Thursday, 14 January 2010

The History of Horsemanship - part one

'It is essential to appreciate that the rider is the leader of the equestrian partnership and, for better or worse, sets the physical and psychological scene - not the horse. The true horseman lives by the premise that nothing is ever the horses fault.'

I have been dipping in to a few old horsebooks recently and I am continually coming across this kind of stuff. This was written in 1980 (or at least, published then) by some German dressage geezer called Herbermann. The book has a whole section of really sound practical, helpful explanations and advice that is useful to even basic horsemen such as myself. To be honest it makes a lot of the fancy illustrated horse books published over the last twenty years or so look like magazine articles.

Because my wife is a very keen student of horsemanship and riding, I get to watch/read/hear an awful lot about very accomplished horsemanship. You might think that could only be a good thing, and I would have to agree, but it does have its downside - I often feel like I should give up now! But one thing I have realised, which is good, is that good horsemanship has been with us since the beginning of time. What may seem to me to be a major breakthrough and realisation in my horsemanship is, to some of these old guys, nothing more than common sense that they have been practising for years.

That got me to thinking about all these people who sell their own brands of horsemanship as though they have discovered something new. And that got me to thinking about what happened to Baucher when he published his 'nouvelle methode' in the 1830s. There was a huge backlash against it, and people were saying, 'there's nothing new here' and so on and so on. I'm not a great fan of anyone who pronounces 'my methods' as though they have come up with some revolutionary new idea, but as far as I can tell, Baucher, at that time, did come up with some pretty new stuff. I really like a lot of what he says, and I have found some of it pretty helpful in my horsemanship.

To be specific, I like the exercises to 'relax the jaw', and to get the 'flexions' which really help my horse, and even more importantly, I like how my understanding/interpretation of this has really helped me to understand how my hands and the reins work with the horse's mouth.

Ah, the mysteries slowly unfold, and all for why? I have no idea!