[“The Stables Viewed from the Forecourt of the Château de Versailles,” by Jean Baptiste Martin 1688, Grande Ecurie on the left of the two stables]
‘One must agree that if the true principles of the art had not been maintained, with a certain austerity in the royal riding school in Versailles, if they had not been constantly practiced, someday one might be hard pressed to find a way to renew the principles.’ ~ Charles Prosper Claude Chevalier le Vaillant de Saint Denis (1753-1790) Ecuyer du Roi
Wandering through this lovely, pale gold city, up the broad tree-lined Avenue de Paris toward the Château de Versailles, would seduce all but the most hardened traveler to dream of times long past. As the Château’s magnificent edifice comes into view and its buildings seem to go on and on, one can’t help but remember that, designed and created as it was by the finest thinkers and artists of their time to perpetuate knowledge and beauty, the highest cultural values embodied in European civilization at the time were showcased at the Château de Versailles.
In the same way the Manège du Grande Ecurie du Château de Versailles (the Riding School of the Great Stable) came to influence the fine equitation of its age. The stately Grande Ecurie, built with soaring, harmonious proportion and exquisite ornamentation, was constructed in 1683 by Louis XIV to celebrate his passion for elaborate equestrian performances, and to stable the most superb horses in the world.
[© by Kip Mistral 2012. First published in The PRE Horse magazine, Issue III 2012. Feature image by Peter Müller Peter. Painting by PETER PAUl. RUBENS / * The Triumph of the Church (1628)* / Flemish School / © Prado Museum, Madrid.]
It seems that Peter Müller Peter does nothing in a small way. Even his award-winning, oversize, magnificent book “Caballos Con Arte” (Horses with Art) is the coffee-table book to end all coffee-table books.
An internationally acclaimed advertising photographer, Peter has executed major campaigns for a wide-ranging list of clients including Coca-Cola, De Beers, Smirnoff, Credit Suisse, Rolex, Spain’s National Tourist Board, Iberia Airlines and more. His photographs have been featured in magazines from Vogue to Playboy. Though honored with numerous awards in his career, Peter admits that his biggest passion is horses. Peter describes the inspiration for his book and artistic masterpiece Caballos Con Arte (Horses with Art) which won Spain’s esteemed Gold Lux Award. The stunning photographic series now forms a touring exhibition entitled Pureblood Reflections which has already traveled Spain to Istanbul, Qatar and recently, Switzerland.
[“30 Years With Master Nuno Oliveira: Correspondence, Photographs, and Notes” Chronicled by Michel Henriquet. Translated by Hilda Nelson. Published by Xenophon Press LLC 2011]
This remarkable book will be of great interest to anyone following the work of Master Nuno Oliveira, its author French écuyer Michel Henriquet, and the subjects of classical training of the highest level and equitation history in general.
[First published in the U.S.A. in 1990 by Trafalgar Square Publishing, North Pomfret, Vermont, Printed in Great Britain, reissued 2001. © Sylvia Loch 1990. Out of print. 11″ x 8 7/8″ x 1″, 229 high quality glossy pages.]
I am a classicist; I have a deep reverence for important messages that the past has left us. And why do I review out-of-print resources? They can be hard to find, sometimes almost impossible. But I believe they are worth looking for and waiting for (and paying for!) because many 20th books are irreplaceable in the canon of classical equestrian literature…their authors are closer to the “source” than modern ones. What is the “source”? To me, the “source” in classical equitation is represented by a point or place in time where ideals were strong and represented by truly masterful practitioners of the art.
(© Kip Mistral 2022. Image “Time Escapes Me” by Betsy C. Knapp used with permission of the artist.)
At the beginning of this New Year 2022, many of us are busy making New Year’s resolutions and other forms of road maps for our goals and what we otherwise want to accomplish during the coming year.
Note I said busy. Because being busy is the opposite of taking time.
When I look around it seems that the majority of people are engaged in busyness, activities that include a horse, or their horse, and they have a more or less proscriptive approach to the inter-relationship. The popular model is that the horse must always be submissive no matter what.
What I really like to see is people just simply spending companionable time with their horse, to deepen the bond between them.