• Welcome to the Chronicle Forums.
    Please complete your profile. The forums and the rest of www.chronofhorse.com has single sign-in, so your log in information for one will automatically work for the other. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Chronicle of the Horse.



Forum rules and no-advertising policy

As a participant on this forum, it is your responsibility to know and follow our rules. Please read this message in its entirety.

Board Rules

1. You’re responsible for what you say.
As outlined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, The Chronicle of the Horse and its affiliates, as well Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd., the developers of vBulletin, are not legally responsible for statements made in the forums.

This is a public forum viewed by a wide spectrum of people, so please be mindful of what you say and who might be reading it—details of personal disputes are likely better handled privately. While posters are legally responsible for their statements, the moderators may in their discretion remove or edit posts that violate these rules. Users have the ability to modify or delete their own messages after posting, but administrators generally will not delete posts, threads or accounts upon request.

Outright inflammatory, vulgar, harassing, malicious or otherwise inappropriate statements and criminal charges unsubstantiated by a reputable news source or legal documentation will not be tolerated and will be dealt with at the discretion of the moderators.

2. Conversations in horse-related forums should be horse-related.
The forums are a wonderful source of information and support for members of the horse community. While it’s understandably tempting to share information or search for input on other topics upon which members might have a similar level of knowledge, members must maintain the focus on horses.

3. Keep conversations productive, on topic and civil.
Discussion and disagreement are inevitable and encouraged; personal insults, diatribes and sniping comments are unproductive and unacceptable. Whether a subject is light-hearted or serious, keep posts focused on the current topic and of general interest to other participants of that thread. Utilize the private message feature or personal email where appropriate to address side topics or personal issues not related to the topic at large.

4. No advertising in the discussion forums.
Posts in the discussion forums directly or indirectly advertising horses, jobs, items or services for sale or wanted will be removed at the discretion of the moderators. Use of the private messaging feature or email addresses obtained through users’ profiles for unsolicited advertising is not permitted.

Company representatives may participate in discussions and answer questions about their products or services, or suggest their products on recent threads if they fulfill the criteria of a query. False "testimonials" provided by company affiliates posing as general consumers are not appropriate, and self-promotion of sales, ad campaigns, etc. through the discussion forums is not allowed.

Paid advertising is available on our classifieds site and through the purchase of banner ads. The tightly monitored Giveaways forum permits free listings of genuinely free horses and items available or wanted (on a limited basis). Items offered for trade are not allowed.

Advertising Policy Specifics
When in doubt of whether something you want to post constitutes advertising, please contact a moderator privately in advance for further clarification. Refer to the following points for general guidelines:

Horses – Only general discussion about the buying, leasing, selling and pricing of horses is permitted. If the post contains, or links to, the type of specific information typically found in a sales or wanted ad, and it’s related to a horse for sale, regardless of who’s selling it, it doesn’t belong in the discussion forums.

Stallions – Board members may ask for suggestions on breeding stallion recommendations. Stallion owners may reply to such queries by suggesting their own stallions, only if their horse fits the specific criteria of the original poster. Excessive promotion of a stallion by its owner or related parties is not permitted and will be addressed at the discretion of the moderators.

Services – Members may use the forums to ask for general recommendations of trainers, barns, shippers, farriers, etc., and other members may answer those requests by suggesting themselves or their company, if their services fulfill the specific criteria of the original post. Members may not solicit other members for business if it is not in response to a direct, genuine query.

Products – While members may ask for general opinions and suggestions on equipment, trailers, trucks, etc., they may not list the specific attributes for which they are in the market, as such posts serve as wanted ads.

Event Announcements – Members may post one notification of an upcoming event that may be of interest to fellow members, if the original poster does not benefit financially from the event. Such threads may not be “bumped” excessively. Premium members may post their own notices in the Event Announcements forum.

Charities/Rescues – Announcements for charitable or fundraising events can only be made for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations. Special exceptions may be made, at the moderators’ discretion and direction, for board-related events or fundraising activities in extraordinary circumstances.

Occasional posts regarding horses available for adoption through IRS-registered horse rescue or placement programs are permitted in the appropriate forums, but these threads may be limited at the discretion of the moderators. Individuals may not advertise or make announcements for horses in need of rescue, placement or adoption unless the horse is available through a recognized rescue or placement agency or government-run entity or the thread fits the criteria for and is located in the Giveaways forum.

5. Do not post copyrighted photographs unless you have purchased that photo and have permission to do so.

6. Respect other members.
As members are often passionate about their beliefs and intentions can easily be misinterpreted in this type of environment, try to explore or resolve the inevitable disagreements that arise in the course of threads calmly and rationally.

If you see a post that you feel violates the rules of the board, please click the “alert” button (exclamation point inside of a triangle) in the bottom left corner of the post, which will alert ONLY the moderators to the post in question. They will then take whatever action, or no action, as deemed appropriate for the situation at their discretion. Do not air grievances regarding other posters or the moderators in the discussion forums.

Please be advised that adding another user to your “Ignore” list via your User Control Panel can be a useful tactic, which blocks posts and private messages by members whose commentary you’d rather avoid reading.

7. We have the right to reproduce statements made in the forums.
The Chronicle of the Horse may copy, quote, link to or otherwise reproduce posts, or portions of posts, in print or online for advertising or editorial purposes, if attributed to their original authors, and by posting in this forum, you hereby grant to The Chronicle of the Horse a perpetual, non-exclusive license under copyright and other rights, to do so.

8. We reserve the right to enforce and amend the rules.
The moderators may delete, edit, move or close any post or thread at any time, or refrain from doing any of the foregoing, in their discretion, and may suspend or revoke a user’s membership privileges at any time to maintain adherence to the rules and the general spirit of the forum. These rules may be amended at any time to address the current needs of the board.

Please see our full Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for more information.

Thanks for being a part of the COTH forums!

(Revised 1/26/16)
See more
See less

Spinoff: "French School!"

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Spinoff: "French School!"

    Spinoff thread started by request. Any questions you may have, I'll do my best to answer based on my experience as a student of Jean-Claude Racinet and contributor to his magazine Riding in Lightness throughout the mid-90's. No matter what kind of horse I'm riding, the principles are the same and I use them every day:

    Separation of the aids (hand without legs, legs without hand);

    Release of the aids (when the horse responds, aid ceases)

    Moderation of the aids (action and reaction in proportion)

    Optimization of orders (BALANCE is the key to everything)

    Resulting in:

    "Liberty on parole" aka self-carriage in collection.

    This is a very, VERY different way of riding than pushing onto the bit. Vaquero person from other thread will find it Old Home Week; many others may have their foundations rocked a bit. Any other partisans of this system, please feel free to chime in, contradict me, add to the discussion!

    I'll kick things off with Jean-Claude's famous statement: "All I need to make up a horse to GP are the two tools of La Guerinere and Baucher: Shoulder-in on 4 (!) tracks, and flexion of jaw and poll."

    Here we go . . . .
    Last edited by SwampYankee; Sep. 4, 2012, 10:23 PM.

  • #2
    The first book that I picked up when I started riding dressage in May was Another Horsemanship. Most of it just described the way I had been taught to ride from the beginning, by an eventer. One thing that simply did not work for my horse, though, was the idea that you should release slightly with the hands when asking for an upward transition. He needs MORE contact during an upward, not less. Does that mean he was trained "incorrectly?"


    • #3
      Almost all of those things are merely traditional training,especially the balance. And that issue can be called more the division of the two schools by some (ie balance before movement or balance through movement). But the truth is that most traditional schools just want balance. How to get there is always the discussion of horseman. The division of the aids is almost always a must because a horse cannot serve 'two masters', so one must proceed the other or the horse becomes blocked.

      The question is always what people meant traditionally by flexion of the jaw and poll (actually atlas/axis), because less and less people understand the important of MOBILIZATION of the jaw (not really flexion per se). And many think flexion of the atlas/axis is longitudinal rather than lateral.

      It is easy to misunderstand the degree of bend of asking for a s.i. on four tracks. Shoulder in on 4 tracks, that is a progression from the (eventual) use of voltes (6m), it is a progression of lateral flexibility/balance and axial rotation from 20m (shoulder fore on 2.5 tracks to 10m circle with s.i. on 3 tracks to 6-8m voltes with si on 4 tracks), it is not starting with si on 4 tracks. And further, if we are to follow from de la G, useing the exercises in combination and on circles (ie si to counter si and t to r).
      I.D.E.A. yoda


      • #4
        Swamp Yankee, thanks for starting this thread. As I mentioned on the other thread, I don't read much dressage theory as it makes me cross-eyed - what is the book you recommended, though?

        Could you give some examples of what you might do differently from another system of training? You mentioned working on each horse's strengths - could you give examples of different horses you've ridden and what you've been able to get out of them? How does this relate to the training scale - did he use it in conjunction with the principles you mentioned?

        Finally, are you aware of any videos on YouTube that might compare and contrast this style vs. another?

        Sorry for the million questions, I'm truly interested!
        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


        • #5
          While almost all those things may underlie "traditional training," very seldom are they taught overtly as principles the way Racinet did. Particularly the separation of hand and leg and the concept that the aid is given and then RELEASED when the horse responds, or at least moderated.

          These are VERY "traditional" concepts in behavioral science, but I've never met a riding or dressage instructor who taught them clearly as the basics of all equitation. If the rider/trainer is a natural, they do this by instinct, but few seem able to articulate the concepts as First Principles, if they're even consciously aware of what they're doing.

          The flexion and what tracks where and such, yeah, that's theory, in the eye of the beholder. Argue about it all you please.

          But the separation of the aids and release of the aids--those are simply the working principles of communication via negative reinforcement, IE, traditional training. It's too bad so few traditionally trained students actually ARE taught them up front. We'd have a lot more cooperative and calm horses if they were.
          Ring the bells that still can ring
          Forget your perfect offering
          There is a crack in everything
          That's how the light gets in.


          • #6
            I train with someone who is influenced heavily by the french school - so I am learning a mix of German and French. While we don't do flexions, we do practice lightness, release of aids once the horse responds, etc. we use school figures to produce the responses we want, etc.

            Its an interesting journey and very rewarding.


            • #7
              I am reading "Another Horsemanship" right now. Two things stand out to me and interest my brain; they are the counted walk, and the statement that Baucher said on his death bed to Racinet. He took his hand and said "always this, never this" and when he said never this, he pulled his hand to his chest, as in never pulling back on the reins. That is of course me paraphrasing ,not the way the exact way the statement actually read.


              • #8
                I've got a question, and I'd love to compare notes. I am trained in French classical and 16 months ago took on a horse (who I now own) that was trained German, but wrong, front to back. He was terrified of seeking contact in raised shape, and would hollow, and bulge the base of his neck when asked to activate the longitudinal axis and relax into contact.
                It took 12 months of work to establish the trust, correct muscling, and behavioral reprogramming to get this 99% gone. It only shows up now at the walk right after warm up, or in the canter when he's nervous.
                I'd love to get this last tidbit of his past washed away... Thoughts?
                chaque pas est fait ensemble


                • Original Poster

                  Have to go out and feed so I'm going to answer questions above in a single post:

                  Book we're discussing is, Another Horsemanship.

                  Mobilization of the jaw IS a key concept; it means that the horse is "yielding" to the rider's hand, relaxing his jaw in response to a half-halt or other signal. This is the antithesis of "leaning" or "hardening" his jaw to brace into the contact.

                  If you want to make an upward transition, you relax your hand contact ("open the door" forward) while closing your legs to urge the increased gait; I don't understand why you would want to increase hand pressure when you're asking the horse to go forward; as Racinet would say, that's like hanging onto the hand-brake at a green light while pushing the gas pedal! The entire point is to stop mixing the "go" and "stop" signals so the horse has clarity--and is not pushing into pain.

                  Those who mentioned that this is just good old-time basic training are RIGHT--I actually learned it from old Gordon Wright books as a junior back before anyone was calling it "dressage." Hunters were schooled this way up until the 1980's, and the method actually underlies the "American Jumping Style" as discussed by Morris and Steinkraus. That's because it was brought to this country by army officers at the Fort Riley Cavalry School who studied it extensively in France in the 1920's and '30's.

                  Counted walk is one of the most powerful tools for collection; a great place to practice it is at road-crossings while you're trail riding! Last post above with inverted horse you are re-schooling; that gets into flexion work and I'll talk about that later on--anyone else with opinions, jump in here!

                  I see there are others here who have really done their homework--welcome to the discussion! More later,


                  • #10
                    ..... and the concept that the aid is given and then RELEASED when the horse responds, or at least moderated.
                    Imho this is not altogether correct. The aids is given as an action, and the response/reaction is presumed. IF the rider waits for the reaction to reward the horse will end up with either a false flexion/lightness or hanging.

                    Certainly BFM was problematic (as pointed out by Seeger), and is reflected in dressage de jour. Luckily the chandelier fell on Baucher and he was transformed, and what we have today is BSM.

                    Interestingly enough Baucher was the first to codify equitation per se (for a french military application.

                    Many older germans did routinely do at least a couple of flexions, but the apprenticeship of many followers is too brief to note or learn them.

                    So, Petstore, what do you routinely do every day before mounting? Do you do the progressive reactions (demi arret/high and light; slight lateral flexions to mobilize the jaw; clear lateral flexions; and allow the later to then have the horse seek fdo/mobilizing the jaw to get fdo)? Do you do shoulder in in hand and then allow fdo? You have to be VERY careful that the horse is not too high in canter and starts to offer precipitous longitudinal flexion, in that case canter/walk would tend to lean. We need more specifics.
                    I.D.E.A. yoda


                    • #11
                      the idea of releasing the aids is done with any request to the horse... if you ask them to walk on ask then allow and stop aiding the millisecond the horse responds as you wish. On the opposite end we also ramp up the aids with whip as needed if horse is not responding in the manner we want so that we can then give and be lighter in aiding.

                      we also work on lighter and lighter aids and better and better response to them.

                      we also always work with goal of the horse seeking the bit with a lifted chest in light contact .....

                      merge this with the german system of forward and it is very interesting

                      of course i am just learning and still have a lot of baggage from my past that gets in the way of riding correctly! a big one was the common idea that you should not use your hands (which i believed!) that took a long time to eradicate in my riding.

                      anyway, there is more to dressage than crank and spank or front to back riding and i wish more folks had access to better trainers.
                      Last edited by mbm; Sep. 5, 2012, 12:58 PM.


                      • #12
                        Great discussion

                        Balance before forward makes more sense to me so I enjoy learning these methods.

                        However, where I see most issues is you dont have to use forward to balance in this method but the horse must still understand foward and be comfortable giving forward.

                        Secondly, the horse must be able to seek contact (reach/stretch) across the whole of the topline when asked.

                        Flexions are fine for that but only if they maintain the correct amount of stretch at all gaits.

                        What can give the french school connotations is horses behind the leg with a dropped chest being called classical/french because they are not forward or are on a draped rein.

                        Like MBM said its great to find a blend. I'm with a German trainer right now coming from a Dutch one who actually trained very French. In regular terms we are more forward now coming from balance and that to me is fine in progression. BUT we began with obedience aka the horse understanding and reacting to the aids forward and then being able to stretch immediately into the bridle and use the entire topline as soon as we had that we went to balance work. Toggle. Early half steps, play with piaffe, what have you.

                        You have to know where you are to know where you a going. Many trainers will do what is best for the horse in front of them rather than conform to a school but to each his own
                        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                          Hunters were schooled this way up until the 1980's, and the method actually underlies the "American Jumping Style" as discussed by Morris and Steinkraus.
                          This connection is interesting. Because of how much I've moved in my life, I've trained with such a patchwork quilt of french, german, neither, something in between, etc. trainers over the years, and I started as a hunter. I'm always trying to reconcile the things I liked from each trainer and style I've done, and the principles you outlined in your initial post feel very "comfortable" to me, for lack of a better word.


                          • #14
                            Forward is a condition which originates in balance. If the hindlegs are folded they allow the horse to be up/open (and visa versa), so the horse can CHOOSE to move rather than be coerced into it. Because of this the horse IS consistently seeking the hand/stretching over the top line, and the proof of this is that the horses will easily go fdo when asked to mobilize the jaw. The PURPOSE of flexions progressively is to first be high/light/chewing/fold hind legs, lateral flexible minutely to always allow address to mobility, greater lateral flexions to allow the progressive gaits to great(er) ease in getting fdo (for relaxation moments/swinging back).

                            The chest/frame compresses/curls only drops if the rider thinks they must wait for the horse to 'give to the bit'. Mobilizaiton of the jaw is NOT giving to the bit, and it must be our action/their reactions. Do NOT wait for a reaction, presume it, reward the change that will come. If the aid is not clear enough, repeat differently or to a different degree (hand aid lifted or opening momentarily, never holding nor backward). Loose reins are not a connection, they do nothing to sustain mobility/self carriage. That is later when the horse is 'held by the seat alone' (hence equitation is ALWAYS important).

                            The interesting part is that all schools which place collection,lightness,activity as a valued element stick to the same ideals, just with little differences (srs/carde noir/portuguese/spanish because they are so closely related over time).
                            I.D.E.A. yoda


                            • #15
                              another thing i have learned over time (i am slow, i know) that talking about riding and actually riding are different....

                              nowadays, i rarely read theory now i want to SEE theory in action then i want to DO it myself.... much better way for me to learn


                              • #16
                                btw forward is also one of the critical things that allows the horse to be moldable and handy. No forward and you cant even get school work done correctly.

                                so in my mind forward comes first. not running, but forward movement...


                                • #17
                                  "Balance before forward".

                                  I had the opportunity to ride briefly for a trainer who is classical. I came to her having done a great deal of riding and a decent amount of dressage, and riding at another dressage barn with a BNT, and she blew my mind. My horse wasn't compatible with her, but holy crap I learned so much riding from her. I wish I could figure out a way to ride with her even though we parted poorly because of my horse.

                                  But I digress. Her horses are light, straight and balanced. The first time she told me to hold my breath to downward transition I did so with a great deal of cynicism but wow! We spent alot of time on the lunge -did I mention how straight her horses are? I'd never experienced that on the lunge.

                                  I found out how crooked I was and was working very hard to become correct on her old schoolmaster. It has changed my way of thinking. I want to excel, but I want to be correct. So I've gone from planning the previous year to aiming for a first level debut on Tempi out of Dark Horse (that was my year's goal -I wasn't ready yet) to walk trot on my bareback horse trying to firm up my foundation -balance. Because I've come to believe in that -balance before forward.

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


                                  • #18
                                    "Vaquero person from other thread will find it Old Home Week; many others may have their foundations rocked a bit."

                                    I am thoroughly enjoying this thread. Thanks for starting it.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                                      Great discussion

                                      Balance before forward makes more sense to me so I enjoy learning these methods. ...

                                      You have to know where you are to know where you a going. Many trainers will do what is best for the horse in front of them rather than conform to a school but to each his own
                                      Amen. I understand the intellectual need to discuss German vs French and the differences in training. But you still have to ride the horse. And they're all individuals.

                                      Originally posted by mbm View Post
                                      btw forward is also one of the critical things that allows the horse to be moldable and handy. No forward and you cant even get school work done correctly.

                                      so in my mind forward comes first. not running, but forward movement...
                                      *ding-ding* IMO, you can't do anything -- French, German, classical, whatever -- if you have no forward energy to work with.

                                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                                      I had the opportunity to ride briefly for a trainer who is classical.
                                      Can someone tell me what this means? I see this term used a lot. Is having horses that are "light, straight and balanced" the only requirement? Lots of longe line work in lessons? Trainer doesn't compete?

                                      Enlighten me, please.
                                      "... if you think i'm MAD, today, of all days,
                                      the best day in ten years,
                                      you are SORELY MISTAKEN, MY LITTLE ANCHOVY."


                                      • #20
                                        Petstorejunkie, I sent you a PM about your website . . . unrelated to this discussion.
                                        "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran