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Do You Have an Instructor Like This?

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  • Do You Have an Instructor Like This?

    Do you have an instructor who follows the teaching principles described by Charles de Kunffy in this article? If so, let us know!

    http://www.equisearch.com/horses_rid...0%99s-notebook

    Some excerpts:

    The obligation of the teacher to the pupil—regardless of the pupil’s age, talent, financial circumstance, future prospects, etc.—should be to conduct each lesson as if you are coaching the future gold medalist of the next Olympics. It’s not the teacher’s job to teach an art or a science according to talent. It is not our job to punish or reward what we think is talent or a lack of it. I hope that in my teaching I never compromised that principle and show by attention, enthusiasm and diligence that each student is worthy of the best we can offer.

    Therefore, the job of a teacher is to conduct a lesson impeccably as if it were given to the greatest rider, deserving of the greatest attention in the finest way, suitable to the horse and the rider at that particular time. This concept must be your guiding light. This is the foundation of any and all teaching. When I taught classes in philosophy and diplomatic history and other subjects, I didn’t say, “I will use bad vocabulary or exhibit an undisciplined intellect to debase the subject matter just because there may be some dumb kids in this class.” I wasn’t interested in evaluating the worthiness of my students. One must teach always as if to a worthy class.

    Teachers and judges must remain loyal to the principles of the art of riding. Our commitment must remain the promotion of the well-being of the horse to maximize his useful years in service and to unfold and develop his inborn talent and potential. This is what classical horsemanship stands for.
    "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

  • #2
    On the one hand, I teach everyone like they're going to the Olympics. For example, when I introduce concepts, I usually phrase it multiple ways and include a really basic description as well as a 'teaser' for the more advanced concept.

    I will gladly stand in the ring and do the BASICS, BASICS, BASICS, get the CORNERS RIGHT, that corner could have been a lot BETTER, get an ANSWER, and then a PROMPTER answer, etc etc etc.

    On the other hand, if I made every single middle aged amateur woman that I teach do no stirrups posting and laps around the arena in two point to build leg strength and come on I want to see him FLY OFF your inside leg when you put it on and now let's practice sitting the trot for 35 minutes, I would be out quite a few customers.

    Not every student WANTS the Olympic program. There is a high level of work, determination and stick-to-it-iveness, even sacrifice, that the STUDENT needs to ride at the highest level they are capable of and some of them just want to do "Lite" Riding and putter around pleasantly and safely with their horse. Their goal is a canter depart within 25 feet of when they request it and a safe hack out at the end, not the whole menu of lateral work plus pi/pa transitions.
    Last edited by meupatdoes; Feb. 16, 2011, 07:29 AM.
    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
    Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
    The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

    Comment


    • #3
      Therefore, the job of a teacher is to conduct a lesson impeccably as if it were given to the greatest rider, deserving of the greatest attention in the finest way, suitable to the horse and the rider at that particular time.
      I spent 10 years with an instructor who had been trained by de Kunffy. While I've never ridden with him myself (so far) it's become more and more clear to me over the years that this background, philosophically, ethically and in practice, has been absolutely invaluable.

      He doesn't use the word "loyal" casually. He's utterly loyal to dressage as an art and a philosophy in service first to the horse. I go back to his books often, and find an "aha" there each time--something that maybe I wasn't ready to understand last year, or two horses ago, that makes complete sense to me now.

      I learned to take joy in the basics, to feel every change in balance from one stride to the next, and to know that if the basics are perfect (hardly ever more than a couple of strides!) then the advanced stuff is just a matter of asking for it. So even though every dang day I'm laboring in the trenches of relaxation, flexion and balance, it doesn't get old because it's all that matters.

      So for me at least, by extension through his student and his books, I think I can say I've experienced that.
      Ring the bells that still can ring
      Forget your perfect offering
      There is a crack in everything
      That's how the light gets in.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the link, Mike. I aspire to be like that daily!

        Comment


        • #5
          As a college instructor and a horseback riding instructor, I have to say I'm quite smitten with de Kunffy's ideas here. I see his approach as an honorable one...a philosophy that not only honors the student by teaching well at all times, but it also honors the horse in that it seeks "to unfold and develop his inborn talent and potential."

          I have an instructor right now who teaches in this way. Each lesson I have with her is dedicated to the art itself. Sometimes that means dealing with a fractious mare; sometimes that means analyzing the timing of an aid to match the flight of the leg I'm cueing; sometimes that means going through movements not for the movements' sake, but to help my horse unlock and come through...to show her "inborn talent and potential."

          Learning is ultimately up to the student. No matter how beautifully I lay out a concept to appeal to all learning styles...no matter how much I demonstrate or offer guidance...it is ultimately up to the student to grasp and wrestle with the ideas presented. However, I must first (as a teacher) take the burden upon myself to honor the student and the horse by teaching in that moment as though everything depends on the way I'm approaching my subject. That's what I think the "Olympic" implication is. Even to the up/down student, mastering that two-point or that posting trot or figuring out diagonals IS her "Olympic" dream, and it is up to me to teach in such a way as to honor that goal of figuring out diagonals as much as I would honor the student who truly aspires to go to the actual Olympics.

          Comment


          • #6
            Absolutely, and given that she actually coaches Olympic riders, it is possibly even more impressive what I get
            OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!

            Comment


            • #7
              Problem is, that's not what a lot of the weekend warrior riders want. What they want is to be told everything they do is gold. If you don't act like you think everything is perfect all the time, then you don't get a paycheck and can't make enough money to survive. It's the current culture that I blame.

              Lets just call it what it is...pandering to ineptitude.

              Not saying that I don't like what he said. I think that's the best approach, but I don't think it's always what is popular and makes you enough money to continue as a coach in the world of dressage these days. You need to cheer them on, but you also need to make sure they know what is right, what is enough for the moment, and what is expected to get to the top. Once again, that's not popular.
              "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

              Comment


              • #8
                de Kunffy

                Dont tip the bucket!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Yes, I have an instructor like this.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Oh I do, seriously. Two (clinicians) actually! One saw potential before I could even sit the trot, the other I met a little later, but he elevates my skills and confidence every lesson!
                    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What Velvet said!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I guess that's his point. Even if what the rider ostensibly wants is to be told everything is "gold," the obligation of the teacher is to teach them what they (and the horse) need.

                        To stay loyal to the principles of the art of riding and the well-being of the horse.

                        It's a choice for each instructor, I guess. And probably a tough one. But to me, if the instructor doesn't give that to the student, instead of what the student believes they desire, then the student never gets the chance to find out what they really needed.
                        Ring the bells that still can ring
                        Forget your perfect offering
                        There is a crack in everything
                        That's how the light gets in.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          While I definitely agree that every rider should be taken seriously, regardless of what their current abilities are and where they want to be in given amount of time, I agree that this concept may be frightening to some. Some riders really only want to do Training level as a weekend hobby. They have no interest in the upper levels or competeing more than once or twice a year. While this doesn't mean they should be disrespected or given a lower quality education, they may not want an Olympic level intensity in their lessons.

                          Overall, I like this idea, because I feel it is also a good approach for classroom students. They all should be instructed as if they're going to college and then all getting Master's degrees. Will they? No. But they all deserve the same high quality, meaningful education.
                          Tru : April 14, 1996 - March 14, 2011
                          Thank you for everything boy.


                          Better View.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The problem is, he doesn't teach like that or he'd actually have students who come somewhere close to that.

                            There are those who those who talk and sound good, and there are those who get it done. If you get something from what he says, great. I'm sure if you read "Riding into the Light" by Barbier, it would sound really cool, too.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sounds wonderful at first read.

                              Unfortunately, there is the real world with real horses and real riders that don't fit into that classically correct little world.

                              Sometimes you have to veer off the path a bit to correct a something before you can follow the classic path. Sometimes you have to make allowances to get the job done before you can proceed.

                              Working with the real world is sometimes a whole lot harder than working within the classical mystique.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Beentheredonethat View Post
                                The problem is, he doesn't teach like that or he'd actually have students who come somewhere close to that.

                                There are those who those who talk and sound good, and there are those who get it done. If you get something from what he says, great. I'm sure if you read "Riding into the Light" by Barbier, it would sound really cool, too.
                                I laughed so hard I almost cried on that last one.
                                "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I don't see any controversy. I think all he's really saying is treat the student and horse with respect. Give them your full attention. And make sure they get their money's worth. One doesn't need to bitch and pick to correct and instruct. JMHO
                                  Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    yup

                                    Originally posted by CFFarm View Post
                                    I don't see any controversy. I think all he's really saying is treat the student and horse with respect. Give them your full attention. And make sure they get their money's worth. One doesn't need to bitch and pick to correct and instruct. JMHO
                                    what CFFarm said.
                                    maybe I 'read' de Kunffy differently, but my take is nOT that he expects to be teaching everyone to be or aspire to Olympic level riding, but rather teach the rider and horse that are in front of you on that day, in that lesson; and give them at least 100%.

                                    Nor do I agree w/ some posters that ammy weekend riders all want to be told everything they do is perfect! I am one. Of course I'd like recognition for something done well, or for an improvement over previous attempts, but I certainly don't want my instructors to blow smoke up my butt! Challenge me, make think, tell me when I've done well (or not)..... horsey will certainly let me know when he is happy with my riding too!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I don't know about lately, but he used to teach like that. I have taken many lessons (granted 20+ years ago) from Charles as he used to teach at our barn once a month. I have ridden several types of horses (OTTB's , QH's, Warmbloods) and always felt I was getting the best out of my horses during the lessons. He didn't discriminate breeding or rider talent but was very respectful and encouraging. He believes in riding your horse forward with a light giving rein. I always felt my horses enjoyed being ridden that way. I love his teaching style and believe he walks the talk.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Well, my LOL moment was due to DB. I can see him twirling his moustache and speaking wiz zee french akscant.
                                        "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                                        Comment

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