Posts tagged ‘Littauer’

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.”

2011 Autumn Digest: Kyra Kyrklund, Global Dressage Forum

12/3/11 I’ve never met Kyra Kyrklund. I’ve seen her ride only once…real time… in Stockholm Stadium, during her Grand Prix and Grand Prix Special tests at the 1990 World Equestrian Games. And I’ve read, and will read again, her book. I unabashedly admire her, and am forever grateful for having enlightened and stimulated me to pursue this craft. (My gushing reminiscence in post-script, following, will explain.)

So when I read of her presentation at the 2011 Global Dressage, I hung on her every word, as reported by Eurodressage’s Astrid Appel.

I’ve read, since, that Kyra spent her sixtieth birthday, not sunning herself on a beach, but questing onward, attending the Morning Training of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

As would I, if I could take the schoolmasters with me.

Gone surfing, I found this video of Kyra and then PSG accomplished Master 850, giving the impression of dancing around sparklers on a birthday beach. Happy Birthday to me!

Now, to reminisce:

I had ridden and studied dressage for already 30 years, seen US National Dressage tests, and World Championship dressage tests of Three Day Events here in the States and in England, and even ridden a confirmed GP horse as part of my ’87 Kentucky job. I was still not convinced of elite Dressage’s contribution to the preservation, much less enhancement, of the essential nature and nobility of The Horse. I was, and am, afterall, a Littauerite, ever aware of Littauer’s admonishment to beware of “charlatans” coming from abroad. But I had also read much of Podhajsky – who was utterly revered by my family and riding mentors – including his analysis of Olympic Dressage judging. And enlightened, spiritually elevated, enthused, by two mid 80’s performances of the Spanish Riding School in the St. Louis Arena.

So there I was in Stockholm for the first ever World Equestrian Games. To absorb all I could learn from the best of the best of all disciplines of the time. For Dressage, I was seated just to the right of, but many meters behind C.  I trained my binoculars on each Dressage contestant’s ride, and made copious notes in the margins of the WEG program between tests.

And learned a lot.

I remember coming away from the GP rides thinking “that black horse and Finnish rider could have captained a winning team.” (had Finland fielded a team)  And during the GP Special rides for individual medals, being impatient for Matador II and Kyra Kyrklund’s entry, elated by their performance, and disappointed that it was ever over. Resorting to coffee, I was satisfied and confident that the Jury’s scoring should have preferred the qualities of Matador’s motion, his exuberant expression, including evident delight in his own accomplishment, over the impressions of automation imposed by other riders’ determined accuracy of their horses’ tests.

Since my own awareness of youtube, I’ve been searching for a video of Matador at the 1990 WEG.  I haven’t found one.

Close as I can get is this record of Kyra Kyrklund and Matador breaking the barrier at the 1991 World Cup Final Kur:

So now

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