What does that even mean?
Classical Dressage is the schooling and riding of horses with the same technique that has been used for centuries. It is a system of principles that have stood the test of time, yet are preciously missed today. Very few Masters exist who understand and apply the true classical technique.
After 30 years of study with many teachers, I deepened my understanding and refined my technique under Classical Dressage Master, Peter Action. A student of Masters Nuno and Joao Oliveria, he has preserved their Legacy in his own training and teaching.
The only focus of Classical Dressage training the horse to be light. That is to inspire a horse to be a fully willing and interested partner by using compassionate training based on a shared language and communication. The ultimate goal of the Classical Dressage is self-carriage, whereby there a gradual release of aids shows the horse to carry itself without support of the aids. This is what the great French Master, Francois Baucher referred to as le "descend de mains et jambes'. Horses trained to lightness are elastic, collected, energetic and fully engaged mentally and physically. They enjoy their work and are empowered by the relationship with their rider. They are obedience because not in a struggle with the rider.
Masters, whose efforts were to create the ultimate partnership between rider and horse, and were not driven by the contemporary sport. Lightness and harmony was the only goal. We see today the perils that come with competition sport, and how shortcuts, misguided training, and politics can destroy the beautiful harmony between horse and rider.
The Classical Art of Dressage brings any and all horses to find their potential, irrespective of breed or conformation. Lightness is the goal.
Classical Dressage training follows a precise and sequential program that works. It break tasks into simple steps that form the building blocks to the highest achievements.
Basic Ground work to 'In Hand'
Working 'in hand' is used periodically where the language of aids taught. This can support students who are learning a new technique and for horses to practice 'steps' without a rider and gain coordination and strength.
Lunging and Long Lines
Working on the lunge and in lines allows horses to further gain strength, flexibility, balance, and to learn submission. On the lunge horses can be introduce to riders and vice versa. This is where the 'language' of riding will be connected, and horse and rider can gain confidence and balance.
Dressage Under Saddle
Everything a horse learns in hand and in the lines is communicated under saddle. The language is the same, but now the focus is with the rider/ horse connections. This begins the Classical Dressage technique under saddle with the goal of relaxation, flexibility, balance, rhythm, cadence and eventually lightness. A proper program of development in the Classical technique allows horses to become flexible, relaxed without force.