Interim-Report 02.March 2017:
One year has gone by now, since I began to make the first tentative steps in the direction of the Gueriniere-Seat: it has fascinated me increasingly and I have succeeded in finding out the following:
Update 14.03.17: The "protruding lower neck" as a sign of quality with Gueriniere
Through my work in the Croupe-au-mure I became suspicious of his many depictions with a so-called "protruding lower-neck". Up to today I had believed this to be a sure sign of a pushed-down back of the horse. We all know the pictures of horses with highly elevated forelegs and a dragging hind, the latter causing a tilting upwards of the horse's pelvis and with this a shoving back-out of the hind-legs, a lengthening of the horse producing a pushed-down back and kissing spines. Only: with Gueriniere to the contrary the hindlegs are pushed forwards under the horse, the pelvis tilts down and so a vaulted-upwards back is produced: by this no pushed-down back should be able to occur!
Here the ocurring visibility of the lower neck by taking backwards the upper neck with the horse's head means that the forehand is maximally erected, and the weight of the forehand is pushed to the hindlegs as much as possible: the forehand becomes free (of weight) and by this can move much more freely!
Seen in this light the depictions on my Finds-Page, it becomes clear that a slightly visible lower neck was proudly shown on the best horses of their times.
During the last week my horses have corrected me by actually showing a sinking of their back as a result of a too far retracted neck and head: so I have to shrink the usefulness of my gradient of collection to a much shorter range.
Should I find a suitable PC Software showing the weight on each hoof and processing my gradient of collection in real-time, I hope to find out the exact borders of "Anti-Collection" (with shoving back of the hindlegs and the striving away of forelegs and hindlegs from each other, on one hand, and on the other the exact point of pushing back the upper-neck of the horse too far. Until then I can rely only of the feeling in my seat again, hopefully telling me in time if one or the other occurs.
Maximally well erected forehand with a visible lower neck:
My impression is, that the old masters took back the upper neck only to the line perpendicular to the axis of the horse's body, and thought only of more than this as harmful. So a visible lower neck should be judged a mistake only, if the upper neck is retracted behind this perpendicular line.
The definition of this Angle of Up-Straightness then would be: Angle of the frontal rim of the neck to the body's longitudinal axis.
In the sketch by Pablo Picasso a pushed down back is produced through "Anti-Collection", wherein fore- and hindlegs are striving apart: a sinking back is the result, with a much reduced bearing-ability.
Too far retracted upper-neck:
With the Lecomte Hippolyt and in the east-indian school-halt we can see the second type of mistake in collection: the upper neck is retracted too much.
Gradient of Collection
The angle of Up-Straightness alone doesn't say everything about the degree of collection, we have to include the effect of increased load-bearing of the hind-legs, too.
In the standing, highly collected horse we can see very well, and even measure to a little extent, what is most important to 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°.
In the School-Halt we can see very well how the freeing of the shoulders (of weight) increases with the steepness of the gradient of collection: in the bent School-Halt at first only one shoulder gets completely free of weight and lifts up first, and only when the complete weight of the horse is fully on the hind-legs, the second foreleg lifts up, too.
Measured Values: Most of the horses on my Finds-Page are standing in the square type, so in the following I won't indicate the type of frame. All values can only be approximations, as many horses are depicted somewhat obliquely!
The Grecian school-halt statue shows a gradient of collection of 70°,
The Saracen from the neapolitan. crib: 69°,
Roman seal-staone: 65°
Etude pour la course des Barberi: to the forward hind-leg, which ids the loaded
Riding lady in the Bois de Bologne: 62° (here the weight of the rider lies more
backwards, due to the side-saddle)
The mesopotamian school-halt:: 58°,
Napoleon on the white horse: 59°
School-halt in the Parthenon-Freeze: 70°
Broue,Newcastle, Gueriniere and Saunier use a high angle of Up-Straightness and a steep gradient of collection for many lessons: in the shoulder-in, croupe-au-mure, the Traversale in Pasege (and Passage?) and in the Demi-Volte and Pirouette.
Maybe one day we will find out that a definite gradient of collection is the best one for the fatigue-free skipping in courbettes ?
Ideal Courbette with Gueriniere.
Update 12.April 2017
Yesterday I found in La Broue's "Cavalerice" that it is necessary for a good 80°-sideways movement, to not bend body and neck of the horse! Now this cleared up Saunier's words regarding the holding lower of the inside hand: by this he achieves positioning the horse's head without executing an "around-itself-bending inside rein"!
Gueriniere, too, writes that body and shoulders have to be straight in the 80°-sideways movement!
Thus I have possibly solved the riddle about Guerinere's hand positioning completely:
1. He puts the switch-hand lower, to minimize the effect of the inside rein on the horse's neck, to prevent a neck-bending (with the inside rein of the snafflecurb) while positioning the head to the side he is moving to.
2. He supinates the hand to achieve an upright and free rider's- seat.
3.He extends his index-finger along the switch-shaft to avoid using a pressing-thumb inadvertently.
Update 16.April 2017:
Having trained the 80°-sideways-walk over four months now in the Croupe-au-mure (for which Gueriniere demands, to put the horse's outside shoulder onto one line with its inside hip), the Renvers-Karree (with ¼ pirouettes on the forehand in the corners) and the normal Karree (with the croupe to the centre and ¼ pirouettes on the hindlegs in the corners) and after some tries to hold this angle in the sideways-canter in the field, I've succeeded today for the first time in closing the Demi-Volte, which I had started in the Sideways-Walk, by two jumps of Terre-a-Terre while performing a Trot-Passade. Broue calls this sideways-canter at the end of a Demi-Volte „Terre-a-Terre“; (see Vol. 2, p.43).
Newcastle sees the diagonalized walk as a result of the sideways-walk (with him for example with the croupe towards the pilar, with the same angle of 80° as Gueriniere's Croupe-au-mure; which he calls "half a shoulder forward"). He writes, that when the forelegs are crossing, the inner hindleg moves to the side, and when the hindlegs are crossing, the inner foreleg moves to the side, so this is the action of a trot.(= two-beated)
Also about the Sideways-Walk, that when the forelegs are crossing over, the forehand gets narrow and at the same time the hind gets large, as the inner hindleg moves to the side. At the next movement, when the hindlegs are crossing over, the hind gets narrow and the forehand large, as the inner fore-leg moves to the side.
in the Sideways-Walk the horse is always in half a Terre-a-Terre: the
Terre-a-Terre of the hindlegs, when 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.
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.
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!)
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!
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?).
At least regarding the switch wastage I feel coequal to Newcastle meanwhile: My current natural switch (an apple shoot, dried according to Bent's tutorial) I have in use since more than four months now. Newcastle/Cavendish
proudly reports in his first book, that his switches last up to three months, as evidence for his gentle treatment of his horses. One could argue, that he surely has worked more horses per day than me, on the other hand he writes, that he not seldom works 5 horses within 30 minutes, so the duration of use might be comparable, after all. AND: he always wore spurs additionally, which I have never put on for 17 months now!
In his second book,nine years later however, he writes that his switch endures 6 months, and at the end of this book he even mentions a duration of one year.... I wonder, if my little stick will keep this long?
During my night-duty yesterday, just as I passed Remlingen, the village where Loehneysen wrote his „Della Cavaleria“, it occurred to me that the chapter 7 of book II of „The Cavalerice Francois“ I'm translating currently, is actually the one Gueriniere refers to in his chapter „Passage“!
I had needed several months to realize that 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 El-Mosquero curbs.
The curb tells the rider similarly as with the Renaissance-curb exactly the moment it begins to take effect, and after short probing I had learned how to twitch at the inner rein. The positioning of the head then is actually as La Broue describes: nearly only the head is positioned, with only a slight bending of the neck. Showing the horse additionally the switch on the outside led to a more rounded neck as before with my old curb, and the muscle bump behind Picasso's atlas was gone, and I hope very much, it stays this way!
One drawback: the little chainette, holding the lower branches together to prevent the upper branches leaning into the teeth of the horse and also the long lower branches, both forbid me from now on, to let my horses nibbling twigs from bushes and trees along the roadside..
As the long lower branches of my snafflecurb are in danger to touch the ground and engaging the curb by 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 ....
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:
Gueriniere and Saunier gave the very slow trot-passage the name "walk"-passage because this movement was slower, not so abrupt and more near the ground than a normal trot-passage.
The "school"-walk of Prizelius, Eisenberg and Ridinger is a very slow trot, sometimes with very much bent haunches; the latter would be the same movement as the above mentioned "walk"-passage. (The 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.
Marc-Aurel-Seat and Jeu-de-Paulme Movement
Marc Aurel uses a slight dorsal extension (over-extension of the back of the hand) in his free, right hand, while maintaining a slight bending of the elbow-joint (would the latter be fully extended, transmission to the rider's back muscles would be impossible and thus no driving impulse would occur to the horse). This movement is similar to shoving a shopping trolley with the wrist, and by this the rider's belly comes forward more than in the perpendicular pinky-push and with far less tilting forwards of the rider's pelvis. Is the arm elevated exactly this much, the pronation of the right hand cannot block the pushing forward of the rider's belly!).The opposite, collection, is to be gained by flexion in the carpal-joint of the free hand (tilting the Hand downwards).
Update 21.April 2018:
Interpretation of the Gueriniere-seat brings highest harmonie into the rider's posture: his light supination of the switch-hand in combination wit the flexion in the wrist leads also to small approximation of this stance in the rein-hand: now the rider's belly comes a little bit more forward, the lighthly opened hands shape an imaginative bowl wherein the rider's belly nestles. The back muscles of the rider relax completely symmetrical. If one had no need for giving aids, I would ride in this posture permanently!
Update 30. April 2018
When some weeks 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.
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!
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 repeated.
The perpendicular 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.
Also an excellent aide to reach a better uprighting of the forehand of rider and horse is the way to hold the switch as the "Old Fritz" does, here in a porcellaine figurine in the Köpenick castle, Berlin
Finally I have a word for the movement of the switch-fist, which reigns the hindquarter so finally and precisely: "Tambourine Slew" (s. March 3rd., 2018).
Having been quite
astonished in the beginning about the smallness of La Broue's voltes
at the ends of the passades with ar. 3.50m, meanwhile we succeed now,
thanks to the tambourine-slew, to produce much smaller ones. At the
moment I canter the passade, letting the horse come to a near
standstill at the end, where I promptly induce a walk-volte on one track
by telling the horse to put his outer leg over the inner one. With a
fully inwards tambourine-slewed switch-hand the horse narrows itself
maximally and is able to produce 1.50m voltes. The problem then is,
that in the intoxication by these very small voltes I often don't
notice what easily happens then, and only when the horse stops, I
recognize that once again I have only watched the nice action of the
forehand, and not felt that the horse's hind 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.
"L´art 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 sword-fight-passade!
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 others.
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 Ganaschen or the weak mouth of Picasso! Big improvements are looming!
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
Another involuntary curb-test!
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).
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 deployable now.
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 of the ganaches 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?