I just read Jean-Claude Racinet's "Falling for Fallacies".  My mind is blown, this is the dressage I thought ALL dressage was back in my innocent youth, light handed with the willing cooperation of the horse.  As a Forward Seat rider I never got into learning competition dressage because I could never see a way to go from the free forward movement to full collection that did not BREAK the flow of the horse, until I started reading Nuno Oliveira, and now Racinet.   I can now see a way to go from full Forward Seat to full collection without compromising my horsie moral code.

If you've read Racinet what are your thoughts on his methods?

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I'm a long time student of JCR. I miss him terribly. It was such a loss to the community when he passed away last year. If you are new to understanding JCR's methods, IMHO there are a few main ideologies that you have to accept first.
1) Balance before movement - When in doubt always stop and rebalance; never continue forward in any movement if the horse is not in balance and light
2) Separation of the aids - Never use your hands and legs together. Period. No exceptions.
3) The flexion of the jaw is the key to the entire horse.
4) The power of your hand is in the thumb and the index finger. Squeeze, do not pull. Make sure you have excellent reflexes to release, or as JC used to shout at me all the time "GIVE"!

Go read Another Horsemanship. It has all the exercises you need to get yourself started.
Thanks for your comment. I have been working for YEARS to develop the lightness of my hands within the Forward Seat system, and I am interested in how other systems develop lightness WITHOUT having the horse behind the bit. Even though my hands have problems from my MS the horses I ride reach out confidently with their lower jaws and tongues to establish contact, and when my hands get too bad for this I either ride on loose reins or go bitless. On the days my hands are really good I even get some jaw flexions, ones that the horses give me voluntarily. I do not think I am good enough yet to demand these flexions, but I love them as freely given gifts from the horse.
I am going to delay my saving for a new saddle and get the rest of JCR's books, at least the 3 that Xenephon press have for sale.
What a beautiful "picture" of riding I got from this book. Ah, aren't ideals wonderful things to aim for when the picture is of cooperation and not coercion?
those are his only 3, at least published in english. there is a loose network of jc students floating around a bit. depending on where you are I might know of one in your area you could connect with. maybe they have clinic videos or something they could show you.

as far as the saddle goes, riding bareback for a while (if you can do it with your back) is really the best way.
Heather do you know any JCR students in the Atlanta area?
I did not read the book. But I wonder, how much damage is going to be done by following no.3

"3) The flexion of the jaw is the key to the entire horse."

I guees, I am out of luck to ride according to Racinet, if I am a BB user :-)
Not necessarily, Eva.
When I use bitless bridles (cross-under, light rider, jumping cavesson), I get flexions of the jaw without the bit. There is no way I can demand a flexion of the jaw, but if I do my hand aid at the proper moment and immediately release it the horse often rewards me with a flexion of the jaw. If I do not do the hand aid at the proper moment &/or do not release it immediately I do not get jaw flexions in bitless bridles. The ladies on the ground usually say that the horse is licking her lips, and that the horse's top line stretches out and relaxes.
A horse licking its lips is for me a bad thing. I cannot avoid it all the time, but I try very hard not to upset the horse that much. Particularly when I practice very collected movements, like piaffe, or tempi, the mouth will get very active, and yes - it is a sign of upset and I know, I need to take a break.

You see, some time ago, people firmly believed, that wet mouth is a good thing. Not so much anymore. Now, people switch to moving lips as a good thing.

People who just start with BBs, they need to know, that they will not see salivation under any normal circumstances, but they will see a lot of lips moving instead under the same circumstances. It belongs to the same category.

The horse ideally SHOULD have a mobile jaw and a wet mouth, just as humans should.  The proper (self carriage) causes the matric muscles to pulse on the parotid (saliva) glands which causes the hore to softly chew and swallow.  IF the horse has a dry mouth, that is very problematic.  If they have an excessively wet mouth (stands of saliva) or too much foam (which) is the sign of a busy tongue), that is problematic.  The horse should have a small amount of white foam dripping toward the chin (which also shows the horse is lightly in front of the vertical and SEEKING the hand.  The mouth should NOT get more active/anxious in piaffe/etc.  Moving lips tends to happen in nervous horses (esp in mares).

Have to say I do not understand how this new form of replys work (vs the old topic lists).

About the flexion in the jaw, it is really more about MOBILITY of the jaw, and (LATERAL) flexion at the atlas axis while being very upright...which is about as far from RK as one can get.  It is that which allows the ability to instantly request and allow the horse to go fdo (stretch). 

I remember quite clearly going to some top level dressage competitions and after watching some of the upper level tests saying "If I have to make my horse go like that I never want to ride at that level."

And then I see the odd pair in wonderful harmony - I want to ride like that!
I have his (I believe)first book, Another Horsemanship which I enjoy. Suggest, since you're in the mood :) that your take a look at any of Charles De Kunffy's books, too. He's wonderfully organized and articulate. The Handbook of Riding Essentials by Francois Lemaire de Ruffeu is a small, clear guide to classical application of the aids. I wouldn't be surprised if it's out of print, as I got it quite a number of years ago. Max Gahwyler's books are excellent and address very precisely the issue of balance and the mechanics of movement (he's also an entertaining writer!). Take a look at Henrik Johansen's website, Positive Riding. He's a Dane who lives and works in Sweden, and comes to the US about 3 times a year to do clinics. He's a fabulous teacher. Horses love him--so do his students!
I have read his books and find it very interesting comparing to those of Philippe Karl and Nuno Olivera.

Unfortunatley I can only take lessons by PK as the other two are dead now.

I wonder whether our contemporary riders will be able to reach a comparable level. It looks to me that most people are only looking for faster and most spectacular effects.


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