Riders who want to develop their horse to the highest possible level when it comes to dressage, and who are not interested in sports, competitive or modern dressage or natural horsemanship, will often be attracted to the principles of the old grandmasters and their ‘classical’ way of training horses.

lateral movements overview 637x1024 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...Nowadays, there are many classical styles available under the names:

  • Classical riding
  • Classical dressage
  • Classical equitation
  • Classical horsemanship
  • Classical art of riding
  • Academic art of riding
  • Academic riding
  • Art to ride
  • Art of riding
  • Art of horsemanship
  • Artistic dressage
  • Equestrian art
  • Baroque riding
  • Renaissance riding
  • German dressage
  • French dressage
  • Spanish riding
  • Italian school
  • Working equitation
  • Vaquero riding
  • Etc.

All of them follow the logical system of progressive exercises, where they use the exercises such as circles, shoulder-in, haunches-in (travers), renvers, half pass, and pirouette, practiced in the different gaits, and in more or less collection or extension.

Nowadays, the average rider has no access to the traditional, academic, royal or military European riding academies, so riders must find other ways to learn how to apply the logical system of gymnastic and progressive exercises to develop a horse.

And there are many alternative opportunities:

Steinbrecht 281x300 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...If you want to follow the ideas of Francois Baucher and/or Nuno Oliveira you can learn for example from Luis Valença, Philippe Karl, or Robert Stodulka. If you want to ride according to the Iberian philosophy you can learn from teachers such as Manolo Mendez, Pedro Torres or Anja Beran. If you want to work according to the principles of Steinbrecht / Von Neindorff, you can learn for example from Richard Hinrichs, Thomas Ritter, or Axel Schmidt. If you prefer a combination of Oliveira/Von Neindorff and Baucher/Steinbrecht and other grandmasters you can go to Bent Branderup. If you would like to combine classical dressage with a bit more modern oriented riding you can go to Arthur Kottas or David de Wispelaere. If you want to focus on dressage and rehabilitation you can go to Klaus Schöneich or Antoine de Bodt. If you would like to combine dressage with natural horsemanship, you can go to Karen Rohlf. And there are many, many, many more classical teachers, so you can choose the one that suits you and your horse best and fits the direction you wish to take on your horsemanship journey.

Some of these teachers have also educated their own instructors who you can learn from. So when you want to learn for example in the style of Philippe Karl, you can also go to his master teachers Bea Borelle, Melanie Buhlman, Sabine Mosen, Bertrand Ravoux or Sylvia Stössel. Or if you want to learn in the style of Bent Branderup, you can go to his master teachers Christopher Dahlgren, Marius Schneider or Sabine Oettel who teach the same ideas, but in their own unique style.

agree to disagree 150x150 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...When it comes the ‘classical’ way of horse training, it’s like football: there is English football, Spanish football, Italian football they all play football according to the basic principles and rules, but they all have their own style. And each football club has its own approach to unite the 11 football players in the game. And within the team, you’ll find individual football players such as Messi from Argentina and Ronaldo from Portugal: both play in the Spanish first division, both are true artists in the same game, but they have a completely different and authentic style. Therefore, they might not agree with each other’s approach, but at least they agree to disagree and enjoy the game.

different brach of the tree 150x150 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...Also within the ‘classical’ way of horse training, there are many styles. In theory, they all have the same ‘root’, but they are a different branch of the tree. So they all have their own goals, ideals and perspectives when it comes to training horses. And within each ‘branch’ style, each individual instructor teaches his own interpretation, showing his own way of getting to the ideals. And every single rider within a common style develops his own, unique style.

Therefore, there is no ONE and ONLY way, THE classical dressage or THE academic art of riding doesn’t exist. It’s the same with wine: there is no ONE and ONLY when it comes to Chardonnay and THE Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t exist.

chase one ring 300x247 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...And it doesn’t help to compare one ‘branch’ and one style with another, that would be the same as comparing the Dutch with the Belgian language: they look and sound similar, but there are many tiny little differences. That doesn’t matter, both are good, but in the learning phase make sure to choose one, in order to avoid chasing two rabbits where you end up with no or poor results.

body mind heart soul 150x150 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...

Now where does straightness training fit in this perspective? You can do straightness training without doing a specific riding style – whether it’s classical or modern – but you cannot do any of the riding styles without straightness training. Because every horse is asymmetrical by nature, so you have to develop the horse symmetrically in body and limbs so he can carry a rider in a balanced way. You cannot just go sit on a horse and ride the ‘names’ of all the exercises, you have to keep an eye on the essence to keep the horse healthy and in balance in body, mind, heart and soul.

Besides the many little differences in all traditional training styles – such as the special clothing, special saddles, training with a plastic or wooden whip, riding one-handed or two-handed, doing exercises above the ground or only on the ground, only with tools or also without – all styles have a different way of teaching: some have books, others have also dvds or online videos, other styles mainly rely on practical hands-on instruction, others provide online coaching too, where in some styles there’s only one leading master teacher and in other styles you’ll find many instructors on different levels. ST Academy 300x291 What is the difference between the Academic Art Of Riding and...

When it comes to educational materials and online/hands-on support, the online Straightness Training Academy offers a program that is quite comprehensive compared to other programs – with hundreds of how-to videos and manuals, hands-on lessons with ST Instructors, online coaching with ST Evaluators, live mastermind sessions with Marijke de Jong, 24/7 support by the ST community. It’s designed to support riders on their personal path to mastery, so you can become a true artist and perform at the highest levels with your horse in your own authentic way, wherever they are in the world, without losing sight of the original principles and essences taught by the old grandmasters.

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