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TRAINING PERIODS and particular riding lessons "INTERNET " by Jean-Yves Le Guillou



An original method to educate the horses : Riding by self-posture of the horse

Baroque Equitation

Monsieur de Nestier, Premier ÉcuMister de NestierThe baroque equitation begins with the ancient French equitation of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This equitation was so great, so refine, so influential, that the dignitaries of all Europe were going to France to improve one’s riding …

His equitation was already flourishing during the seventeenth century, but it has reached his peak, the 15th December 1682, when King Louis the fourteenth has inaugurated, in Versailles, the "Grande Écurie" and the "Petite Écurie".

Despite this greatness, something incredible has happened: this equitation has completely disappeared in France!

Nevertheless the strength, at the end of the seventeenth century had increased its numbers. The "Grande Écurie" was accommodating 4000 horses and the staff had
800 people …

The Revolution of 1789 has destroyed the famous Versailles‘s School, the great sanctuary of this riding, and the other academies in Paris and in the provinces. The great Masters has disappeared (I don’t specify how … Their one fault was they had a "de" in front of their last name), or they went into exile.

Levade, Spanish School of Vienna

Therefore in France the tradition of the baroque equitation has been abruptly and completely interrupted. And it was impossible to restart the Versailles’s School. Recently Mister Michel Henriquet, brilliant author and horseman, could not realize his plans to that effect, because of lamentable reasons.

But the ancient French equitation had scattered his knowledge to the four winds, to foreign countries, to Spain, to Portugal, to Germany, to Austria. That is the reason why it is still alive … In the foreign countries it had even important extensions. For example, one of the better treatises of baroque equitation, and probably the best, has been written … in Portuguese language. It is the monumental work by Manoel Carlos de Andrade: Luz da liberal e nobre Arte da Cavallaria, Lisboa, 1790.

I shall restrict my study here to three themes:

  • The fundamental characteristics of the baroque equitation.
  • The baroque equitation, a museum equitation?
  • The baroque equitation, an equitation of the left hand.

The fundamental characteristics of the baroque equitation

This equitation, brilliantly set out by François Robichon de La Guérinière, in L’École de cavalerie (Paris, 1754), was dominated by five important principles:

  • The limbering up of the whole horse by inflexions, without any forcing.
  • The extremely lightness and the impulse obtained by the balance and not by the constraint.
  • The promotion of the tact and of the sharpness of the aids, that found expression in the "release of hand" and the "release of legs" (technical expressions used for the hands and legs of the rider to obtain the release of the reins –hands- and to stop their actions –legs-, in order to give to the horse some liberty, when the wished movement is realized).
  • The subtle hand, pleased with the "leather’s weight".
  • The use of the sole left hand to ride the educated horse.Levade, Spanish School of Vienna

Concerning the processes, the keystone is the shoulder in.

This equitation has reached his peak during the eighteenth century and was a model to all European equitations until French Revolution of 1789. It is necessary to insist on the expression "whole horse", considering that some equitations have "divided the horse", broke up him into its component parts to work them separately.
Here, I don’t take a stand for one conception, I set out the facts. All the more so since I practise both …

The baroque equitation, a museum equitation ?

This equitation is known by the works of 14 French horsemen of the eighteenth century and 3 German horsemen of this same eighteenth century, German horsemen who has written … In French language, that well shows the influence of this equitation. Bourgelat, Montfaucon de Rogles, La Guérinière, Dupaty de Clam, Mottin de la Balme, have more influence on me. We are obliged, to become initiated into the baroque equitation to consult the written works (and the painting reproduced on this page of Mr de Nestier … The perfection of the position on the horse) of the eighteenth century. They are the sole testimonies we have and this gives a first impression of museum. This impression is strengthened by the Spanish School of Vienna that shows one’s intention of handing down an unchanging equitation. No criticism in my words, the work of the horses in Vienna is absolutely wonderful and we need to do as well, as beautiful, to have the right to criticize.

Curvet, Spanish School of ViennaBut for me this equitation is not ossified. First because, when it has disappeared in France, the French horsemen where in search in several fields, in particular on a point I have turned on my attention a long time, and it is possible to call it optimization of the rider’s requests.

The splitting in six intervals of the horse’s foot on the ground and in six intervals in the air, goes back very long time in the history of the riding. The theory is born at the Castle of Alfort during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The veterinary school was founded, in 1765, by the famous Veterinarian and Riding Master Claude Bourgelat (dead in 1779). This theory belongs to two meticulous observers : A.F.Vincent (historical painter, animal painter, art teacher at Alfort) and G.C.Goiffon (engineer, mechanic, architect, drawer, art teacher of anatomy at Alfort). This theory has been published in 1779.

JYLG CurvetIn practice, for example, here is the start to the canter of Dupaty de Clam: "When you have decided to start a horse at the canter, to put him on the right leg, after a period of trot, you have to feel the instant when the back left leg touches the ground and approach the two legs and at the same time to hold up the front part." I put in italics the passage that interests me.

I put down in writing the results of my works in this field in my book and CD Sensual riding by the self-posture of the horse in comics, book where the theme of the optimization of the rider’s requests is dominant.

With the "optimization of the rider’s requests" and the use of "favourable instants", a lot of problems can be solved!


Colonel PodhajskyAnd this equitation is still alive in two great academies of the Iberian Peninsula, the Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre, founded in 1979, heir of the Royal School, of the Portuguese Royal Court … And the Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre, in Spain. They are recently founded academies. They gather horsemen who have, of course, a common doctrine, but they stay individual riders who have a personal practice.
In Vienna, the Spanish School, founded in … 1729, people gather one’s thoughts in the majestic indoor school at the Holfburg.

We only know by his name Colonel Podhajsky who has codified in his book Riding the oral tradition of the School and, above all, because he is an important person appearing, not himself but an actor, in a Walt Disney’s film Miracle of White Stallions
(a film showing the rescue of the Lipizzans of the stud farm and of the School during the Second World War). While in Portugal, for example, we know, I am spoken about riders in general and not only about riders of the Academy, Alvaro Domeck, his son Alvarito Domeck, Joâo Nuncio, D.Ribeiro Télès, Mestre Batista, Don José Althayde, the great master Nuño Oliveira, D. Diogo de Bragance …

The baroque equitation, an equitation of the left hand

Work with the long reins Today’s riders, who ride, for the most part, with both hands, do not sea the interest of the one hand’s ride. They only sea in this ride, a servicemen’s practice, a practice only kept traditionally.

Error, for two reasons:

The French horsemen in the eighteenth century, in the ring, used the long crop with their right hand. This long crop had not any force, made of hazel tree, it broke if the horseman had an … impatient movement. No, it was the extension, very happy, of an intelligent and gentle hand, a hand that could touch any part of the horse’s body, that could, for example, to give rhythm to a piaffe, accompanying the contact with the ground of each diagonal, with a simple touch of the horse’s hindquarters.

And more, the sole hand better respects the delicate mucous membrane of the horse’s mouth, because all people have a problem of coordination between the two hands. Test yourself, move with a cup filled with water to the brim, handing it with two, then with one hand … It is not forbidden to use the sole right hand, if the rider feels at ease with it … Personally, I find again the whole of my person thanks to the baroque equitation and the use of my left hand, my "good " hand.
I have to say, I belong to a breed in the process of extinction, fortunately: I am a left-handed person forced to use his right hand …

JYLG, has noted that the horsemen of the baroque equitation did not codify the long crop’s use, and, after long research, he has written a treatise of ancient equitation, of baroque equitation, a "treatise on the left hand, holding the reins in the French manner ", and a "treatise on the hand of the long crop": L’équitation de Majesté, proposed in a second edition, on CD.


And, very important, JYLG own a copy of a film, a color film, in english, although it is very old, that allows to sea the famous work, in hand and mounted of Colonel Podhajsky, the legendary Director of the Spanish School of Vienna and all his Riding Masters. Fantastic! Fantastic!

If you want to sea this great rider, who wined fame during the Olympic Games of 1936, contact JYLG!
He has a solution to send you this film.

The photographies of this page, except personal photographies (for more pictures, see page "Training " the photography on the right, Curvet, and page "Videos" the videos Pirouette at the canter and On the spot canter), are devoted to the Spanish School of Vienna. I must point out that I also admire and respect the Portuguese Academy and the Spanish Academy.
In order to sea the horses of these Academies, click on Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre or Escola Portuguesa de Arte Equestre

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