Caprilli’s Natural System of Forward Riding

Here’s a video. Just watch it. You don’t have to speak Italian to enjoy it and understand it.

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2 Responses to Caprilli’s Natural System of Forward Riding

  1. Ange says:

    What I wouldn’t give to ride like that 😉 So does “forward riding” refer to the rider’s position in this case? It almost looks like 2-point to me, but not quite?

    Yet he still looks totally relaxed, especially in the first bit.

  2. Dan Gilmore says:

    Yes and no – “forward riding” applies to a whole “system” of riding. Caprilli’s “Natural System” was divided into three categories: Forward Schooling of the horse; Forward Seat for the rider; and Control (the aids and coordination of the aids). Essentially, you train the horses and riders to ride to a specific task. In Caprilli’s instance, that was largely military equitation which means to train the horse and the rider to cover as much ground as possible as quickly as possible and over varying terrain and obstacles.

    While Caprilli’s system of forward riding is the basis of modern forward riding (as in hunters, jumpers and cross-country riding) it varies in certain aspects from the ‘forward seat’ or ‘balanced’ seat as it is generally thought of today. The main difference is that it is more efficient in terms of conservation of the horse and rider’s energy and endurance. The other difference is that many of Caprilli’s principles as per cross country riding and jumping have been ‘forgotten’ by a good number of modern riders. For instance, Caprilli treated jumping as a tool rather than an end unto itself. He essentially said that if you can jump a horse over an obstacle without interfering with the horse’s natural balance or locomotion then you are able to not interfere with the horse under normal riding.

    Also, another theory is that collection is something you ask for, not impose and that imposing artificial frame, balance or collection on a horse is inefficient (collection while riding cross country is inefficient because the horse and rider waste too much energy in terms of vertical motion instead of forward motion). Hence, you tend to rate a horse by lateral flexions rather than collection. The main idea is to teach the horse to carry itself and once a horse does that, the horse will collect and extend itself as needed with little or no imposition on the part of the rider.

    I translated Caprilli’s original article “Per L’Equitazione Di Campagna” (“For Riding in the field” or more colloquially, “Principles of Cross Country Equitation”) from the original Italian in it’s entirety: http://www.gilmorehorsemanship.com/caprillinaturalsystem.html.

    This is the basics of The Natural System of Forward Riding in Caprilli’s own words and in its proper context. Caprilli’s literary skills weren’t very good, but he does get his ideas across at the basic level of his system. The system does get quite sophisticated with more advanced riding but it is quite simple and most of his principles and observations should be very familiar to most forward seat riders today.

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