is the paramount of true mastery and a whole lot more than a simple and flattering virtuosity.” Lorke galloped his dressage horses cross-country and jumped them on the lunge line once a week. “When all is said and done, he was the man of the exceptional demonstrations of the Dressage German School,” Mon- theilhet continues in this important book. “Riders will honor him and celebrate his work for generations to come.” It is regrettable that this very simple and realistic ap-

proach to horse training and riders’ education is ignored today and replaced by the rigid dogma of a “scale” that less experienced riders feel obligated to follow to the letter. It is also evident that horses today have changed for the better, gaits have improved and the correct use of the horse’s back is now better understood, which is an improvement on the Lorke period. Nuno Oliveira inherited from his master Joaquim

Gonçalves de Miranda the same pragmatic approach to training: he wanted a horse in balance and without re- sistances, but was not interested in a rigid method and instead preferred to remain loosely in the “spirit of the method.” He said to me once, “I have tried everything in dressage, and just kept what works best in the function of each horse.” Nevertheless, Oliveira was obsessed with cadence, relaxation, self-carriage and “horses walking with their backs.” Correct goals and supple methodol- ogy are not mutually exclusive.

Flexion and Relaxation Studies of equine neurology have demonstrated the horse’s general relaxation depends on the vagus nerve activity triggering swallowing, first the lifting of the tongue (bits), then retraction of the tongue backward for swallowing followed by its dropping down, lick- ing, chewing, etc. Heavy, continuous contact and tight

Francisco Cancella d’Abreu: Dressage judge and Iberian breeds specialist

Francisco Cancella d’Abreu is a classically trained international coach and founding rider of the Andalu- sian and Portuguese Schools of Equestrian Art. He is adamant on the use of the training scale and explains it this way to his Spanish and Portuguese students: 1. Rhythm comes from an equilibrium that allows three regular paces, verified when the rider advanc- es the hand for a few strides and the horse maintains his position and speed. 2. Flexibility is verified by the symmetry of the lateral bends, obtained by light aids, as well as a precise direction through exact geometri- cal figures. 3. Contact is a soft connection to the bit, while the horse swallows, and accepts [the contact] to round himself harmoniously through transitions. Posi- tion is stabilized by the thrust of the hind legs and veri- fied by the instantaneous lowering of the arched neck on demand, while speed remains constant. The next three steps are a repeat at a more demanding level.

Francisco Cancella d’Abreuwith with Filipe Canelas Pinto and his international Grand Prix Hanoverian Der Clou.

When the top three cervical vertebrae become more horizontal, the horse regains his comfort and is more comfortable and the activity of the hind legs is fully restored as we can see in Willi Shultheis’s horse (left) and even better in Herbert Rehbein’s Pik Bube (right). This is the transition toward the modern version of dressage showing more developed, elastic gaits and a better use of the back.

nosebands prevent tongue activity and the relaxation of the horse’s body and mind that depends on accessing the parasympathetic state (rest and digest, restore the immune system, etc.). Mouth relaxation during all move- ments (demonstrated by swallowing) is the barometer of correct training. François Baucher never gave credit to his predeces- sors and got into a lot of unnecessary polemics, but at the end of the day, everybody is still following Baucher. He understood the neurologic effect of the jaw/tongue relaxation and had intuitive understanding of the fu- ture of chiropractic, as demonstrated by his work on flexions. He insisted horses must be alternately elevated and flexed during transitions from reinback to all gaits, a method used in one form or another by all success- ful riders today, Including Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin.

Warmbloods Today 67

THLD Equestre

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