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French School Peeps - A questioning mind asks a few questions...

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  • French School Peeps - A questioning mind asks a few questions...

    I have been reading a bit of the French School postings and find them very interesting. I know that much of what is discussed is based on Racinet and his teachings.

    I am now reading "The Twisted Truths Of Modern Dressage" by Phillippe Karl and find that of interest as well.

    Be assured I am not trying to bash the "French School".

    What I would like to know is, why is it that the Germans are so successful in the jumping & dressage - high level classes?
    Have the french at any time in history placed as high?

    Yes, I realize there is much discussion concerning the difference between "classical dressage" and "modern dressage"...

  • #2
    Well, I dunno. I think the SRS, Saumur, Portuguese schools, and all the other folks like Branderup etc, are doing things that are a higher level of horsemanship than the "competitive" riders.

    Competition is a set of tests that are doable by a certain level of sportsman.

    For example, outside of 'regular' competition, like your average NYC or London 'marathon,' you have the uber-nutzo-crazy 100 mile Death Valley races, and the extreme survival competition/races.

    I see the GP as shown at the FEI levels as comparable to a 26 mile marathon. There are enough world class athletes at that level to make it a serious competition BUT the 26 mile marathon is doable by the average homo sapien also.

    GP dressage is doable by the average homo sapien, but not at the elite level. And there are enough elite level sportsmen to make a real competition out of it.

    I don't think there are enough people doing the harder High School dressage maneuvers to make a sport out of it. Not enough horses/people/trainers doing capriole, courbette, etc, to see it in the Olympics.

    There also aren't enough athletes doing the 100 mile Death Valley race to make it an Olympic type of sport.

    So maybe the style of training that wins at the Olympics favors the German system, but I don't think that system represents the equestrian arts at their highest form.

    The level of equitation that is presented in the FEI work is a balance between difficulty and popularity. So I think maybe the Germans win the popularity contest, yes. But so do McDonalds and Walmart.
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    • #3
      I dont have a legitimate answer for the question, meaning one that I can back up with facts. I can say tho that IME people are attracted to the french method/school of dressage seem to be less competitive and overall, interested in competing in general. That is just my experience, but it could have something to do with it.
      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
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      • #4
        Does anyone have any video of Racinet riding that they can post?
        I think it would beneficial when speaking of his method.
        Thanks

        Comment


        • #5
          There is actually a really nice article on Eurodressage regarding this subject (it talks about Catherine Henriquets experience with Orphee her Olympic Mount): http://www.eurodressage.com/equestri...rse-grand-prix
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          • #6
            Why are you asking this question? Relevance?
            “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
            ? Albert Einstein

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
              Well, I dunno. I think the SRS, Saumur, Portuguese schools, and all the other folks like Branderup etc, are doing things that are a higher level of horsemanship than the "competitive" riders.

              Competition is a set of tests that are doable by a certain level of sportsman.

              For example, outside of 'regular' competition, like your average NYC or London 'marathon,' you have the uber-nutzo-crazy 100 mile Death Valley races, and the extreme survival competition/races.

              I see the GP as shown at the FEI levels as comparable to a 26 mile marathon. There are enough world class athletes at that level to make it a serious competition BUT the 26 mile marathon is doable by the average homo sapien also.

              GP dressage is doable by the average homo sapien, but not at the elite level. And there are enough elite level sportsmen to make a real competition out of it.

              I don't think there are enough people doing the harder High School dressage maneuvers to make a sport out of it. Not enough horses/people/trainers doing capriole, courbette, etc, to see it in the Olympics.

              There also aren't enough athletes doing the 100 mile Death Valley race to make it an Olympic type of sport.

              So maybe the style of training that wins at the Olympics favors the German system, but I don't think that system represents the equestrian arts at their highest form.

              The level of equitation that is presented in the FEI work is a balance between difficulty and popularity. So I think maybe the Germans win the popularity contest, yes. But so do McDonalds and Walmart.
              A huge piece of that equation is also the German (& Dutch, Danish, Swedish) breeding program which produces the idealized type of horse suitable for the demands of competition dressage--rideability, huge amplitude, elasticity and, in particular, the ability to produce an enormous, ground-covering extension without excitability.

              The type of horse who is the preferred instrument for Baroque equitation is a different species--historically the Iberian type; later, in Baucher's time down through General Decarpentry, the English thoroughbred. Either is a far more expressive, sensitive, volatile horse who is less inclined to the demands of accuracy that sacrifices brilliance.

              Baroque or French School utilizes each individual horse's gifts as he can offer them, without demanding that every horse be able to necessarily execute every movement. Therefore, an Andalusian who collects effortlessly might be easily schooled to an exceptionally brilliant passage, piaffe, mezair and levade, while a TB might never achieve the same level of those, but may well show magnificent flying changes at every stride.

              The Germanic system is one of standardization to which the horse must conform, and he is utilized for the benefit of the art in competition; in the French way, the art is utilized for the benefit and artistic development of the horse without the imprimatur of competition. The horse himself is the "judge" who matters most--and his success is the measure of his rider's self-abnegation in giving him the tact and the time he needs to develop his true powers. Because there is little to no outside validation, no prizes, no rankings, no acclaim, this riding will always attract relatively few.

              Mr. Racinet primarily promoted the Deuxieme Maniere (2nd Manner) of Francois Baucher, one aspect of French School which until his time had become quite arcane, being extant primarily among a mere handful of masters such as Nuno Oliveira. These teachings are in large measure esoteric--they can be shown to you, but only if you have achieved a certain combination of independent seat, equestrian tact, theoretical understanding and just plain "feel" will they work for you. There is magic there, in these deceptively simple ways, but you must be willing to experiment with an open mind, and accept your own shortcomings with honesty. Here's an introduction:

              http://shop.xenophonpress.com/Gettin...t-DVD-6217.htm

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              • #8
                Eboshi, yeah, I'd say that's another good way of putting it. And since the 'art schools' seek to develop the individual horse instead of seeking to 'win' at something, they are essentially seeking to find how high each horse can climb. As opposed to the competitive folks, who seek to find how many horses they can produce that all climb the same mountain.

                I will add, that M Baucher's post chandelier school, which I think describes it most accurately, is based on a "now that I don't have the strength, what can I do" mindset. "Feel" is emphasized because muscle power, in the rider, was lost.

                How wonderful is horsemanship that you can, possibly, excel at your discipline AFTER your body has started to fail you. Hard to pull off if you are a downhill skier or an en pointe ballerina. And this is why the 'French' folks can, I think, be forgiven for having some (cough cough) airs about their methods.

                The French school is closer to mastery of the mind (literally, neurology of the brain) than the muscles. The competition 'school' is closer to a mastery of muscle. Power lifting versus crafting a bonsai tree. Though I think the competitive folks have, lately, gone a tad too far down the muscle bound road.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Isabeau Z Solace View Post
                  The French school is closer to mastery of the mind (literally, neurology of the brain) than the muscles.
                  Ah! And apparently so cerebral that no one can provide any videos of anyone actually riding. Does Le Cadre Noir count?

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                  • #10
                    Most of the airs of the French are just hot airs .

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      any good trainer - no matter the "school" will work with what they have in front of them and change the program to fit the horse.

                      the scales of training are basic structure and within that structure there is endless variation.

                      i think the real answer is that over time the french dressage has gone away from what would win in competition - and also fwiw, the SRS is more close to the german system than french - and any SRS rider i have ever seen rides beautifully and of course classically

                      they can also win in competition.

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                      • #12
                        Early on it was the swedes and the french which won, and until the 80s there was only (relative) amateurs who showed fei. (And the directives were written by a committee headed by the frenchman, Decarpentry.) And for the most part the riders were officers, they rode very tb/trak types, very much like the horses of today (except not so large), it was only after the war that the wb were heavier (what was left). Now they have returned to a lighter type, quick twitch type muscles (which should be ridden in greater lightness).

                        Racinet has his take on bsm, but there are many others who do so as well.

                        Phillippe Karl book just takes the elements of the training scale (which he thinks in the german way are more for judging per se), and discusses them in a different manner. But really nothing he says (as far as balance/etc)is much different that the school of Berlin (where all the top odg's came from).

                        The srs is said to best embody the methods of de la Guierinere, and they for the most part try to hold close to them.

                        The germans have a LOT of $$ behind the breeding/selling/showing of their horses, and they are VERY organized in the (progressive) education of riders (on a lunge/theoretical tests/etc.

                        Modern dressage seems to use one kind of balance/exercises for training, and another for showing. And the element of lightness (riding on a whisper of aids) seems to have definately changed.

                        Google the four ecoles/paris and look at some of the riders from srs/portugal/spain/france. A very interesting element is that the cadre horses jump as well as do airs (w/o s.r.).
                        I.D.E.A. yoda

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                        • #13
                          honestly - i just think there are different schools - and they are well - different. not better or worse - just different.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Approaching something as an art is a different paradigm than working on producing something that will score well, at least that how it seems based on show results (I'm talking about recent past).

                            To me, in the recent past, what is rewarded by judges many times is robotic, and lots of toe-flicking resulting from breeding seems to be considered "expression." But then this sets the tone for training goals for anyone intending to show.

                            Art is not necessarily precise. To my mind, it is quite a quest to ride like an artist, allow one's horse to be expressive, and maintain precision to make each movement as demanded for a test.

                            And, I think it's difficult these days to ascribe a methodology to a nation in it's current state. The systems attributed historically to different nations are cross-pollinated per globalization, etc.

                            And, the difference between competition among riders v. competition with oneself (that is, to be better than I was yesterday, rather than better than my neighbor). Each likely attracts a different crowd overall.
                            Fear is the rocket sauce.
                            Jack Black

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                            • #15
                              It would be fascinating to know how sound the horses produced through various schools (career longevity) are relative to one another. I would love to know the ages of some of the SRS horses--perhaps even how long their careers span.

                              On another note I think this is particularly important:
                              French School utilizes each individual horse's gifts as he can offer them, without demanding that every horse be able to necessarily execute every movement.
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                              • #16
                                I love this:

                                The Germanic system is one of standardization to which the horse must conform, and he is utilized for the benefit of the art in competition; in the French way, the art is utilized for the benefit and artistic development of the horse without the imprimatur of competition. The horse himself is the "judge" who matters most--and his success is the measure of his rider's self-abnegation in giving him the tact and the time he needs to develop his true powers. Because there is little to no outside validation, no prizes, no rankings, no acclaim, this riding will always attract relatively few.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  The problem I am having with some of these discussions is the asumption that the basic German school of riding uses a "driving seat", which is anything but the truth.

                                  Now, modern competitive dressage, well, I am not sure where some of that came from, but I can assure you that if I rode like that in front of the German instructors that I have ridden under, they would've yanked me off the friggin' horse.

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                                  • #18
                                    "Why are you asking this question? Relevance?"

                                    I thought I explained why but I'll repeat myself.

                                    If we are going to discuss his methods I feel that a video of him riding and using those methods would be beneficial. At least for me. Thanks

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      The reason I am posting the question is because of a talk I had with a friend.

                                      Again I am reading Phillippe Karl's book, as noted in my first post.

                                      If, in the book he shows photos of true piaffes and then show examples of "top level" piaffs, why is it that the incorrect one is awarded praise?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by kaluha2 View Post
                                        "Relevance?"
                                        I thought I explained why but I'll repeat myself.

                                        If we are going to discuss his methods I feel that a video of him riding and using those methods would be beneficial. At least for me. Thanks
                                        Ditto. And if not Him, than anyone .... for more than a brief clip because, the truth is, one - if one is of an empirical nature- starts to wonder or has doubts. Reading lofty, idealistic, inspirational literature is all very well, and probably has its place in the grand scheme of things - on snowy, cold evenings cozied up to the fireplace, but the discourse is about riding not writing. And, hey man, can you dig how earthy, grounded and physical the horse is? I mean, we're talking about riding a horse, not a unicorn or a Pegasus. So yeah, as the French would say, "Où est le boeuf ?", because one has had those rides experienced as sublime until the video showed blah.

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