Academic Art of Riding

At Enggaarden we are dedicated to the Academic Art of Riding. But what is that actually? Learn more about our passion!

Academic Art of Riding can be traced back to the Renaissance, where theory and practice are united. This happened at a time when one felt connected to classical Greece and thus rediscovered the writings of Xenophon. In the Spanish city of Naples, which is today part of Italy, Frederico Grisone founded the first riding academy in 1532. Here a horse breed (the Spanish horse) arose, which meant that a similar riding art could be developed. A new art flourished, learning to ride. This meant that riding academies shot up like mushrooms on the forest floor. The same was true of the literature on riding. As long as the princes themselves fought in the front row on horseback, on the battlefield, the target had a very practical character. It was simply a matter of survival, so the weapons exercises were given higher priority than the dressage, which was only intended as a basis. But at the same time, bad riding was a natural reason for not choosing to be admitted to the academies. At the academies, they not only learned the art of riding, but the students also learned philosophy, fencing, lance, Latin, and many art subjects. Therefore, many riding academies developed into universities that at the same time contributed to the development of European society. As the princes increasingly withdrew from the battlefield, the arms race lost its significance. This was the beginning of the actual "Leisure" riding, where the riding experienced its highest perfection and was only practiced for the sake of art itself. It was in Guérinière's time.

The cavalry schools began to train recruits rather than professional soldiers. One no longer needed the same old riding methods. Thus, caprioles and terre á terre were out of reach just like man-to-man melee fights on horseback. In this way, another form of riding arose, and similarly the demand for campagne horses. The conflict lay with the officers. Both had to ride in advance for the troops, and at the same time also survive melee with the help of combined riding. Thus, it was the officers who continued the European equestrian art. One of the foremost mediators of this school was Steinbrecht, who formulated the modern riding, where one gymnastics while riding forward, as the basis for later collection. When the Polish cavalry during World War II rode forward against the German armored attack, the era of officer riding died. The horse as a means of combat seemed to be worn out.
(Classical Art of Riding, Bent Branderup, Gyldendal 2000.)


Learn more about how our trainers found their way to AAoR an what it means for them.