From nature, a horse carries about 60% of its weight on the forehand and 40% on the hindquarters. In the wild this is not a problem, horses function very well with this natural balance. But, when we sit on the horse, we place our bodyweight just behind the shoulders of the horse, and our extra weight is put on the forehand of the horse. Because the joints in the frontlegs can only move one way, the horse cannot flex in the frontlegs to compensate for this extra weight. This often causes problems, like tendon injuries and damage to the joints (arthrosis). The hindlegs of the horse are much more adept to carry weight because the hock enables the horse to bend the hindleg.
It is our view that it is the riders responsibility to make sure the horse uses its body well during riding so that it is not harmed by our hobby. In practice this means that we have to change the natural balance of the horse into a balance more suitable for riding, where the horse carries more weight with the hindquarters than with the forehand, making the frontlegs more free. The dressage for the horse consists of exercises which make the hindlegs of the horse stronger and more supple to be able to shift the weight backwards.
We work from the Paardenmaat's philosophy of being with horses. This means that before we do anything else, the relationship with the horse must be good. This can be accomplished via the principles of the Paardenmaat. It is also necessary to acquire body awareness and the ability to feel what the horse is doing underneath you. We work on that through the principles of Centered Riding. This creates a solid base from which we can start training the horse physically. This is where we start with the academic art of riding.
Especially in the beginning of the training we do a lot of in hand work to make the horse stronger and more supple to prepare it for carrying a rider. Also, in the in hand work we can explain and clarify the aids we use to the horse to make applying these aids during riding easier. To build up the horses muscles we use the sidemovements. When these are sufficiently mastered they can be carried out riding. Slowly but surely we will work on a more supple and stronger horse which can carry out its task as riding horse with pleasure. Key words are contact, communication, relaxation and fun.
Academic Art of Riding
The academic art of riding is based on the knowlegde of the so called old masters (Xenophon, Pluvinel, Guérinière, Steinbrecht). Earlier horses were essential in daily life. Besides the fact that they provided the primary way of transport they were an important part of pre modern warfare. During a fight between two riders, which often took place on only a couple square metres, it was of vital importance that the horses were as agile as possible. The horses were trained to be very powerful in the hindquarters, so that they could carry all their and their riders weight on the hindquarters when it was needed to turn or manouvre as quickly as possible. It took years before the training of a horse was completed, after all, the army with the best trained horses had the best chances of winning.
Over the years horses were replaced with modern day technology, making the knowlegde for training horses less valuable. This caused a loss of this knowlegde over time. Bent Branderup dedicated his life to resurfacing this knowlegde to be able to practice the dressage in its purest form. For this purpose he founded the Knighthood of the Academic Art of Riding in which he gathers riders who share his vision. To enter the Knighthood one must take tests of own skill. In August 2014, Eef Nibbelink passed the first test, the Squire test.
Eef Nibbelink (1992) was born and raised at the Paardenmaat. As little girl she already rode along in front of the saddle with her father and that was how her love for horses was born. After a couple teenage years full of wonderful rides outside, Eef came across the academic art of riding through Ylvie Fros. The logical and emphatic way of training made riding much more intricate, making every step of the horse interesting. The academic art of riding seamlessly connects to the philosophy of the Paardenmaat, thus Eef's interest was piqued and she has been developing in the academic art of riding since 2008. In August 2014 she succesfully rode the Squiretest with Andor. Eef is also a certified Centered Riding instructor. Since a couple years Eef teaches at the Paardenmaat and on location on a small scale. She does this with a lot of satisfaction and pleasure alongside her study psychology at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. Eef owns two horses, Banoe and Zaïra, and trains two horses of the Paardenmaat, Andor and Solon.
For more information send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.