be careful, naturally, for the rein-hand not to leave it's place over the withers, which is not easy!
The last three sentences show, that I am also still inclined to the utility-riding! The Guérinière-seat meanwhile is pure "L'Art pour l'art". Here the nicest compliment might be, that Baron von Eisenberg (1748) sometime in the future could appreciate my style of riding like he did that of the riding master von Regenthal:" I have never seen a rider sitting more stiffly on his horse or using the advantages especially of the legs better than him! It was a real joy to see him ride,....!" (In the commentary to plate 37 here on page 76).
meanwhile was not as free in departing from the utility-riding as to abandon the right-hander-seat. Nowadays we are not so constrained anymore and allowed to use the left-hander seat, too, with changing the rein- and the switch-hand.
With this change I can avoid the problems of grabbing the right rein with the right little finger (and thus avoid riding with separate reins), because with changing the reins to the right hand, its little finger becomes much more movable for bending the horse's neck to the right, and also the switch has not the limited range of being put across the horse's neck to the left, as it is used now fully parallel to the left side of the horse's neck to enhance the bending to the right.
This means, if we allow to change freely from right-hander to the left-hander seat on demand, it is possible to carry the switch on both hands on the outside of the horse, if necessary!
Update 15. September 2016:
Meanwhile I'm convinced that for riding one-handed this seat will become the new reference-seat in the academic art of riding, against which every other way will have to be measured. Coarse, unprecise aids are discarded entirely, many aids are getting unvisible and the horse moves much more free and unconstrained: the horse's grace stays unperturbed!
Through the exactly defined basic-seat the beginner will advance much faster and the developed rider can lean at this structure changes/novelties with ease and evaluate their effects exactly.
Possibly we will reach the excellence of a Baron von Eisenberg or a Gueriniere soon and enable many more riders to execute beautiful schools in the air
By applying the Pinky-Push (= pushing forward the PIP-joint of the little finger of the rein-fist) the advancing of the horse gets immensely easier (if need be in combination with a little use of the switch), so that the rider's legs can distance themselves from the horse's belly evermore and ever longer and over time the rider's heels can stay turned away from the horse for ever longer time spans. The latter leads to a turning away of the calves' muscles and to an even easier advancing of the horse (a turning of the calves' muscle towards the horse's belly now occurs only for very short times, when necessary).
Pulling up slightly the rider's heels additionally leads to a stiffening of his ankle- and knee-joints and through that to a constant distance from his balls of foot to his buttocks (the rider is standing a tiny bit in the stirrups, comaparably to "sitting" on a swivel stool).
By this a bumping into the saddle is avoided and in trot and canter a constantly comfortable seat is achieved, regardless of possibly stiff horse-gaits or possibly steep fetlock joints. A "wiping out" of the saddle doesn`t occur anymore and the rider always sits on the very same place in/on the saddle. The suspension in the rider is located now evenly in his minimally giving ankle-, knee- and hip-joints and spine-column.
Update 28. Sept. 2016:
Meanwhile the similarities between the Gueriniere-seat, with it's supinated hands, and the Lotos-Seat in Yoga become apparent: The Lotos-Seat produces the best possible posture of the human spine-column for sitting for an extremely long time: The (here nearly maximal) supination of the hands leads to a retraction of the shoulders, an opening of the thorax to the front and through this to a physiologically correct position of the thoracic spine-column (kyphosis). The now correctly upright standing lumbar and thoracic parts of the spine column allow the neck spine column the best position and so for the head to be held fatigue-free with an elevated chin.
Before my mostly pronated hands had led to a pulling-forward of my shoulders with a tightening of my chest, which produced an unphysiological kink of the throracic spine-column, a "bump" (hyperkyphosis), much like the undesired "false kink" in a horse's neck, and stopped here the swinging-through of my spine's movements: no wonder, that my head often wandered downwards: it didn't have a proper support by the badly placed spine column! My stance became a falling forward of my upper body, producing more weight on the forehand. Additionally this spine-column stance led to a tilting backwards of my pelvis, producing an unintended collection of the horse with a shortening of the stride of the hind-legs.
The Gueriniere-seat produces the opposite: through the slight supination of the rein-fist and the mostly even more supinated switch-hand the rider's shoulders retract, opening his chest and putting upright in a physiological way every part of the spine-column: one can hold his head upright fatigue-freely! The pelvis is put upright in a neutral way, producing neither collection nor advancing.
Advancing now in big strides: after many years of stumbling around on the forehand, evry week now there is pronounced advancement: if Paco has seemed to be reluctant to move forward and had to be driven forward with my constantly tapping legs, now he and Picasso nearly always move forwards much more easily and in fresher tempo, only occasionally a slight use of the switch is necessary, when the Pinky-Push should not suffice. (Because of this retracting seat Picasso notably had developed the habit to start every canter in sort of a Demi-Courbette, from which I always had to push him forward into a proper field-canter!).
Now everything learned in the past is easily integrated and, for me also unbelievable: I'm able now to canter Paco on a saddle-pad without stirrups or reins, only with switch-steering and supinated hands in the riding arena and on a circle canter calmly and evenly (hands-free, you could call it)!
For 10 days now I'm riding without spurs (for the first time ince 10 years!) and only now I notice, how much their use influenced negatively the rythm and the flowing movement of the horse.
To test the instruction of Eisenberg for reaching a shoulder-in now I've added a cavecon to the curb again. Eisenberg pulls the inside Cavecon-rein (with loose hanging curb-reins) and by this brings the horse's head to the inside, then he pushes the inside rein to the outside of the withers
(this way producing a "around itself bending rein"). If necessary, he uses the outside rein as a "from itself pushing away-rein", shoving neck and shoulders of the horse to the inside, if the seat aides alone are not sufficient. With supinated hands all this is astonishingly easy and precise to accomplish!
With 3:1 or 1:3 leading of the reins now the problem occurs that one has to decide: either to use the switch along the outside of the horse's neck, which makes the cavecon-rein on this side useless, or to use ths rein, which impairs the use of the switch.
The solution of this problem can be the use of the 4:0 or the 0:4 leading of the reins: with this the shoulder-in after Eisenberg is possible, too, and now the switch is fully operative additionally.
For straightening the horse in riding straight forwards cross-country a wonderfully supporting lesson!
25.10.16. Discovery of the day: Blockades of the Pinky-Push found:
In the rein-leading 1:3 or 3:1 it was recommended always to lead the single rein of the switch hand between 4.and 5. finger. Today it has occured to me, that this effects a retraction of the rider's belly, exactly the opposite of the desired result of the pinky-push! If you want to avoid this, you must let the single rein run around the 5.finger, too! ( I have mused for a while why in english-riding (with its mostly recommended holding upright of the rein-fists) no one ever had found out about the pinky-push: now we have the answer!).
The pinky push of the rein-hand also gets more difficult with 3 reins in hand: now one has to push forward pronouncedly the 4th finger, too, for a good effect.
26.Okt.16: Two more Pinky-Push-blockades found:
If you hold the switch (Fleck Dressage-Switch) like I always did before,
holding the lower olive within the fist, the Pinky-Push is severely impaired: one has to hold the switch at the shaft between the two olives.
Also holding the thumb pressed against the switch's shaft is contraproductive in the same degree: you may lay your thumb only on top of the cavecon-rein!
The switch wobbles a bit more in your hand, as you hold it like you would a bunch of flowers, but the advancing by applying the Pinky-Push now equally with both hands makes it more equal and more effective (although the switch approaches the rider's middle of his forehead somewhat more!).
Update 04. Nov.2016:
Among the Art-of-Riding depictions in
the stair-turret of Rosenborg castle (all shown in Bent Branderup's
"Royal Danois") we find at least three pictures with a pinky push of
Passetemps in the Terre-a-Terre,
Fanfaron in the Ballotade,
Pompeux in the Capriole.
The strongest, you could say the "Pinky Push Maximus" is used by his rider to effect the capriole of Pompeux. (Regrettably I'm still not advanced enough, to test it myself!).
So there probably is more than only a little bit of truth to Bent's assumption, that the danish horses of that time to no small part have been desired so much in all the world, because their riders could present them with this extraordinary brilliance!
5.11.16.: Insight of the Day:
Even Pluvinel held his switch nearly always in the "Bouqet-Grip" (as one would hold a bunch of flowers).
The opposite, the "Rod-Fisher's Grip" (thumb standing upright against the rod's shaft to stabilize the throwing-out of the fishing-line) we riders often use, too, for stabilizing the switch in our hand.
As I found out on Okt. 26. the rod fisher's grip blocks the Pinky Push massively. Today I noticed that one can increase the force of the Pinky Push considerably by righting up the thumb behind the switch and pressing the thumb against the switch (towards the rider) from behind!
After that I tried again the rod fisher's grip and found out, that pressing the thumb now against the switch to the front (away from the rider), tilts the rider's pelvis back (supporting collection).
So the Rosenborg depiction of the stallion Recompence suggests an initiation of collection in this moment, possibly starting a walk-passage.
Also the levade of the stallion Mars is supported bis the rod-fisher's grip.
No wonder, that Paco in the beginning of canter always elvated himself Demi-Courbett-like (once he even jumped a Vienna-style courbette with me) and Picasso, too, always started a canter with a Demi-Courbette: Not only had I been sittting heavily on the forehand by my pronated hands, I even pressed my thumb forcefully to the switch in the rod-fisher's grip!
Depicting the rod-fisher's grip in the "Royal Danois": Svan, Mars, Imperator, Tyrk, Recompence.
und Pinky-Pull: Biomechanical Relations
31.11.2016: Tips for Co-Researchers:
Those wanting to co-research the relations (the free I-Phone APP "Muskelapparat 3D Lite" is not bad) is better off understanding the following terms:
Abduktion: movement away from the body(-center),
Adduktion: movement towards the body(-center), as (in: Adverb)
: towards the front,
retro-: towards the back,
carpi: belonging to the hand.
To fully understand the possible movements in the information of the IPhone-App one has to undertand the Neutral-Zero-Method (engl.Range of motion (or ROM)).
The Neutral-Zero-Method is used internationally to document impairments of joint moveability and describe them in degrees; the name refers to the reference model in which every joint has 0°.
Every deviation is noticed in plus- oder minus-degree numbers.
If you look at the wikipedia picture, you will notice that the hands are depicted in full supination, despite the normal position is "along the trouser's seam". This unnatural reference-position is necessary to give the carpal-joint-movements an abduction and adduction.
(For the upright standing fist in the Gueriniere-Seat (basic position) the correct NN-description would be "-90° supination" or, seen from the other side, "+90° pronation").
For us it it is much better to refer not to the NN-Refernce position, but to the normal position, which is the upright standing fist, from which a pronation of max. 90° to one side and a supination of max. 90° to the other sides are possibble, thus eliminating the use of minus degrees..
Example 1, rein-leading one-handed left: in riding a straight Straight without accelerating (rider's pelvis in mid-posture) the (left) rein-fist will be held in a supination of 10°, the (right) switch-hand in a supination of, say, 50°.
Example 2, rein-leading one-handed left: for advancing while riding a straight Straight with Pinky Push (rider's pelvis in forward tilt) both hands have to be held in 0° .
Example 3, rein-leading one-handed left: for turning the horse to the left, the rein-fist will attain for a few seconds a pronation of 80°.
At the moment I suspect the following relationships: the Pinky-Push is started by a radial kinking in the carpal joint (abduction of the hand) through the tightening of the radial hand-bending muscle and the radial hand-extension muscle (musculus
flexor carpi radialis und musculus extensor carpi radialis).
The desired masive conduction is reched by a strong tightening of their opponents: the ulnar hand-bending muscle and the ulnar hand-extension muscle (musculus flexor carpi
ulnaris und musculus extensor carpi ulnaris).
Through this reflectively a tensioning of the long head of the Triceps-muscle (M.triceps brachii) occurs, which leads to a forward-downward movement of the lower rim of the shoulderblade, which pushes ribcage and thoracic spine to the front.
The result is a flattening of the thoracic-spine's curve (>hypokyphosis), this in turn to a prounouncing of the rider's lumbar curve ( >hyperlordosis). This movement effects a tilting forward of the rider's pelvis which leads to an advancing of the horse.
(It is still unclear to me, if the m.subscapularis is involved or how the other relationships are.)
The Pinky-Pull, the opposite movement with leading backwards the little finger to initiate the collection would lead then over the flattening the lumbar spine to the tilting back of the rider's pelvis. The reason for it's weaker impact might be that a retreating of the shoulder-blade produces much less force than a pushing forward into the ribs....
22.12.16 and 04.02.17:
After successfully testing Eisenberg's way of inducing a shoulder-in and including it sometimes in my aids repertoire, I tried next his way of croupe-in with an 80° angle to the wall: disappointingly this was not possible in a soft way and I had to give up this stressful project after 2 days.
Reading up afterwards in Gueriniere's text, I found his sharp rebuke of this method, criticizing hereby also very good riders as Pluvinel, Newcastle(S.234), Eisenberg (S.38) and
Ridinger! So even for these grandes of the art of riding sometimes we have to realize: "Nobody is perfect!". (See also Branderup/Kern p.73 [where this critique is interpreted only regarding the counter-shoulder-in = shoulder-out]).
I was lucky, that I (in reality more my horses) had recognized very early on, how dangerous and harmful this lesson might become!
Since then I'm using mostly the croupe-out and have begun to use Gueriniere's much stronger "croupe-au-mure", which he calls a leg-yielding with the horses's head bent into the direction of movement, with an 80° angle to the wall. In the longer, younger Picasso this is produced more or less easily, but with the older, shorter, strong backed Paco it's considerably harder to achieve and maintain!
This "angle to the wall we are moving along" could also be expressed as "the angle to the wall we are moving towards", which is 10°. This 10°-angle appears everywhere with Guerieniere: he uses it in the Traversale, in the Karree, the Demi-Volte and the Pirouette, too.
The most important sign for a successful, healthy croup-au-mure, besides the maintaining of the ever steady angle to the wall, is a beautiful arc of the outer front leg over the inner one, as this shows it is not on the shoulders.
Under no circumstances the inner front-leg should be permitted executing a wide, spectacular lunge step, as this brings the horse onto its shoulders and additionally often leads to a falling out of the hind, and thus to a falling apart of the horse. By this all the three most important goals of this lesson are missed: The higher erection of the forehand, the increased treading under of the hind legs and the preparation for a canter sideways in the same posture and angle.
After only 10 times I got the impression of a real improvement of the shoulder's lightness.
Croupe-in along the wall I'm using only rarely now, and if, only with a distance of at least 1.5m to the wall, as de la Broue and Gueriniere just find acceptable (and only for exceptional horses).
If the rider carries the Fleck Dressur Switch between the olives, a far too long protrusion of its end results; Gueriniere recommends the vanishing of the switch's end within the fist anyway.
After changing to a natural switch today I noticed a possible blocking of the Pinky Push, which occurs when the switch ends centrally in the palm. If one wants to use the Pinky Push, the switch's end has to rest on the ground phalanx of the little finger!
28.Jan.2016: 400 years old confirmation discovered:
While browsing the La Broue today I discovered that he (apparently as the only one of the old masters) described a direct correlation between a drawn-in belly and rolled in shoulders: the seat should be:
"pushing the belly a bit forwards to avoid a vaulting of the shoulders" ("L'estomac un peu avancé pour ne paroistre avoir les epaules voultees").
Meanwhile it's become clear to me, that the reason for supinating the switch hand is not only to let the rider's belly come forward a little: a profit occurs also through the neutralisation of the switch hand's thumb despite it is lying upright at the switches shaft,same as in the rod-fisher's grip: as in a supinated hand it can only press sideways, which doesn't have any effect on the position of the rider's belly. So nothing happens, if the rider gets rigid and presses his thumb against the switch!
people get, the more often a rounded back occurs. This means a
hyperkyphosis (a rounded hump) of the upper part of the thoracic
spine has formed . This spine deformation leads to a bending forward
of the shoulders which are permanently rolled in and held forward, and thus producing more or less fixedly pulled up shoulder blades.
In this case
the pinky-push doesn't come through or if, then only in a diminished
way: so the rider must try actively to push his belly forward for
tilting his pelvis forward, if he wants to accelerate his horse.
Additionally he can hold his upper body somewhat backwards, to
minimize somewhat the falling forward tendency of his head.
legs „before the horse“ seems to be equally important, too.
supinating his hands in this case doesn't bring a maximal effect,
too, nevertheless a little and palpable effect occurs.
Every human constantly has to take care of his body posture and to correct himself at
least 50 times a day: in sitting, walking, lying, at the desk, at the
computer (vertical-mouse), driving a car,etc.
chancellor knows this, too: her Merkel-rhombus doesn't only give her
a good standing, but is a little therapy, too.There are
many websites showing very good exercises of Yoga, physiotherapy and
breathing techniques to be found on the net.As two
thirds of the patients don't feel pain through many year's, the suffering
is not great: maybe the wish for a good rider's seat might here
work like a forehand-erecting curb?
Not only the nearly maximal supination of the switch-hand is neutralizing the
pressing-thumb: the same importance has a strong extension of the
index-finger along the switch-shaft : So I assume that
the extensor- or the flexing-tendon of the index finger blocks the upper-arm muscle, which pulls the lower
rim of the shoulder-blade backward (leading to a tilting back of the
this, the rider gets an exquisite additional incentive to observe the
correct holding of the hand.
In my case
the croupe-au-mure to the left in the left-hander seat is especially
hard: as most will do, I trained the Gueriniere-seat first in the
right-hander seat, and only after some months in the left-hander
seat, too, so the latter always remains a little weaker.
On top of
that, Picasso's worse bending side is his left.
So here my
seat is falling apart most easily and I get rigid which often causes
the horse to go backwards in the croupe-au-mure. Here a
pressing-thumb would disturb massively! Noticing this now, I will
put the switch-hand so low that the experimentally sideways pressing
of the thumb to the switch creates not the slightest
muscle-tensioning in my back: then I will be able to correct the horse
significantly better: a palpable lightening occurs!
Holding the switch-hand (now left) a fist's height lower and hooking in
the left curb-rein to the little finger it acts now with a previously
unknown lightness and precision and I'm able to lead this rein in the
same easy, slightly hanging-through way as in riding one-handedly.
applies to the training of the 80°-sideways (see my commentary to Saunier
on Fundstücke/Finds) on the carree on one hoof-beat at the
turnarounds on the haunches in the corners, or at the demi-volte in
the carree (volte inside the volte).
New terms necessary!
If the rider uses a non-symmetrical seat and also intermittently wants to change the way of seating, the terms "right" and "left" loose their definite meaning, at least if one doesn't want always have to add: "in the left-hander seat" or "in the right-hander seat".
Therefore now I am using the following definite terms:
the "switch-hand" or " the "rein-hand";
for the direction of riding in a manege: "riding on the rein-hand" / "riding on the switch-hand";
for the reins: „switch-hand-rein" (also: "switch-rein") / "rein-hand-rein";
for the type of bending: "bent to the switch-hand" (with the switch held crosswise over the mane) / "bent to the rein-hand", also: "bent away from the switch-hand", both with the switch parallel to the horse's neck.
Saunier's hand-positioning deviates a little from Gueriniere's, the description thus would be:
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:
initial goal of always holding theright arm lower has not proved
to be good: though in the switch-hand bending it helps much, in the
rein-hand bending and in riding straight it is a hindrance for horse
and rider: and so in the latter cases the hand tends to move upwards
anyway. But for my researching the impact of supination, it was an
invaluable tool for teaching myself!
goal: Hands never in pronation has proved to be very effective,
though I soon had to concede to one exception: if you want to turn
the horse to the rein-side, you have to pronate the rein-hand distinctly, so that the thumb points to the outside.
goal “The thumb always points straight ahead” has proved very
valuable,too( a small deviation of ar. 20° tin the direction of the
switch-hand seems not to harm its effect).
discovery of the Pinky-Push during this research year is my greatest
pride and had been possible only by the change from pronation to
supination. I see it as a big step forwards and hope to abolish my
use of spurs completely ( or at least to only 10%), just as the old
proverb, cited by Newcastle, says:”A free horse doesn't need
third column of my Gueriniere-Seat should be the always held
forwards legs. This was very difficult at the beginning, but got,
after polishing the use of the Pinky-Push, easier and easier. The terming: “Legs at most times held
before the horse”, having been a mis-translation originally during my agonizingly slow word-by-word translation of Broue's, I will keep it unchanged nevertheless, as it very clearly expresses my seat-feeling. By this
position of my legs the effect of my seat and my body-posture have
finding out the effect of the pressing-thumb, I have worked for a
long time mainly on preventing the unintended collection by it. With
stretching the forefinger along the switch-shaft this gets fairly
easy now and in the last days I have even begun to apply it again sometimes.
14.03.17: The "protruding lower neck" as a sign of quality with
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.
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
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.
the standing, highly collected horse we can see very well, and even
measure to a little extent, what is most important to
La 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°.
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.
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!
Grecian school-halt statue shows a gradient of collection of 70°,
Saracen from the neapolitan. crib: 69°,
pour la course des Barberi: to the forward hind-leg, which ids the
lady in the Bois de Bologne: 62° (here the weight of the rider lies
backwards, due to the
mesopotamian school-halt:: 58°,
on the white horse: 59°
in the Parthenon-Freeze: 70°
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 Passege (and Passage?) and in the
Demi-Volte and Pirouette.
one day we will find out that a definite gradient of collection is
the best one for the fatigue-free skipping in courbettes ?
Ideal Levade/ then Pesade with Gueriniere,
(the head-turn of the rider is depicted wrongly: artistic freedom of the painter)
I found in La Broue's "Cavalerice" that it is necessary for a good
85°-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 85°-sideways movement!
Thus I have possibly solved the riddle about Guerinere's hand positioning completely:
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.
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, 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
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 thess are 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.“
Very difficult 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.
Since finding Saunier's term „Walk-Passage“ I have suspected, that the passage, which in some old texts was reserved for kings and high nobles, often meant a walk-passage and not a floating-trot. Now I have found a text confirming this: in the chapter "About passegeing straight-forward and where and when", where Nicolas di Santa-Paulina (1696) writes in the L'Arte de cavallo, S.96:
"There are four ways to passage a horse:
The trot-pasage is suitable for young and for bizarre riders [...]. To passege in walk means that the horse elevates his foreleg and hindleg as in the trot, but not in the exactly very moment as in the trot, merely with a not perceivable pause before moving the other leg; the horse lifts the forelegs higher than the hindlegs, and when the horse lifts the legs equally high on both sides, it is called a Passegio, which, despite not being as gracefully as in the trot, is majestic nevertheless and appropriate for a prince."
So the walk-passage straight-forwards was a dignified, calm way to present themselves for noble and powerful persons, too.
Update 21.May 2017:
Having achieved some nice Terre-a-Terre jumps at the hand some days ago, Paco today, after an accidently triggered Terre-a-Terre jump backwards during the Croupe-au-mure at the hand, let himself stopped during the next one so far, that he had only set his hindlegs far under his belly, but didn't let his forelegs leave the ground: so he stood in a posture with a very much lowered croupe, and succeded even in taking 2 steps sideways in this posture; maybe this will be my way to achieve a good gradient of collection during the sideways?
My training program (in the arena) always starts with a school-halt at the hand, continuing à la
Gueriniere (though at first in handwork): shoulder-in (35°) in walk on both hands, then croupe-au-mure (80°) in walk on both hands, then mounting the horse and in a fresh trot straithening him on the middle line through the length of the arena, then from the saddle shoulder-in and croupe-au-mure in walk again.
For the 80°-sideways I place the switch same as in the woodcut in the Sébillet: obliquely forwards down before the inner shoulder (at the ground I lead the horse from the outside).
Update 07.Juni 17:
Meanwhile is has become clear to me, that in the Gueriniere-seat I don't only have my legs before the horse (sometimes only a little bit, but always palpable!), but also my belly, and, because my upper body is not tilted foward anymore, this part also is carried before the horse's movement: the rider feels carried like a ship before the wind! Now I call it: The rider is sitting before the horse.
Looking back now my old seat had the feel of pushing a wheel-barrow: the rider's legs and belly behind, the upper body fowards und the rider's head forward down.
Update 07. Juli 2017:
Whilst researching the pulling-up of the
rider's heels, another important benefit of the "legs before the
horse" became clear to me: testing, after many months, once more
the wrong pulling up of the heels during the "legs behind the
horse" I got reminded, that the rider sometimes gets hit against the front part/the gallery of the saddle; long had I forgotten
this uncomfortable side effect of the customary seat!
After the last supervisory lesson by Marius it became clearer to me that
Guerinieres invention of the term „Croupe-au-mure“ is wonderfully suited to prevent riding the sideways with the head to the wall, but as the wall is very long, the rider tends to do it far too long far too early. Better might be de la Broue's approach: at first only one or two paces sideways, still combined with a little forwards, then four or five paces straight forwards, increasing this only incrementally over weeks.
Because this training starts traversale-like, it is easier to think (as in a traversale we are always supposed to do) of the desired 85°-angle to the wall along which one moves along (here the short side of the riding arena) as a 5°-angle to the wall the horse is moving towards (here the right side).
Update 12.Aug. 2017:
During my holidays I had ample time to think about Nestier's school-halt in it's wonderful easy manner and to analyze the aids he is giving.
He uses the
Gueriniere-seat: the rein-hand standing upright with the thumb
pointing forwards (assumingly the hand is supinated slightly ab.
10°); the switch ends within the rider's palm.
The rider holds
his legs before the horse.
To produce the
school-halt he pulls his shoulder-blades even more together and more
downwards, by this the rider's breastbone advances forwards
significantly; the horse's mid-back
is somewhat relieved by slightly raising the rider's heels and, additionally,the upper thorax of the horse
gets unburdened by a stirrup-tread on both sides because now the
rider's thighs gets wider.
He exerts a
slight pinky-pull with the rein-hand which leads to a backwards tilt
of the rider's pelvis. So the rider's back comes to be a mirror of
the horse's back: Erection of the forehand coupled with a tilted
In this picture
he presents a special, very complicated situation for the support of
the right-bending in a not very far educated horse: leading the right
curb-rein with the right hand in a lower position, just as Gueriniere
described 20 years earlier in his “Ecole de cavalerie”. (A rider
with only some years of academic training better should use the
left-hander seat if having problems with the right-bending!).
The curb with a
very short lower branch makes the rein-action even more difficult, as
with this even a small rein-displacement leads to an impact.
Gueriniere's depictions he holds the switch downwards (in the
ski-stick position) and leads the right curb-rein between ring- and
middle finger. The switch lies fast at the right thigh, to prevent as
much pronation of the switch hand as possible and to give the hand as
much freedom of movement over the switch's end. Holding the hand
this way makes the right-bending even more difficult to achieve, as
the rider cannot try inducing the horse to it by laying the switch
parallel to the left side of the horse's neck.
The rope, which
serves as a second pair of reins is not used at the moment; its inserting point is too high for a normal bridoon: if it is a nowadays unknown bridling stays unclear still.
The chainette at the ends of the lower branches indicate a snafflecurb.
With kind permission of the British Museum
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 .
Training is done best on a long straight way outside, or in a big riding hall on the middle line (because only here the pressure produced by 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 more 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 courageous every time.
L'Arrêt avec le Cavesson (The full halt with the cavesson), Lithographie by Charles Motte, ar. 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 inducing 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.
Tile from Delft, around 1650, the Rider is hollding his legs before the horse
18.12.2017: Positioning the rider's legs: Interim report after 21 months
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 correct and Newcastle's to far in front of the saddle.
The expression "Legs before the horse" fell into my lap by a translation accident und is used by me nevertheless since then because it hits the mark correctly.
If he holds his legs before the horse the rider can feel the power he is treading into the stirrup travelling through the whole length of his legs straight into his complete spine, without losing his seat, not even when 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 then the lower legs become merely appendixes 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 tensioned more.
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 for using 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 only 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 (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, whereas in the Gueriniere seat a lot of this gets freed: the rider can put it to work on other tasks (in the first days actually something seems to be amiss!)
What the old masters told us:
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 the other 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 at the beginning is quite difficult for the rider to uphold, for the horse it is even harder: during riding english the relaxation of the rider is signalled to the horse 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, by which 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 not letting 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 training.
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 pictures "A strong halt out of the canter" or "The relevated 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 a distinct elevating of the forehand. This 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 me 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!
Update 03.03.2018: Tambourine movement
The Semi-Boquet grip 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 different participating muscles?).
Update 06.03.18: Same level as Newcastle?
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 60 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
Update 18.03.2018: The long awaited snafflecurb has arrived!
I had needed several months to realize that La
Broue’s and Gueriniere’s “Simple cannon” (ital.
translation:”simple thick pipe”) in reality is a curb with a broken
mouthpiece, 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 until it was ready.
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, during the golden age of academic riding (Löhneysens called those
„Hohlbiß“). As its diameter in the region of the bars is
bigger, it is less hard on them.
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 (correction half a year later: they used only 6cm).
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
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!
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..
Update 04.April 18 : Good out of bad:
As the long lower branches of my snafflecurb are in danger to touch the ground and engaging the curb by this, 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 the 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 ....
Update 05.04.18:Very interesting text found with Prizelius! (see Finds).
The text by Prizelius
arrived just at the right moment for me: for many 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 much 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 Vienna one can see two horses moving on one place in very slow trot more near the ground.
"If a movement 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 make 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:
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 word "pas" in French means also "gait", So I assume, the "pas d'escole" in reality means "school-gait"):
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.
So I transform the sentence from the Dictionnaire de Manege from 1741, which can come across easily as somewhat disenchanting for
us amateur riders with possibly not very perfect horses and
training conditions: The walkpassage is very difficult to teach a horse: even a very good rider with a very gut suited horse needs at least three years in the manege, and if then two out of six horses become good, this is much already. Under worse conditions it needs more time accordingly.
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).
Exactly the same result appears, when Marc Aurel's left hand in supination executes a "horizontal" Pinky-Push (another form as the above always meant "perpendicular" Pinky-Push with upright standing fists). I think that La Broue might mean just this horizontal Pinky-Push, when he speaks about the jeu-de-paulme movement for executing a courbette.
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 ago my hoof-orthopedic pointed out to me that the horizontal, reddish-bluish line, which had been discernible quite well on the inside of 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.
Interim Report Snafflecurb 21.05.2018:
The strong uprighting 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 for eight weeks already 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!
Then, after 11 days riding-pause, having put on on the old, unbroken curb again, 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 then for 140 years 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, very much of the explaining 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 sometimes
the snaffle is called “simple canon”, too. 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, as it leads to leaning on the bit too hard!
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!
Update July, 11th 2018:
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 promptly straight 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
Pinky-Push Interim Report
Update 13. Juli:
pinky-push with upright standing rider's fists have 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 overdo it, the horse even will stretch out and an
anti-collection occurs with undesirable lowering of the horse's back.
With the short-backed Paco, 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.
Update 01.Aug. 18:
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
Update 23. Aug. 2018:
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 had 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!
For many years now I am
trying to really straighten my horse (= getting it into a straight
Straight) while using the one-handed leading of the reins. During
all these years I only very seldom felt really successful and always
only for short moments. Because in this way of rein-leading the
place in the middle over the withers is occupied by the rein-hand,
real symmetry of the rider's seat is impossible to achieve. The best
one can achieve is a compensation of this asymmetrie (which of
course is projected fully into the horse), as Eisenberg shows us in
his pictures: In those the rider holds his hands on the same height
adjacently when a right rein, for example the right cavesson rein is
used (two-handed leading of the reins). With completely one-handed
rein-leading, the rider often holds the switch-hand high up and almost in
the middle over the withers. This way I, too, achieve my best results
in aiming at a real straight Straight.
de monter à cheval ou description du manège moderne dans sa
perfection": Etching 50 (L.) „L'AIMABLE“, on
page 102 in the
and etching Stich 36
(XXXVI) „LE GALANT“, on page 74
Today my switch got to be a victim of the climate overheating: At 18°C and a full winter pelt Paco at handwork was as thick-skinned and inertial as an ice-bear. Called on to perform a school-halt he moved as much as a stone, so, becoming increasingly exasperated ( I had come to the stables stress-filled already) I used a more pronounced touché at his croupe, and th thin end of the switch broke off, around one year after I began to use it (s.06.03.18) .
Elevating the forehand
higher during canter (see 19.01.2018) is a movement my horses copy
more and more into the hand-work with a cavesson, and they get much fun by lifting it
higher and higher (which in the saddle rather is a settling down lower on the haunches), and also the training of uprising the horse contibutes to this. At least at hand-work I call this now, according to
Ridinger: “Relevated canter on half the haunches” (Schul-
und Campagnepferde, 1860, Etching Nr.18).
The chapter 20 of La
Broue's second volume, which I'm translating at the moment, has given
me so much confidence, that I succeeded today with both horses in
four passades in a medium canter with increasingly better demi-voltes
with elevated fore-hands, the last each wholely in 4 beats. The
temperature at only 2°C helped a bit, too, I guess. If this
elevating should be called „throwing the horse around on the hind
legs“ as Ridinger says in one lesson, or if one should call it Sideways-
Mezair, is not clear to me yet, possibly it will take some time to
clearly work this lesson out properly. A very nice feeling, having
understood and being able to perform and approach a
My new curb prototypes are
ready: The first, a medium variant, which the old masters say should
be used as the first bit after having the young horse accustomed to a
straight curb, i call „normal“, the second I have derived from
the Nestier etching, and the third has got longer lower branches and
a high set coude departure (90°), which is supposed to produce a
higher uprighting of the forehand.
Testing the normal variant
for two weeks has been positive, because the horses accepted very
well the mouthpiece (which is the same in every variant and is very
mild), chewing in another way (more contentedly, I assume). But I
could not really detect a higher uprighting, which should have
occurred with the normal one; here I must remark, that from the old
unbroken ones I‘m used to use them extremely cautiously and very
often nearly contactless. Also the „Beizäumung“/“ramener“
was only the same as in my previous, straight snaffle-curb
protoytype, with Picasso already wears since several months. But
with an only somewhat stronger appuy Picasso with his longer and
slimmer neck, sometimes shows a false kink in his neckline, which for
the moment lets me abstain from it. .
Since three days now I‘m
using the extremly short, and "behind the line" Nestier curb
the difference at the first day was striking: Picasso wore his nose
as high as if on an academic Hackamore, treading far out behind and
not very comfortable to sit in trot (because of his steep hind leg
pasterns). But at the beginning the chain hooks had been to short and
the chain slid far to high up, away from their correct place. Today,
with a better sitting curb chain and meanwhile a bit acclimatisation,
it went much better: I sometimes dared to produce some more appuy;
probably hereby occurred a higher uprighting of the forehand?
On the third day with the
normal one already the new security mechanism had to prove its worth:
while Picasso was drinking on the way home in the dusk in shallow
water, I eyed suspiciously the long lower branches tilting backwards
, but lost sight of the left rein on to which he promptly stepped:
the security eye-bolt/splint sheared of as planned and neither horse
nor rein or headpiece were damaged! For this case I had executed the
rosette big enough to be able in case of emergency in the country, to
strap in the rein.
My plan is, to use the
Nestier-snafflecurb for 2 weeks, and if have then completely finished the
production of the high uprighting snaffle curb, change to it directly
from the weak one, to better feel the difference.
For those who want to
build, or let build one of those snaffle curbs, I have put the
specifications on the „snaffle curb“ page.
Should a more numerous
interest develop, I would be interested to find someone, who will
build them for us, as I imagine to test some behind the line and
Update 2. Jan. 2019
Having experienced the
astonishing effects of the Nestier curb, I have bent the new
„normal“ one 1.8 cm backwards (= 2°) behind the line. This again
had a pronounced effect on my horses today: both horses could take
their noses a good deal further forwards, could walk much more freely
with the forelegs and had a much more relevated canter! Thus I
realized, that my old, unbroken ones, which pretend to be weak ones,
because their lower branches are bent back, in reality are „on the
line“ or possibly even harder! Because I never had been really
satisfied with these, I had ridden two times for three months with an
academic hackamore, which I had to give up, because one has to use to
much force which damages the rider‘s seat and his shoulder joints,
and it doesn‘t work sufficiently, too. So then I had to settle for riding
with hanging-through reins most of the time with these unbroken bits.
But with the new ones,
which are really behind the line, for the first time real riding is
possible: now I can really choose the degree of the angle of the nose
line (the ramene/Beizäumung)! In the country, going normally, I can
leave it higher, in collection I can increase it more. This „more“
I can now get in fine variations and can adjust it to Paco‘s
narrow Ganasche/ganache or the weak mouth of Picasso! Big improvements are
The weak snaffle-curbs
keep their promise fully: the horses are able now to lift their heads
freely, and now I realize, that in all the years I to perished in my
endeavours, to lift Picasso‘s head: the former curbs prevented
that completely: my horse „took his head between his legs“! Now I
can, after only two days, let my rein-hand sink about a hand‘s
breadth, while using the „Normal“ with 1.8cm behind the line of
the banquet. Only now can the uprighting of the forehand occur,
because the horse is able to lift his head, and additionally this is
supported by 45° coude-departure, if the rider shortens the reins
ultra-softly: I‘m very happy!
For the first time since I
began very many months ago to train the Sideways Picasso had today in
the riding hall an uprighting of the forehand! Because this
uprighting is the indispensable premise for a setting onto the
haunches, and the former curbs prevented this, today was the first
time I had the distinct feeling: this is right! Before I
had tried everything imaginable, to lift the head: a Touchée on the
croupe or under the mouth for example, but everything produced only a
very laboorios lifting of his head and this only for half a step, at
maximum for a whole step, and was gone completely thereafter. The
collected canter in the hall today was changed completely, too, and
so much, that, though I tried three times to lenghten the strides,
Picass didn’t know what I wanted: he seldom never before had cantered in
a collected way with his head up! Now the improvements are
Being in the country with
Picasso we met a dog-owner with two bull-terriers, roaming freely. As
the dogs noticed us, they began running towards us. The owner might
have been able to grab the bigger one at his collar, but she stopped her
movement (maybe she was afraid to be bitten?). I quickly weighed my
chances in the presence of two aggressive looking fight-dogs to
gallop away: but on the right was a steep overgrown trench, on the
the left a field with heavy soil, and the dog owner surely would
have been outraged, if we had stormed in full gallop past her; also
on every escape route we would come to a tarred road, which might
make a slippery gallop... So I decided to stay and try to stop the
dogs with shouting, but same as with the shouting of the owner, this
didn't produce any reaction at all. Then I tried to impress the ever
more approaching dogs with my riding switch, which unfortunately is
very weak: no reaction at all again! Then I tried to reach and
impress at least the smaller one on my left side, but holding the
switch in my right hand, I had to bow very far to the left side and in
this moment the dog charged to us, so that Picasso sidestepped to the
right which heaved me out of the saddle. When I was down the dogs
charged again for Picasso who ripped the reins out of my hand and
galloped away, the dogs hunting him for half a kilometer. I don't
dare to imagine what would have happened, if the bridge had been as
slippery frozen as two days later!
Only at the next bridling
up (Picasso had been received and saddled-down by friendly helpers at
the stables, when arriving home alone) I noticed, that both lower
branches had been bent considerably. I could bend them
fairly easy with my hands back into an acceptable shape (which would
suffice for a safe return home, if happening in the country), and
reached the original shape completely in a bench vise.
My feeling is, that this
bending in such a case of emergency will take at least a little
pressure off the horse's mouth, so I will nor enforce the side
parts/shanks of my snaffle-curb (for the normal, longitudinal
pressure in normal riding these parts are sufficiently strong).
05.02.2019: Third break in the development of my
Since my new curbs have debunked all my
former “backbended” ones as falsely constructed curbs it becomes increasingly
clearer, that this has become the third great break in my striving to
become a good rider. The first one had been the reading of Bents book
“Akademische Reitkunst für den anspruchsvollen Freizeitreiter”,
from this point on I knew:”This is right way of riding for me!”,
the second the discovery of the many advantages of the
Gueriniere-seat: from that time I dared to say: “Now I can really
ride a horse!” Since my horses wear the new, really weak ones, I
say: “Now my horses finally are able to move academically correct!”
They lift their forelegs much higher and more spaciously, don‘t lie
on the forehand anymore, Picasso‘s trot has become far more
comfortable, the canter has improved drastically and the sideways has
improved so dramtically, that Picaaso during hand-work with the
Nestier-snafflecurb today lifted his outer foreleg in the same extremely high bow over his inner leg in exactly the same way as the etchings
iog Gueriniere show us.also! Paco’s starting of the canter feels
like the carriere of La Broue’s horse on the title-page of my
translation. All in all they transmit the feeling to be „free
horses“ much more than before. Often now I’m thinking: here the
Spanish ancestry of my Knabstruppers comes to the light. I hope very
much, that from now on a low Terre-A-Terre can develop, which I‘m
convinced the old curbs had precluded!
Because of the far softer mouthpieces
meanwhile I’m able to actually negotiate with the horse’s mouth,
as not every pulling at the reins leads promptly to a defensive
action any more, and there are many different grades of the appuy
As my new snaffle-curbs now permit the
lifting of of my horse‘s napes, and only the noses, but not the
complete heads are going downwards, for the first time the question
appears: how much elevating of the forehand/the nape do I want/ am I
allowed to permit/ do I need? And when or in which lesson?
La Broue describes the two very wrong
positions of the heads for the collection: firstly: when the horse
holds his nose into the wind/ holds the nose on the same height as
the ears; and secondly: when the horse has his chin on the breast. He
wants the horses to „hold neck and head in their middle and most
beautiful position“. At the moment I believe that in high
collection in walk and trot the most beautiful position of both my
horses lies in the region of 10-20° before the perpendicular (more
of course when they elevate their forehand). This position occurs
even with the very weak Nestier-snaffle-curb.
I want that a high elevation of the
forehand gives the hind the possibility to tread further under the
horse's belly. One should not permit a strong pressure on the horse‘s ear-salivary glands in the gap behind the ganaches-bones and has to adjust the
shape of the curb accordingly, but also the way of using it to the
anatomical conformation of the specific horse. For this reason I want
to avoid a strong pulling at the lower branches of the curb: the
horse shall take his posture freely and easily.
Because I have my hands still full with
the evaluation of the Nestier- and the „Normal“-snaffle-curb and
am overjoyed about the „super“-uprighting by these already, I
still haven‘t got to finish the „High Uprighting“ curb. And for
now I actually can imagine, that variations of the
Nestier-snaffle-curb will get to be the mainstream in the future for
most of the academic riders: but who knows, what is still waiting for
me to be found out?
Update 23.02.19: Construction deficit
in my Nestier-curb
During riding out yesterday I noticed a
change in Paco’s collected canter while trying to get him into a
Terre-A-Terre, and after halting him, I saw that at the right side of
his Nestier-curb both (!) chains hung down loosely! This had occurred
Paco is one of the horses which are so
strong-backed (s. La Broue, Vol. II, Chap. 23), that they have to
shudder themselves at the first canter strides for 3 or four times:
he does this by elevating his forehand more and then wringing neck
and head snake-like. Sometimes with this, he throws the right rein
(or reins, if having a cavesson,too) over his head onto his left
side, so the rider has both (resp. the four) reins on the left side
of his neck, and none on the right side! With the old, too strong
curbs often he even threw the lower branches up, leaving them
standing upwards (!), the chain completely loose, and when the rider
pulled at the reins, this led to a pulling upwards of nose and head,
instead of downwards. Not seldom he achieves to bring the curb-chain
out of the chain-hook, leaving it hanging down uselessly on the right
side of the curb. This had happened yesterday again: and if the chain
is not there anymore, the curb falls through, meaning, its lower
branches wander back up, forming a straight line with the reins.
Unfortunately some days before I had been testing some safety
linchpins and had forgotten to replace the last, heavily tested one
with a fresh one. Because now the direction of pull put the force
directly onto the linchpins, this weakened one broke easily and the
Kloben with the rein-ring attached slid out. The chainette, which is
simply thrown over the Kloben in this prototype slid off and hung
down on the right side also!
For riding on I then fastened the rein
to the rosette, but luckily noticed after hooking in the curb-chain,
that now the upper branches tended to fall inside to the teeth (the
chainette, which’s purpose is to prevent just this, not being
there). So I decided to take the curb chain off its hook again and
ride home by using the mouthpiece just like a simple snaffle-curb.
Anyway this construction I have not
found satisfactory already, as the Klobens rotate not smooth enough,
because the chainette tends to get rotated on them, when the reins
try to get untwisted.
For two weeks now I have
in use the snaffle-curb with the long lower branches, which I had
dubbed „High Elevating“. On this right from the start I had
brought back the Klobenloch 2.5cm behind the line of the banquett,
The first impression of a very
comfortable, very calm leading of the reins has proved correct all
the time the horses are more placid and steady-going, the curb feels
(A construction deficit is the
positioning of the upper foam-chainette, which height I had to guess
and which now lies very close to the mouth, which the horses don’t
mind at all).
With this curb the horses collect
themselves easier and better, without a pronounced tightening of the
reins, and so it seems the term “higher uprighting” does not mean
a pushing higher of the horse’s nape by the rotation of the coude,
as I had assumed, but herewith occurs an increased treading under of
the hind feet, together with a more forward and upwards movements of
the forelegs , which results in a lightening in the forehand.
This one is by far my most liked
snaffle-curb now! After some more some weeks I will bring the
Klobenloch even further behind the line of the banquett, to ar. 5cm.
Update 02.April 2019
As I’m training the
elevated Demi-Voltes (with demi-courbettes [=mezair] and courbettes)
more and more, I gradually come to realize the importance of NOT to
imagine them as turns on the hind legs: because only by explicitly
demanding of the horse’s hind legs to go/jump sideways on a small
circle, it will stay within the lesson, which means it will not fall
out of the tact or out of the direction of the movement.
Having gained a correct sideways-walk on the Demi-Volte, sometimes it will fall of
its own volition into one or more little canter strides or
Terre-a-Terre jumps, which is to be welcomed very much as a preparation fpr the elevated sideways; also
afterwards it will much easier be able to do very tight voltes (ab. 1 – 2m
diameter of the circle of the hind legs) in a very collected
Because for many years I
had equaled carrees and angled voltes, and had their corners imagined
and demanded as turns on the hind legs on one spot , I now have to
concentrate hard to leave this pattern in favor of this small circle
of the hind feet and hold this.
One of the causes for
this mistake is Gueriniere’s unclear sketch: in the etching “Les
Voltes” (normal voltes) on top we see the Carrees, which he
executes really like a turn on the hind legs in the corners, in which
the hind feet stay on the same spot. Though in the “voltes
ordinaires” (the norrnal voltes) the positioning of the hind feet
are depicted fairly well, this is not the case with the depiction of
the line which the hind legs draw on the ground while stepping
through the corner, which in reality has to be a small
quarter-circle, matching the quarter-circle of the forelegs.
So it might be better not
to call the “volte ordinaire” an “angular volte”, because
its corners have to be distinctly rounded; better might be the name
“volte with straight sides” or “quadratic volte” ( this
would really be the “squaring of the circle” at last… )
If the rider has in mind
Gueriniere’s flawed sketch of the volte ordinaire, he is rather
“riding the figure”, but if he has in mind the correctly rounded
corners, he rather will be “riding the lesson”.
If the horse falsifies
this little circle of the hind legs in the (demi-)volte and crawls
back into the direction of the turning on the hind feet, La Broue and
his successors call this “acculer” ( tighten, diminish, narrow)
for which I still haven’t found a German word, let alone an English
one: so maybe we have to introduce it into our academic language? >
To emphasize the
importance of this small inner circle of the hind legs I think the
term “basis circle” would be appropriate. Then we could say “
Don’t loose the basis!”
Update 13.April 2019
The snaffle-curb „high uprighting“
is built too weak, after some time the lower branches begin to bend,
the stainless steel is too soft. Would one bend it back into the
right shape too often, fatigue breakage will surely occur. I will
have to augment them.
Possibly this snaffle-curb‘s name is
only appropriate if used on horses with an ideal ganache. In his
dictionnaire Garsault defines the ganache as „the groove, which is
produced by the ganache bones, the extensions of the lower jaw
ridges“. A horse would be the more unable to
bridle towards the narrower the ganache is.
Have read here again, how the art rider
is supposed to slacken the reins and finally followed this advice,
which most old masters give: the rider seizes the end of the reins
with the switch hand, lets off the reins in the rein hand and lets
the swift hand sink onto the horses neck. With this there occurs a
palpable relaxation in the longitudinal axis of the horse, whose
body posture had been asymmetric before by the asymmetric seat of the
rider‘s posture because of the one-handed leading of the reins.
Which strengthens my belief, that I’M right in changing every day
the seat: one day the right-hander seat, the next day the left-hander
seat, for a more equal gymnasticication of both sides (of horse and
Update Easter 2019: The
Turning once in a while
the switch-hand like the old Fritz did, with holding the switch
downwards, gives the rider a good feeling for the correct forward
advance of the rider’s pelvis and belly. After some weeks one has
only to imagine this movement of the switch-hand to achieve the same
effect with bearing the switch upwards also. At some point, while
having his legs a little before the horse and holding the hands a
little supinated and bent in the carpal joints a little, like
Prizelius, one achieves the perfect seat: now the rider’s
breastbone has approached his chin and his spine is standing in the
correct way and the rider feels like an important person , just like
they danced a menuet in those times, with a correspondent grave
emanation, also into his
inner self, which produces a very high contentedness in him!
I hope I will learn to use this for me
quite unusual seat in every horse-riding situation, as my normal body
posture outside the saddle this is not; maybe this will change, too,
As I have yet to reinforce
the insertion of the lower branches of the "High Uprighting"
snaffle-curb, I used the shorter one, which I had called "Normal",
today on Picasso (Paco is away on a breeding job for some weeks), and
the difference was very palpable: Picasso always plays very much with
the mouthpiece, and now every movement of his mouth came directly as
tugs into my hands. In canter I had even, to protect his mouth, to let
my hand go forwards distinctively at every jump, instead of letting
it stay calmly above his withers! This proves the old masters, for
instance Solleysel, right in their admonishing: the shorter the
lower branch, the ruder the agency! Only after more than 30 min we
both had got accustomed halfway to this effect!
The Proud Seat
The perfect seat I call
for some weeks now "the proud seat", which I feel describes
it very appropriately.
While using it the rider
feels like expressing by it to himself, but also to his horse and the
people he meets along the way, a special importance, purpose or
social status which leads to the rider's feeling, that the horse
riding itself becomes to be secondary or tertiary and is carried out
casually by the way. He feels like sitting on a horse which takes
him wherever he wants, in which gait he wants, by minimal aides and
sometimes executing prestigiously an elevating of the forehand at the
slightest demand. The emphasis here lies on the word "on",
because now he lets himself carried stately, sitting almost "above"
the horse, trusting it fully not do do something foolish, and even
if, is confident that he will experience no harm.
In this the rider has to
be careful not to overdo it and look affected, but to sit naturally
as the old masters demand.
For this posture on the
horse the rider needs a lot of trust in his horse, on the other hand
this trust will be produced and enhanced by using this seat, the more
frequently and in the more different riding situations he applies it.
Update 26.10.19: Signature lesson of de la Broue
favourite lesson is the one on the first eight sketches in chapter 33
of the second volume by de la Broue: here he proves himself not only
as very good horse-pedagogue, but also a brilliant didact of humans,
as he has positioned this chapter strategically very well: as he
explains that these first eight sketches are not only valuable in the
far proceeded training, but might also be used at the beginning. He
knew, that a demanding and eager rider would devour at the first
reading his first two books in very little time, and then, nearly at
finishing the first two volumes, would stumble over this lesson, just
before really starting the training a la Broue and Pignatelli.
Hadn’t I understood the books not over years, but, at least
roughly, within only some weeks, too, we (my horses and I) possibly
might not have worked out at first the „passade en pirouette“
with a turning on the hindlegs in two to three Mezair-beats (which
might be called „only“ a war manege), but from the start striven
for a demi-volte after the „vraye escole“, the true school, in
three Courbettes or Croupades or Kaprioles with an inner circle.
lesson explains to both, horse and rider very beautifully, that and
how one shall and can achieve this smaller inner circle, and that a
sideways on the volte is composed of two main movements, which
progressively merge into each other.
me this is the signature-lesson of La Broue, which shows his
phenomenal understanding for the psychic and bodily learning
processes of riders and horses the most clearly of all lessons, and
if I were a horse-riding instructor, I would choose the first of the
four sketches in number 7 as the emblem of my riding school. By the
way: La Broue developed this lesson only after publishing the first
edition in 1593, and added the sketches two to eight only in the
The academic ceding of the
reins (see 13.April 19) has fitted in as an important measure into
my riding units. If it is used on a straight cross country stretch,
one can feel exactly, how the horse bends away from the rein-hand
side over the straight stance into the switch-hand side bending
(which is now additionally the new rein-side) the croup wanders from
the rein-hand side to the switch-hand side; as the horse then walks
with thrown-away reins, the croupe doesn’t come over as much as in
When I did this in canter
on a slightly elevating stretch in the country for the first time,
Picasso during the intermediate phase shot forwards for two canter
strides, which felt like racing off out of control, and only when the
switch hand reached its new place over the withers he cantered normal
and calm again. This showed me very clearly, how much the croupe is
held in subjection by the one-handed leading of the reins (as La
Broue would express it). On a 40 minute ride cross-country this is a
very long strain for joints and muscles! This explains,too, why the tambourine-swivel feels stronger to the rein-hand side than to the switch-hand side: to the rein-hand side it is already pre-swiveled 10°: if I add 15° more, these 25° are very clearly noticeable; on the rein-hand side but the croupe is -10° pre-swiveled: if I add 15°, the result is meagre 5°, a little bit more than putting the horse straight!
Meanwhile I’m riding so,
that the rein-hand is used only while performing a lesson, and I cede
the reins in the academic way afterwards. This way the contrary side
of the horse in fact is not worked really as much, but at least the
rein-hand side is relieved a good deal, nevertheless. Dependent of
the energy-level of rider and/or horse for example while riding
cross-country I use the rein-hand only in 30-50% of the time now.
Out of the change of sides
of the croupe due to the academic way of giving the reins there
arises an interesting question: If the horse in the left hand canter
changes the croup more to the right side, we cannot call this
outside-canter: we might have to invent a new word for this
situation: “S-Canter”, maybe (because the horse’s spine then
is s-shaped or snake-shaped)? And we have to find out, if this is
harmful for the horse resp. the riding: for a longer time surely not!
Also the effect in the
other gaits have to be considered: if one is riding with the
rein-hand on the outside, the horse at least is somewhat less bent to
At the moment therefore I
have the opinion, that an important reason for Gueriniere and Nestier
to take the right rein with the switch hand is to straighten the
croupe, ergo the prevention or at least diminishing of the s-form
of the horse’s back by the now changed, somewhat more symmetric
rider seat, which, if successful, leads to less weight on the left
seat bone of the rider, which means to more weight on the right side,
which in turn leads to the desired right-bending.For this the switch-hand has to be lowered considerably, as otherwise the right shoulder of the rider would lift high up.
When I used the one-handed
leading of the reins for the first time, I was exhilarated by the
“automatic” collection, but, as nice as it is, that while leading
the reins one-handed the horse gets automatically a little collected,
which dampens a to strong running away of the horse a little bit: for
me in the past it had been still another drag-factor, in addition to
my wrong seat on forehand with pronated hands, the rounded shoulders,
often looking down, and the precarious seat by holding the legs
behind the horse, and on top of all that the wrong curbs, which
“pulled the horses’ heads between their legs”! No wonder, that
I had developed a permanently working leg, otherwise the horse would
surely have stopped!
All of these had been the
main reasons for getting used to riding mostly with hanging-through
reins, which is getting very hard to change now, when an uprighting
of the horse is possible: though actually I had hoped, to be able to
dispense with a real appuy, I am realizing now bitterly, that then
the rein-aides are far too imprecise and vague for the higher lessons
to be carried out neatly.
Finally a correct sideways
is possible: until now I never had a mirror in the riding arena, and
always the sure feeling, that my horses during the sideways were
always falling outwards with the hindquarter, which induced
additionally to the phase on two legs, a phase on three legs, thus
being incorrect. For some days now I can see my mirror-image over a
length of 10m, and am thus far better able to correct my horses.
Together with the taking the switch-hand side rein, resp. using a
deterrmined tambourin-swivel, finally after all theses months a
uniformly correct sideways is emerging, wherein the horse never has
three legs on the ground simultaneously!
Also the horse on his own
volition elevates his forehand once after three or four steps in this
correct sideways, which is wished for. Now it emerges, that one has
to envoisage the sideways rather in an angle of 85°, that means
between 80° and 90°, where the greater mistake is an angle of ,say,
This means that one still
has to start the training of the sideways (if one needs the help of a
wall) in the croup-au-mur after Gueriniere, but having shown the
horse the principle of the movement, must turn it around vis-a-vis
the mirror (= the wall), maintaining a distance to the wall of at
least 1.5m (to avoid it stepping on its leg), as one is obliged to
control the movement in a mirror!
Since I had been able to
control for several times, how a real sideways is producible, I feel
like Fiaschi, who in 1556 felt that this lesson is so important, that
he put it before the second volume, which describes the riding
It is the fundamental
lesson for educating a really turnable horse and therefore for the
academic art of riding, which, among other things, is built on this
turnability. Meanwhile it became clear, that the angle of the horse
cannot be stable at exactly 85°, as by the different movements of
shoulders and haunches it always oscillates: 80° to 95° seem to be
acceptable without loosing the two-beated rhythm.
Though I’m still not
able to feel and define the exact times, my impression now is, that
Cavendish might actually be right in his observation: “If in this
lesson the forehand is wide, this is a terre-a-terre of the forehand;
if on the contrary the hindlegs are wide, this then is a
terre-a-terre of the hindlegs”, as the horse sometimes after three
or four sideways-steps lifts its forehand, which naturally is only
possible by the simultaneous support of both hindlegs.
Update 05.12.19: 95°
Meanwhile it becomes clear
that an angle of 95° to 100° is not a mistake at all: if the horse
let‘s its croupe „overtake“, and is holding its rump and neck
still straight in ar. 85°, this is a wider placing of the hind legs
and thus the correct preparation for a beat in Terre-a-Terre, which
is to be welcomed actually!
Meanwhile I get a
foreboding of what La Broue in chapter 37 of his second volume might
mean when he writes: “The art-rider can appreciate the real value
of the walk only after having trained all the other lessons in this
second volume”. Though I’m still far away from having tried or
even trained everything successfully, already still it is thus, that
the sideways-walk (if the horse in full willingness to perform)
operates like a toggle: as soon as one has, shortly after beginning a
riding-unit, done only some steps in the sideways-walk in both
directions, be it straight or on an academic volte =volte in
sideways-walk), possibly one or two times triggered one beat of
terre-a-terre or mezair) the horse goes like by itself and much
more collected and cadenced at everything I want from him, and it
actually feels as if this voluntariness “comes out of the horse’s
heart” as La Broue describes it. Here the lightness La Broue
speaks about so often really seems to be starting, and the absence of
Slowly now differences are
emerging between types of the sideways Fiaschi and La Broue
(renaissance-riding) practice and that of Gueriniere (baroque-riding)
, whereas Cavendish’s lies somewhere in between. Gueriniere rides
the sideways at a lower angle of 60° to 80°, and he abstains from
demanding a two-beated gait, where the horse never has three feet on
the ground simultaneously, also he recommends his sideways in the
trot, and he bends the horse during the execution. He warns
explicitly against letting the hind legs lead/overtake ("entabler", from the ital."intavolare"), as this
ruined the hocks.
As the sideways in walk at
an angle lower 80° often leads to a dragging of the outer hind leg,
the gymnastic value seems to me reduced, at least for the
hindquarter: possibly the value of this type was only achieved during
execution in the trot or passage ? (which I still haven’t tried,
and La Broue nearly never recommends).
instruction: ”A not bent horse is not proper in a riding arena”,
if he himself, too, saw it as a dogma, led him to recommend a
disregarding of La Broue’s recommendation to keep rump and neck
straight? (The reverse conclusion actually of his “dogma” would
mean a prohibition of any straightening of the horse inside a
riding-arena!). Though for a rider, who constantly adheres to the
wall, this “bending-obligation” in most cases is quite sensible,
but not anymore, after he has succeeded to release himself from the
wall, when it will be on the contrary very useful, trying to achieve
a straight Straight, which in leading one-handed (resp. 3:1) is not
easily to arrive at.
Cavendish’s lies between
both types of the sideways: He speaks of the two-beated walk, during
which never three feet of the horse are on the ground simultaneously
(which according to experiences is only possible with an angle over
80°), but he bends the horses instead of holding their rump and neck
straight as his predecessors demanded. Unfortunately the depictions
of the riders in his book are mistake-prone, so we only have one
quite reliable sketch, which shows a 85° degree angle on the volte,
just as with La Broue.
So possibly for the moment
it might be the best to follow the recommendations of each respective
master exactly: If one wants to train a renaissance-sideways (as I do
at the moment) one should in all points listen to La Broue; if it
shall be a baroque-sideways, then in all points to Gueriniere.
My feeling is, that an
occasional, single step overtaking of the croupe as the preparation
for a terre-a-terre beat doesn’t create difficulties for the horse,
if one resumes afterwards the normal 85° angle, and hock problems
hereby will not occur (always provided, the horse is fully grown up
Update 15. Mai 2020
A big step forward again: Having achieved a little improvement of my seat for some weeks now by imagining my body-/hand stance to be somewhat similar to a ballet dancer's, holding her hands circular forwards-downwards, with fingertips nearly touching themselves, I now have found a key information in the 3rd volume of the „L‘Arte del Cavallo“, written by Luigi di Santa-Paulina in 1696, who says that with the rein fist „the first finger-joints under the nails [= DIP-joints] shall point to the rider‘s belly and the second joints [= PIP-joints] of both fists shall point to each other. This is actually a clarification of the stance Prizelius will show later in his picture. Holding the hands this way brings automatically the rider’s shoulder-joints slightly, but distinctively backwards; his arms lift themselves a bit, and a little tensioning on the ulnar side of his lower arm, rim of the hand and of his little finger occurs. The rider‘s belly automatically comes forward a bit and keeps this position effortlessly and automatically; and a slight, but distinctive reclining of the rider‘s upper body occurs, which can be maintained with little effort. Now the balls of the rider’s feet hold contact to the stirrup’s plates much more steadily.The horse snorts freely and moves relaxedly and joyfully! One actually sits like the riders on many pictures in Gueriniére‘s book!
Update 17.Mai 2020 :
The Santa-Paulina-positioning of the hands emerges as THE game-changer: my attempts for a good Terre-a-Terre sideways on the volte (see Solleysel picture) are nearing their goal far more now.
Cavendish writes: Is the horse at the outer rein, this is canter, is it at the inner rein, it's Terre-a-Terre.
He also says that the horse in the Terre-a-Terre on the academic volte makes four lines: The inner foreleg makes the outermost one, the outer foreleg the second one, the inner hindleg the third and the outer hindleg the fourth one.
This rider's stance in this new seat by the way is the same which the proud Roman produces by wearing his toga over one lower arm: hereby achieving an upright, dignified posture through pointing the PIP-joints of his fingers in a right angle to the side and lifting forward his lower arm just a bit. He achieves a floating gait, just as the Santa-Paulina stance a floating seat of the rider, which results in a completely new, effortless appuy to the stirrup plates.
Now the pictures in the Gueriniére make much more sense to me: the depiction of the sideways as a Croupe-au-mur shows for his rein-hand exactly this stance, and now I think that the rider's PIP-joints are intended to point in the 90°-angel to the side, maintaining the Santa-Paulina-position of his hands.
At first I had feared that my tambourine-swivel might not work any longer with this positioning of the hands, but to the contrary it works smoothly and precisely just after 1/5 of the swivel-way: fine and easy, riding deluxe really!
Nestier also lets himself depicted with the PIP-joints pointing squarely in a 90° angle directly to the viewer, and several riders on the Finds-page also.
Now I feel ashamed a little before my horses because I for the last years I sat on them like a wooden block!
They snort happily much more than before, and slowly I find out how the higher- or lower-positioning of my hands works out: they must be lowered perpendicularly to produce an increase in the horse's step-length and hereby its speed over the ground, for this it helps to increasingly supinate the hands (the DIP-finger-joints shall point to the rider's breast, this results in an increasing rotation the deeper they wander,and the more the horse lengthens its steps).
Some millimeters of difference in the height result in some centimeters more or less in step-length.
That is just the same way the old masters have always described it, but with the false holding of my head and body this never didn't work!
Now the rein-length is corrected rarely, that means now I don't have to constantly let them out and shorten them again, which produces a feel of a much more quiet and steady seat now, out of which one is able to do many things tuned very finely. Even my Pinky-Push seems to me a coarse aid now!
Now it becomes even more clear, why the old masters always warned against appearing arrogant or uppity: one sits already self-assured and portly on his horse, so even a little lifting of the rider's nose or curling of his mouth could be repulsive for other people.
We'll see what more we'll discover! It remains thrilling!
It almost feels like a déjàvu to me: Just as from 2012 on, after its rediscovery and definition of the school-halt it resurfaced on one old depiction after the other: now I detect everywhere the rediscovered “Santa-Paulina-bearing of the hands” , which means it was used overall then. Only because we didn’t have a term and its exact definition couldn’t we discern it, despite being there directly before our eyes in nearly every picture! It was the precondition to enable the academic art of riding for Cavendish, Pluvinel, Gueriniere, Eisenberg, Prizelius, and all the others during that time, which ended about 1800 (the rider-statues at the palace of Brunswick,Germany, show the change of the positioning of the hands accordingly).
Update 06. June
positioning of the hands, which from now on I will call “old
academic hand-positioning” proves its value more and more: finest
movements of the rider’s hands create prompt reactions: the
Pinky-Push, the Pinky-Pull, the outwards rotation of the thumb for
turning the horse: evrythings goes lightly as a feather, but
therefore must be dosed very carefully: “millimetre-fine riding”!
Having trained this for
some time, as a pedestrian one can reconstruct perfectly how this is
working on the horse’s back: if I walk like a Roman with a toga
over my bent in a 90° angle right lower arm, producing a fist and letting
the middle joint of the middle finger point to the left side like an
arrow-point, the muscles at my thoracic spine tighten and my walk
gets floating (on horseback this means that I would be sitting
perfectly in the middle between forehand and hind, in equilibrium).
If now I do the Pinky-Push,
i.e. tilt the fist so, taht the little finger gets pushed forwards, I
feel “falling” slightly forwards, my belly comes forward a bit
and my steps are becoming longer (the horse would make longer steps,
too, and get faster).
If in the contrary I do
the Pinky-Pull, i.e rotate my fist so, that the little finger gets
pulled backwards to my body, my steps are shortening, because my
equilibrium relocates backwards a bit and my belly retracts (the
horse’s steps would shorten, too: it becomes more collected).
(On a horse one can
think the Pinky-Pull in another way, too: as a pointing of the finger
end-joints to the rider’s breast, while holding the hands
If I rotate the fist so,
that the thumb points to the right, as a pedestrian I feel a
surprisingly strong relocating of my equilibrium to the left, and
vice versa by rotating it to the left.
In the saddle additionally
a slight supination of the rein-hand is necessary, too (which I
mirror with the switch-hand for a more symmetrical seat). The
supination is necessary because it is impossible to hold the
rein-hand exactly over the withers, and deviations always tend to the
rein-hand side. Therefore the switch-side rein always must be relaxed
a bit, and the other one tensed a bit.
Really difficult for me
(probably because of slight torsion of my spine) is riding in the
left-hander’s seat: in this case my right-hand is the rein-hand, and it is
quite difficult for me to let my middle-finger middle-joint point
90° to the left like an arrow-point; but if I concentrate hard on
it, my horse always thanks me with many snortings!
The velocity of the horse
now can be regulated with a higher or lower postioning of the rider’s
hands over the withers: a very low position plus Pinky-Push means a
maximum of forward-going (the rider’s belly comes forward)
accompanied by a more deeper positioning of the horse’s head.
A very high position of
the rider’s hands together with a Pinky-Pull results in maximal
collection with a higher head of the horse (s. statuette of Henry
For now I’m still using
“kissing PIPs”, i.e. holding both fists so near to each other,
that the middle-finger’s middle-joints are touching and supporting
Update 18. June 2020:
The Santa-Paulina way of holding the hands makes the horse so wonderfully balanced and free in the forehand, that I often I’m not able to accompany the horse’s movements. Very much fun at the moment gives me the carriere: CORRECTION: I start it by giving the calf-aides for a levade on the same spot four times in succession: the first two with a slight pinky-Pull, and the third already with a pronounced pinky-push as soon as the horse lifts its forefeet from the ground: this results still in a third levade, but then, at the fourth request, the horse shoots forwards with such force, that often I bend the rear gallery, being happy that it is there, because otherwise I might be sliding behind the saddle: so powerful is the starting! Unfortunately not seldom I’m surprised so much, that I fall the horse into the mouth: for that reason I will try in future to do the levades and the following carriere with hanging-through reins.
Update in the 2. month after finding the grail (aG)
Regarding my riding a new time-reckoning has begun for me, now I measure it in “months aG”.
Again I have to modify many things, same as at the beginning of my search for the old academic seat in the spring 2016. Though fortunately I can keep the way to position the legs I’m using for years now (“a bit before the horse”), it will take some months at least to get using the new positioning of the hands automatically.
Every single riding situation needs to be adjusted, every aid must be scrutinized and often be used in a new way and new combination.
Because my seat has become much calmer and steadier all this works out very easily and elegantly (if I’m concentrated enough): more and more the horse is turning below me.
The horse’s movements can be be controlled much better: wide and collected gaits join each other softly and promptly, and now the pinky-push even prevents Paco’s stumbling while cross-country, which he sometimes is prone to.
Now other things, too, gain a new importance, because they become possible:
for example the instruction of the Santa-Paulinas (and of most of the old masters) to always look between the ears of the horse, which I often still don’t heed during canter, because still I’m looking into the circle (like during the Garrocha work). This alone changes the application of the aids distinctly.
Exceptions of this rule are: while passing high guests one is supposed to look at them; and riding as part of a formation, one has to look around to control the distances to the other riders.
And Cavendish writes, that in the Terre-a-Terre the rider shall not look between the ears of the horse as usually, but instead “you shall look on the inside of the turn, to the inside of the horse’s head, which keeps your hand steady”.”
By the way: the old masters say, that a Terre-a-Terre does make sense only on an academic volte or circle, but not in the straight-forwards; Cavendish writes also, that the rider for a Terre-a-Terre shall step a bit more into the outer stirrup, making the inner side of his body a bit concave, and that he should hold his hands low.
Having followed for some time the advice to always look between the ears of the horse, one notices quite fast, how confused the former giving of the aids had been: while in horse-jumping I had success with the rule, over the jump already to look in the direction of the next hurdle (and by this rotate my head and a bit my shoulders,too) for the horse to land in the correct canter or in the training of the garrocha turning my whole upper body into the circle, now an infinitely finer riding surfaces. It starts with adjusting firstly the horse's head onto the circle-line and the rider then only minimally turning his shoulders according to the allowance of the circle-line as result of the looking-through-the-ears of the horse.
With the new Santa-Paulina hand-holding the horse bears and moves the horse itself much more freely, and holds its head itself not only regarding its height but also regarding the sides: did it put to one side once, it stays there on its own so long, until the rider orders the horse explicitly to change it to the other side. To achieve this, the rider can by laying his calf alongside/before the gird or softly tapping it there; or by showing the switch on the outside of the horse's neck at the future outside. (While in the right-hander's seat this sometimes actually leads to me taking the right rein softly with my right hand additionally to the showing of the switch at the outside, just as Nestier and Gueriniére depicted it).
Now we have a reverse order: Now at first the horse places its head and bends itself and only thereafter follows the minimal, barely palpable accompanying turning of the rider's upper body as a result of the looking-through-the-ears of the horse.
The turning to a side I had until now initiated as follows: by a complete turn of the rein fist's thumb to the new outside and a following, distinct pushing of the outer (from itself away bending) rein, accompanied by a distinct Rotation of my upper body with looking inside the volte/circle; but now, with the new holding of the hands, I have to indicate this Out-rotating of the rein-fist only minimally, sometimes even only think of it! A support occurs now by a little lifting of my inner seat bone and the horse yields too these aides promptly and smoothly: the weight aides get much more imortant now in guiding the horse!
For the other riders in the arena,alas, its getting harder to discern my intentions now: the have to adjust somewhat, as now I will now change direction (in their eyes quite suddenly) without having looked before into the new direction! The will have to learn, that from now on the horse will always go only into the direction it is looking to. (Exceptions naturally are the sideways in walk or terre-a-terre, wherein the horse's head will be put only minimally into the direction it goes and the rider always looks out of the circle).
An important aim of the Santa-Paulina-Handhaltung is removing the rider’s upper arms from his breast cage. To begin with, he lets the finger’s middle-joints point exactly towards each other like arrow-points, taking care not to bend his hands in the carpal joint, but even lets a little overextension (20°) occur, only then results a correct sideways distancing of the rider’s upper arm, leading to a freely swinging of the rider’s upper body, resulting in the best uprighting of the rider's body.
To prove that the achieved distance from the breast-cage is sufficient, one can intermittently use the “Old Fritz’s” bearing of the switch hand (Gueriniére also shows this), and hereby find out. if both shoulder-joints are led backwards to the same degree: now the best posture of the rider is achieved.
From "Ecole de
cavalerie", Guerniére, 1733;
(notice also the length of the lower branches, which prevents the horse coming behind the line > thus it will not "roll itself up").