I was in discussion with Frederico Schiappa Pietra Saramago the other day and we discussed many things, but one of the subjects that astonished him, was how few British people know about or have read the works of our greatest past masters. I also notice that when I mention William Cavendish (The Duke of Newcastle) or James Fillis many people have a blank expression on their faces. This is a sad situation as these two people contributed such a large amount in knowledge and development towards the understanding of horse training.
Although William Cavendish fled England during the civil war, to end up having his riding school in Antwerp, at the house that Rubens had resided in. It gave him time to develop his work on horses and allowed him to publish his work “Méthode et invention nouvelle de dresser les chevaux” or “A General System of Horsemanship” as is available in English. His method advanced the techniques used then and which still influence today’s training. He has been rewarded with the title of the father of Shoulder In, of which is still one of the most influential tool in the hands of any trainer
James Fillis developed a huge reputation throughout Europe and Russia by displaying his mastery and easily understood training methods. This being a blog and not a book I invite you all to look him up and discover his exploits. His method of equitation consisted, in his own words, of: “distribution of weight by the height of the neck, bent at the poll, and not at the withers; propulsion by means of the hocks being brought under the body; and lightness by loosening of the lower jaw”. This was a development from François Baucher method who he had trained under. If only this was understood and practised today! How many people who use the ordinary stirrup to ride in, know that it was designed by him and was known as the Fillis safety stirrup. His work “Principes de dressage et d’équitation” or “Breaking and riding” as it’s known in England should be the handbook of all who want to take their understanding of equitation to a level of greater clarity, and like the idea of lightness.
If you know these works you know where I come from with this post, if you don’t please give a little of your time to take in what these masters spent their lives working on to help us.