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Recommended Reading List

The great historical Masters of Classical Horsemanship were emphatic in their belief that all who aspire to the art of riding must commit themselves to the study of the principles and science. We believe the following books provide the beginning foundation for any serious student of Classical Riding. 

Books from the Masters of the

Renaissance & Baroque Periods.

Federico Grisone's

"The Rules of Riding"

Gli ordini di cavalcare(The Rules of Riding) in 1550, the first manual on manège riding, the ancestor of modern dressage. The Ordini codified a half-century of oral tradition of teaching this art and was a best seller and a welcome aid in educating noblemen at European courts in the art of the manège.

La Gloria del Cavallo

by Pasquale Caracciolo

Free download in original language

La Gloria del Cavallo is a treatise of about a thousand pages,[1]:56 dedicated almost entirely to horses and horsemanship. Caracciolo discusses the correct methods of training horses but also investigates the complex relationships between horses and people. He attributes to horses feelings comparable to those of humans. 

Trattato dell'imbrigliare, Atteggiare, & Ferrare Cavalli

by Cesare Fiaschi

Free download in original language

where this is the nature of horses 

to ask him, et provide, and everything that belongs to an exposition of good horses

La Cavalerice François

by Salomon de La Brove

Free download in original language

De La Broue, like Pluvinel, was one of the founders of the old French haute école. His methods centered on calmness in hand, freedom, and lightness in order to obtain the best results from the horse; he rejected the use of force or constraint in training

The Maneige Royal, or L’Instruction du Roy by Antoine de Pluvinel

Antione de Pluvinel lived from 1555 to 1620. Of gentle birth, he was a courtier to three kings of France: Henry III, Henry IV, and Louis XIII. 

Le Maneige Royal takes the form of a dialogue between master and pupil. The Master, de Pluvinel and the Pupil, the Dauphin.

A General System of Horsemanship

William Cavendish , Duke of Newcastle

This classic work is not only one of the most beautiful books on horses ever published, but also a landmark in the development of equestrian technique. William Cavendish's emphasis on systematic and humane training was revolutionary for its era, and his teaching has exerted a lasting and far-reaching influence on the art of riding.

The Art of Riding a Horse or Description of Modern Manège  by Baron d'Eisenberg

Each exercise is described succinctly with an accompanying diagram beautifully engraved. 

A contemporary of de la Gueriniere, Eisenberg was trained in the European Royal riding academies including the Viennese Spanish Riding school under Regenthal.

François Robichon de la Guérinière 

Ecole de Cavalerie Complete Part II

École de Cavalerie is one of the best works on equitation ever to appear in France. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that after a long struggle beginning in the renaissance academies of Italy, equitation in France suddenly flowed forth from La Guérinière. To quote the late Head of the Spanish Court Riding School in Vienna, Colonel Alois Podhajsky:

Luz da Liberal e Nobre Arte da Cavallaria by Manuel Carlos de Andrade

The work is the most complete treatise of cavalry of the era of the Old Regime , and the main work of the sort existing in all Europe. It is a vast work that contains all the teachings of riding, from the low school - the basic movements: walk, trot and gallop - to the great baroque equestrian art, the highschool of the 17th and 18th centuries, specifically the High Ares

Books from Modern Authors on  

Historical Horsemanship

The Royal Horse Of Europe: The Story Of The

Andalusian & Lusitano

by Sylvia Loch

"The Royal Horse of Europe" tells the story of the great war-horse of Spain and Portugal which was to influence all Europe's history and play a significant role in the founding of many of today's most successful horse breeds.We discover that this aristocratic horse has survived to this day and his highly prized for his superb temperament, outstanding agility and spectacular looks

Dressage: The Art of Classical Riding

by Sylvia Loch

Classical riding historian Sylvia Loch here traces the development of classical equitation from antiquity, through the Baroque period of splendid enlightenment, to Nuno Oliveira, the Spanish Riding School, and modern dressage competition.  Remarkably, this is the only English-language book to comprehensively cover all the great masters, past and present.

Alexis-Francois L'Hotte: The Quest for Lightness in Equitation

by Hilda Nelson

As commandant of the cavalry school Alexis-Francois L'Hotte (1825-1904) was obliged to use the methods of the Comte d'Aure, but with his own horses practiced the teachings of Baucher. He became one of France's greatest riders. Illustrated with color and black and white images.

François Baucher, The Man and His Method

by Hilda Nelson 

François Baucher (1796—1863) was the center of one of the most famous controversies in the development of modern equitation. Baucher introduced the one tempi flying changes at the canter. This important work combines a translation of two of Baucher’s publications: New Method of Horsemanship and Dialogues on Equitation, with a scholarly study of the arguments which surrounded them. Professor Hilda Nelson produces a fascinating insight into an important theory of horsemanship.

The Italian Tradition of Equestrian Art by G.B.Tomassini

Following the thread of equestrian treatises, this book traces the history of Italian and European equitation, recounting the rich cultural implications, the evolution of the techniques, and the many connections with the great events of European history. It is a story full of characters surrounded by an aura of legendary skill, of disputes between opposing schools, and of memorable deeds.

Austrian Art of Riding by Werner Poscharnigg

Dr. Werner Poscharnigg eloquently answers this question by chronicling the development of the classical practices in this region of Europe. Austrian Art of Riding traces the contributions of pivotal Austrian horsemen through 500 years of elegance and ease in the equestrian art. Over 140 illustrations—many previously unpublished or little-known—along with inaccessible documents reveal the development of a culture of the thinking rider imbued with careful, loving training that results in a healthy, durable high school horse.

Fragments from the writings of Max Ritter von Weyrother translated by Hilary Fane

Max Ritter von Weyrother (1783–1833) was Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna from 1813, and Director from 1814 to 1833. His grandfather, Adam Weyrother, a previous Chief Rider at the school, may have known

Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere in Paris.

Every rider must be perfectly clear, at what stage of the dressage the horse is, which he is working, as well as the purpose which he wishes to pursue from lesson to lesson and finally achieve.

Books from the Masters of the 19th Century to Modern Times

The Principles of Horsemanship: and Training Horses by François Baucher

The author's methods are simple and practical. He treats a horse like a human being he maintains that the rider can only influence his mount by placing it in such a position that the movement desired is the only possible one, and then stimulating it the placing being made easy by specially graduated exercises which supple the horse's will as well as his muscles. Contents Include: New method of giving the Rider a good Seat. Control and Distribution of Energy. The Suppling Exercises.

Gymnasium of the Horse

by Gustav Steinbrecht

Gustav Steinbrecht's "Gymnasium des Pferdes" is one of the great milestones of equestrian literature, alongside Xenophon, de Pluvinel, Newcastle, and de la Gueriniere. It forms a connection and transition between two eras. One the one hand, it is the culmination point of the equestrian literature of the late 18th century and 19th century that, under the influence of the Industrial Revolution, tried to explain equine biomechanics by comparing the horse's body to a mechanical device.

Principles of Dressage and Equitation by James Fillis

James Fillis’ (1834–1913) contribution to the development of dressage as we know it today cannot be overlooked. Fillis was a pupil of François Caron, who was a direct pupil of François Baucher. Fillis also studied with Victor Franconi. Fillis was widely revered and respected by his contemporaries as a master horse trainer.  Whilst performing with the Ciniselli Circus at St. Petersburg, Russia - he caught the attention of the Grand Duke Nicholas, who subsequently offered him the position of Ecuyer en chef at the Russian Cavalry School.

Horse Training: Outdoors and High School

by Etienne Beudant

 “My principle of dressage is to have the horse equally light to the spur and the hand and which does not allow the displacement of the rider’s seat as an aid, and leaves the horse to move on his own once he has been given the correct position by the rider” for if we "Let the horse believe that he is our master, then he is our slave. Therein lays my opinion: the equestrian truth."  -Étienne Beudant (1863-1949) 

For dressage enthusiasts who believe that there is no incompatibility between sport riding and academic riding,this is a veritable"Bible." Its author’s writings belong to the golden legend of the French riding.

Spanish Riding School and Piaffe and Passage

by Albert Decarpentry 

Originally published in 1947, The Spanish Riding School in Vienna: Home of the Art of Riding in Jeopardy was written by General Decarpentry to pay homage to this unique institution. This book is a time capsule containing the history of the great riders and traditions of the Spanish School.

Piaffer et Passage, first published in 1931 in French, was written to address the perceived weaknesses in international-level French riders and horses. Decarpentry gives unique insights from his personal experience, training his horse Professeur in these difficult movements. 

Riding Logic 

by Wilhelm Müseler 

Wilhelm Müseler (1887 in Berlin – 1952 in Göttingen) was a well-known rider and author. He wrote an important treatise on riding, and many works on the history of art.

This classic book on equitation introduces and explains the art of riding. Updated with all new color photography of contemporary riders and horses, it includes details on training the rider, schooling the horse, cross-country riding, dressage exercises, and jumping techniques. It expertly provides a wealth of practical knowledge and experience and concisely lays down rules and guidelines that are as applicable today as when the book was written more than 70 years ago

Reflections on Equestrian Art Book by Nuno Oliveira

Nuno Oliveira was one of the last of the great international riding masters. He revealed much of his own personality and philosophy in his writing, examining and explaining classical techniques with clarity and brilliance. The book emphasizes lightness and harmony, reflecting a deep love and respect for the horse.