Equitation/Chapter 8

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Equitation
by Henry L. de Bussigny


PART II
THE REASONED EQUITATION


THE TRAINING OF THE SADDLE HORSE BY THE AID OF PRINCIPLES BASED ON THE EXPERIENCE OF MASTERS OF THE ART OF RIDING
CHAPTER VIII
THE REASONED EQUITATION

We owe the reasoned equitation largely to Baucher. Before his day, even in ancient times, men had, indeed, an idea of the need of the state of equilibrium on the part of the horse; and they had tried, unsuccessfully, to obtain this by various methods, often complicated, and involving series of movements and also mechanical devices. Baucher not only created a system for obtaining the state of equilibrium; in addition, in his L'Equitation Raisonnée, he set forth the principles on which the whole reasoned equitation is based.

These are in brief:

The state of equilibrium is not the result of any instincts of the horse; but, on the contrary, is imposed upon the horse by the rider, in the form of an increased muscular activity which the rider stimulates.

The horse, compelled to the state of equilibrium by the man, is itself in a state of complete submission, in which it cannot use its brute strength to resist its rider, but can nevertheless execute any natural movement with the least possible waste of energy.

The weight of the man, also in equilibrium upon the horse's back, is borne with the least possible effort, and with an ease for which the animal is manifestly grateful to its master.

Now it is absolutely true that only as the result of training are the enormous powers of the horse brought under the man's intelligence, without violence and without physical or moral pain. The one is wise, the other is strong. The two form a friendly unit in which the brute is submissive and happy. But since the reasoned equitation follows a series of progressive exercises, in which the more advanced rest on those which precede, it is essential that the same rider use always the same horse, during the time necessary to complete its training.

A sound and well-conformed animal, energetic but good-tempered, will be the easiest to train. A full bridle should be employed, with a bit of medium power, a Baucher snaffle, curb chain, and lip strap. The work on foot requires a three-foot whip. Later in the training, when the horse is mounted, spurs will be needed. A well-kept second-hand English saddle is better than a new one.

Since the reasoned equitation has for its purpose to teach the rider both how to train his horse, and also how to ride a horse already trained in the system, it is useful for professional riding-masters and trainers, and for all civilians. But it is only after several years of the usual equitation that either the theory or the practice of the reasoned equitation becomes of any particular benefit. Baucher wrote out his method primarily for cavalry officers and other professionals, and his principles are very complicated for an amateur to follow. I have, however, taught the reasoned equitation to a great number of amateur riders, both men and women. I have, in addition, simplified Baucher's theory and clarified his methods so that now the entire system is practical for amateur and professional alike.