French equestrian tradition

The demands of French equestrian tradition are based on the same poetical intuition than the one voiced by Xenophon in his Equestrian Art written in the 5th century before our era:

“If someone, riding a good war horse, wants the horse to look at its advantage and show the nicest paces, he should refrain from tormenting it, either by pulling on the bridle or by pinching its sides with his spurs or using the whip on it, which several think makes them look good riders. […] ridden, on the contrary, with a light hand, without tense reins, bringing its neck up, and gracefully placing its head, it will adopt the proud and noble attitude which it enjoys naturally; since when it joins the other horses, and even more so if they are mares, that is when it bears its neck at its highest, places its head proudly and brightly, lifts its leg softly and bears its tail high. Whenever the rider manages to bring the horse into doing what it does naturally when it wants to look at its best, the rider will find a horse who, enjoying its work, will look bright, noble and great.” Translated from the French version by Paul-Louis Courier, 1834

Giving the ridden horse the graceful attitudes and movements it had naturally when living free.

Since Italian Renaissance, this “imitation of nice and good nature” which cannot be forced, inspires academic riding in France, which wants to “give back to the ridden horse the grace of its attitudes and movements it had naturally when free...” (General Decarpentry, Équitation académique, 1947). The harmonious relation with the horse, the considerable discretion of the interventions, the fluid movements, the elastic flexibility of all the horse’s springs, the “lightness” which entails give an elegant and sober picture, and that is the imprint of French equestrian art.

To reach such objectives, the riders start with reconstruct the postures of the horse so that they can make it work in a balance which is favourable to the movements performed on the spot. That is the “collection” (or "rassembler") characterised by the hind legs being engaged and the feet placed on the ground directly below the haunch point for the main body to be controlled, and by a horse which is higher and straighter in the “ramener” of the neck placed like a pyramid above the shoulders.

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Website of the National riding school (Documentation Centre)


Ancient collection