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French School "Workshop!"

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  • French School "Workshop!"

    This French School thread is intended as a technique-focused information source for those riders looking for practical applications of the theories of Francois Baucher (1796-1873) as practiced by the lineage of ecuyers of the Cadre Noir de Saumur and transmitted to me directly in person by the late Jean-Claude Racinet from 1992 through 2000.

    Let's keep this thread tightly focused on "using" the method and reporting your results, good or otherwise, and "troubleshooting" your experiences. Please confine debate of the relative merits of various riding systems (German, Western, Vienna School, etc.) as well as posts of primarily historical or biographical interest to the other, ongoing French School thread previously running.

    DISCLAIMER: Riding cannot be taught over the Internet, and neither myself nor COTH will be held liable for the use, misuse, or failure of techniques which by definition require individualized judgement, a high level of study, training and interpretation. My impressions and experiences may well be an incomplete understanding or at odds with what Jean-Claude taught others, or developed later until his death in 2009. I was given a "verbal license" to teach his complete method but all mistakes and misinterpretations are expressly my own. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!

    Quotes from M. Racinet's groundbreaking series of articles, which appeared in Dressage & Combined Training (D&CT) magazine No's. 74, 75, 78, and his book Racinet Explains Baucher, published by Xenophon Press, will be italicized and references fully cited. They are quoted here for educational purposes only, for the sole private use of COTH forum riders who find them of interest. Neither I nor anyone reading here may use them for any other purpose whatsoever.


    FIRST PRINCIPLES:

    (1) BALANCE BEFORE MOVEMENT!

    QUOTE:

    "As concerns the function of locomotion (movement), a horse's anatomy presents two different sets of muscles. The first set assures the locomotion as such. But it could not work without the other, which keeps the "carcass" together and provides the necessary "fulcrums."

    The goal of dressage, it's "raison d'etre," is the enhancement of the gaits of a horse. So to train a dressage horse is, basically, to perfect and fortify the second muscular set, the "fulcrum," in order to allow it to give the other set its optimal chances of "expression."
    [I]
    The old--"classical" (La Guerinere's) system, as well as the contemporary FEI-adopted one, works this set #2 (the fulcrum) indirectly by putting to work system #1 (locomotion) in a series of exercises articulated in a carefully studied progression.

    Constraint is not absent from this progression . . .

    The purpose of the progression is to carefully break down the global constraint, each new movement bringing its share of acceptable constraint. . . Hence the notion of "working" gaits.

    Baucherism, by contrast, tries to work set #2 directly. . . Baucher seeks, in his own words, to "separate force from movement" . . . He will then introduce movement with an eyedropper, drop by drop . . .
    --Jean-Claude Racinet, Baucherism: Philosophy and Proceedings, D & CT, No. 75, December 1992.


    My comment: The "fulcrum" he refers to is the horse's skeletal muscles--what we would think of as the "core," his attitude of balance as expressed in the articulations of the entire top line. We first set these in the balance we want--a collected balance--then let the horse go forward ONLY so far as he can maintain the original balance we set. For a beginner, that'll be a "counted walk." For an old hand, a canter is just as easy. The main principle is the horse stays BETWEEN the legs and the hand without bearing against either with "actions of weight or force." The moment the horse responds, the aid that elicited the response must cease, to tell him he's "right" by reward. Burn this in your brain NOW:

    Stimulus (your aid).
    Response (horse yields to pressure)
    Reward (you yield by ceasing the aid in return).

    The yielding of the hand is not throwing away or even slipping your reins; it can be as slight as relaxing or opening your fingers. Fix your hands in one spot and use a squeezing, not a pulling, motion of the fingers alone. When the horse yields to this pressure, you do likewise, and immediately! If you must use your legs to keep him from backing, open your hands while you send him forward. He must have an open door SOMEWHERE.
    Do not pay the slightest attention to "headset." He can put his nose anywhere he likes for right now while we get him thinking through this separation and moderation of the aids. Flexion will be the next lesson! DO NOT HANG ON THE BIT!!!

    EXERCISE: The "Counted Walk." Be sure to separate your leg and hand aids. Please refer to JCR's book Another Horsemanship, available from Xenophon Press, for the exact way to teach this to your horse. That's "the book" for this "course!"

    DESIRED RESULT: The horse is collected (rassembler) at the halt, then allowed to walk forward on command, one "counted," cadenced step at a time, staying between your leg and hand without bearing. Practice this exercise no more than a couple of minutes a day; but after doing so, the rest of your ride go "legs without hands, hands without legs" and DO NOT push onto the bit. If need be, bring the horse to the walk and try again. Report back here how it's working for you!

    Now go play, everybody!

  • #2
    I am playing with the counted walk now with one of my ponies and appreciate your explaination of how to do it. I did it along time ago with a heavy, warmblood mare and it worked wonders for our work. She became stronger and began to carry herself.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well I have ordered the book. It's interesting for me because my new pony is an interesting type, and less than 30 days under saddle. Being a Arabian-Connemara cross means she is sensitive but lazy, super smart, and dealing with the typical high head and high croup of the Arabian blood. Very different than the horses I have most recently been used to.

      Can't wait to hear others experiences, and read the recommendations in the book.
      On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by Perfect Pony View Post
        Well I have ordered the book. It's interesting for me because my new pony is an interesting type, and less than 30 days under saddle. Being a Arabian-Connemara cross means she is sensitive but lazy, super smart, and dealing with the typical high head and high croup of the Arabian blood. Very different than the horses I have most recently been used to.

        Can't wait to hear others experiences, and read the recommendations in the book.
        She will be an AWESOME instrument for this kind of work!

        Comment


        • #5
          There seem to be more than one way of doing counted walk. Traditionally it was only used to repair walk which had become pace/lateral. The horse takes ONE step at a time, not a stride even and the horse MUST be upright. This is not something that anything but an educated rider should do. Now I often see it done as slow walk, but again, how many riders can FOLLOW THE BASCULE/telescoping of the gait necessary for it to allow for a better walk.

          For me there is GREAT downside to the idea of: Fix your hands in one spot and use a squeezing, not a pulling, motion of the fingers alone. When the horse yields to this pressure, you do likewise, and immediately! This too easily causes LONGITUDINAL FLEXION which must NOT happen as a first reaction to the hand because then the horse will shorten the neck rather/come to vertical. This too often creates false lightness, and in turn a hollowing back.

          More traditionally french is mobilize the jaw, then minimal lateral flexions, then more flexion which then leads to fdo. Any 'yielding to pressure' is CHEWING, then lateral flexion which then over time leads to degrees of longitudinal flexion. Misunderstanding of this concept is what leads so many viewers to dislike the results above imho.

          Let the games begin.
          I.D.E.A. yoda

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
            There seem to be more than one way of doing counted walk. Traditionally it was only used to repair walk which had become pace/lateral. The horse takes ONE step at a time, not a stride even and the horse MUST be upright. This is not something that anything but an educated rider should do. Now I often see it done as slow walk, but again, how many riders can FOLLOW THE BASCULE/telescoping of the gait necessary for it to allow for a better walk.

            For me there is GREAT downside to the idea of: Fix your hands in one spot and use a squeezing, not a pulling, motion of the fingers alone. When the horse yields to this pressure, you do likewise, and immediately! This too easily causes LONGITUDINAL FLEXION which must NOT happen as a first reaction to the hand because then the horse will shorten the neck rather/come to vertical. This too often creates false lightness, and in turn a hollowing back.

            More traditionally french is mobilize the jaw, then minimal lateral flexions, then more flexion which then leads to fdo. Any 'yielding to pressure' is CHEWING, then lateral flexion which then over time leads to degrees of longitudinal flexion. Misunderstanding of this concept is what leads so many viewers to dislike the results above imho.

            Let the games begin.
            YesYesYes! I'm taking baby-steps here. Flexions come next after experimenters just try separating their aids!

            Comment


            • #7
              fdo?
              “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
              ? Albert Einstein

              Comment


              • #8
                fdo=forward, down, out.

                this will be an interesting thread. thanks for starting it. i already see similarities to what i am learning, and it will be kinda cool to see what my trainer brings from the french school.... :-)

                also, if at some point we could talk about in hand work that would be swell - i am fascinated with it and do some basic stuff, but really would like to learn so that eventually i can teach my youngster piaffe in hand ...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well it becomes a slow walk because really it is a collected walk that is counted, and most have no idea how to keep a collected walk either from being non-pacey or too slow.

                  Upright is correct as well.

                  Most horse have to know how to do a full strided walk that is loose and the leg can be applied without tension. Otherwise once they start counted walk it will be counted jig and head everywhere or sucking back walk.

                  Some do volte to ge to that shorter rein introducing shorter steps and then only a few of counted walk.

                  If you just ride it front to back without having a horse in connection correctly it can become the count down instead
                  ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                  http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    How can you "fix your hands" in a walk when the very nature of the walk has the head and neck moving in relation to the body?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      hmmmm, I`ve always done the counted walk from the SEAT! I only back up the seat with the hands if need be but then it is very light.

                      Just slow the seat down and feel each step separately. EACH STEP, not each full stride.

                      A good way that I have learned to do it is, concentrate on one foot at a time(I always start out with the hind foot) when that foot hits the ground just tighten your seat a little and see if that slows the foot leaving the ground.

                      Digging out my D& CTs right now. Some of them are so old they look like they were written on papyrus , in only one color.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        To be honest, for those who haven't read JCR's ANOTHER HORSEMANSHIP, you are going to be asking a lot of questions that are covered there.

                        This book IS available, both new and used at various used booksellers.

                        Spectacular elevation of the withers, diagonalization of the gait [my italics], marked beat of the hind legs, and spontaneous flexions of the jaw are the four features that characterize a good counted walk.

                        What should be slowed, in a counted walk, is not so much the speed, as such, as the tempo. Once requested to go in a counted walk, some good horses extend spontaneously the gesture of their front legs; they then perform a school walk, one of the most beautiful gaits a horse can display.

                        As a rule, the more one slows a walk, the more this walk tends to diagonalize. However, the rule bears exceptions. When slowed down, some horses tend first to diagonalize their walk, but then, beyond a certain degree of showing, they lose the diagonalization and alter the gait. With these horses the slowing should not exceed this threshold, lest one deny to the counted walk all its educational value.

                        The exquisite balance of this exercise may be taken advantage of for teaching difficult movements such as side steps ("leg yielding"), shoulder-in, half-passes.
                        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
                          How can you "fix your hands" in a walk when the very nature of the walk has the head and neck moving in relation to the body?
                          You cannot, and should not, unless you want to ruin the walk.

                          Counted walk is not from the seat, it is from ALLOWING the walk, but not only in slow motion (which would be a slow motion progression), it is one step, one step, EACH leg choosing to move forward. The horse has to be high enough that it does not fall against the hand.

                          The tendency to jambette (use the forelegs) can only happen correctly when the walk is pure four beat.

                          And ideally one does not ask LY, but only exercises which entail bending (si/c.si/r/t)
                          I.D.E.A. yoda

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            "Counted walk is not from the seat, it is from ALLOWING the walk, but not only in slow motion (which would be a slow motion progression), it is one step, one step, EACH leg choosing to move forward. The horse has to be high enough that it does not fall against the hand."

                            Ok now I understand the difference.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                              How can you "fix your hands" in a walk when the very nature of the walk has the head and neck moving in relation to the body?
                              Since you are not holding a steady contact, there is no need to follow the "nodding" motion of the horse's head; and indeed in this move there certainly is none. You are only allowing one stride at a time, and these very short and cadenced and in release of both legs and hands.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                The very nature of walk/canter is that there IS bascule/telescoping within the gait. Albeit slow motion in counted walk. It is NOT one STRIDE at a time, it is one STEP at a time, a VERY different pursuit. There should NEVER be 'nodding' in w/c, which indicated fixed hands which prevents bascule/movement with the gait. The reins ARE held steadily (in effect keeping the bit still in the mouth because the hands are allowing the bascule. If they are in one place the horse will be forced to nod, and if they are looping (and the horse still bascules) they will become loose/tight which is not want we want either.
                                I.D.E.A. yoda

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
                                  Since you are not holding a steady contact, there is no need to follow the "nodding" motion of the horse's head; and indeed in this move there certainly is none. You are only allowing one stride at a time, and these very short and cadenced and in release of both legs and hands.
                                  Umm... sorry I'm having trouble with this ... So are you saying fix your hands and squeeze/release with your fingers as needed to get the response, or is it fix your hands for the moment of squeezing and then move your hands forward to open the door forward (because you aren't holding a steady contact)? Are we trying to get the feet to move 6" steps at a time or something? Because the head and neck have to move when the horse walks with a normal stride length - it's physics.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Fixing hands will almost always result in longitudinal flexion (before lateral flexion), or in truncation of the neck. Both are incorrect if we are following any part of a french tradition (tradition or bsm).
                                    I.D.E.A. yoda

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by RedHorses View Post
                                      Umm... sorry I'm having trouble with this ... So are you saying fix your hands and squeeze/release with your fingers as needed to get the response, or is it fix your hands for the moment of squeezing and then move your hands forward to open the door forward (because you aren't holding a steady contact)? Are we trying to get the feet to move 6" steps at a time or something? Because the head and neck have to move when the horse walks with a normal stride length - it's physics.
                                      Please see Post #12 above; that's a direct quote from Another Horsemanship. You need to read it!

                                      Stand your horse at the halt. Close your legs and ask him to move off on light bit contact. When he takes a step, open your fingers and cease the leg aid. Then close your fingers again to halt. Then open your fingers while aiding with the leg. Ever watch one of those funky "wedding marches" where the bride takes one slide-step at a time up the aisle? Like that! Don't overthink anything else--just go try it.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Recipe for precipitous flexion and tense backs imho. But then for me the hand fisted is not the halt either.
                                        I.D.E.A. yoda

                                        Comment

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