On Classical Equitation

Commentary on French Classical Riding

The eight stages of the path of dressage

This is a sketch of the eight parts of the path, but the real way is beyond words. Language is only an attempt to represent experience with symbols. It is not experience itself, hence the old masters recognize that the reduction of dressage into words is a fool’s errand which will forever corrupt itself.

The circle of connection

This is the circle of connection and control which is present in good dressage. It exists in a confidence which is without words, established in kind and noble connection. Its beauty is without equal and it is a circle in place and a spiral over time. It only ends when life does.

Master who?

…masters exist and work quietly. The nature of the work at this level is not public and they leave the mass mind of the horse world far behind. Their experience is their credentials.


This is a four stage training in which aggression has no place. The objects of training need not be driven by our aggressions and our ambitions but instead we find that they naturally arise when the relationship with the horse is properly grounded.

Approaching the horse; Be close

Keeping due measure is not just the point of the proper use and understanding of the aids but it is also about a sense of standards that are not absolute for every horse but are a measure that grows and changes with every horse’s individual development.

Another view

A dressage of goodness is possible; deceptively meek, it controls with an invisible hand not by fighting the horses force but by cooperation with the energies present and directing those forces to a mutually desirable end.