Breaking 80: Steffen Peters and Legalos 92

Steffen Peters and Legalos 92 broke the 80 mark in Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2015 Toronto Pan-Am Games

Worth A Watch

Maybe a timepiece is an appropriate award for scores above 80 in international competition.

But what the curator means by “Worth A Watch” is that there is much to be learned by watching, critically, such a performance as this 5* Grand Prix test by Desperados and Christina Broring-Sprehe at 2015 CDIO Hagen.

If not for a few mis-steps, performance exhibiting these qualities may have scored even a few points higher.

Conceptualizing Contact

The curator intentionally makes this entry without still or video images, in order that a reader may imagine connecting the sensations individually involved in effecting contact when astride.

“Obtaining and maintaining soft contact- that is contact with the leg, seat and, reins is a considerably more complicated concept than any addressed thus far by this course. It entails, on the part of the rider, an awareness of his calves and –through his boot and saddle flap– a “feel” of the side of the horse. Simultaneously, the rider must be aware of the inside of his thigh, his seat bones, and lower back, and– through the saddle flap, the seat of the saddle, and the pad underneath it– “feel” the horse’s back. Also simultaneously, the rider must be aware of his own shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers, and –through his gloves, reins, and bit– the horse’s neck and head to get a “feel” of the horse’s mouth. It is all to be connected.

Actually, it is more complicated than that, or vastly simpler, once you understand that what we really want to do is feel and then control the horse’s individual hind legs, and, thereby controlling it’s back and shoulders. Which is why it is more apt to say that we “put the horse in front of the rider’s leg” than to say that we “put the horse on the bit” as an indication of a more intense, more energized degree of “riding on contact”.

Now, if all of this is complicated for a rider, who is, after all, a human being possessed of intelligence superior to the horse which, partner though it is becoming, is still an animal, then learning to go “on contact” is immensely more difficult for a horse. The horse must have that identical set of awarenesses, albeit in reverse, and must submit its animal will to its “feel” of, i.e. stimulation by, the rider. So be sympathetic, and question yourself if things are not going well.

More specifically, recheck the correctness of your overall position, and your position’s ability to fluidly follow and absorb the motion of the horse, without, in any way, interfering with the balancing gestures of the as yet undeveloped equine athlete. To do this, it is wise for the trainer, whether novice or vastly experienced, to develop or
refurbish his own seat and “feel” for contact by riding schooled horses alternately with green prospects. Whether riding a green or schooled horse, the mechanics of putting the horse “on contact” are the same. “

3.Bibliography: V.S. Littauer, Field School

3.Bibliography: V.S. Littauer, Field School

    Schooling Your Horse : a Simple Up-To-date Method of Schooling Hunters, Jumpers, and Hacks

by Vladimir S. Littauer

This is the first non-fiction book I read about horses, 55! years ago. I still chortle when I remember that the bookmobile librarian phoned my mother to ask permission to check the book to me because it was an ADULT book. I was captivated by the images of Barnaby Bright, The Captain himself astride. I could see Barnaby Bright’s muscles ripple, and feel the joy and power of unity in motion. I studied, made notes, practiced.

Littauer, a Russian cavalry officer, emigrated to the US and should be credited with founding the American system of training working and showring hunters and tournament jumpers, and riding in the forward seat. Dressage riders will find that all the elements of the Training Scale are addressed, without fanfare or cerebral machination. His texts, for which people who knew them credit his anthropologist wife, Mary, are just plain lucid. And his program for schooling unfolds understandably to the mind of the horse and for the progression of the horse’s physical development. Especially for Thoroughbreds, whose minds tend to learn faster than their bodies are able to develop. Anyone who brings horses through field school, events through novice level, or foxhunts will benefit from this book.

    Commonsense Horsemanship

by Vladimir S. Littauer

Published first in 1951, my copy is the 1963 Second Edition, hot off the presses when it arrived via the bookmobile and came to occupy my mind and strum my essence.

I had already read Schooling Your Horse, and was practicing on the neighbors ponies and horses. I had never taken a riding lesson. I handled and rode unsupervised, trained the ponies the way I trained the family G. Sheps. I loved, petted and groomed them, admonished them when they misbehaved, rewarded lavishly when they behaved well, especially when they offered new, desirable behavior. Safety was not an issue; I learned to keep my head and feet out of harm’s way. I loved the horses, they loved me. What could go wrong? Why worry?

But I was more than receptive to knowledgeable help. I was ravenously hungry for it, when along came this seven course meal. After describing the nature of the horse, and it’s motion, leading to why to sit as he prescribes, Littauer narrates how to sit a horse, thence to control it, and school it. Next to teach others to ride, and to teach others to school their own horses. Craft understood. Field School accomplished. Foundation of the horses’ futures laid.

Although there are photos, diagrams, and sketches, the Littauers’ words were and are worth a gazillion pictures. Every time I pluck Commonsense from my shelf, I find new passages of illumination.

Holding it now, I see that the very first note I made inside it’s cover refers to this passage:
(PAGE 218)”In order to be a horseman he must forget himself, identify himself with the horse, feel that it is he, himself who has changed leads at the canter or taken the jump; only then will there be that complete union and harmony which produces true art.”

Alois Podhajsky’s Thoroughbred, Nero xx

This inspiring article appeared in January 2,2015.
With compliments to author for her research and storytelling, it is curated herein:

Approaching Perfection?

It remains incredible that any horse and rider partnership can actually attain perfection, but several panels of the most qualified judges in the world have reduced their opinions to numbers and scored this pair, Valegro and Charlotte Dujardin consistently in the 90s during the current cycle of championships.

Here are Valegro and Dujardin at London’s 2014 Olympia performing the GP musical freestyle:

Young horse quality

From Australia to Russia…a young horse of high quality, known as Dante,

changed sponsorship through auction in Germany December 2014.


We shall watch for progress in his development.


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