Classical Dressage Notebook

Sue Morris

"To be an equestrian in the classical sense is
not just to be a rider. It is a position in life"
Charles de Kunffy

Nothing presented in these pages is new or revolutionary (although it may appear to be if you've never come across these concepts before!) It's not "Sue Morris' System Of Riding". It is a system stretching back two and a half thousand years to Xenophon, who remarked that: "a man should not sit upon a horse as though he were on a chair, but as though he were standing upright with his legs apart."

This legacy has been handed down the centuries through such Masters as Pluvinel, the Duke of Newcastle, de la Guérinière (upon whose works the SRS base their riding), Seidler, Seeger, Steinbrecht, Seunig and the twentieth century Master Nuno Oliveira. (There are, of course, other Masters. I am not implying anything by not including them here; their names will appear within these pages).

The education of a rider in the classical tradition has been likened to a journey through a mythical Dark Forest in search of an Enchanted Castle hidden in a clearing in the centre. There are many falsely marked paths that beckon with promises of short cuts and easy routes. Some riders are tempted to try out these detours only to find they lead nowhere and have to backtrack to the original path. The journey is not just one of learning to ride better; it is one of self-discovery. It forces the rider to take stock of who they are as a person and for some that can be the hardest part of all.

There are no quick fixes or magic pieces of tack that make your work easier. What you do need is an open mind and the humbleness to be able to admit that even after (x) years of riding you don't know anywhere near as much as you, perhaps, thought you did.

So I now invite you to enter the Forest and start your search for the Enchanted Castle, bearing in mind as you go that...

The principles of classical riding can be laid down, but there is no definite rule as to how to put them into practice.

"If the art were not so difficult we would have plenty of good riders and excellently ridden horses, but as it is the art requires, in addition to everything else, character traits that are not combined in everyone: inexhaustible patience, firm perseverance under stress, courage combined with quiet alertness. If the seed is present only a true, deep love for the horse can develop these character traits to the height that alone will lead to the goal."

Gustav Steinbrecht

Copyright © Sue Morris 1998-2011

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