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Lori's Library > Longeing, Long-lining, and Groundwork > Schooling Horses in Hand

Schooling Horses in Hand
A Means of Suppling and Collection

Schooling Horses in Hand     
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Richard Hinrichs
Trafalgar Square Publishing, 2001
ISBN 1570762058

Richard Hinrichs' book "Schooling Horses in Hand: A Means of Suppling and Collection" has inspired me to try classical work-in-hand myself as a way to add variety and interest to our weekly schooling schedule, and to see for myself whether I am able to effect specific desirable changes in my horse more easily in hand than under saddle. I have had no specific instruction in work-in-hand, but using the text and photos of this book, I am prepared to undertake some "baby-steps" in the art form.

Classical work-in-hand was an integral part of the education of the highly schooled riding horse throughout history, however today it is little used and seldom seen. Richard Hinrichs' fine book is a lovely testament to his abilities and the results which have been manifested in his horses. These animals are beautifully muscled and gleaming, showing expressive work with calm facial expressions. This book is rich with gorgeous colour photos (almost every page has a photo or drawing) which illustrate and expand on each point made in the text. These photos show a trainer who exemplifies through his turnout, his manner, and his bearing, a confident master with deep respect for his animals and the classical dressage principles. Hinrichs' abilities emanate from the pages as "one worth emulating".

This sense is backed up by his formal credentials. Hinrichs was schooled by a member of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, and names his father Kurt Hinrichs, as one of his biggest influences in learning the work in hand. The forward to the book was written by Brigadier Professor Kurt Albrecht, director of the Spanish Riding School from 1974 to 1985. This highly esteemed equestrian expert praises the book for both its valuable theoretical knowledge and the practical applications therein. To quote him, "This book is not only worthwhile for purposes of study and expanding knowledge, but it is also a source that we can use with great pleasure to achieve happiness as riders." In other words, a lot of pleasure can be derived by simply reading the text, expanding your knowledge of the classical movements (now I know for sure the difference between a pesade and a levade :-), and admiring the photos - whether or not you will ever undertake the exercises yourself.

I am inspired to try my hand though! The book starts out with the requisite discussion of longeing including the classical equipment, methods, aids, and goals; and moves on to the work-in-hand on short reins, with exercises starting with champing the bit, lateral steps in hand (similar to leg yield under saddle), shoulder-in, travers, and renvers, half-pass, walk pirouette, development of piaffe, the polka and the Spanish Walk, all the way through passage, canter work in long reins including flying changes and pirouettes, and on to the airs above the ground. I intend to start at the beginning, and see if I can work my way to achieving an improvement in lateral suppleness in my horse's ridden shoulder-ins and half-passes. My goal is to increase our scores in these movements in our Third Level dressage tests by at least one point. He is a typical shorter-bodied Fjord, and like the proverbial hard-to-bend short stick, we can use all helpful ideas available in the "development of lateral suppleness" department.

Speaking of Fjords, I was pleased (and motivated!) to see the photo on page 103 of Barbara Heilmeyer with her Fjord mare, Thirza, at the Reken Festival. The mare is showing a superb Spanish walk under saddle, and as the caption indicates "...showing that an expressive Spanish walk is possible with a horse that is not a stallion of Iberian descent". Another fun thing from a personal point of view was the book's mention of the method of rein holding used at the Royal School of Equestrian Art in Lissabon-Queluz, a performance of which we were lucky enough to attend last fall at the Queluz Palace in Lisbon, Portugal. This is one of the last remaining institutions displaying the classical art of equitation and airs above the ground and their regular Wednesday morning performance is definitely worth attending.

I've gotten a lot of pleasure from reading this book - and I intend to report back on my practical results with it. Stay tuned!

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