Here at Centro Ecuestre La Luz we are training horses and riders in the classical tradition. Horsemanship which comes from centuries of study by great masters. This knowledge has been handed down in literature, by word of mouth and by example in the fine equestrian schools of the world. It is based on love and respect for the horse and awareness of the importance of preparing him mentally and physically to carry a rider. This being essential to maintain a healthy back and legs, preserve the natural movement and allow for the flow of energy. In fact an appropriate gymnastic training can even improve on nature.
Alongside the training of the horse the rider must strive to attain a classical seat, which is simply a correctly balanced natural posture. As only from this position can the rider guide the horse with sensitivity and timing while feeling the horses’ response.
In classical equitation there is no need for gadgets which force the horse into a position so creating tension and confusion. A tight noseband causes tension and pain, the mobility of the jaw is of utmost importance, for the horse to be light, relaxed, attentive and keep the energy flowing. Also a tight jaw means a tight back which will cause physical damage to the horse when ridden , the mobility of the hindquarters is directly linked to that of the jaw.
Of course we must remember that the same goes for the rider – tension held in the jaw blocks the seat’s ability to accompany , prevents the legs from hanging loosely out of the hip joint which disables their effectiveness as aids and leads to stiff arms, hands and fingers preventing the delicate feel on the reins.
Alongside the ridden work we do lots of groundwork which is an invaluable aid in training horses and riders, and especially in retraining. For the rider it gives a chance to observe how the horse moves, how the back works, the head carriage, freedom of shoulder, engagement, rhythm and sensitivity. Also to develop equestrian tact and knowledge of the gymnastics. For the horse he learns relaxation, rhythm, flexibility, acceptance of the aids, to collect and round himself, to carry himself forward in balance, to bend and move latterly, to rein back and to mobilize himself without being affected by the weight of the rider. Both learn to work in lightness and harmony.
Groundwork includes – Loose schooling, lunging, long reining, work in hand and flexions
Warning – groundwork, especially work in hand and flexions , is very delicate work which should be learnt from an experience person. When badly done it can put the horse on the forehand and at worst make him over excited and fearful of the whip.
There are many excellent books on Classical Equitation so no need to go into depth here, suffice to say that study of these works is essential coupled with a long practical experience . There are no short cuts, it is a path for life, a journey to be enjoyed and experienced in its totality, done for its own sake, for the love of the horse and the art.