Classical riding is the art of riding in harmony with, rather than against, the horse.
Classical Dressage, Classical Horsemanship and Equestrian Art all involve the training and handling of horses in accordance with ancient and well proven methods with the main aim that the horse ridden should move and execute exercises with the same lightness and grace as he does when free. The various dressage exercises are not goals in themselves, rather they are seen as a means of achieving a healthy, strong, supple and well balanced horse that can express his natural movements and dance under a rider without tension or friction. This is accomplished through a trustful relationship in everyday training, which itself is based on gymnastic and strengthening exercises where one exercise logically leads to another.
“Equestrian art is the perfect understanding and harmony between horse and rider."
What's the difference between Classical and Dressage?
Dressage as we now know it is a competitive sport. We perform for the sake of our ego - to be judged and rewarded on another humans opinions and responses. Classical riding is not about competition or public performance. The point of Classical riding is to learn to work in such harmony with our horse that it is able to move to the fullest extent of its power and flexibility as though we were not there. Classical riding teaches us as humans to ride with such lightness, poise and subtlety that riding truly becomes an art form which is beautiful to watch. Although dressage and classical riding may follow similar exercises, the ultimate goal of each lies on different paths; Classical riding aims to improve the relationship with the horse along with the horse's soundness and well-being for the sake of the horse.
“It is the ability, by means of good exercises, logically structured and based on the natural laws of balance and harmony, to train the horse so that it subordinates itself to the rider´s will contentedly and with self-confidence, without any detriment whatsoever to its own natural sequence of movement."
Classical riding is applicable to any level of riding and across all spheres of equestrianism. It will aid your horses strength, soundness and well-being. It will teach you as the rider to allow your horse's full potential of movement, to ride quietly and confidently with elegance and a heightened understanding between you and your horse.
Many of the principles of Classical riding were developed in ancient times for training cavalry. A soldier on horseback required the use of his hands, and often legs, for combat and therefore their horses needed to respond to their weight aids with pin point accuracy in the heat of battle. This remains one of the major aims of Classical riding, to ride with the subtlety of our weight rather than hands and heels.