Archive for January, 2012

2012 Winter Digest: To be one in motion with a horse……

Among the presenters at the 2011 Global Dressage Forum was Alizee Froment, CDI Grand Prix competitor and Chef of the French Pony Dressage Team, who discussed and demonstrated bitless riding.

Having gone on record that I recommend testing all the way through Grand Prix in a snaffle bit at US national meets, as is done in Great Britain,  I’ve also wondered about a separate…might it be called “Masters?” …division in which horses are tested, only at Prix St George and above, in a bitless headcollar. I actually do not object to bits, or bits and bridoons. I simply think that riders seats and tact would improve, and the intrinsic qualities of our horses’ motion would be enhanced, if the bridoon were not added, ever. And that riders would be able to achieve a quality of contact surpassing contact through a bit by riding with bitless head-collars. Because riders would get, from bitless riding, feedback from the motion of their horses that would improve their seats and tact. (I do not consider mechanical hackamores or bosals or hinged cavessons to be bitless headcollars.)

So I was frustrated that I did not find a transcript of  the discussion of bitless riding or a film of Alizee Froment’s demonstration at the GDF.

Only to be delighted to receive this video in New Year’s greetings from a German DressageUnderground participant.

Which caused me to surf a bit and find a video of the same horse doing the same exercises bitless but under saddle.

And a video of the same horse and rider combination being tested under rules three years prior.

I have very much enjoyed comparing the three videos and although I am administering gymnastic exercises with saddles and snaffles this winter, I think my own seat and tact may have notched up from watching these films.

2. Music, anyone? Raising Craft to Art

Thanks to Cees Slings, we are able to see the process he uses to arrange music and choreograph Musical Kur. In conjunction with the article 1.Music, anyone? Raising Craft to Art, posted herein, and Mr. Slings narrative, the progress unfurls.


4.Bibliography: Klaus Balkenhol

“Most alleged training ‘innovations’ aren’t really new but were actually dismissed as useless centuries ago.”

Klaus Balkenhol, per Schoffman, Britta, Klaus Balkenhol, The Man and His Training Methods, 2007, Trafalgar Square, p.44.

I was committed to giving field school instruction the summer of ’92, and did not attend, but only read about, the Barcelona Olympics.  So while preparing this article, I was thrilled to find a November 2011 upload of Klaus Balkenhol and Goldstern 1992 Barcelona Olympics GP Special Test, from which I have intentionally not removed the audio commentation, which I believe to be the voices of Cameron Williams and Lucinda Green.

But I did accept assignments to cover the 1994 WEG denHagen for  equestrian print media, and saw all three of Goldstern’s tests from the press box, watching through binoculars rather than any of the many closed circuit television screens with which I was surrounded.

If, on that Thursday evening of the GP Kur, the applause meter had determined the winner, Goldstern was  Individual Gold. When the jury’s scores were announced, others in the press box, far more frequent and educated observers of the international scene than I, were raising their eyebrows, winking,  clearing their throats, or bowing their heads, to communicate their reactions to each other.

Two years later, at the 1996 Olympics, I again saw Balkenhol’s and Goldstern’s tests, and thrilled at their dance to Ravel’s Bolero. I hope that a video of that performance will eventually surface. ‘Til then, I will cherish vivid memory of their piaffe pirouette to that undeniably driving, climactic rhythm. Phew!

And recall that after each of those six rides, I left  Zuiderpark or Georgia International Horse Park, eyes lifted upward, silently pleading, “Hire him!”

Soon before Britta Schoffman’s Klaus Balkenhol, The Man and His Training Methods, 2007, Trafalgar Square came out, the USET did hire Balkenhol to coach and chef US Dressage riders. We Americans are much better horsemen for his intercession.

While reading this book again last summer, I took a LOT of notes. <br/>my favorite quote,from page 44:   “Most alleged training ‘innovations’ aren’t really new but were actually dismissed as useless centuries ago.”

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