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Spinoff: "French School!"

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  • btw i happen to be reading the 2nd edition of Decarpentry - i think it was put out in 1971 - it has additional notes and foot notes explaining various aspects... no mention has been made yet about the political aspect.

    Also for those interested the book was originally published in 1949

    oh! i want to also add that Decarpentry felt, as already mentioned - that flexions were not for regular folks - and that they did more harm than good for the regular rider - however for the extremely experienced rider who is working "Academic Equitation" (he makes a clear delineation between regular dressage and Academic Equitation) then it can be useful and will be the piece that truly brings the horse to perfection.... but that again, the horse had to be built with gymnastic work before doing flexions....

    again, highly recommended - its is easy to read, truly interesting and still very very relevant! i have to keep checking when it was written

    Comment


    • Originally posted by mbm View Post
      In other words - if you can get the horse to chew and swallow someone he will magically also be able to use his body properly etc.
      Any volunteers? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

      Comment


      • tnx alicen i fixed it. i find dyslexia fascinating.... what i see and what i dont

        Comment


        • Maybe Jonah would like to try a horse instead of a whale.

          I am enjoying an amazing weekend watching top notch horses and riders with Steffen Peters teaching. I think the lowest level horse so far has been fourth. These horses are not btv, cranked, nor was there much stress in any. One or two were hotter and thus a bit more reactive, but every single horse left the arena improved and calm. Not French, but really good dressage. Even if they are all fancier than my horses.

          Comment


          • Is anyone else still having trouble with the concept of balance before forward as it is described in this thread? All of the beginning work at the walk and even the halt seems crazy to me...

            My dressage education (which is the basics) is from two European riders, both Dutch. One did GP dressage and advanced eventing and attended the Cadre Noir. He was my instructor's instructor and I took a few lessons with him too. He did do some work with halting horses but I have to say I didn't see it do any good. Otherwise his riding and ideas yielded excellent results -- he taught to ride the horse forward and balance through straightening the horse.

            The slow work confuses me 1) because a lot of horses tend to get pissed off if you keep them at the walk too long and 2) if you slow a horse down too much you can wreck their balance because you're not allowing them to use themselves

            Otoh maybe it's just impossible to discuss this sort of thing on a bulletin board.

            Comment


            • I have trained lots of horses at the walk. Riders too.

              It is usually neglected. If you can't ride the walk correctly, you can't ride.

              Trot is the easiest gait as a rule.

              Riding a crappy canter is worthless.

              Using movements and motion to establish lift, freedom, suppleness, forward is a very different exercise than stronger aids and forcing movement with holding.

              Balancing the horse instead of pushing the horse is very different. Do both and then revisit.
              “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
              ? Albert Einstein

              Comment


              • Originally posted by horsefaerie View Post
                I have trained lots of horses at the walk. Riders too.

                It is usually neglected. If you can't ride the walk correctly, you can't ride.

                Trot is the easiest gait as a rule.

                Riding a crappy canter is worthless.

                Using movements and motion to establish lift, freedom, suppleness, forward is a very different exercise than stronger aids and forcing movement with holding.

                Balancing the horse instead of pushing the horse is very different. Do both and then revisit.
                Sorry I'm not getting the point of your post. Are you assuming that I must hold my horses up because I don't walk around for a million years, or is your post aimed at the general air? Either way it's not making a whole lot of sense to me in its context of this thread.

                Comment


                • I may murder some of this, but would like to take a stab at it, since I'm fairly immersed in this philosophy of riding now (from a trainer originally taught in the French school, and now training with PK and his student).

                  I find balance before movement makes sense, at least in the re-training of my horse (a TB, and also OTTB with a fair amount of the hold their face and kick schooling, via me, from instructors). His tendency to suck behind my leg (not a very natural instinct for a TB) seems to come from the contraction of his muscles, particularly in his neck, which of course is long and low-set. If we do bending and lateral exercises, to stretch his neck and bring each hind leg under, he finds the reach he needs for forward movement, without much effort on my part. Going from shoulder-in, if he is fit enough, he will do medium to extended trots of joy, and may have started off sucked behind my leg in the warm-up.

                  I may get a forward result from leg, spur, whip, but it will be with tension, and not with the joyous "I've got it, I've found my parts, and using them is actually pretty cool !" moments we have.

                  Straightness is incredibly difficult, and as we (including horses) are all naturally "handed", we have to balance the way we use our muscles, and understand and improve our weak areas before we can become straight and forward, with evenness and power used without injuring ourselves.

                  Flexions on the ground have re-introduced him to the bit as a method of communication and "yes", not just a method of punishment and "no". I'm not a trainer of babies, but would think that they should understand the interaction with this thing in their mouths as soon as possible. On the ground, before they are dealing with weight and leg, seems like a good idea. It can be a bit tedious to do this every time, but if I know how to do this correctly with my (re)trained 13 YO, I can do the same with a baby someday, if I need to

                  P.S. to say, I am also enjoying the informational aspects of this thread immensely, esp IdeaYoda.
                  Fear is the rocket sauce.
                  Jack Black

                  Comment


                  • NO did not teach the flexions to most people, and imho he was gifted when playing things into the horses with a lot of moving lateral exerises on curved lines. But he was not as incredible in person, definately a rider more than a teacher imho.

                    And Catherine shows little of her husbands history when watching her work her horses, they are competition horses imho. And Ruffineu was primarily a jump rider early on.

                    Anyone who can get their hands on old D&CT, they were always presenting a good discussion of issues in dressage from JCR. Thought provoking in any case.

                    And Decarpentry speaks of lateral flexions following from mobility of the jaw, not longitudinal ones.

                    Slow work/work in walk should NEVER cause a horse to become angry/tensed, if that is happening then the rider is doing something very wrong, and speed is the enemy of impulsion. IF the horse is in better balance they WILL be using themselves (under tempo or at tempo). And if the viewer did not see 'much happening', perhaps they were not looking for the same touch stones as the trainer (?).
                    I.D.E.A. yoda

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by grayarabpony View Post
                      The slow work confuses me 1) because a lot of horses tend to get pissed off if you keep them at the walk too long and 2) if you slow a horse down too much you can wreck their balance because you're not allowing them to use themselves.
                      Done effectively, it is not too much or too long. It has been my experience that when a horse is balanced and comfortable at a slower tempo that they will confidently,willingly, and bliss, gratuitously offer increased impulsion.

                      Comment


                      • Lets say you are teaching a child how to run carefully down a hill.
                        If you are German, you explain that running down the hill is important, and you practice running down the hill seeking the botom of the hill.
                        If you are French, you talk about keeping your weight over your hips, and practice walking slowly down the hill with your balance back over yourself first.

                        Both kids get to the bottom of the hill, both reach an eventual goal in their training of being able to run down the hill in balance, relaxed and not rushing, but they started in different elements of training.
                        The German child will always resort to pushing forward if confused,and the French child will always resort to rocking back and rebalancing.

                        What you teach first is what sticks with you.
                        www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                        chaque pas est fait ensemble

                        Comment


                        • A quote from Robert Hall, Pratical Horseman, June 1985:

                          "Most of the problems that horses have are man-made. A horse enjoying his freedom will show you some of the best dressage that you will ever see: he walks, trots, camters, stops, and turns without any problems. If he falls on his forehand, he doesn't give himself two halfhalts and kick his hindquarters farther under, he just slows down."
                          Last edited by alicen; Sep. 9, 2012, 09:02 AM.

                          Comment


                          • I really love Petstorejunkie's last post!

                            Comment


                            • OK, I am having BIG problems understanding one part of this French school discussion.

                              I guess I am the classical German method taught- SRS.

                              the one aid at a time thing is normal riding for me.

                              I guess I am one of the: "balance ourselves on the reins. It takes a very high level of equitation not to do this." riders, because this is also normal for me. Release without reins flopping, not expecting the horse to go forward into a strong contact, but up into the giving rein in a release is the way I've ridden for a long time now...

                              But seriously, this balance before forward thing? That just doesn't make any practical sense to me.

                              I start all my young horses- and horses are born with an innate physical sensitivity to the aids- legs, seat, and hands. If you have a horse that is too reactive, you teach them to be less so. If you have a horse that is not reactive enough, you teach them to be more so. The rider is the artist's brush- you need to paint the picture you want to ride.

                              But many young horses when they are started are not reactive enough- they can't be! They haven't the physical development to carry the rider, be in balance, and move with impulsion. This is an entirely normal stage in development, and by the time the horse is under saddle for 12-18 months it's no longer an issue. Now I am talking here about a young horse is full training being ridden by a professional, very capable, training rider.

                              So I am completely at a loss to understand why walking a young horse will somehow bring them to balance. Or why trotting a young horse and letting him find his balance under the rider is deleterious to his future. And why when a young horse offers canter it's somehow a problem to take it, and let him explore his physiology and athletic potential.

                              Of course a young horse is incapable of moving like a trained GP horse- but isn't the point of coaching to show your young athlete his/her potential future and get them excited about it? It seems to me that this constant nagging about being perfectly in balance and stopping if he's not would turn them off to trying and exploring their bodies and discovering their movement.

                              It doesn't help that every time I've ever observed a "French School" rider/trainer they've ridden like crap and the horse is going like crap either- no contact, no impulsion, hind end up in the air like the north pole. Given that Swamp Yankee and I spent our formative dressage years together, I respect her opinion greatly- she's a great rider, and more than that. she's a great horseman. So, I am asking to some illumination. Always intersted in learning to ride/train better.
                              Last edited by HSS; Sep. 9, 2012, 10:43 AM. Reason: spelling

                              Comment


                              • SRS - Spanish Riding School? They're classical aren't they?

                                Paula
                                He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                Comment


                                • I feel like we are getting lost in words again.

                                  Can someone please explain perhaps step by step - how a french school person would start a youngster and bring them thru their first or second year of training and what the end result of those 2 years would be since you dont believe in the levels as laid out in the tests?

                                  how does balance before movement work in practical terms? When i specifically asked about a situation where a horse needed to be more forward the unanimous response was they needed to be forward FIRST. so please help me understand how that actually works with balance before movement ?

                                  and while i hate to say it - i agree with HSS - i have rarely ever seen a french school rider ride well - usually it is as the first video we have seen. Now in their defense i will also say that it is rare to find good riders of any school - but it seems to be that the German method is easier for the average rider and so can produce more good results IF THE TRAINING IS CORRECT.

                                  (remember: my trainer is on the french side of being a classical german trainer - so i am not hostile to the idea, just interested in understanding)

                                  Comment


                                  • My background too is clearly german from training there for some time (but with odgs), as well as srs and danish. But I see so few differeces.

                                    Clearly you all have never seen the head of the Cadre Noir ride. I watched him school the day before the 4 ecoles performance in Paris. It was a centaur moment, absolute balance and quiet, it is burned into my brain it was that good from balance/tact/imperceptible aids/perfect alignment and quiet. Now, perhaps we could say he is less of a baucherist than some (ie pK), but he certainly is methodically traditional (better than some of the young(er) srs riders). And equally I have seen some srs using very baucherist actions. They are educated to train horses.

                                    As far as bad riding, the farm boy german riders abound in heaviness trying to bury resistance in holding and driving, while the french wanna be riders think no contact equally a good thing. NEITHER are correct. It is incomplete knowledge. We can also say that some of the very top international riders de jour ARE using bfm flexions (but while moving which makes it horrid), but not every getting to lightness/self carriage.

                                    I think bsm is valuable today because so many horses have been run onto the forehand/hand to the point they refuse to go at all (rear/refuse the let/etc), and that is why the concept of changing balance is so necessary to reschool such horses (ie vertical hh).

                                    This returns us to the concept of EFFECTIVE hh. When we watch vids of riders like Reiner and Anne Grethe in their pas de deux their hh were traditional (vertical) and repeated as necessary to keep the horse up and open, and the hindlegs folded. That said, most (german) trainers of merit I have ridden with have also done light standing flexions to mobilize the jaw. And it was a VERY clear ideal to do half pass with CLEAR changes of flexion (and chewing) at the end of EVERY diagonal/zigzag/serpentine...and it had to originate in proper equitation.

                                    Would the two schools do much differently to show? No. But then german and french horses were traditionally always ridden up and OPEN to develop bit acceptance (ie look at the srs pix of young horses). Germans are fond of asking: why does the US ride horses down/closed to ride them up? The horses resist going 'on the bit' when they have a diet of low for years. But we must remember that training level (started in the late 60s) was to get hunter riders to come play in the sand box. Then same the affectation of thinking if a little fdo (a TEST of being on the bit properly) is good, that we should use it all the time. And then worse yet, lower level riders thinking that ldr is a way of life. So, I think the difference de jour would be that the french (tend to) hold to the same guidelines of traditional as does the srs. Too many places I see in germany have followed the excessive ldr postures to sell horses, and those horse are rather rigid. The other difference I see is a much greater use of lateral flexibility in the french school throughout the schooling of the horse (but then if we use Catherine Henriquet as an example) that broad brush would fail.

                                    The tests imho would be the same, since they french DO believe in the training scale for judging evaluations. But the french/portuguese/bsm would like to see fdo/chewing the reins from the hand in ALL levels and in ALL gaits. Collection/lightness, extension and the importance of a mobile jaw returned to the tests. And absolutely the return of rein back (and esp the rocker) returned as well.

                                    How does balance before movement work in practical terms? A clear upright balance combined with a mobile jaw folds the hind legs so that they CAN CHOOSE to go forward rather than be coerced into it from agressive supports (whips/spurs/etc). I have gotten SO many horse to reschool who have refused the leg/the whip to the point they are dangerous. By teaching them proper reactions in hand, and then mounted they have relearned to GO ACTIVELY with minimal aids. So then as trainers we have to ask what cause that refusal (to the point that sound fei are sold for pennies or even given away). The answer may be bad riding, it more usually is preciptious flexion which have put them onto the forehand. One should simply not have to ride over tempo to get the horse to go at all, let alone going over tempo without tracking/or barely tracking.
                                    I.D.E.A. yoda

                                    Comment


                                    • Good french method has no problem working within the levels. In fact if done correctly you should zoom up the levels rather quickly being that you started introducing collection so early.

                                      The difficult thing is people introducing collection early have to do so with INCREDIBLE finnesse and timing, as with every other method and maybe even more so since its like doing geometry with a horse that is still learning math.

                                      I dont advocate having a lower level rider start in the french method and start with collection... Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
                                      ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                                      http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                                      Comment


                                      • mbm -
                                        In general, a french classicist would start the young horse in hand to develop strength, balance and flexibility. Standing flexions at the start. In hand work would include turns on haunches, turns on forehand, shoulder-in, counted walk, piaffe. Lots of lateral work. The half-halt, reverse half-halt, halt, direct rein and indirect rein would all be installed on the ground.

                                        The longe would be used to promote forwardness, propulsion and regularity of the gaits. No side reins.

                                        Always from calm.

                                        Some people observe horses going around with their noses stuck into the air and think they are hollow. Hollow horses are wide at the base. Raising the head entices the horse to raise the base of the neck. It also encourages the horse to shift weight to the rear, and creates the foundation for propulsion. The position of the nose is the least important. I think "back to front" and wonder why people are obsessed with the nose. Look at the base of the horse, and whether it's stepping under itself. Always, the horse is encouraged to seek its own comfort and at some point, when it's strong and flexible enough, to drop the nose into ramener.

                                        Then, if the situation permits, a passenger is put onto the horse and the trainer continues to work the horse in hand, to accustom the horse to working with weight.

                                        While this process may seem to be slow, it's really not very long. The horse has few, if any, resistances. It's forward and calm. It's rarely been asked a balance question that it can't figure out. There's been very little, if any, scrambling. No arguments.

                                        From the time the trainer mounts, things seem to go very quickly. Walk work first, then canter departs progress to cantering a full circle. But any time the horse gets off balance, back to walk and start over.

                                        Trot work comes last. Walk and canter are more alike, and trot work is easy.

                                        Comment


                                        • Originally posted by stryder View Post
                                          mbm -
                                          Some people observe horses going around with their noses stuck into the air and think they are hollow. Hollow horses are wide at the base. Raising the head entices the horse to raise the base of the neck. It also encourages the horse to shift weight to the rear, and creates the foundation for propulsion. The position of the nose is the least important. I think "back to front" and wonder why people are obsessed with the nose. Look at the base of the horse, and whether it's stepping under itself. Always, the horse is encouraged to seek its own comfort and at some point, when it's strong and flexible enough, to drop the nose into ramener.
                                          This is what I am learning and struggling with now with the new pony, who has a high neck carriage and in typical Arab fashion wants her nose straight in the air. I can easily force her into a "head set" that would make her look really fancy, but this does not seem to be the correct way to actually get her forward and swinging and using her hind end.

                                          Thankfully I have a couple instructors that are really helping me experiment with different things, and keep reminding me to not worry about her head right now. Actually in my lesson my instructor told me about 150 times "don't look at her head!".

                                          I'm still not at all sure what "school" I am riding in, lol.
                                          On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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