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On reinventing the wheel

One of the greatest criticisms I have come across is that we (broadly speaking ethical biomechanics trainers) are "re-inverting the wheel". That what we teach is just the same as "Classical" in new packaging. The rationale being that our motivations and the end goal is the same - dressage for the horse in pursuit of lightness and "correct" training. In this context I'm putting all dressage that is not "Sport Dressage" into the bracket of "Classical".

The old wheel is a beautiful thing, created by master craftsmen using the latest technology of the time. Classical dressage is much the same; it was extraordinary in the context of the era it was developed.

I don't believe we are reinventing the wheel, we are simply suggesting that it might be better to use a modern rubber tyre than a steel rimmed wooden wheel.

Classical Dressage is steeped in history, with many books and artifacts from centuries of work. Fundamentally our ancestors - the grande masters of dressage - had fantastic knowledge for their own eras. They did not however have the benefit of 21st Century scientific understanding.

So why do we - horsemen of the 21st Century - rely on only the work of either the distant fathers of Classical or the modern contrivance of Military Equitation?

Science, physics in particular, is the foundation of modern thinking, yet the equestrian world seems to completely ignore modern science. So much has been discovered in the last 20years on everything from horse behaviour to sport science. Yet historic doctrine and tradition is upheld as absolute.

Why is the Equestrian world so afraid of science? Perhaps it is because science puts lies to our long held beliefs. It should make us question our values and what we believe to be true about our equine friends. If the science is undisputable truth then the equestrian world must CHANGE. And like so many other micro-cultures within modern society change is hard. Change is an uncomfortable thing, it takes a very enlightened person to admit that what they believe to be true is wrong in the face of factual evidence. You only have to dip your toe in any number of social media forums to see that the divides in the equestrian world are numerous and extreme.

If change doesn't happen then the horse will continue to be a puppet to history. We need to be more enlightened human beings, allow science to guide the progress of modern equitation rather than relying on concepts that are relics that are best confined to the museum alongside the our beautiful wooden wheels.

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Jun 13, 2020

Makes complete sense to me. Everything improves in time as we learn and understand more about how, what, where and why and use that knowledge to produce the process to achieve the desired goal in the most effective and correct way.


Spot on, all human athletes follow the science to improve their performance and its longevity... We must do the same for our equine partners who enjoy learning to find comfort and ease in performance.

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