(“The Two Horse Act,” color lithograph originally published in 1874 by Gibson & Co, Cincinnati)
I had to laugh when I wanted a feature image for this post and this amusing Victorian circus act image that I saved some time ago floated up to the top of my extensive gallery of artwork.
Everything about this image is fascinating. The audience as a group oddly seems to be either looking in front of the “two horse act” or behind it. Yet each person’s individualistic face and his or her details from headwear to clothing is drawn carefully. The mustachioed rider understandably has a preoccupied expression, balanced atop two horses as he is, guiding them (on loose reins, I might add!) as they run at frenetic speed in a small ring, and at the same time holding out a perky lass with golden ringlets who stands with her right foot on his manly thigh…with her left ankle extended out of sight.
(© 2020 Kip Mistral. Images and excerpts used with permission of the publisher Xenophon Press.)
“The horse must always feel comfortable in all equestrian activities. This is how we show him our love and respect.”
I read books about classical training and riding techniques all the time (and have even co-authored one), but I find “Dressage Principles and Techniques” by renowned Portuguese classical dressage trainer Major Miguel Tavora, published by Xenophon Press in 2018, to be extraordinary.
It is extraordinary because this author is able to teach a complete, well-illustrated program of basic classical equitation and training in great detail, and combine high seriousness about the importance of classical method and technique with repeated reminders to treat the horse with understanding, kindness, love and respect…all this written in simple and easy-to-follow language, in only 158 pages. Those 158 pages will take you from terminology and theory to first longeing to work in-hand to canter pirouette, piaffe and passage. Finally, here is the thought-provoking yet very useful book you really can take to the barn.
(© Kip Mistral 2020. Painting by Alexander Pock 1940, Spanish Riding School Levade.)
When as a child I first read Marguerite Henry’s wonderful book about the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, titled “The White Stallion of Lipizza,” equally wonderfully illustrated by her creative partner Wesley Dennis, I was fascinated with the idea of a supremely orderly program of learning and teaching a venerable and highly cultivated horsemanship.
This was no haphazard affair like the way my friends and I learned to ride…we were told to get on, kick to go, pull back on the reins to stop and neck rein. Then off we tore with our kind-hearted and forbearing mounts, all asses and elbows for too long as we learned the hard way.
(Photographer unknown. Colorization by Kip Mistral.)
What is the story behind this old photograph? Let’s write it together…leave your version in a comment!
(Creme Colored Lipizzan by Johann Georg Hamilton)
Dear Friends, in the last months I have taken a much needed break from blogging and projects in general while deciding on and planning my next steps. A very exciting project I can now announce is a new podcast series, “The Horseman Sessions”, for which I will be the host and interview legendary international modern masters across the disciplines, most of whom are also acclaimed authors. The sessions will have sponsors including Xenophon Press and Trafalgar Square Books and in these talks we will be discussing the perspectives of a true “horseman.”
The first podcast is currently in the studio being edited and I will shortly be announcing the roster of experts we’ll be speaking with and publishing the schedule. I’ve had the great honor of interviewing many luminaries in the past but publishing an interview in the form of a podcast is a new and fun experience for me. I’m looking forward to sharing these inspiring resources with you very soon.
In other news for 2020, I also have plans to publish probably two books and serialize a third work now in progress, and produce a magazine-size compilation of my favorite articles to this point in the form of an ePub, as well as some shorter projects including a couple of creative non-fiction pieces, also as ePubs.
If you have not already done so, please “trot” over to my side bar here on the website to subscribe to my email list. It will soon be activated and the newsletter will finally start rolling.