The Horseman as Historian – Advice to Young and Old Riders

Pluvinel CaprioleIt has been said that history is the least expensive lesson one can get on how to avoid making mistakes. This is especially true when it comes to horsemanship yet very few horsemen ever take the time to become well read and versed in the history of horsemanship, theory, technique and method.

One of the most important things about understanding the history is that one, through actual study of the literature, can avoid repeating a lot of the mistakes of the past. Humans have been riding for thousands of years and it all has been written about in detail. There is a vast body of literature out there written by such greats as Pluvinel, Barriol, Baucher, Baron de Bohan, Broue, DeCarpenty, Dupate de Clam, Fillis, Castellamonte, Endrödy, Goubeaux and Barrier, Guérinière, Podhajsky, Littauer, Santini, Caprilli, Chamberlin, Oliveira and the list goes on. All of these authors’ books either deal directly with history or are actual tracts on horsemanship which are history in and of themselves. Most of these names when mentioned will usually draw a blank stare from most horsemen today and that fact is a sad thing to contemplate.

Being an “educated” horseman also means Pluvinel - work between the pillarsbeing a well-read horseman who knows and understands the development of riding and horsemanship in general. Understanding the development of riding and how it got where it is today (regardless of discipline) gives the modern horseman a whole selection of tools to work with. One can also learn what not to do by studying the literature and understanding obsolete and discredited theories and practices. Only by knowing the history and development of theory, technique, method and equine locomotion can one understand, properly apply, and develop as a horseman and advance horsemanship in general. You have to know where you came from in order to know where you are going as the old adage claims. One of the ways to accomplish this is to become a well-read and well-studied horseman.

My advice to any rider, young or old, is to read as much as possible on the subject of horsemanship. Being a horseman goes beyond just riding and it should include becoming well-studied in all aspects of horsemanship.

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