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  • Reflections on the Art of Horsemanship – H. J. Heyer – Preface…to see …

    Reflections on the Art of Horsemanship – H. J. Heyer – Preface…to see and understand the horse from within before trying to improve on it
  • It Was Raven Black…

    It Was Raven Black…
  • “The Horse Rampant” by Captain James Joseph Pearce (1947) and The Comprehensive Nature …

    “The Horse Rampant” by Captain James Joseph Pearce (1947) and The Comprehensive Nature of Traditional Horse Training
  • To Become a Great Rider, You Must First Become the Horse

    To Become a Great Rider, You Must First Become the Horse
  • What We Can Give…

    What We Can Give…
  • The Lively Equestrian Art of Eugène-Louis Lami

    The Lively Equestrian Art of Eugène-Louis Lami

Reflections on the Art of Horsemanship – H. J. Heyer – Preface…to see and understand the horse from within before trying to improve on it

Reflections on the Art of Horsemanship – H. J. Heyer – Preface…to see and understand the horse from within before trying to improve on it

Text extracted from “Reflections on the Art of Horsemanship” by H. J. Heyer © 1968 J. A. Allen & Company Ltd, London. “H. J. Heyer has, in his time, ridden a wide variety of horses both in Europe and in other parts of the world. He regards riding as a very personal affair between horse and rider.” Cover art by Miss Catherine Edkins.

This book is not supposed to be another riding manual–they are a dozen to the dime, nor is it a work on the finer arts of riding. Any attempt to improve on Xenophon, de la Guérinière or Seunig would only, at its best, produce a pointless parallel.

I am, on these pages, simply trying to express a few thoughts of my own on the subject of horsemanship.

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It Was Raven Black…

It Was Raven Black…

(Poem by Virgil Suárez, Professor Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida. Image detail from painting that may be by John Rowe.)

It was raven black, of shiny mane, and the people
said the floods brought him in, burst
through the heavy aspen doors like a cloud
of rubber tire black smoke, into the church
on the hill, kicking over the pews, froth in its mouth,

like the anger of a thousand years, as it paced up
and down the aisles, some demon-like sentinel,
whatever got in its path, it muzzled over, like the votive
candle holders, the flower pedestals, even the frail
confessionals. The priest called the sheriff, and soon all

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“The Horse Rampant” by Captain James Joseph Pearce (1947) and The Comprehensive Nature of Traditional Horse Training

“The Horse Rampant” by Captain James Joseph Pearce (1947) and The Comprehensive Nature of Traditional Horse Training

(“THE HORSE RAMPANT: How to Learn to Train and Ride, A New and Simple Method for the Education and Training of Horses and Riders” by Captain James J. Pearce, Formerly Equitation Instructor: Cavalry School and Weedon School of Equitation. London, Robert Hale Limited, 1947)

Rampant: rearing upon the hind legs with forelegs extended.

When I first saw the title of this book, immediately my curiosity was engaged. The cover image of the rider raising his horse in levade suggested that the reader would learn advanced training methodology. However, the subtitle (A New and Simple Method for the Education and Training) confused the issue for me, since learning to ride and train a levade is anything but simple.  My curiosity was amply rewarded when the battered old book arrived and I read the author’s Preface. It alone was a real eye opener for me.

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To Become a Great Rider, You Must First Become the Horse

To Become a Great Rider, You Must First Become the Horse

(Horsewoman with a Red Horse, Marc Chagall)

“To write a great book, you must first become the book.” ~ Naval Ravikant

When I read this quote this morning, immediately my horse-loving mind turned it around into something about the horse, because really, what Ravikant said is true of anything.  So this is a great thought, to me…”To become a great rider, you must first become the horse.”

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What We Can Give…

What We Can Give…

(© 2021 Kip Mistral. Image by Langer Zugel 1930-1950)

Classical riding was and is an aristocratic pursuit, both literally and figuratively. Someone who understands this knows that we can’t add water and stir to make a schoolmaster horse…it takes many years of patient work and experience-building to create an equine artist, and some horses definitely are that. It is a journey for the horse as well as for us humans. Smart horses understand the importance of their education and they will employ what they learn for their own purposes. Horses are incredibly generous when treated with kindness, tact and appreciation. And love! And the more they learn, the more they can and will offer their rider. “Do you want this? This? Or this? I have all these things to give!”

Something classical is something so fabulous, that it never gets old. Beautiful riding happens when the horse can be proud and not tyrannized. It doesn’t matter what discipline it is. Now you’re talking classical!