gueriniere François Robichon de La GuérinièreFrançois Robichon de La Guérinière (1688-1751) was a French riding master who had a profound effect on the accepted method for correct training of the horse and is one of the most influential grandmasters on the art of riding off all times.

He was born in France as a son of a lawyer and during his life he earned him an excellent reputation as an instructor and rider.

In 1715 he received the title from the French Royal Court as ‘Ecuyer du Roi’, which entiteld him to give lessons.

In 1730 he became director of the Royal Stables, which had been founded by Antoine de Pluvinel, Louis XIII’s teachers.

In 1730 book ‘ Ecole de Cavalerie’ was published. It consists of three parts: Knowledge of the Horse In and Out of the Stable, Training and Treatment of Illness.

The part ‘Training’ of Ecole de Cavelerie is a revolutionairy book on riding and one of the best works on equitation ever to appear in France.

He was a very methodical man in training horses and had a strict scheme and stays with it.

He had a progressive schooling system to reach an overall goal: a light, obedient, calm horse that was a pleasure to ride.

His principles are still applied at the Spanish Court Riding School and other Equestrian Institutions.

And is it impossible to read a book about dressage without finding his name mentioned and an occasional quote from his work.

La Guérinière is credited for the invention of the shoulder-in on the straight line, to increase the horse’s suppleness and balance:

Barok1 François Robichon de La Guérinière

In his book he comments greatly on the use of the shoulder-in at all gaits, including the canter.

Some of his quotes about this exercise:

‘Shoulder in is the alpha and omega of all exercises.’

‘This exercise is the most difficult and the most useful of all those which must be used to supple the horse’

‘This lesson produces so many good results at once that I regard it as the first and the last of all those which are given to the horse in order to make him develop complete suppleness and perfect freedom in all the parts of his body.

In his book he makes several references to William Cavendish, the Duke of Newcastle (1592 – 1676) who wrote the book ‘A New Method and Extraordinary Invention to Dress Horses and Work them according to Nature‘ (1658).

The Duke worked on circles with the front legs on two smaller circles then the hind legs which were on bigger circles. The inside front leg made the smallest circle, the outside hind leg the biggest one.

The Duke himself admits that when the head is to the inside and the croup is to the outside on the circle, the parts of the forehand are more subjected and constrained than those of the hind end and that the shoulder in on a circle places the horse on the forehand. De La Guérinière: So the circle is not the true means or perfectly suppling the shoulders, since something which is constrained and burdened by its own weight cannot be light.”

And that’s why de La Guérinière was seeking for an alternative and discovered the lesson of the shoulder-in on the straight line.

  • So the Duke invented something that wasn’t that good for the horse: bringing the shoulders on a smaller circle then the hind legs.
  • De La Guérinière discovered a way that supples the shoulders and places the weight on the haunches on the straight line and named it the ‘Shoulder-in’ lesson.

De La Guérinière actually gave the name ‘Shoulder-in’ to the exercise on the straight line and because his lession is more useful and effective, that’s why de La Guérinière is given the credits for the invention.

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  1.   Marijke de Jongon 14 Sep 2011 at 21:35

    “Shoulder-in is the Aspirin of horseback riding, it cures everything”
    - Nuno Oliveira (1925–1989)

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