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The horsemanship of the prehistoric Iberians already showed the characteristics we can see today in the Peninsula: the bent knee, the lower leg in contact with the flank, the collected horse with the forehead on the vertical. All we see today started in the night of times.


1960 George Caubet and Kiva. George is an amateur rider who kept horses at the Riding Club of Captain Hubert Clauzel where I started riding. He used to go on wild rides with his friends and take me along on some of the school horses (mostly Barb horses retired from the French cavalry regiments of Spahis). I learned to gallop across varied terrain trying to keep up with George. Later on he bought Kiva from the Gypsies and found it quite difficult to carry on the wild riding because Kiva would have none of it, carried his head way up with an inverted neck and was always tense. George started to look for other solutions and invited known dressage riders to give him some help. Eventually he discovered Nuno Oliveira and went on an organized trip to Portugal with several French journalists. He came back a total enthusiast and converted me to this form of horsemanship, by showing me a few astonishing 8mm films. The lightness, collection and energy of the horses were so different from the stiff form of dressage the military has gotten us accustomed to. He took me to visit Michel Henriquet at his manege near Versailles and I was hooked! The following year, I convinced my father to go on holidays to Portugal. We went in the summer of 1966 and after 10mn watching the Master ride a young horse through his paces, I had made the decision to become a dressage rider as my life avocation. George is 90 now and we talk from time to time. He reads from his extensive collection of dressage books and enjoys sharing with me his latest find. He opened my eyes that horses were not just to be used but also to be communed with in an endless search for unity and communication.

1965 Michel Henriquet was one of the French "discoverers" of Nuno Oliveira. I visited him at his house of Bailly near Versailles with George Caubet and saw Lusitano horses in action for the first time. The collection, energy and lightness of the horses in work was fascinating and so different from the fare I was used to until that point at the local riding club where I rode. The balance of the horses on the semi-loose rein was the hallmark of Michel's work and, naturally, of his teacher Nuno Oliveira. Michel has been wholly responsible for the dissemination of Nuno Oliveira's work in France. Throughout our lives, Michel and I have maintained an excellent relationship and we speak occasionally.

1967 - Jean Persin de Lauret. One of the other discoverers of Nuno was Jean Persin de Lauret (the third one was Rene Bacharach). I met him in Portugal during my first visit and he gave me his contact and an invitation to come see him. I went to visit him in his fancy boutique of clothing for men near Gare Saint Lazare in Paris and he took me to the Tattersall Manege rue de Longchamp where he kept his horse Dragon. Dragon was a Lusitano he had bought in Portugal and trained himself. Persin was mostly influenced by James Fillis and believed in impulsion above all. He had an interesting routine with his horse: he rode him one day on a snaffle, the next day on a Pelham and the third day on the double bridle. He believed that this system kept his mouth fresh and developed his obedience. I had the extraordinary good luck of riding Dragon on 2 occasions and get a lesson on him from Persin. It remains one of my great memories. I saw Persin years later (1979) at the occasion of a visit to Paris. I went to the manege de l'Etrier with Filipe Graciosa (now the director of The Portuguese School) and Francisco Cancela d'Abreu. Persin was riding his mare Serieuse and he asked Filipe to ride her. He was always curious of how the young riders would do . Filipe gave the mare a great ride and Persin was quite impressed. Persin's book on the "Fixation of the hand" is very interesting. It has great descriptions of the fixed hand, obedience and impulsion.

1967 - To add to the occasion of my first ride on Dragon, I saw Francois Cuyer ride a horse that belonged to Jean Paul Guerlain (French Olympic rider and famous perfume manufacturer). Cuyer was the resident professor of the manege. He was in his eighties at the time and needed a lot of assistance to get on the horse. He used a staircase that led to a platform and the horse was held by an outside rail to stay close to the mounting platform. He was a very formal man (as was Persin) and they both rode in a riding jacket and tie. Once Cuyer was on the horse, very hunched back and shortened by the years, his seat was impeccable. He rode that horse with a double bridle and a pair of draw reins (all of the 6 reins held on a slightly slack contact) and put him through his paces most brilliantly. At his age, he could get a better piaffe and passage than most professionals half his age.


1978 Cuyer was the professor of Lorna Johnstone, the oldest competitor to ever compete at the Olympics (she was 70 when she competed in Munich with El Farruco and finished 10th). Lorna was a feature of British dressage, having won the National Championships 13 times and rode in 2 more Olympics (1956 Stockholm and 1968 Mexico where she was 5th with El Guapo). I met her in 78 when I moved to England. She was a charming old lady, but very determined and quite knowledgeable about dressage. She came to several of my clinics to watch and I think she enjoyed my French style (maybe it reminded her a little bit of her old professor Francois Cuyer)

1963 This was my first attempt at eventing when I was 12 or 13, on a standardbred called Quel Prince. The venue was Fontainebleau . This horse was a little strong but we managed (one fall cross country). Our dressage form improved slowly after that

1968 - This was another standardbred, which was actually the first horse I owned. His name was Uphano d'Orvillars. He is seen here in his first event in Compiegne where he is jumping very "green". I was riding by the "seat of my pants", not much form but I got it done.

1968 - Jouteuse was a delightful thoroughbred mare that belonged to madame Bellanger. The mare started her career as a flat race horse, went on to steeplechasing until being sold to Mme Bellanger. She evented with Saumur "sous-maitre" Olivier Laffont until she found her way to me after I came back from my first trip to Portugal. She is seen here at an early show with me. She reached the GP level and had particularly good one tempi changes which she could do with different aids (only the left leg for both changes or only the right leg, or alternating legs, for instance). She was a very generous and sensitive mare who was always a pleasure to ride. After she had an injury to one of her hindlegs, she became a broodmare and produced some excellent anglo- arabs.

1973 -This picture of the Alter Real Fiandero was taken in Alter in in 1973 when I was an assistant trainer to Dom Jose Athayde at the Alter studfarm. Fiandero had been trained by Dr Guilherme Borba during his time in the army. He was a big, honest horse and I practiced a lot of dressage movements with him during the 3 ½ years I spent there

1975 - I am pictured here riding Lacaio, Veiga stallion in Spain, warming up for a dressage show in Marbella. Lacaio was bred by Manuel Veiga and given to one of his friends' son. Francisco Cancella started him while he was riding at Guilherme Borba's place near Lisbon. After the Revolution of April 74 started, we eventually all left for Spain. Francisco took a job as instructor with the Andalusian School in Jerez and he left me Lacaio. I was later invited to compete at the Jerez Fair with Lacaio and my horses Levante and Novilheiro. Lacaio and Levante won all their dressage classes at the Fair, while Novilheiro won a halter class for 4 year old stallions (at the time, Lusitanos could still compete with Andalusians at that fair). Later, I got offered the direction of the Los Monteros Equestrian Center and I competed or exhibited Lacaio and Levante a few times before Lacaio's training was finished and was sold.

JP riding Lacaio in passage in Marbella Lacaio, extended trot in Marbella in 1975

1978 - The stable name of this great Irish horse was "Sammy". He was a field hunter that belonged to one of my students and he showed some great dressage ability. They sent it to me in Hereford and he soon performed most of the GP movements. He was particularly good at piaffe, passage, extended trot transitions. Only the picture of his extended trot has survived (the rest got lost by a magazine). Eventually, he was sold to the Irish rider, Major Eddie Boylan (who was Eventing European Champion with Durlas Eile and had become quite a dressage rider) for his wife Charlotte who aspired to get on the team. She qualified for the Moscow Olympics with Sammy under the name Mrs. Jessica Harrington.

1969 - Alois Phodajsky was the director and head rider of the Spanish Riding School from 1939 to 1965 and wrote, amongst other things, The Complete Training of Horse and Rider. I read the book when it came out in French in 68 or 69. It is a very structured approach quite different from the spirit of Nuno's work which I had experienced in 1966 during a month of lessons. Nevertheless, I acquired a great respect for his work and hold him as one of the 20th century most important horsemen because of his dedication to the SRS institution and to the survival of classical horsemanship. My mentors Fernando Sommer D'Andrade and Dr Guilherme Borba held him in high esteem.

1964 - I visited the SRS the first time when I was 14 during a trip to Austria to improve my German. I arrived there during the summer break when the school was closed and I had to slip in behind the young horses being led in to the outdoor arena to get a glimpse of their training. I hid behind one of the pillars but eventually got caught by one of the grooms who escorted me out quite firmly. I recognized him 11 years later in 1975 when the SRS visited Jerez de la Frontera and he remembered the episode with humor. The School was there as part of the Golden Horse ceremony that was being awarded to Don Alvaro Domecq Romero for his career as a bullfighter and as the founder of the School that will later become the Real Escuela Andaluza. I was competing in the Jerez Fair's dressage show and my horses were stabled close to theirs. With my friend Francisco Cancella d'Abreu (who was an instructor at the newly formed Andalusian School) we spent a lot of time watching their morning training and we saw all the evening performances. I saw them later in Paris for the 400th Anniversary of the School and I watched both of their shows in LA in the 80' where Head Rider Ignaz Lauscha's solo presentations got tears to my eyes.

1973 - This picture of my teacher Dom Jose Athayde was taken at the Alter Real Stud Farm in Alter do Chao during the gala organized in the early 70' to save the farm which was threatened by budget cuts. Jose (and the horses he had beautifully trained) taught me for nearly 4 years while I was his assistant. He was a bit of a cryptic teacher, but he knew how to create situations that revealed the correct training solutions. The years I spent in Alter were the foundation of my career as a horse trainer and I am extremely grateful to Jose for the wisdom he imparted to me. The horse in the picture was the stallion Aoto. He was the lightest of rides, very sensitive but very obedient. In fact, Jose's daughter Isabel who was 7 at the time, rode him regularly.

This is Jose as a young man riding the Andrade horse Firme who became a very famous stallion (sire of Novilheiro, Opus72, Neptuno, Trinco, Leiria and many others).

Angel Peralta and his brother Rafael are legends of the Bullfighting and High School worlds. I visited his studfarm in 2000 and worked a couple of his horses in hand. After a training demonstration by JP at his breeding farm in Sevilla, Don Angel dedicated one of his books to JP with these words: "To Jean Philippe, with my admiration for the understanding and compassion he demonstrates in his training of horses and with the love that we both share for them."


1970 - Dr Guilherme Borba is the most accomplished of Nuno Oliveira's students. He studied with him for years and transmitted the knowledge to countless Portuguese and Spanish riders first at the Real Escuela Andaluza d'Arte Ecuestre in Jerez and later at the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art (he was its first director). He remained an amateur all his life and never charged a penny for lessons. I receive very few lessons from him but I remember them vividly as my learning of some fundamental concepts, like the "power of intent in training" and the "fixed hand". He owned some of the most significant stallions of the Lusitano breed (Firme, Hostil) and loaned them graciously to many breeders. I have owned 2 stallions bred by him (Istoso and Hussar) and I can vouch for their quality. My friend Francisco Cancella was in assistant at the time I was studying at Nuno's and when I brought my French horses Rhodos and Urgel to Portugal, Dr Borba offered me the hospitality of his farm to quarantine my horses. For many years, he was the technical secretary of the Portuguese Lusitano Breeders Association, inspecting stallions and mares all over the world. He is a very humble man, extremely competent, very generous, in short a visionary of the Renaissance of the Lusitano horse and classical riding. He is a living treasure.

1973 - Dom Diogo de Braganca on Rico, on the cover of his major book: "Dressage of French Tradition". Dom Diogo is one of the great equestrian minds of our time and the best "explainer" of the dressage evolution through the ages. His book, which I read in the 70' when it came out in French and help edit the new English translation (published by Xenophon Press), is a luminous description of how dressage evolved through the centuries. Diogo is an eclectic person who studied law and operatic composition. He is a thinker and a doer who has trained dozen of horses to the highest level and this is what gives great value to his written word. I met him for the first time when he came to ride in Alter for the big gala I have mentioned above. I got to know him better during a trip to Paris when we both accompanied the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art in its first international outing (the 4 original riders were Dom Jose Athayde, Joao Filipe Graciosa, Francisco Cancella d'Abreu and Joao Trigueiros d'Aragao). We visited his friend Rene Bacharach and had a long conversation walking on the banks of the river Seine. I later visited him at Torrebella, his ancestral family farm and watched him ride. His views were never dogmatic and always practical and he could demonstrate what he said brilliantly.

1990 - 3 great friends, 3 great riders: Dom Diogo de Braganca, Professor Jaime Celestino da Costa and Dr Guilherme Borba.

1970 - Professor Da Costa (here on the Alter Real Hioral) was a student of Joaquim Goncalves de Miranda, the last crown equerry of the Portuguese court and teacher of Nuno Oliveira. He was a professor of surgery at the Medical School of Lisbon, a pianist of talent and a great cook. He always kept a couple of horses in training (often of very different types) and in 1970, his horses were at Nuno. I got to watch him train Hioral and his Anglo Arab everyday at lunch time. He spoke to me quite a bit and gave me a respectful but honest view of Nuno's work, which was a welcome change from the atmosphere of adoration provided by the foreign students. He lived a long and productive life and enjoyed the friendship of Diogo and Guilherme to the last day.

1970 - Joao Trigueiros D'Aragao was a student of Nuno Oliveira when I was there. He used to come at lunch time and work his horse. He is a very good trainer and I had the opportunity to see his work on many occasions, in Portugal, in Spain and in France where he went as one of the founding riders of the Portuguese School. He is a very fine rider with a deep experience who ride with great lightness.

Rachel jumping Mystic Minstrel during Badminton 1980 Cross country where she finished 3rd. This was an enormous bounce jump placed at the top of a little hill. The photo demonstrates a perfect jumping style, perfect balance of the rider and complete freedom of the horse to use himself to his maximum over a fence that was to the maximum of the international standard.

1978 – 1983 - Rachel and Minstrel during the dressage phase of Badminton 1980, which she won with a record score. Minstrel had beautiful gaits and went in a very charming way. He was trained to GP and competed the same year (1980) on an international dressage team at PSG and I1 level before participating to the Alternate Olympics Games of 1980 in Fontainebleau, France.
I met Rachel on January 1st, 78 and Mystic Minstrel (the horse in the picture seen here jumping cross country at Badminton in 1980) was my fist ride in my first British clinic. She had brought her older horse Gurgle the Greek but was nervous of letting any "continental" dressage trainer rider her beloved "Child" (Gurgle's nickname). Eventually, Rachel stayed with me for 5 years, won a Silver medal and 4 Gold ones and became European Champion. She is a great test rider and won the dressage at most major events and championships she participated in. Her cross country style was very natural and this is what Princess Ann, The Princess Royal (another European Champion and the mother of World Champion Zara Phillips) had to say about her: "Rachel Bayliss , the former European champion, was one I enjoyed watching. Her horses were balanced and could be collected, yet she was basically riding them on a loose rein in a double bridle. Brilliant! She also went very well across country."

1980 - Simon (can't remember his last name) trained with me one year prior to going to Badminton . Seen here jumping the footbridge (which was a huge spread over a very big ditch)

1980 - Princess Anne of England was European Eventing Champion on Doublet and an Olympic rider on Goodwill. She was actively competing when I moved to England in 78. I got to know her well when her husband Captain Mark Phillips was selected on the team for the Alternate Olympics in Fontainebleau (1980) with his horse Lincoln at the same time that my student Rachel Bayliss was selected on Mystic Minstrel (who won the dressage phase). The expedition to Fontainebleau France was marred by a strike of the French fishermen who blocked the harbors and the ferry traffic. The British team had to cross over to Belgium and drive down from there. Princess Anne decided to drive one of the trucks and her presence much facilitated the crossing of borders. She is a very down to earth person who appreciates a frank conversation on any subject and she is very knowledgeable about all aspects of horsemanship. Later on I made a couple of dressage saddles for her and her husband.

1979 - Lucinda Green (nee Prior Palmer) is one of the greatest eventing riders ever, in particular due to her amazing ability cross country. She won Badminton 6 times, the World championship once, the European twice and many more big events and championship. When I was training Rachel Bayliss, I went on 3 team events with Lucinda: Luhmulen in 79 (when Rachel won silver), Fontainebleau when Rachel won the dressage but fell cross country and Lucinda was 6th and Frauenfeld when Rachel won gold and Lucinda won silver. Her understanding of what riders need to do across country and her training of the event horse for that phase always impressed me. She was incredibly gifted across country (in the top 5 all times best) though dressage was a bit of nemesis for her.

1995 - Felix Brasseur winning the 2006 World Championship of 4 In Hand Driving with 4 Lusitanos belonging to Herdade das Figueiras which he had won for the first time with 4 Lusitanos belonging to Jose Manuel de Mello 8 years prior. Mr de Mello had asked me to work his horses for behavior problems the year before Felix took them over. I had some success in getting them over a few fears by working them in open bridles and using an early version of Endotapping. Driving a pair of those wonderful horses around his farm Monte da Ravasqueira was exhilarating.


2006 - In 2006 during a trip to Brazil for their National Lusitano show, my old friend Joao Filipe Graciosa, current director and head rider of the Portuguese School Of Equestrian Art gives me the 25 year Commemorative Medal of the School for my long standing support of the School and Classical Horsemanship in Portugal

1979- 2011 - Joao Filipe Graciosa is the current Director and chief rider of the Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, seen here in a brilliant piaffe. Joao Filipe was a student at Nuno's at the same time I was and our friendship dates from that time. We went trail riding together with Filipe and Francisco Cancella on Filipe's father's estates. I remember to this day a lesson the old Marquis da Graciosa gave me on Filipe's horse Ghazi in the tiny indoor ring of the farm about the straightness of the horse at the canter.

1974 - Filipe and his Luso Arab horse Ghazi that he later sold to Domecq to become the courbette horse of the Andalusian School. This picture was taken during an event I organized at the Lisbon Country Club in Aroeira in 1974 where Filipe gave a little dressage demonstration. Ghazi could do pretty much everything above and beyond the GP program (including one tempi changes on the figure 8 and Spanish Walk backward).

1970 - Fernando Sommer D'Andrade is a pivotal figure in Portuguese circles and one of the main actors (with his father Ruy D'Andrade) of the renaissance of the Lusitano horse. He had a great breeding program based on the PRE Principe VIII, represented on this picture by his horse the Champion of Champion Martini. He also bred one of the foundation stallions of the breed, Firme, father of my horse Novilheiro and of many other top performers. Fernando was the founding president of APSL and the force behind the development of the Lusitano Studbook. He sponsored Nuno Oliveira early on in his career by giving him great horses to train like Euclides and Cofre (he was also his student). He wrote books on bullfighting, sculpted the trophies of the national show, negotiated with Spain, organized the trip of the SRS to Lisbon and stimulated everything to do with Iberian horsemanship. I met him when I was at Nuno's and became friend with his son Fernando (also a Nuno student) who invited me to stay at Cardiga, their palatial Golega estate during the November
Fair. After the untimely death of his son in a motorbike accident, Fernando senior took me under his wing and taught me most of what I know about the Lusitano breed. We visited his farms and the herds of other breeders, had endless discussions during the car rides between Lisbon and the countryside and gave me material to read. When I became the director of the Riding Club at the Lisbon Country Club in Aroeira, I organized cross country events. When I fell ill, Fernando came every morning and helped pout to finish the building of the courses. He later named me the trainer for the Portuguese Junior Eventing team when he was President of the Equestrian Federation. Unfortunately, the communist Revolution of April 25th 1974 brought those plans to nothing and the Country Club pretty much closed its doors. He was a great man, often gruff but with a heart of gold and an endless dedication to the cause of the Iberian horse. I miss his counsel and his friendship very much.

2006 - During the Brazilian show, a picture with one of my oldest and dearest friends, the architect Arsenio Cordeiro. He was the second President of the Portuguese Association of Lusitano Breeders (and its current Vice President) and the author of "Lusitano, Son of the Wind". During the Revolution, I helped him export his sporthorse mares to Spain and sold them to Isabel Diez Hidalgo. I later sold him my great horse Novilheiro in the 80' and the stallion left him a great number of superior broodmares that are now the basis of his studfarm. Arsenio is an architect of talent responsible for several of Lisbon main institutional buildings. He is a great servant of the Lusitano breed. With us is Cecilia Gaviao Gonzaga, director of the world famous Interagro Farm.


Novilheiro was a Lusitano stallion bred by the Veiga stud farm. JP Giacomini bought him as a 3 year old and, after some original leg troubles, trained him to the Grand Prix of dressage. After a short stint as an event horse with European Champion Rachel Bayliss, he became a showjumper with Olympian John Whitaker and was the leading British money earner of 1983. He won international classes in Berlin, Rotterdam, Toronto, Spruce Meadows, Hickstead and others before retiring in Portugal as a stallion. In his later years, he was 7 times champion sire at the Lusitano International festival. He died at 30 and left behind an important progeny of quality, particularly broodmares.

1983 Novilheiro jumping in a Grand Prix in 83 or 84 in England with John Whitaker. I bought Novilheiro from the Veiga farm in 74. After a beginning marred by an injury, he became my GP dressage horse but he was so gifted for jumping that I asked John to ride him. They built a fabulous partnership and the horse won GP and speed classes in Europe and America to become the winningest British horse of that year. John is one of the finest jumping riders of all times and he keeps his old horses sound and winning for a long time.

Novliheiro jumping at Wembley

Novilheiro jumping an intermediate fence at Chatsworth event with Rachel Bayliss. The horse was good at eventing but he was that much better at show humping so he had a career change soon after this picture was taken.

Novliheiro jumping at the Olympia Christmas Show

Noviheiro at a stallion show, ridden by Richard Bayliss Novilheiro trotting

Novilheiro jumping a GP with John

Crowne Cornelion, one of the few sons Novilheiro had in England,
himself a super show jumping stallion


Larry Mahan was 5 or 6 times All Around World Champion and the greatest rodeo cowboy before Ty Murray (whom he mentored to 7 World Championships). He came to my first clinic in Houston to learn about dressage. I later gave him some instruction on his cutting horses in his ranch in Bandera, Texas

This is Alherich and Reiner Klimke at the 84 Olympics during his winning ride. I first saw this pair during an international dressage show at the Bagatelle Polo Club (where I was teaching) in Paris in 1977. During the show, I had met Delia Cunningham, the rider of a thoroughbred called Lord Randolph who had trouble with his piaffe. On the Sunday of the show she asked me to ride him and try to fix the problem. So I rode the horse in the indoor, wearing a suit and shiny shoes (once upon a time, we used to get dressed up to go to horseshows). It was only Klimke and I in the arena (he was schooling his wife's horse Sekur) and he must have noticed my work from the corner of his eye. Years later during a clinic he was giving in LA after the Olympics, we met and he said: "Ha, you are the man in the suit!" Obviously he remembered my little piaffe in Paris. A few years later, we became quite friendly and I had his portrait painted for a series of champions I wanted to turn into prints (this was Rembrandt, Corlandus, Marzog, Granat and Alherich). Those painting are still in my office at the farm. Klimke was a gentleman and his horse was a king.

Okzident warming up for an FEI class in California. In spite of an injury to his right front pastern, he ended up performing a very credible Grand Prix (69% at his first attempt). He learned quite a lot of High School, including a little canter backward and could do series of up to 300 One tempi changes. I had bought in partnership with my friend George Weber from Santa Barbara who was the master of the Santa Ynez Hunt. Okzydent ("Oxi") was a great show horse, always happy in the ring, though his gaits were not the greatest by today's standard. He was the California champion at 4th and PSG and the US National Reserve Champion at 4th Level (behind Rampal and Peter Kjellerup), but could not compete in higher USEF championships because I was not an American at the time.

Jean Marie Donnard was the best rider I saw at Saumur when I went to visit in the early 80'. He took some lessons from Nuno Oliveira when the Master visited the school and Nuno held him in high esteem. After I rode a couple of horses from the Cadre Noir at the invitation of General Durand, Director of the School, Jean Marie and I had a drink at the mess and we recognized we both belonged to the same school of thought. He is now retired and goes fishing.

Juan Diego Garcia Trevijano is an Olympic showjumper who is now dedicating his life to the research of Academic Dressage both in the vein of Francois Baucher and in the classical line. In this work, he received the help of another of my heroes, Diogo de Braganca through an assiduous correspondence. Juan Diego is probably the best living representative of that school, as proven by his amazing Youtube videos. I have had some exchanges with him regarding riding theory and I give him all my respect for his understanding and practice of academic equitation.


Mario Vitor Ribeiro is a young bullfighter from Portugal, the son of a horse dealer who helped me while I was importing Lusitanos to Mexico. I gave Vitor occasional lessons to help him with his dressage and he says it made his horses better. Glad I could help

Mercedes Gonzalez Cort was the only female rider at the Andalusian School in 1975 when I moved there. She bought this beautiful horse Leiria from my teacher Dom Jose Athayde. He had spectacular movement and was a very kind horse. The bay horse is the Luso-Arab Ghazi that Domecq bought from Filipe for the School and trained to do courbettes. Nowadays, I see her from time to time when she comes to the US to judge a PRE show. When I ran the Los Monteros Equestrian Center in Marbella, Mercedes and the other riders of the School, including Manolo Mendez came to ride in the dressage shows I organized there. This is how some of those riders got their start at dressage and eventually became part of the successful Spanish team.

History 1925 – 1956 - Otto Lorke on Fanal. Lorke was the architect of German dressage. He trained the 3 horses who won the Gold Medal at the 1936 Olympics. He trained Bubbi Gunther, who trained Rehbein and Willi Schulteis who trained the team later on. When The French medallist Xavier Lesage went to Lorke's place to ride Chronos (who won the Gold in Berlin), he found the horse very pleasant to ride and very close to the French School. This might have been due to the fact that Lorke was rumored to be an admirer of Fillis. There are many similarities between the pictures of the 2 masters (legs at the girth, short stirrups, elevated necks, loose reins).


Herbert Rehbein on Pik Bube, the famous Hannoverian stallion who was a stable companion to super stud Donnerhall. I met Herbert during the 1979 Dortmund indoor show where I was coaching Delia Cunningham and Lord Randolph. Herbert was officially retiring Liostro (Karin Schluter team Silver medalist from the 76 Games). His ride was beautiful and I went to the warmup afterwards to tell him. He was crying and so was I. We became friend instantly and he invited me to come ride the horse at Groenwald Hof a few days later, which I did with great pleasure. The horse was very light and not very different from Nuno's horses.


Robert Duvall called me one day out of the blue and asked me to give him some intro to my friends in Spain. He was going to visit there with his wife and wanted to see some horses. I called Alvaro Domecq and the Duvalls got a wonderful visit. He sent me a nice picture afterwards and told me that the vision of "cowboys doing classical dressage" was absolutely fantastic .

1340 - Dom Duarte of Portugal wrote a book in 1340: "The book of good teaching to ride well in all sorts of saddles". He gave advice about riding, jousting, behaving in the social atmosphere of military aristocracy, etc. His book was the first riding book since Xenophon and a century before Grisone, who was erroneously called the "Father of Horsemanship". He famously said: "Honors on horseback cannot be achieved without effort, without courage and without money." No truer words were ever spoken!

1559, First publication - Grisone, a Neapolitan master of the 16th century has been considered "the Father of Horsemanship". His inspiration came from the Spanish Jennets who occupied Naples. The natural collection of these horses puzzled the Italians and pushed them to devise a methodology to create collection in less gifted horses. He was the first great clinician and went all over Europe to teach at the courts of France, Spain etc. His book was published great many times in different languages and between 1559 to 1610 in Paris.

1610 - William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle is seen here practicing the lateral flexion of the poll on the cavesson while the horse is piaffing. He is using the draw rein (passing through the side rings of the cavesson) which he is reputed to have invented (maybe he learned it from the Italians). These reins can have marvelous usefulness as well as open the door to their own type of abuse. The Newcastle system of flexions was widely used (France, Germany, Austria, Portugal) all the way through to the beginning of the 19th century (Marialva used them in Lisbon and Max from Weyrother used them in Vienna). He famously said: "The Art must always follow Nature and never oppose it". He recommended the circle with the haunches out in all 3 gaits, which gives the horse a bend throughout the entire body. It is the start of the shoulder-in that La Gueriniere will truly launch a century later.

1710 - Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere ("The School of Cavalry") Is the most important of the French classical Dressage writers, along with Baucher. He follows Salomon de la Broue, Pluvinel and Newcastle. La Gueriniere gave us the shoulder-in, the half-halt, the yielding of the hand ("Descente de main"). He has been the inspiration of the French School (School of Versailles), the German School (Seeger and Steinbrecht), the Spanish School of Vienna (Max from Weyrother), the Picaria Real of the Lisbon School (Manoel Carlos d'Andrade, Marquis of Marialva). His influence is being felt to this day in the work of Nuno Oliveira and his students and followers (Portuguese School of Equestrian Art, Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art). The School of Cavalry was published 12 times from 1729 to 1825

1710 - Cazaux de Nestier was the head trainer for King Louis the 15th of France. In that position he is reputed to have bought 20,000 horses for the royal stables and trained a great number of royal mounts. He is seen on this famous picture riding a Spanish horse (Le Florido, gift from the King of Spain to the King of France) in a halt from the canter (or the beginning of a levade) in a position that is epitome of the classical balance of the dressage horse. The haunches are flexed, the front end is lightened, the neck is rounded, the horse benefits from a Descente de Main (the hand is lowered, the contact is dropped but the connection is maintained) and a Descente de jambes (the legs are inactive). Another important information coming from this picture is the use of a small relaxing bradoon to present the first known picture of the double bridle with the use of a very short curb. This curb, called the "Nestier bit" has a broken mouthpiece and a lower branch of equal size to the upper branch. This bit (in a solid mouthpiece version) is still in use in Portugal at the Portuguese School. Nestier wrote nothing, but is, with the Marquis of Marialva in Portugal, the best model of the classical school.

1830 - Gustav Steinbrecht is the fundamental writer and teacher of the German School in the 19th century. He was a student of Seeger (the enemy of Baucher), yet he inspired Nuno Oliveira who followed his line of thought as well as La Gueriniere’s and Baucher’s.  Here are a few important things he said: “Ride your horse forward and straight." (Sometimes quoted as "...make him straight" or "...keep him straight.")
"...all [training exercises] follow one another in such a way that the preceding exercise always constitutes a secure basis for the next one. Violations of this rule will always exert payment later on; not only by a triple loss of time but very frequently by resistances, which for a long time if not forever interfere with the relationship between horse and rider."
“If the art was not so difficult, we would have plenty of good riders and excellently ridden horses. But as it is, the art requires, in addition to everything else, character traits that are not combined in everyone: inexhaustible patience, firm perseverance under stress, courage combined with quiet alertness. If the seed is present, only a true, deep love for the horse can develop these character traits to the height that alone will lead to the goal.”


1730 - Francois Baucher was the greatest of all dressage innovators. His methods evolved as he went. He developed the flexions , the collection in the horizontal balance, the separation of movement and force, the idea of “hand without legs and legs without hands” and the one tempi changes. According to Decarpentry, many people nowadays “do Baucher without knowing it”. Though the 2nd method is the one that is currently more celebrated by writers like Jean Claude Racinet and Philippe Karl and deemed politically correct, it is the 1st manner that is actually more frequently used by both dressage and show jumping riders. His most important message and the one he left to his favorite pupil the General L’Hotte on his death bed was this: “holding L’Hotte’s hand immobile, he said: “always that [the “fixed hand”], never that! And he brought the hand back toward his chest [the pulling hand]”. The notion of never pulling is central to the system of Baucher and his students.   


1830 - The Comte d’Aure was the last Head Rider of the School of Versailles in 1820 and later became Head Rider at the School of Saumur. Though he was a capable school rider, he was mostly interested in outdoor riding , hunting, steeple chasing etc. He developed a system based on the positive tension of the horse and the contact that has become the basis of French military riding. He had a huge controversy with Baucher, but in effect, the best riders (L’Hotte, Dutilh, etc.) practiced both methods and integrated them.

1850 - General L’Hotte, the greatest student of both Baucher and D’Aure, started his education with the commandant Dupuy, who had learned high school from the Marquis of Marialva in Lisbon. He is seen here commanding the “reprise of the Cadre Noir” on Laruns. L’Hotte wrote some excellent books that are considered as the basis of the modern French doctrine. He used Baucher’s techniques on his personal horses and D’Aure’s on his “campaign horses”. L’Hotte succeeded in the challenge of melting into one doctrine the 2 major antagonistic forces of his time. By doing so, he qualifies as the announcer and the demonstrator of the modern equestrian knowledge, even of the total equestrian knowledge.


 1890 - Federico Caprilli was a genius to whom we owe the entire system of modern cross country riding and the jumping style in the forward position. Before him, horses were literally tortured while jumping by riders leaning back and hanging on the reins. He observed how horses jumped at liberty and figured out what was the best position for the rider to accommodate those biomechanics. In spite of the self evidence of the system, it took him years to get it accepted by his superiors. Eventually, many officers from other countries came to study with him and took it back to their countries: Danloux brought it to France, Rodzianko to Russia, Piero Santini to England and Chamberlin to the US (after studying with Danloux).  

1920 - Piero Santini organized Caprilli’s notes into the “Caprilli Papers”, published by J.A. Allen in 1967. He was a remarkable cross country and race rider, but later suffered a terrible accident that prevented him to keep riding. Through his translations of Caprilli’s work from Italian to English, he has a considerable influence over the sport horsemanship of American and British riders. He was a man of culture, a painter, author and playwright and modern riding owes him a great deal.


Etienne Beudant, “L’Ecuyer Mirobolant” (“the Fantastic Trainer”) was, with Nuno Oliveira, the greatest rider of the 20th century. He trained very complicated horses that were mostly rejects from the army and turned them into objects of beauty working in great lightness and performing amazingly complicated movements. He is seen here on Mabrouk in what he called “Brilliant Piaffe”, which I think is really a passage in place without the usual engagement of the piaffe. He followed the teachings of Baucher 2nd manner as described by the General Faverot de Kerbrech and wrote several books, one of which was later translated in English (Cross Country and High School). He was a complete rider, riding across country, in races, over fences, with the same horses that he trained to the absolute highest level of complication of academic equitation. He often performed racing and a high school presentation the same day, as he did with Robertsart in a show in Algeria. His trademark was the complete apparent freedom in which his horses moved without ever loosing the correct position or total lightness of their contact (always on the snaffle).


Beudant at the extended trot with Robersart II

Beudant at the passage with Vallerine, his last training, when he was crippled by disease.

Nuno Oliveira is probably, with Etienne Beudant, the greatest dressage rider and trainer of the 20th century. I first studied with him for a month in 1966 and later for a whole year in 1970. He became my inspiration from the minute I saw him ride in his little indoor ring of Povoa de Santo Adriao near Lisbon. The impression he made on his horses was unlike anybody else I have seen. They became shorter by a foot, uphill and balanced and moved in complete lightness. He appeared to be completely involved with the horse but in a serene way. He used no force at all but had great power, if that makes any sense. On this picture he is riding Euclides, a Lusitano of the Andrade line, during a presentation in Geneva, in a glorious passage. The power of his trademark position is very evident in this picture. He is wearing the French court jacket ("casaca") of the 18th century that is the traditional dress for Portuguese bullfighters and high school Ecuyers. His influences were in equal doses: the traditional horsemanship of Portugal, partly transmitted by his first master Goncalves de Miranda, Baucher second manner which he followed as a young man, Steinbrecht from which he took the obsession with forward movement, La Gueriniere that inspired his love for the shoulder-in that he called "the aspirin of horsemanship" and Baucher 1st manner to which he had frequent recourse. Oliveira harmonized all these ideas in a well understood blend of harmonious, light and very natural dressage unique to his genius.


Oliveira on Levante, a Meneses stallion in passage
at his old school of Povoa de Santo Adriao

Oliveira, years later on his Alter Real Soante
in the communion of the passage

Oliveira and Invencivel, a horse from the Meneses stud farm whose training I watched everyday in 1970. He was later sold to Belgium. His younger brothers Jasmim, Jabute and 3 others are the colts I started under saddle under the guidance of the Master.

 

   
 
 

JP resides in Kentucky and conducts clinics internationally. Schedule a J.P. Giacomini clinic today!
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