Archive for October, 2011

Who invented the Training Scale?

So who invented the dadgum Dressage Training Scale, anyway? Where did this pyramid of concepts come from?

Equestrian literary academics note that the Training Scale originated in turn-of-the-20th century Germany, and was first recorded in a 1912 German army training manual, refined in later editions, and adopted and incorporated into the German National Federation’s guidelines for riding and driving. Now the Training Scale is the foundation of every national federation’s educational endeavors.

As Dressage becomes increasingly popular around the globe, wee (sic!) practitioners continue to attempt to demystify it. For decades, Americans have grappled with understanding of German words that have no English equivalents, often blaming our misunderstandings on having read ‘bad translations.’ When verbalizing my own understanding of the Training Scale, I find it easiest to rely on definitions published by horsemen far more learned than myself, whom I will quote ad infinitum when, eventually, I flesh out the outline of my own fascinations.

Subconsciously contemplating that timeline-less project an early morn surfing the net, it dawned on me who really invented the Training Scale. Striding out before my very eyes came THE inventor of the Training Scale, exemplified here in the first 45 seconds of this excerpt from “Welcome to Flyinge,” youtubed by FlyingeStud (SWE):

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Even an untrained eye will recognize the intrinsic beauty of this spectacle. Rhythm, elasticity, unconstraint, balance, self-carriage, an ebullient desire to move forward, engagement, throughness, straightness, and elevation of motion are the expression of celebration of the day by this three week old foal.

This is the ideal to which is compared, 10 or 15 years later, a mature riding horse when it is judged in the sporting rectangle. This is the everyday Olympic ideal to which we compare our progress in the process of conserving each horse’s spirit and developing each horse’s innate locomotive abilities and qualities.

It is our horses who invented the Training Scale, and who teach it to us.

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1.Music, Anyone? Raising Craft to Art

There are not many horses in the world whose sponsors will commission arrangement or original composition of music for Freestyle performance. Anticipating the spectacular extravaganza that will be London 2012, I am as much interested in the preparation process  as the eventual performances. So I wanted to embed these vimeos, which I found on Eurodressage recently. The  first is about making of a score by Cees Slings for Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven and Favourit (SWE) owned by Antonia Axel Johnson

It’s Broadway! Part I -Trailer from Cees Slings on Vimeo.

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And the second is  MA Rath visualizing his ride on Sterntaler UNICEF to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue arranged by Cees Slings.

Visualising a freestyle from Cees Slings on Vimeo.

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Of course, in the realm of Dressage for the rest of us, we’re not hiring Cees Slings to accompany us. But we are resourceful, are we not? Let our lives mimic art, eh?  Strike up the band!

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