If you haven't had the pleasure to watch this breathtaking horse and rider, Edward Gal and Totilas, here's a link with 3 videos of their Gran Prix Special, Musical Kur, and warm-up at Aachen where the pair set world record scores. Talk about harmony, accord, and a horse that loves his job! The site is Equine Ink at Networked Blogs. Enjoy!!

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I ask for a gait with my legs (alternating, when the barrel is pushing the leg out, using a tap), if I need the rein it is very light (and the same side as the leg aid, at the same time as the leg.) The horses with a gait in them will "change gears", if the horse does not have a gait they just feel a little puzzled and sort of drop contact, and I quit asking them. I know that holding the head in is valid in the system of gaited horsemanship, I've just found that the horses remain calm when I do it my way. Besides my PF mare I've gaited Arabs and part-Arabs (mostly fox trot.)

I think that the organizers are trying to keep the present way of doing dressage going is because it excites the audiences. Full stadiums--what a dream for a horse show! I am sure that the judges hear the gasps and applause as the horses fling their forelegs out, especially if the horse has white stockings, and if not the white bandages seem to do. It would take a true old-timey HORSEMAN to ignore the audience. Too bad most of the old cavalry men are dead. At least they kept the shows to some type of standard concerning proper riding and horsemanship. Every type of show class has been going downhill since these people died off, not just the dressage.
My own "life" experience with PF includes very prized original Columbian PF. I have observed, that if the horses are allowed to have their neck free, and even encouraged to relax (takes some persuasion), they break from their gait into trocha. Being well trained however, all it takes is to bring them into slightly excited state and/or suggest short-necking by raising hands. They automatically raise their neck and go ta-ta-ta-ta-ta...
Since these animals also breed, I can observe their offspring. 4-beat when they are born, trotting as 3-year olds. That trot is impossibly uncomfrotable for a rider, so they are quickly taught to gait, using several tools that are available:

1. weight (heavy riders on small horses have a profound effect on flattening the gait)
2. excited state
3. inability to use neck to offset the provoked inbalance.

Note, these tools are no longer needed once the gaited horse is fully trained.

I also realized, that "gaited people" will strongly oppose this concept, and that I opened a bag of wild bees :-)

To my credit, I worked as a stable hand in a gaited arab stable, featuring some 40 + horses in training. I know how it is done :-(
>Too bad most of the old cavalry men are dead.

They are, but they wrote books. These books are dirt cheap, and a few people read them. These books will not get people what they want, and may even bring them into sharp conflicts with their trainers. All it takes is a simple demand of a clinician to overbend the horse during circling exercise. So, how you gone train, show, enjoy the sport community, if you ever go down the path of these old gentelmen? I find it impossible.
As I told my teacher, you can't expect to teach proper horsemanship and win all the time at shows. I find this sad, but this is where fashions will take you.
I've read a lot of the old cavalry men. I am sure this shows!
Another thought. How was it in those old days? Besides the fame, how much financial benefit was there? Surely, they were also professionals = soldiers who climbed the ladder of promotion, but could they be also corrupted by the marriage between the breeders, the commerce and the show business? Or was it just plain ego, that played a possible role in those days? How much money was involved in the sport relative to today?
Back in the 1800s debate raged between Baucher, d'Aure and Aubert. Baucher lost a big military contract in 1845 probably due to the Duke of Nemours. Pride, money, and ego have always been on the line and although horse shows such as we are familiar with are a recent thing, all aspects of riding, breeding, training have always been important to people. Even Xenophon comments on it.
Though looking at photographs in those old books, surely the pedigree must not have been the main thing on their mind. Certainly not in dressage. When we prize dressage animals for a million dollar (Poetin) today, and we have a chain of stallions to be shown by using professionals, we are seeing an industry with very big and powerful fingers ?
Over and over again I've read in books by cavalrymen that they had to compete internationally on second rate horses, as the BEST horses all ended up in private hands, however bad the private people were as riders. The cavalrymen were limited to the horses owned by the cavalry and horse artilleries, and we all know how much governments like spending money on frivolities like top-notch internationally competitive horses!
Desirable qualities in appearance and types of gaits have changed over the years (centuries!). Even thirty years ago the appearance of dressage horses was different. If you think pedigree is more important now than even a century ago, you have only to look to the different breeds like the Arab and Thoroughbred. Most people can't trace their ancestors back as far! The fate of nations has rested on the backs of horses, whether they be the tough little horses of Genghis Khan's warriors, the big draft breeds used for farming and transportation of goods, those who pulled artillery, carried knights, or the cavalry troops. They've been status symbols for kings and rulers. Horses, for as long as they have been domesticated, have been big business. People thought the horse would disappear with the advent of the steam engine and automobile, but they're entrenched in who we are despite the fact that they are less important today than they were a century ago.
Susan, I think we are talking about different times. What Jackie and I are talking about is the history of dressage as a sport, which has not started till 1900. The sport as a dressage evolved actually from eventing, it was a truly military test, and in some countries, the eventing is still called "military". Those cavalry men used dressage not for an aristocratic parade and a circus-like performance, but as a mean for something actually useful. Dressage was a tool, not a goal. And perhaps that's why their books read so well .... so humane :-) Today, we are witnessing a breeding parade for the King of Money and the return to those times before dressage was a sport.

BTW, I have never believed high-airs in Vienna riding school were actually battle moves. Perhaps I watched too many movies depicting horse battles, and it just doesn't look too me historically credible. But that's me ... always on the sceptical side :-)

> In the medival times, dressage was being developed into a sport.

what do you mean by "sport"?

I think of Caprilli, and how terrible must have been dressage before 1900, that one men and a handful of followers were able to shake the riding world from the bottom up in all disciplines. Stuff like this does not happen during happy times. It only happens during some kind of stress in values. We often don't realize, that change of this magnitude would not be possible today, since the eqestrainism is not as bad (despite our rumbling) as it was prior 1900. And dressage? It must have been truly horrible, especially classical one. All one has to do is to visit hippology museums in Europe and study tools and pictures. I have been in the museum in Vienna, and there is a section that depicts history of spanish riding school as a total disregard to animal welfare. It really was not until last century, when we begun accepting more humane practices, and yes, it came together with the development of the modern sport.

As far as people like Baucher, I really don't know why men like this should be even discussed in the subject of dressage today. He has been perhaps the most famous of all, but he was a product of wide cultural practices. It is my hope, that all this would be put to sleep and only evoked as a historical curiosity. Also realizing, that everything after him is relatively humane, but not necesarily healthy for the horse either. After all, they just could not abandon curbs and pillars, could they?

When we talk about "classical dressage" today, what we really mean is a contrast to "anky's dressage". Yet we don't realize, that modern (I call it anky) dressage has borrowed lots of Baucherism, and also lots of "viennism".

You speak highly of Vienna riding school. Do you know, Allan, that those stallions work in a headset the moment they come to the school, and auxiliary reins are a norm? Do you know Mrs. Kottas, who has been with the school since 1945? He s retired now, but he runs clinics all over Europe, and his teaching is based on this headset, and a "pessoa-like" longe lining. He is used to it.

Perhaps reality differs from the books?
And so you know, what I am talking about. Mrs. Kottas, the chief rider in Vienna till 2002, teaching what he knows the best:



The whole album is here:

Is this the the road to the "classical"? If yes, thank you very much, I will be proud of my non-classical dressage, where there is no room for pushing a horse into formats.


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