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Spinoff: "French School!"

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  • Originally posted by re-runs View Post

    It should be all about helping the horse let go of its defenses so that it is trainable.
    there is far more to it that that tho. the horse must trust and be open to working for its trainer so that it is unconstrained. Of course. but that is just the beginning. the horse must learn to step under and across, it must learn to track up actively, it must learn to be *forward* . it must learn to connect itself when asked.

    I used to think i was a good rider with a good foundation, but the more i learn, and the more time i spend with a *really* good trainer, the more i realize that i know not much.


    • Originally posted by mbm View Post
      the horse must learn to step under and across, it must learn to track up actively, it must learn to be *forward* . it must learn to connect itself when asked.
      "Must" it? I've just read Racinet writing about the best horse (as of 11/96) he ever had: a front low quarterhorse who had a "wonderful" extended trot and he never checked whether she was tracking up.


      • by track up i mean step under actively - to engage to the best of each horses ability.

        whether or not Racinet wanted this from his horses i have no clue, but it is one of the hallmarks of correct training.


        • Originally posted by re-runs View Post
          In order for a horse to use it`s body/topline, hindquarters, it has to be able to "let go" of the braces, the defenses it was born with; the thing that is wired into them that horses used from the very beginning of horsedom to keep them from being lunch to a mountain lion etc.
          YES!!!!! YES!!!!! YES!!!!!

          This is what I'm getting help with from a cowgirl, and what IMHO has made a huge difference in a short period of time.
          "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


          • Ah. Years ago trackiing up meant the hind feet stepped in the track of the front feet, hence -trackiing up. The term is also used to describe the sequence of the foot prints of other animals for tracking purposes. Coyotes track up: skunks don't. Once upon a time a working trot was described as a trot which tracked up.


            • Originally posted by mbm View Post
              there is far more to it that that tho. the horse must trust and be open to working for its trainer so that it is unconstrained. Of course. but that is just the beginning. the horse must learn to step under and across, it must learn to track up actively, it must learn to be *forward* . it must learn to connect itself when asked.
              Teaching a horse to let go of his defenses *allows* all of those things to happen, and very easily, too.
              "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


              • "Teaching a horse to let go of his defenses *allows* all of those things to happen, and very easily, too.

                THIS ! ! !


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Kyzteke View Post
                  I admit I'm just skimming this thread today and may have missed it, but I don't see SY using the words "good" and "bad" regarding the two schools. I think maybe you are reading intent into her posts.

                  I can see why...when one is dealing with living creatures it is difficult to stay neutral at times. It's much easier to keep emotion out of discussions on, say, the value of certain "schools" of dance or painting as an example...but when you involve other creatures it becomes a bigger challenge.

                  It would seem (to me) the proponents of both the French school and the Western "Californio" school put great emphasis on lightness, harmony and partnership with your horse.

                  Perhaps the German school does as well, but no matter what they say, to my eye these goals are not exhibited in the final test(s). To my eye the horses do not look happy or harmonious... and I think not one person would use the term "lightness" in describing their ride(s).

                  Since (the way I look at it)if I was a horse, I'd rather be ridden by BB than AVG, I suppose one can infer a value judgement there (good vs bad).

                  But from what I can see (corrections welcome) it is loosely divided into restraint and lack thereof.

                  German: nose band/flash/
                  French: neither

                  German: bit is position with wrinkles and ridden "into" the bit.
                  French: horse is expected to carry the bit himself and (eventually) respond to aides given by just the weight of the reins.

                  Not sure how to explain this one, but I am seeing it in many of the pics:
                  German: rider position is more braced,with the upper body btv (except at a walk) with calf often back against the horse's barrel and the spur is going a mile a minute.
                  French: What I'm seeing is a rider who is "draped" over his horse, especially the hip, pelvis and legs. There is something different about the hand positioning... they seem to use a wider variation in positioning...not sure of the use/point of each, but it's interesting.

                  I see more commonality between French and Californio than between French and German, which is REALLY interesting....
                  Yep! And if you want to know more about WHY, read Deb Bennett's Conquerors. Short version: Old French Classical to Old Spanish Classical to Old Californio Style--see also South America and the Paso Fino. Refer to LaGuerinere if you want to see some very familiar looking tack!

                  "IT IS ALL ONE, GRASSHOPPER!"


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by mbm View Post
                    how come we cant just have a conversation about a method or manner of training, without it always going back to bashing other ways of doing things?

                    if folks could figure out a way to talk about how they ride etc without tearing down something else i think you might get a wider audience (i even agree with some things said but that is neither here nor there)

                    that said, can we stick to practical matters?

                    here is a question (and no i am not looking for training advice!)

                    youngster, a short time under saddle - what would your focus and progression be? what would you honestly expect (not from an ODG but from an average rider) in say 3 months , 6 months and a year?

                    what methods would you use to get there?

                    what would be the hallmark of a horse well trained in that time frame?
                    After 3 months, as my Dad would say: "Gee, Haw, & Whoa." Work in a small paddock with direct, opening rein, flexions in hand, accepting of tack, bit, leg, & spur.

                    Between 3 and 6: Hack out across country quietly in company and, if the rider feels comfortable doing this, alone. You have to HAVE "experiences" to GET "experience," and the young horse needs to learn he/she can have confidence in YOU as his/her strong "herd leader." Not for wilting violets!

                    At 1 Year: Mileage, Mileage, Mileage. Take him everywhere, show him everything. Should clip, load, bathe, stand for shoer, stand for vet, and be familar with just about every regular riding venue you have--outdoors and indoors. Work in hand AND u/s asks for flexions now, and horse should be "hardwired" on aids to stay between light bit contact and a non-carrying, clear if yet elementary, leg aid. Keep it simple, reinforce it, ALWAYS end on something he does well a minute before you really want to.

                    And enjoy . . . both of you! You are building a foundation for many great years together, which is much more important than getting "this" right "now." Always remember the big picture. . .


                    • Original Poster

                      Originally posted by re-runs View Post
                      Addition to my above post....

                      This is not a QH, she is a tb/cheval cross and has nice suspension if ridden so but can also trot like a sewing machine! And is quite sensitive.
                      There is not a THING wrong with "trotting like a sewing machine" if such is the mare's natural tendency--half the world is trying to breed for that very thing!

                      Keep her back free, and when she knows the basics teach her the things that she'll find easy with her extravagant front end; flying changes, mezair (canter on the spot), levade (yes!) and Spanish Walk. Just don't let her get tied up in her own verticality--she has to go forward, too!


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by re-runs View Post
                        "what would be the hallmark of a horse well trained in that time frame?"

                        That depends on where a person`s education came from and what backround the horse has had and a few other things. Every horse is different.

                        When I sent my young horse away to be started (she was gone 2 months), she came back......nice halt, walk, trot, trot into canter, bending around turns, turn on the forehand, leg yield on a circle at walk and trot (increasing a circle). Decreasing a circle. Yielding to both of riders legs and reins but also following a leading rein, following a riders focus. Backed straight, backed in a circle, backed in a circle flexed to the outside or inside.

                        Edited to add, this is not a QH! She is a cheval/tb cross (hotter). And has nice suspension if ridden correctly but can also trot like a sewing machine!

                        Rode across varied terrain, dragging tarps and logs, up shale inclines, down fairly steep inclines. Gathered a herd of horses in the morning and was expected to stay with the rider and not want to GO with the other horses tearing down the pasture.

                        Went to a branding and dragged six calves to the fire.

                        But then before I sent her, I had all the proper groundwork in place and had introduced her to the saddle and all that goes along with that; blanket, girth etc. Bridling and giving to the bit which was first introduced on the halter, part of the groundwork. Trailer loading. Feet handling, Standing tied. Introduction to things that usually scare horses and gaining her confidence. Mounting a drum, good thing because the colt starter had a trailer with a 3 foot high step up Picking the rider up from the mounting block.

                        6 months.....continuation of what was started with her basic training. As a 5 year old, started cavaletti work, more trail riding in open spaces. More time riding with her giving to the bit. (muscles have to be built up to this for any length of time so they don`t get sore even if there is no resistance) Beginning of neck reining, which I think all horses should know, it is just yielding to the rein and is not really needed much except for tweeking, if the horse learns to follow a feel and the riders focus. A horse can go to the rein without going through it if taught correctly to yield to the rein, such as keeping a shoulder from popping out on a circle or helping recieve the proper angle for shoulder in, if needed. I know some are going to say NECK REINING BOOOOOO!

                        After 6 months.
                        The rest is just a continuation of the basics with introduction of more complicated lateral movements; more collection, as far as a persons education will take them but the foundation is THERE. A horses education goes much faster if there is no brace.
                        Neck-reining RULES--any breed, any tack. Classicists, take a look at La Guerinere's riders--see anybody plow-handing?
                        EVERY horse neck-reined; AND went in a curb! As JCR used to put it, "If you had to fight a bull, would you want to do it two-handing a Hanoverian who's downhill on his forehand?" That's also why Baucher says, "Legs without hand, hand without legs." EVERYONE rode one-handed!


                        • "I used to think i was a good rider with a good foundation, but the more i learn, and the more time i spend with a *really* good trainer, the more i realize that i know not much."

                          Me too mbm..the saying goes; "The more I know, the more I know that I don`t know."

                          Swamp Yankee, do you remember if it was important to JCR that horses "track up" ?


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by re-runs View Post
                            "That wasn't what i meant. i was asking a question : how is what the cowboys do related and or the same as French school?

                            what you describe is, for the most part, not what i would expect from a baby horse..... and i am not sure how a baby horse could learn all that - while learning to use its body properly in the dressage sense ? "

                            Well, personally, I don`t start them until they are four, and that is really not a baby horse, even though they are still young and not fully mature yet. The horse that has been handled in a certain way all it`s life, or at least from a young age, or at least as young as I can get them so that when it is first ridden there are no surprises. I`m in my mid sixties now and at some age you have to say to yourself. "if I am going to ride until I`m 80, I better play it safe.... so leave the first rides to someone who does that for a living and can give the horse the confidence it will be seeking in this new endeavor of carrying weight on its back."

                            "the big difference i see in dressage / non dressage is how the horse uses its body /topline/Hind quarters0"

                            In order for a horse to use it`s body/topline, hindquarters, it has to be able to "let go" of the braces, the defenses it was born with; the thing that is wired into them that horses used from the very beginning of horsedom to keep them from being lunch to a mountain lion etc. Baucher did that with the help of the flexions/ the french school. With Baucher in the 2nd manner, he couldn`t ride from his legs, or use a lot of strength so he had found another way of getting a horse malable though using what he already knew from the French school (and probably did a lot of experimenting.) Apparently and correct me if I am wrong, people know what he did but they really didn`t know what was going through his head very much, there is an aire of mystery surrounding the man. Flexions, AND asking the horse to step under are a way of getting to the horses mind, his mind through his body. It is the language of horses. Horses express their mental state through their mouths, relax the jaw= release the tensions, clenched =brace. (if done correctly) Relax in the ribcage, = relaxation in the poll/ jaw.

                            "the more i learn the more i l realize it is ALL about teaching the horse to use its body in a certain way...."

                            It should be all about helping the horse let go of its defenses so that it is trainable. The flexions, the groundwork are things that help with the mental part but so is riding out of doors, cross country galloping/jumping and exposing the horse to things behind it and things out in front of it like fox hunting or following cattle or more than most people do; dragging calves to the fire. Working in groups etc.

                            When someone asked Ray Hunt what was the most important part of horsemanship he said "zero to one" and then the person asked "Well, what do I do when I get to number 8, 9, 10? and he said, "You never discard number one, you take it with you." and by that he meant.......the basics need always be there for they are the foundation which everything else is built upon. (I am paraphrasing here)

                            It is the reason why Col. Von Ziegner wrote the book, THE BASICS (Ghaaaast!..... a German) and you will find in there, some of the same things I am speaking of about getting a horse out and familiar with using itself cross country/jumping small obstacles before one decides on the discipline that the horse has a talent for.

                            About the cowboy ways, I would much rather call them either Californio or Vaquero ways., Much can be done a lot faster because the horse does not feel a need to protect itself. These are OLD ways, basic prinicples that people have more or less forgotten until Tom and Bill Dorrance brought them to light. Tom read Beudant and learned about Baucher and saw similar threads woven throughout what he saw the old Vaqueros use, the men that worked on the ranches.

                            Most people today do not know the true meaning of flexing, bending, softening in the ribcage from the horses point of view. People still want to think in mechanical terms. "When I make the horse do this or that, put my leg here or there, use this rein or that, then this happens." Well, WHY? and what did the horse think of this? Afterall, we aren`t riding a piece of meat or a bicycle, there is a mind attached to it.

                            Swamp Yankee is going to hang me from my toenails for this
                            No I ain't!!! Some of the most exquisitely-made mouths I've ever had the privilege of riding were made by "cowboys." But they're not all created equal, any more than Dressidge riders are, and the horses can ALWAYS tell the "bolos from the bozos!"


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by re-runs View Post
                              "I used to think i was a good rider with a good foundation, but the more i learn, and the more time i spend with a *really* good trainer, the more i realize that i know not much."

                              Me too mbm..the saying goes; "The more I know, the more I know that I don`t know."

                              Swamp Yankee, do you remember if it was important to JCR that horses "track up" ?
                              Let me read a little on this tomorrow and see if/where he addresses that issue--pretty sure he does. BTW, sorry for so many of my posts in a row--there's surely a more "elegant" way to do it, but I'm not good with any technology much higher than a pitchfork! Will post tomorrow about this . . .


                              • Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                                Neck-reining RULES--any breed, any tack. Classicists, take a look at La Guerinere's riders--see anybody plow-handing?
                                Take a look at the shank and spurs.


                                • Originally posted by Pocket Pony View Post
                                  Teaching a horse to let go of his defenses *allows* all of those things to happen, and very easily, too.
                                  interesting. is this why we so rarely see/feel "all those things" in babies let alone trained horses?

                                  i am editing this to say: perhaps i am the one that didnt get it before now, but somehow i think that "the basics" as i am coming to know them - are not really being taught much - which is why i am having to learn them this far into the game (ie after over 40 years of riding!)

                                  editing once again to say: i am giving *total* props to my 4 yo *and* my trainer - both of which are helping me learn how to do this the right way (as much as i am able ha!)


                                  • Originally posted by re-runs View Post
                                    Swamp Yankee, do you remember if it was important to JCR that horses "track up" ?
                                    No need for memory. I have the article right here, titled "Tracking Up" from D&CT 11/96. How much quoting would infringe on the copywrite? He was certainly not for the kind of forward, described as a horse running after his balance "as a cat runs after his tail", which was demanded by the Germans.

                                    People, France and Germany are two different countries with two different cultures. One wouldn't compare French and German wines, French and German cars, or French and German fashion. Heck, France didn't even send anyone to compete in dressage at the last WEGS. You can contrast and compare the 2 riding styles, but they are intrinsically different as are the German and French nationalities.
                                    What I''m wondering, will a British school emerge in the future.


                                    • Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                                      ... mezair (canter on the spot) ...
                                      Ah, so that was what my mare was doing while throwing a temper tantrum this past Saturday.

                                      I'm curious as to how this method would deal with a misbehaving horse. Maybe not misbehaving per se, but acting out or up because they want to do X and the rider says, "No, we're going to do Y." I had this very same experience, complete with the mezair and other, less "classical high school" movements that would put a rodeo horse to shame.

                                      Since this thread started, I have been trying to incorporate some of the teachings into my own riding. I consider myself a fan of the French method, but a student of the German; my current trainer, however, would be considered French, though I am unfortunately unable to take lessons from her due to a lack of job security. My mare (G-line Hanoverian, sire is Gambrinus) has had an interesting history, and naturally puts her chin to her chest, using it as an evasion, too (her breeder said she would run around the pasture like that as a foal); she was mainly ridden in draw reins with a whip on each side. She is sensitive, marish, an alpha on the ground, but under saddle she looks for communication, seeks it out, and will not just give me what I ask for if I'm not correct. She is a mirror of my body, which comes in REALLY handy because I am crooked in two different directions--left shoulder is forward, right hip is curled in--and when my body isn't right she won't be either.

                                      We've done a few baby jaw mobilizations on the ground, and I've started riding with my noseband looser--haven't put the bit down just yet, though. She can and will go off of seat and leg alone, and too much hand will make her curl. I also have a tendency to overuse my hands, take and take and take and not give on the inside rein. And my mare is an inside rein ADDICT! So trying to go a different route is interesting and challenging for the both of us, but we like it so far!

                                      Anyway, Saturday was our first ride after a 6 week ordeal with an abscess. I wanted it to be light walk-trot, just get her using herself again and go forward (which she has no issue with, she's got a LOT of go!). She wasn't off or lame, she was eager to work, and after trotting on both reins and some figures we took a walk break. It then got interesting, because as I gathered my reins back, she was anticipating canter, and began to canter when I asked for trot. It ended up blowing up: we had cantering in place, bucking, crow hopping, exploding forward, headshaking from trying to grab the bit and run, sucking back behind my leg so when I asked her for forward she could explode into canter, etc. For the most part, I tried to sit quietly through it, push her forward into trot from the walk, but ended up with some pretty short reins because she was so STRONG, and when I gave some rein so I wouldn't have what felt like a stranglehold on the reins, she'd take advantage and try and take off. And it was both directions; her weak direction is tracking right so not only was she acting crazy she was off balance, too. And the only time my butt actually left the saddle was in her bad direction--but I never truly felt unseated or that I was in danger of flying through the air. Otherwise, I rode through it all, sat through the crazies, and for the first time in a VERY VERY VERY long time, actually felt like I knew how to ride, did not want to curl up into the fetal position while in the saddle, and was never scared. I wasn't even shaken up after we finally ended on a good note; with my history of confidence issues, that is huge!!!

                                      So, for the "too long;didn't read" crowd, my question boils down to ... what would a French-trained rider do in a crazy situation like that? How does the French method address this type of behavior?
                                      RIP my beautiful Lola, ????–August 29, 2014


                                      • mbm, I'm not sure I understand your question. Are you asking that we rarely see horses properly step under their bodies with the inside hind, track up, move forward, etc., and if it is because horses still carry defenses?

                                        I can obviously only speak from my experience, and if this thread had been going on a month ago, I wouldn't have the experience to fall back on. I took my mustang to a proper cowgirl (he was started by someone with not a lot of experience who got him only as far as he needed to go to be a pack horse) since I couldn't get past his bracing and defenses via the dressage training alone. We've had TWO lessons in one month (every other week). What does she work on with him? Stepping under his body, "disengaging" the hind end (stepping across with the inside hind to one degree or another depending on the exercise), moving forward, softening in his body and eye, accepting contact. These are things that IMHO everybody wants; it doesn't matter who puts it on a horse if the result is a horse who is soft, supple, forward, happy, relaxed, etc.

                                        I will tell you that after these two sessions I have had THE BEST RIDES EVER on my horse. Ever. Like, I'm like, WOW, OMG, I didn't know he could feel this way. Forward, swinging through the back, easily into my hand, suspension in the trot, supple. I took him to a busy boarding barn this weekend to get him off my property and experience new things. When I was hand walking him in the arena before I got on, I could tell I was getting looks, like maybe he didn't belong in a dressage saddle, or maybe a sneer here or there. When I got on and rode, I got multiple compliments on what a nice mover he is. I truly attribute such a quick change in his way of going to the new training he is doing.

                                        The whole purpose of this training was to take him to someone who could help me work through his defenses, help him let his guard down, help me help him let me into his body (wow, did that even make sense?). I did not seek this person out to make him a better mover, to increase his suspension, to feel like he has a bigger stride, or anything like that. All of those wonderful and fabulous things were a result of the training, not the purpose of the training.

                                        Did that make sense and answer your question?
                                        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                                        • FANTASTIC thread!

                                          And just what the doctor ordered!
                                          I am the one that posted the lets talk contact thread.
                                          Our problem is not contact it is FORWARD! And there are so many fantastic posts which hit the nail on the head with the problems with the horse I am riding. He has no desire to go forward, He does not think forward he thinks outside the ring. Looks for distractions etc.
                                          He is quite forward on the lunge, but like someone else said he does not relate to it in the saddle.
                                          I have started just this weekend Lot's of poles on the ground a few fan set ups, trying to get him to use his body, Sttretch forward and down, What I am finding very odd is that as many times as we have gone over poles, he is sloppy, tick them or plain old steps on them time after time.
                                          I am eating up this thread. So informative and constructive.
                                          Reruns... This I believe is this horses true problem, his owner has alays been slightly afraid of forward.
                                          Many times the problem with a horse that the rider finds is not forward is a horse that the rider says "go" but his body energy says "don`t go" because he is actually afraid of the horse getting fast. People have braces just like horses do and you can`t fool a horse.
                                          Last edited by Sannois; Sep. 18, 2012, 07:54 AM. Reason: Adding quote