Sylvia Loch
Eden Hall
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Classical Dressage - The Inevitable Questions

If it is all so simple:
  • why have so many books been written?
  • why are there so many controversies?
  • why has it only recently become available to ordinary riders?
  • why do some people dismiss it totally out of hand?

The answer to this question is more complex, but basically classical dressage has always been available throughout the world but has required some searching out. The main stumbling block has been an elitist image, due probably to a world shortage of national institutions where it is demonstrated and taught. Where once the courts or the military, for the purpose of cavalry, maintained the status quo, nowadays only the truly dedicated maintain the high standards, which were once the preserve of all who taught dressage.

However, on an individual basis, there are still many who teach classical dressage quite unconsciously - never stopping to think they might be termed classical... Equally, there are countless other teachers whose methods could never be described as classical since they verge from the downright ignorant to the crude and even the barbaric. Such people will be very quick to condemn something they know in their hearts might show up their own shortcomings.


Classical Dressage - If It's So Good Why is it so hard to find?

Dressage HorseIt is a fact of life that the best things are often a well kept secret. Therefore although there are many pockets of people practising classical dressage all over the world, they may be little known outside their immediate circle of friends and pupils.
Many classical riders are not interested in competing, since for them the art is to work quietly at home with whatever horses come their way. Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear can be far more challenging than winning a medal on a million dollar superstar.

Nevertheless it will be the superstar, which makes it through to the newspaper and glossy magazine spreads, even although someone else may have trained the superstar and the rider may be little more than a well rehearsed jockey. Often, we do not even hear the trainer's name - so the real endeavour behind the success is hidden from view.

For those who want to learn, it has been hard in recent decades to know where to go. How can one judge whether the methods employed by the local training school or professional are correct or not? Without inbuilt knowledge oneself, it's almost impossible, initially, to assess knowledge in another. With so many experts' viewing for position, it becomes a minefield knowing whom to go to and whom to trust. After all, the most intelligent people in the world may be ignorant of a subject in which the correct way has never been personally experienced or at least demonstrated beyond all shadow of doubt.


Classical Dressage - Seeing Is Believing

If you want to see Classical Dressage for real, you do not necessarily have to go abroad, but a trip to Vienna, Andalucia or Lisbon is hugely worthwhile and will certainly inspire and heighten perception.

Word of mouth is often the best way to discover lesser known places where classical dressage can be seen in action and provided one sticks to the criteria of happy, balanced, beautiful, unstressed horses moving in total harmony with their rider where the aids look effortless and invisible, you may be fortunate enough to see classical dressage in the flesh.

Alternatively there are videos on the subject and reading the *classic books (see Book List) is a must. Not only will they give you a much deeper sense of your subject but you should naturally establish a good eye from the still photographs.

Once you have seen the real thing you will begin to see the difference when it isn't right. After all, you don't have to be an expert in opera to recognise good singing, neither do you have to be a ballet dancer yourself to appreciate pure art. The eye in general doesn't lie, but you do have to look in the right direction!

The Reality Of Learning

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