Schooling Your Horse :  a Simple Up-To-date Method of Schooling Hunters, Jumpers, and HacksSchooling 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, 50 ! 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 HorsemanshipCommonsense 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.”

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auto donation
December 29th, 2011 at 08:01 Edit

auto donation good stuff – where can i go to find out more about this?


Christopher Hyams
January 10th, 2012 at 21:53 Edit

My suggestion is that you request Vladmir S. Littauer’s Commonsense Horsemanshipfrom Inter-Library Loan through your local library. And then if you want to study and practice, buy a copy online. And if you want to discuss it, or passages from it, write to me again. I know there are other Littaurites reading DressageUnderground, so others may be willing to discuss it with us. And the horses you ride will teach you as you go!


Jackie Cochran
January 11th, 2012 at 15:43 Edit

As a Forward Seat Littauerite I would love discussing things about the system. I am very interested in how you combine Littauer with Dressage, do you follow Fillis like Littauer did?
I can’t jump, can’t gallop, and just ride in the ring on other people’s horses, that is all I can do with MS. I kept with the Forward Seat because it is the MOST SECURE seat. I sure can’t do dressage, bad balance etc..

Morgan Selke
January 9th, 2012 at 02:51 Edit

You are an inspiration. I follow few blogs and often return to yours.


Jackie Cochran
January 10th, 2012 at 11:01 Edit

I started off with “Common Sense Horsemanship”, “Schooling Your Horse” and “Horseman’s Progress”. The last two years I finally got all of Littauer’s earlier books and I have found MUCH of worth in them, everything from “Riding Forward” onwards. I now have all his books.
I consider Littauer among the GREAT equestrian authors. His books influence me every time I ride a horse, and his books are the first ones I go to when I run into difficulties. Every time I try anything new, mostly from dressage, I select the techniques that will not interfere with my Forward Riding, Forward Schooling and Forward Control. As a result the horses I ride go forward freely and are quite obedient though I am handicapped from my MS with bad balance and hand tremors.